I found a new writer who pretty much describes the transition I’ve been in for, oh, the past 20 years. Her name is Elizabeth Baker and she writes about her move from Evangelical Christianity to Progressive Christianity in places like HuffPo, her own blog at ElizabethBaker.com, Scary Mommy and more. Call it the wanna be Evangelical in me, but I’m still a bit uncomfortable with some of her word choices (ex: Why People Think Christians Are Assholes) but I get her drift. She’s over hiding her questions. And so am I.
For a long time I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I drank over it. Raged over it. Hid behind my feelings that “something just doesn’t feel right” with my soul. When I found a big church, it felt like the pieces came together just enough to keep me from breaking apart. I loved the sermons and the pastor. I loved some of the people. It felt safe. People were kind to me. But there was also a bottom line: There was one way to heaven. Doubt, resist and flail, but in the end, put down your guns.
I wanted to do this. I was used to doing this. After all, when everyone else is right, and you are wrong, this is an easy creed to follow. And yet, there were issues. I had a Jewish father, lots of Jewish family members, and many friends from other faith traditions. I tried to swallow the idea that my conservative church’s way was right, and their’s was not, but I never felt the need to convert them. The only thing I wanted to ask them was if they could pass the bagels or the Tikka Massala shrimp.
As time went on, and I found my strength through a 12 step program and a flock of girlfriends who just let me be me (as well as raised independent thinkers who asked hard questions that couldn’t be answered with just black and white Bible verses) my facade of “it must be this way or I’ll crumble” well… crumbled.
And in the rubble, with just me, the Holy Spirit and an empty cup of Yuban, it hit me: I didn’t want my church’s “religion” so much as I wanted the assurance so many of the members seemed to have. For the first time, I had honesty about my doubts. And while that honesty was uncomfortable, it was like finally taking off a pair of jeans that were too tight. I felt free. Less burdened. I didn’t lose Jesus. I just lost my need to have someone else’s Lord.
The Awkward Rebel
I know that many conservative folk would say I’m being rebellious, but if they knew me, they’d know I’m the most tender, rule following good girl there is. But often that has been at the expense of this good girl’s wellbeing. And that felt bad.
So Now What?
I believe with 100% certainty that God is for me, not against me, but I also believe he is for you if you are naturally born gay. I don’t believe it’s a choice. And I can no longer attend a church that counsels people to deny this aspect of their being.
When I get quiet, which is where I hear from God (just like Paul did… just like many male prophets did) I hear a tender voice that reminds me, “You don’t know everything, Andrea, but you were fearfully and wonderfully made. I love you. Now go out and love others and put down the judgement today. And by judgement, I don’t mean of others. You have always loved others. I mean of yourself. And eat a taco while you’re at it.”
And so I did.
I joined a tiny open and affirming church that allows me the respect to question, seek and love my fellow worshippers exactly as they are, not as religion tells them to be. And I’ll be providing the taco bar for fellowship in a few weeks. If you, too, are a seeker, come join me. Services start at 10.
And if you’re happy at your more traditional church, that’s okay, too. I don’t want to be right. I just want peace. And I wish the same for you.
Happily Ticked Off Tip #12: Find Your Own God, Not Someone Else’s. If You’re Wrong, God Will Let You Know. And It Will Make a Fun Story at the Welcome Back Church BBQ.
Until next time,