WE "SAT DOWN" WITH Kristyn Komarnicki AND GOT REAL ABOUT prevalent violence, raising three sons, working with Bee Nest Films.
Level Ground: What are you excited about today?
Kristyn Komarnicki: My upcoming trips—to Vermont this week to rest and play with my family and some dear friends who are as close as family—and to Nashville next week to lead an Oriented to Love dialogue with a dozen Jesus followers, and then enjoy the Level Ground Festival! I’m very excited to have a dinner date with Jennifer Knapp on my calendar, too!
LG: Share with us who you are these days.
KK: I am learning more every day how Jesus longs to free me (all of us) to love. I’m enjoying growing older and losing a lot of the self-consciousness that previously kept me from delighting in my specific life here on earth as deeply as God made me to. I’m dancing more, laughing more, trusting more…and it is GOOD.
LG: Tell us about a project of any kind that another person is working on with you.
KK: My dear friend Marg Herder pitched an idea to me earlier this year—to document the stories of LGB Christians who came out in the 70s and 80s. She’s finding that young people today have no idea what it was like for sexual minorities in those decades, esp in the church. So we are working on this project together, with the good folks at Bee Nest Films, and we start filming folks in November. I’m really hopeful that this will be an important resource to help us understand the church’s history and the consequences of marginalizing minorities.
LG: Why and how did you get connected to Level Ground?
KK: Samantha heard about the Oriented to Love dialogue program that I direct and called me up to see if we might partner with Level Ground. I love partnerships and collaboration, so I was thrilled. We are now running dialogues 2x/year leading into LG festivals (Pasadena and Nashville), with as many dialoguers as possible staying on to attend the festival; the idea is that conversations cultivated and deepened at the dialogues will then seed new conversations at the festival. Our shared commitment to loving dialogue makes our two efforts a really good fit.
LG: What was the first thing you ate today?
KK: A delicious maple scone provided to me by a friend who works at a coffee shop and who considers me a worthy recipient of unsold goodies!
LG: What does it mean to be in dialogue with someone and how has that been a part of your life?
KK: To be in dialogue means to come toward the other in the position of learner, assuming that this person has something important to teach you, something you actually need in order to be more fully human. My experience of facilitating dialogues, helping prepare people for dialogue and then holding space for them and watching how they can then care for each other across deep differences, has brought me more joy and hope than I could have imagined. It’s enlarged my heart, matured my faith, grown my trust in God, and deepened my love for people. God has really used it to transform me.
LG: What is the last book that you read and how would you pitch it to a stranger if you had written it?
KK: A Space at the Table, by Brad and Drew Harper. Hmmm. I don’t think I could pitch it as something I wrote, because it’s a nonfiction first person conversation written by a father and a son, but I highly recommend it as one of the most unflinchingly honest, tender, brave books I’ve ever read.
LG: Tell us about your profile picture on your favorite social media platform or on your email account.
KK: My Facebook photo shows me with my hubby of 27 years (lover of 31)! I marvel at how many rough patches we’ve made it through and how much we enjoy being together, not just still, but more with each passing year.
LG: What is concerning to you about the future, whether personally or more broadly?
KK: The horrible violence against people of color in this country, and the anti-LGBTQ movement in Eastern Europe (Russia, Georgia) that I just heard a report about on NPR. It’s terrifying how prevalent violence is, how quickly we resort to it, in spite of how unhelpful it is…we just don’t seem to learn from our mistakes, and that troubles me deeply.
LG: What brings you hope about the future, whether personally or more broadly?
KK: What I see at the dialogues I facilitate on sexual/gender minorities in the church. When 12 people of very different views and life experiences come into a room, each one fearful of the other, and emerge two days later as friends, that just never fails to knock my socks off. The Holy Spirit shows up when people move toward each other in love—stereotypes crumble, hearts are freed, and deep bonds are forged. I just never get tired of this!
Also, my sons. With the help of a wonderful therapist, I’ve been learning how to let go, to delight more than worry, to trust God with them, and to learn with and from them. They are each on a unique journey. It’s a privilege to watch them become men and move out into the world—I’ve given them what I had to give, and now I get to watch what they do with it. I know they will find their way, and it gives me hope and rest to know that they are in God’s hands, just as I was when I was meandering in my teens and 20s and my parents were praying fervently and trustingly for me!