Stepping into Transparency
I find myself scribbling questions in the margins of my bible more than I find myself underlining and agreeing with scripture.
I find peace in The Liturgist and in the Robcast more than I do with a Bethel teaching.
I'm not afraid to admit that where I am scares me.
Not because I am afraid of the questions I have- more because I remember when I didn't question anything I read in the bible. I've stood on both ends of the fence. And where I stand today, makes me feel that I am being split right down the center.
I spoke in so many absolutes- "I will not (x,y,z)," and "I will (x,y,z)."
When I met Connor I knew we would not date.
I'm a Christian, he isn't.
It felt so simple in my heart.
Sure, I had always had a crush on him, but you aren't just supposed to 'give into temptation.' I didn't walk away from our first coffee date planning a wedding or even trying to figure out a way to convince myself this was something I wanted.
The problem with love is it doesn't happen all it once. It is slow. It is sweet. It is a gift that is time stamped and when you unwrap the delicate paper and pull back the satin bows you suddenly know what is standing before you. And you can't just put it back in the box... hearts do not work that way. Looking back, my heart knew that I loved him the moment we sat down at the table.
I remember crying into his arms on the front porch, so afraid of falling for him. I remember him telling me about our future and us having a house together and me becoming so upset when I realized, this to him, did not mean marriage would come first. I remember trying to deny my heart and my body- the guilt that made it hard to breathe when my mind would wonder. He was always the one to hold me. He never pushed me in any direction. And yet, through his softness, I found the stillness I needed to seek God's counsel. In just four short months I have a new roommate and a man standing beside me who is actively encouraging me toward my dreams and who is still holding my hand as I break down trying to figure out a way to tell my other lover (the church) that I am living a life of "sin." We fight so rarely and when we do, it is almost always about the church. I know it hurts him that I have been so quiet about loving him and he knows that it hurts me that he doesn't go to church with me. We can both be so damn stubborn.
From the outside it is easy to assume that my deconstruction and the subsequent rebuilding of my faith is entirely dependent on a flimsy heart that fell for a man outside of my circle, but it's not.
Throughout my life I have searched for friendships. I moved too many times and lacked genuine stability in so many ways. This lifestyle made it easy for me to move in and out of 'friendships' but left me longing for real relationships.
When I found the church I saw the thing my soul was yearning for: community. It is not as if my faith then or now could be chalked up to a need for friendship but it was a significant part of why I so quickly embraced the black and white reading I saw of the bible. It all felt so easy. If I pretended I agreed with everything the church said was correct then I would have friends.
I never believed it was wrong to be gay, I never believed in a need to set sexual boundaries with loved ones and I never thought hell was a real thing. I never lied about these beliefs- but since I entered the church so late in the game- I was quick to accept the beliefs of anyone who was older than me or who was willing to love me. I saw myself as unloveable- honestly I didn't think God even truly accepted me for a real long time. Where I was then was far more painful than where I am now, except then I was not at risk of losing anything and now I feel that my relationship with the church is hanging on by a well meaning judgmental text message or on a sideways glance from a fellow christian who thinks that if they pray enough I will suddenly realize I am bound for hell.
Where I am now, is in a lot of ways, where I have always been as far as my religious beliefs go, but I am in the hardest place I've ever been in some ways because I don't know how to stand inbetween the two things I love and I don't want to choose.
In some ways it feels like I have let go of so many 'absolutes' while my partner has lovingly held my hand through these transitions, but I have not seen the same level of flexibility with his beliefs.
And that's hard to talk about.
It isn't that I want to change him, I love who he is and will continue to choose him regardless of if that changes or not. But it feels hard to sit alone at church and it feels hard to not try to pull him into church life with me but at the same time it is hard for me to move in christian circles and come home to Connor every night because I am so afraid of what other people think.
I'm tired of being a chameleon.
I don't have the answers. I don't have a polished testimony of how I figured out how to be me and how to be honest with everyone in my life. What I can say is there is grace for you no matter where you are at.
I'm learning to love myself in such a deep way in this season and, equally as important, I am learning how to listen to those on both sides of the fence without trying to coerce anyone into believing exactly what I believe.
I have found that sometimes the kindest way to love someone is to not challenge them, but to listen to them. If you truly believe in God and prayer- pray. Pray that God speaks, do not pray for your will to be done, but for God's to be done... Me trusting in God is me remembering that we are all on a journey. And where I find peace may not be where the person in the seat next to me at church finds it and it may also not be where the person I share a home with finds it either. And that's okay.
If there is anything advice I can give it is this; don't assume you aren't hearing from God because you are getting different answers than someone else is and don't assume someone else is wrong because you don't agree with them.
Be patient with your heart and with others- life is not easy and I don't know what comes next so lets try making this life a little easier on ourselves and others by listening and loving.