• Bethany


We have this aversion to phases. I'm not sure I've ever heard "It's a phase" used in a positive light, and I'm here today to encourage us all to rethink that approach.

What in nature doesn't have phases? Literally nothing. Seasons, animals, plants, the moon, and yes, even we humans. Even rocks have phases.

When I came out as bi and I was reading about common perceptions of bisexuality, a thing that kept coming up was the rejection of bisexuality as a phase. Many people think bisexuality is a stepping-stone to homosexuality or the age-old "I was just curious, but I'm definitely straight." This stepping-stone idea offends many people, and many see it as an attempt to delegitimize bisexuality as its own distinct thing. Many narratives around people's recognition of their sexuality is grounded in phrases like "I always knew, deep down."

And I'd like to propose today that it's okay if your sexuality is a phase. It's okay if it changes. It's okay if you change. And not just your sexuality, literally everything about you is okay to be in a phase. Because you are probably already in a phase and you just don't want to see it that way.

I read this book once, "Dance of the Dissident Daughter" (it's awesome and you should totally read it), and it talks about the patriarchy within the Christian church (stay with me, peeps). Anyway, in one section Sue Monk Kidd is talking about how that patriarchal religion has made God out to be like a cis-man, and that making God like cis-men and cis-men like God has led to the oppression of women and the belittling of things that aren't part of the typical cis-man experience. Like phases. Sue wrote her book a long time ago, so it isn't super inclusive of non-cis existence, but I think her words still apply in an inclusive context. It's not just women, but people who have vulvas go through phases all. the. time. In a way that penis-owners don't experience. At least not physically. If you're a Christian cis-man, you may see a lot of yourself in God. You certainly see a lot of stereotypically "masculine" traits in God. He/him pronouns, for one thing, fatherhood, son-hood, leadership as a man's burden, saving people weaker than you, fighting and dying to quell evil, protecting others. Christians talk about God as being unchanging as if the idea that God could change makes God less God. And the idea of a cis-man-God means that characteristics of people who don't fit that pretty specific mould are seen as lesser or maybe even evil.

Now for people who have vulvas, the idea of God being unchanging may not resonate with your bodily experience. I know it doesn't resonate with mine. My body is always changing. I get a spot of acne and I know my period will be coming soon. My body aches and grows and softens and changes through the month. There are lots of other phases I haven't experienced but many vulva-owners do. Pregnancy is a "phase", a stage of life for some vulva-owners, menopause is also a phase. It never seems to stop. Women are often pressured to have children because the years in which they can have children are limited. Child-bearing years are a phase. The pregnancy worries will soon be over for me; I'm having a hysterectomy soon. Although I get to keep my ovaries and stave off menopause until a more appropriate age, I am very curious to see what this new bodily phase is like.

All this to say: maybe phases aren't such a bad thing after all.

I didn't always know I was bi. I didn't even know what bisexuality was for a very long time. I'm not sure when it came onto my radar, but it was well after high school. I can look back on my experiences and say "oooooh, yeah, I can kinda see how maybe that thought/action/experience was because I was bi". But honestly, my view of sexuality was so limited I'm not totally convinced I've always been bi. A huge proponent of fluid sexuality, I'm okay with the idea that I grew into bi-ness, and that it could end or shift or grow into something else.

But we like certainty. We like to know that we will always be bi. We want to have arrived, to be unchanging. But when there's no change, there's no growth. And to focus on remaining the same or achieving some kind of finish-line of self-realization in which you no longer have to change seems... to defeat the point. And that's what I don't like about the idea of God as unchanging. Surely a spiritual being far beyond my comprehension isn't required to remain the same in order to register as legitimate to my limited cognitive abilities?

In some ways, I think that to say God is unchanging is to deny the ways in which our existence reflects who God is. I don't want to only see stereotypically masculine cis-men as the only ones whose experiences in the world are "like God". I don't want to only see the protector, the unchanging, the saviour, the leader, the father, although I can certainly embody many of those things. I want to see the vulnerable, the follower, the changing, the mother, the nurturer, the explorer, the mystery. I don't need God to be a certainty; I don't need God to be unchanging or knowable. I don't need a God that's small enough I can make sense of them and then tell others that the ways they think about God are wrong.

Because, frankly, I can barely make any sense of myself and the life I'm living now, let alone other people or invisible spiritual beings...

So here's my encouragement to you: allow the changeableness of our lived experience to wash over you like a warm shower, embrace your phases both past and present, and look forward eagerly to the future with the knowledge and hope that you may grow and learn and become different. And take some comfort that at least one person on this earth (me) thinks that the very changeyness of you is a reflection of the divine.

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