Snubbed by my former pastor after coming out

Dear Annie: I’m potentially facing an aggressive and lethal type of cancer (esophageal), for which I’m being biopsied next week. I’ve known about this for just a few weeks. My former pastor and his wife were my friends, though there’s been a noticeable distance in the last year. They helped me through my ex-hubby’s death, as I’d been caregiving for him for years and sharing a home. Then they helped my close friend while she was dying of cancer.

Despite the year of much less contact, I still felt bonded to them and reached out to the pastor to help me with my illness and possible death. I wrote this plea for help on Facebook Messenger, and you can see when a person views a message. He saw it. He chose not to respond, which stunned and hurt me. I just wanted someone who knew me to be there for spiritual guidance in this most challenging time.

I racked my brain for why he and his wife have been distant when we had been tight. The wife was friends with me on Facebook, and I thought about what posts I made that they might take offense to. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks! The timeline of single-word responses from her to none at all was directly aligned with my coming out of the closet as a bisexual woman after hiding it until I was 56. While I see why a conservative pastor might have an issue with my sexuality, my heart can’t understand how they could’ve liked me a lot before this announcement and then dropped me like a hot rock after, particularly in a situation like this.

I confronted the pastor about this revelation, and he didn’t refute it. I’m angry that our congenial relationship has dissolved because I’m finally true to myself. I don’t have time left to harbor resentment, but it’s challenging! I don’t want to be a hater, and I suppose that will keep me from acting like they are. I’m wondering if I should write them a letter to recount the blessings they bestowed on me when we were friends and let them know how painful it was to then be snubbed by them at my time of need, or just let it go. Now that I know they are so narrow-minded, I know I’m not missing anything by their absence. — Flummoxed by the Leader of the Flock

Dear Flummoxed: I deeply admire your resilience, positive attitude and ability to see what’s most important in this situation: your personal peace. Your Facebook message already fell upon deaf ears, and especially now that you know why, I vote you just let it go. Focus on yourself and your health. Lean on those in your circle who know, love and accept all of you. You said it best yourself; while it’s no doubt disappointing to learn why your former friends have turned their backs on you, you can feel confident knowing you’re not losing out from their lack of presence in your life.

Dear Annie: You gave a nice answer to “Undecided,” the woman who did not know what to study in college. I’m a professional astronomer, which is also a tough field to work in as a professional. After teaching college for 18 years, I would add a little bit to your answer if it comes up again.

Yes, follow your passion. If you do, your life won’t be “work”; it will be fun, stimulating and fulfilling. But it’s always good to have a backup plan in case things don’t work for one reason or another. That’s why universities offer minors and double majors. I strongly encourage students to follow their passions but also to have something else in hand just in case things don’t work out. Keep up the good work! — Astronomy Prof

Dear Astronomy Prof: Lovely advice! I heard from many readers encouraging “Undecided” to follow her dreams, but you’re right that it is wise to be ready for any outcome. Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.

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“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.


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