most of you know that my coming out gay and leaving the church of my childhood (as well as that of my sons’) were simultaneous events almost 6 years ago. with the exception of funerals, I haven’t been back, spurned by the hypocrisy I see in religion and the cruel slap it wielded to the souls of my family.
I know many of my friends who accept my homosexuality with open arms mourn my bitterness and refusal to return. they pause–even grimace–when I speak of the “Universe” and its movement in my life versus the religious contexts and cliches I used to speak in. and they wait patiently hoping I’ll return some day. (note: my belief
in love and God/creator/source of that love has never ceased.)
for me, the journey away from my bitterness and disgust of religion is arduous and painful. yet it is a lifelong part of who I am and I know that I must find resolution. refusing to recite the Lord’s Prayer as part of a congregation at a wedding or a funeral is not the only manifestation of my distaste; there is eye-rolling and anger, particularly in this current political climate when the blatant hypocrisy and hate of supposed Christ-followers offends every fiber of my being.
since i came out, I’ve had a few invitations to attend the churches of friends–the local mega non-denom church in our little town, the gay church in FW. but I just wasn’t interested. religion simply does not occupy a place in my life any more. all the work I did seeking affirmation and lifelong attempt to be what I was not to fit in and find acceptance was exhausting. I do not miss it. and while I miss some people (oh and singing! how I miss it!) now that I know how false (or conditional) much of their love was, I have no desire to ever return.
recently, though, a romantic interest, knowing of my background and work in a church body but not of my current attitude, invited me to his church in Dallas. throwing me for a loop, i promptly froze, balked, and stuttered. I was not prepared for this whatsoever.
I’ve had a week to think about it. and the one thought that rose to–and stayed on–the top was the fact that this could very well be the Universe providing me with an opportunity to begin the process of reconciling my loathe of religion with the spiritual part of my being. it was also important to me to not do this FOR a man and to be able to tell him “I’m not ready right now.” those two conditions have graciously been met.
I went to the funeral of a co-worker’s father yesterday. I did not sing the first song and I did not recite the prayer with the others. But when we sang “How Great Thou Art”–a song that each time I hear it reminds me of singing it alongside my mother my whole life and also triggers emotion as I know it will be a selection a her funeral some day–I joined in. and though I have doubt about the lyrics and their meaning, it was comforting. the tenor notes that sprang effortlessly from my memory and voice brought back precious memories of some of the things I was taught in my religious upbringing–things that ugliness and hypocrisy and ignorance cannot take away from me.
this experience, along with the loving advice of my 2 dearest friends (who i’d called immediately) and the patience of a kind man willing to hold my hand when I’m ready and show me what place religion has in his life, convicted me to attend tomorrow.
I don’t know what to expect or how I will react. but I will go with an open mind and an open heart. I already feel so much emotion–talking to them and him about it and writing this now.
but I believe, ultimately, this is a step I need to take.
I’ll keep you posted.