Spiritual Survival Tips

"1. Refuse to receive the gift of insults from your enemies, but be grateful for the unintended gifts the enemies bring as they help you identify 'hot button' issues still in need of healing within yourself.

"2. Instead of fearing your enemies, recognize them as opportunities to learn more about their worldview and more about yourself and how you react when confronted by someone who believes differently than you do.

"3. Be grateful for what your enemies can teach you about yourself and your own faith. Use them as teachers to strengthen and deepen your own faith.

"4. Learn self-control from enemies. Even if they make you feel angry or frustrated, refuse to be drawn into an angry exchange or to use harmful words with them. When the confrontation is over, work to deactivate the button in you that they pushed with their words or actions.

"5. Always treat enemies with infinite respect, but do not allow them to walk all over you. Contending with them without mercy means that we cannot let unfounded or ill-conceived opinions go unchallenged. Our manner, however, must be gentle and loving.

"6. We must learn to see God in our enemies, no matter how difficult or harmful their words or deeds may be. We must remember that no matter how misguided or angry they are, they are still God's beloved children. Even in the face of abuse, always respond with gentleness.

"7. Don't give in to any message, internal or external, that says you are sick or sinful for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Our belief that God loves us and accepts us as God made us may contradict the beliefs of people who oppose us, but God's plan includes us all, despite any seeming contradictions.

"8. Be gentle with yourself. Take frequent breaks from confrontations or dialogues with those who oppose us. Be sure to spend time with loving, supportive friends and communities to recharge your batteries and reconnect with God.

"9. Trust your own experience of God over what other people say, no matter what authority they claim. We can easily identify God experiences because they lead us to become more gentle, peaceable, and reasonable.

"10. Never forget that our enemies are real. They may claim that GLBT people have an agenda, but we certainly know that they do. Our enemies are working to strip us of our civil rights and keep us from being fully accepted in the church.

"11. Reach out to those in the religious middle. There are many religious people who do not identify with fundamentalist Christianity. We need to be willing to begin a dialogue that can transform them from enemies into allies."