Permission to Be Loved



We sat around the table on a Monday afternoon eating turkey sandwiches when my friend said, I’m bisexual.

Um, please pass the honey mustard?

It might have been the last place I expected our conversation to go that day. I felt honored when he trusted me with this part of his story. I listened and listened and listened some more. Then the strangest thing happened—the more he talked, the more I felt the presence of Freedom.

I had this overwhelming sense: His freedom is giving me permission to be most fully myself. It didn’t diminish me; in fact, I felt enlarged. More spacious. More me.

I’ve never struggled with my sexuality—my femininity, yes—but that day, I sensed his long journey to that moment. At the end of his statement, I could simply offer Love. Grace. Kindness. Our shared humanity.

I once spent a Friday evening with women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside—women who had been prostituted, women who had been addicted, women with mental health struggles. We sat around, drank Sprite from plastic cups and talked about life. Mostly we laughed big belly laughs.

There was no pretense in the room. Each person showed up, simply as herself.

I’d never experienced the grace of God as beautifully as I did that evening. It was a room in which it didn’t matter where we’d come from—we were accepted right into that crooked little circle.

I didn’t need tattoos to fit in. Neither did I need to swear. The only thing the circle asked of me, was to Love. And, of course, I received Love in return.

Here the Kingdom of God was made manifest on the corner of East Hastings and Princess Street. Here next to drug lords and pimps, a small circle gathered around laughter and friendship and it felt like we really were the Light of the world.

All the “should do this” and “should be that” of the suburbs dropped off my shoulders and freedom settled onto my skin. I knew whoever I am in the world, I would be accepted here. Even loved.

I didn’t feel diminished by the freedom. I felt more free to be truly, honestly, authentically me.

Many years ago in Taiwan, I sensed the voice of God whisper this to me: I have made you a woman, so you can be a woman. I needed to hear that being a woman was a good thing.

It felt like a roar beginning to ripple through my whole body, the sounds of Freedom compelling me to a new place on my journey.

I understood: being a woman is a God-ordained and beautiful blessing and I felt permission to be fully, wholly, gloriously woman.

As a woman, I am not a second-class citizen. I am not an afterthought. I’m no less than the men in my world. I have the same rights and privileges. And, O, realizing that, I loved Jesus even more. This Jesus painted freedom with bold strokes onto a cross.

Until that moment, I had struggled with owning my femininity. When I flew to Taiwan as a 20-something-year-old, I wore thick black Caterpillar boots. I wore red lipstick, yes, but I didn’t feel a large, beautiful permission written over my womanhood.

Patriarchy had lied that if I wanted to be a leader, I needed to be strong, like a man. I knew I was strong, but the only examples of strength I could see around me felt masculine. Strong women seemed more like men. Boxy clothes. Practical shoes. Formidable personalities.

I was on my way to church that Sunday morning in Taipei, when the Spirit baptized me in my identity as a woman. When I heard the words, tears streamed down my face. Then I walked back upstairs and put on a red dress.

I felt free AND feminine. Strong AND beautiful.

A friend who worked in the fashion industry took me under her gentle wing and taught me how to wear mascara, light lipstick, even a little blush. For the first time in my life, I felt permission to wear nail polish.

I am grateful I don’t have to be either or anymore. I can be strong AND a woman. I can be relentless AND feminine.

I can be a woman and stand fully in who I am—every gift, every calling, every divine inheritance.

Whether it’s my friend sharing his story over a turkey sandwich, a sister who tells me she’s an alcoholic, a friend who tells me she used to be a call girl or another who tells me she’s bipolar … I hope that what I offer on the other side of honesty, is a fierce Love.

I no longer find it strange that the margins speak to me of this kind of bold Freedom. People who have lost everything and yet gained this honesty. People who have seen the underbelly of the world and therefore offer a radical grace.

In the margins, I find the ones who have needed Love most desperately. Here I find the ones who have struggled for every free and honest breath. Here I remember, again, the bold permission God has written over my own heart.

Human? Permission to be loved.


Hi Lovelys,

HOW IS IT JUNE 1st already?????

My slight panic aside, our theme for June is PERMISSION. I look forward to the many ways in which we will explore this together. Don’t forget our DARE TO BE DANGEROUS event on June 16 at Milltown Bar and Grill. I’ve been working like a mad mama to get a manuscript finished by that deadline. This looks like dragging my computer to softball games, sitting on the couch for 10 minutes before driving a child to a birthday party or squeezing it into any possible minute in the day. I’d love to hear how your Dare is going. Join our Facebook group here.

NOTE: As a SheLoves community, when it comes to the conversation around gender identity, we don’t have one policy. We are made up of many individuals who stand in many different places. I would like to imagine this then as a great place where we can simply practice Love.



Image credit: Brett Alexander, The Wedding Lot