Fluidity is beautiful.
I remember the first time I came into contact with this word. In fact, I remember the exact day.
I had purchased a copy of a book. “Sexual Fluidity, Understanding Women’s Love and Desire” by Dr. Lisa Diamond. I saw it in a bookstore in 2010. I was intrigued. At the time, I wanted to be a better ally to LGBTQ women.
I cracked it open in a coffee shop, and I dared to read it. Twenty minutes of reading became an hour which became two hours which became three hours. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I noticed that I had been crying.
But why had I been crying? There was this word called “fluid” that I was hearing only now. I was hearing it for the very first time. It was circling around me and it landed on my shoulder like a little pet bird whispering in my ears, “You are not crazy. The way you think and feel and navigate the world, suddenly, there’s a word for this. It’s not an isolated phenomenon. You’re not alone. You can’t be alone. There’s a whole book about it.” Fluid. It rolled off of my tongue. It was such a comforting word. Fluid.
It was a word that drew into sharp relief these very abstract and seemingly contradictory pieces of self, or at least of my “self” and suddenly knit them together in a brand new way for me to see. For me to hold. For me to grasp. But why weren’t other people talking about these fluid spaces in their lives. And why weren’t they talking about this in LGBTQ spaces where I thought people would be most likely to talk about such things? Was I the only one in these spaces engaging with these thoughts and feelings? Surely I wasn’t? But it felt this way? Where were the other fluid people? How do I find them?
My great love of people (all kinds of people) I had never concealed from anyone. It was available in plain sight. I saw my life as holding infinite possibility. I saw my life as being malleable. As being in motion. And It was all available for public view. To be seen. To be heard. To be held. To be observed from afar. To be dismissed. To be judged. To be roughly handled. To be speculated. To be whispered about. And it was. Believed and Questioned. Cherished and Trampled. Thought of as credible and incredulous. Held as distinct and held as an indistinct step in a process.
I didn’t see “fluid” as a distinct sexual orientation or even something separate from straight. I hadn’t gotten that far in my own process yet. But I saw it. And I held it. And I cherished it. And I sat with it. And I absorbed it. And I embraced it. I was fluid. I was a fluid person. My sexual attractions were fluid. My romantic attachment style was fluid. And this is a gift that I carry into every room, but it’s not necessarily one that is well understood. Not to anyone else. Not even to me. This word “fluid” was now a surfboard where I had previously just been flailing and lost at sea. From this word, “fluid” I could suddenly see a shoreline off in the distance as waves came up under me and also crashed over me. But I didn’t exactly know how to surf. And I didn’t know of anyone who could teach me. I didn’t know of anyone who was telling their own surfing stories, or their own lost at sea stories. I didn’t know when this board and when the ocean itself would carry me all the way to shore. I didn’t know when my feet were going to hit dry land. And I didn’t know who I would be when my feet hit that shore. But I wanted to know. In fact, I desperately wanted to know. I knew that I would still be me. But I knew that I would probably be a new version of me. I wanted to direct the ocean and steer the surfboard, but I couldn’t. I had to submit myself to the journey. I had questions. I was fluid.
And I began to ponder what else in our lives is fluid.
Water is fluid. Water is fluid like a gentle rain, or like a flood, like calm waves that hold you up and let you swim or like a raging sea that can’t be contained.
Space is fluid. The space between us is fluid. The gentle air or the warm breeze that draws us together or the cold chill that separates you from me, and that divides spirit from bone.
Seasons are fluid. Fall. Winter. Spring. Summer. Sometimes these transitions overlap and we don’t always have a clear handle on one season’s ending as another season is beginning. Sometimes these transitions are so gentle that we miss them until they’ve already happened. And sometimes transitions are violent. Winter announces itself with a showstopper of an ice storm and below zero temperatures. And a perfect Spring day is punctured and ruined by the first day that hits 90 degrees with humidity.
Faith is fluid. Some people (a small few) land comfortably in a location in space-time-language and religious affection that will follow them for all of their lives. But this only happens for a precious few. For most of us we will experience shifts both seismic and small that will require us to flex and grow and change. We will bough and bend and dance with faith, and our conception of what faith is, what ultimate questions are will have to bough and bend and dance with us to go the distance of life. If we have a native language, we may have to learn a second and third tongue to sustain us as global citizens. And sometimes this growth will be so smooth and so natural, and sometimes it will be a response to deep or violent pain. Sink or swim. The tempest or the gentle rain. Sometimes the sensation of sinking will force us to swim. And sometimes when we jump out of that boat, or head out for the shore toward deep waters it is our survival instinct that has kicked in.
Our roles and titles are fluid. I am a sister, daughter, Reverend, business woman, partner, teacher, student, mentor, mentee, friend, lover, companion, caregiver, recipient of care. And many more. Sometimes these roles are distinct. But more often than not they bleed together in intersecting and intersectional ways. And they need to be given their due space to grow and change and shape shift and flex and bend and meld together.
Love is fluid. It does not stay still. It cannot stay still. Love—real love— in our lives is a crucible for holiness. Love invites us to be naked and unashamed. Love invites us to take off our masks and encounter the truth of each other exposed. vulnerable. Love sees us at our worst. Love gently calls us toward our best. Love challenges us. Like good medicine, love heals us. Love grows us strong. Love makes and remakes us. Love is a container in life’s great process of becoming.
In a world of “either”/”or”, In a world of “black”/”white,” In a world of “pick a side,” in a world where fluidity is a disruptive grace, and in a world where sometimes others only acknowledge the “disruption” without stopping to honor or engage with fluidity as a potential “grace,” you need to protect your heart. Your fluid heart.
—Protect your fluid heart. Nurture it. Nourish it. Cherish it. Speak gently to it. Give it it time and space and room to grow. Give it room to wander and ponder and move and settle. Give it room to explore and expand and contract. Give it room to journey. Give it room to settle in and settle down with deep roots.
Give it flourishing space. You need it. And the world needs you. Exactly as you are. Fluid.
You can’t shortcut or rush your journey. It unfolds as its meant to, when its meant to, how it’s meant to. Wherever you are, and whatever insights or experiences you are having in your life, you are exactly on time. You are a temporal being. You live in time. And wherever you are in your process and in your journey–you’re on time.
Trust in the ancient wisdom of one of my favorite mystics, Julian of Norwich.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Fluid. The fluid spaces in our lives have the capacity for deep beauty, for growth, for change, for metamorphosis, for “becoming.” It’s not a space or season to be rushed, to be hurried through, or to be forced or cajoled. Submit yourself to “becoming” spaces in your life. Abide with yourself exactly where you are. Journey with your fluidity. Make friends with your fluidity. Let it be your strength.
Fluidity is beautiful.