Holidays are the time of year for a lot of reflection. Thoughts of time with family, the current year’s activity, what the new year will hold, and hopefully the joy of what makes the holiday season special to you. Each of us has ideas of what the holidays are, what they mean to us, and what shapes our holidays. For some, holidays bring more pain that joy. Thoughts of times gone by, loved ones that are no longer with us (either by death or other factors), possibly the struggle over the past year and the curve balls life have thrown at us.

Overall I really can’t complain. I have a loving family, extended friends and support from many sides, an amazing Reconciling community where I worship, and last but definitely not least a wonderful husband that is always there for me. However the holidays always bring a little pain.

Painful thoughts of not having my immediate family share in the joy of my life; thoughts of the ones that I want so much to be there, but who aren’t.

It sounds strange but it’s not the celebration of the holidays that invoke such pain and reflection. Growing up, I never celebrated holidays. I was 34 years old before I celebrated my first holiday, my first birthday, etc. It was a year of many firsts. Including the year that I came out to my family, was excommunicated from my previous faith community and all active members. That included my father, mother and younger brother.

The 3 people I lived with, shared my life and everything with, up until the moment I said I was gay.

Fast forward 5 years, several birthdays, Thanksgivings and Christmas’ later. I have people in my life who love me for me. I have a wonderful mate and someone to share the rest of my life with. An extended family that has welcomed me and makes sure that my new family (including my mother-in-law) is invited to holiday functions. I’m always happy to see them and love them dearly, please do not get me wrong. Spending time with the ones I love is one of favorite part about the holidays, and for me is a defining part of what makes the holidays special.

The sadness comes when I’m reminded of those I don’t have there. The remarks of “you look so much like your father”, or ”you and your brother used to” fill in the blank. I’ve spent most days the last almost 6 years trying to tell my brain that the ones that I spent all of my life with previously, that they don’t exist. It’s really difficult to tell your head something and try and trick yourself when you know it’s not real, and your heart also continuously reminds you. I’ve gotten to where I don’t like bringing them up in conversations. Even saying father, mother, or brother and not even their names, makes it difficult.

How do I tell my heart and my mind that something doesn’t exist, when it’s less than 30 minutes away?

How do you tell yourself their “dead” to you, even though they’re still alive, just dead in the sense they don’t want to be a part of your life? The thing is, I wish them no harm. I truly want nothing more for them to be happy and live a full life, even if that means I’m not part of it. The hardest part is knowing that they are there, and so reachable, but in another instance so far away. Again, I don’t wish them any pain, but some days it would make it so much more logical in my mind and heart if they were dead, just so I would quit wishing and hoping for something I don’t have.

I wish there was an easy answer to life’s hurt and the pain that comes with it. I would hope that anyone who has to go through something similar would know that they are not alone and there are always people who understand and want to help. And although I know that and my head knows it, my heart is another story. All I can do is pray that the pain of things missed goes away a little each day.

I fill my life with the amazing times and people I do have, and there are MANY! The peace of the Divine and all the spirits in my life who are there and look after me, surround me and shroud me in love and kindness and help me to live my life to share that with others. And for anyone who does feel a similar pain, I pray for you as well! Peace and love to you all.

Jason Kennard-Martin

Jason Kennard-Martin is 39 years old and lives in Norman, OK. He is a member at St. Stephen’s UMC, a Reconciling Congregation, and never thought there would ever be a church in his home state that would welcome LGBTQ people much less give them the freedom to explore theology.His mission is to help others know there are welcoming and affirming faith communities like St Stephens, and he hopes to help other faith communities work through the process of being welcoming as well.

He recently married his husband Will and they have 2 wonderful furry “kids”, Addy and Barney.He's been Reconciling Ministries Chair and a committee member, works closely with an LGBTQ youth group that meets at church, and has been associated with PFLAG Norman for 5 years and been a board member 4 of those, currently the chapter Vice-President.

He believes everyone should have the freedom to serve the Divine in whatever capacity they see fit and do so in an atmosphere that encourages free thinking and love as the basis to understanding ourselves and the universe around us.

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