After successfully being a ‘good girl’ (I use this term cliche-ly rather than literally. I had my ‘moments’) most of my life, I met Christ when I was 19. When you make the decision to follow Christ they tell you changes everything. Let me give you a behind-the-scenes look, though: meeting Jesus is life-changing, but it’s important to understand that a caterpillar doesn’t transition into a butterfly overnight. There’s a process and it’s rough.
Yes, there was a lot of evolution happening, but the “changes everything” part of my life happened when I was 30. Before then I had some really great years of falling in love with ministry through all types of volunteering through churches and ministries and even had the opportunity to lead in some areas. Many high points of my life were during that time, but none of those things, none of my relationships, none of my leadership opportunities prepared me for the disaster of a year in 2016.
It was in 2016 that my faith was tested beyond what it was mature enough to handle. In church, and other spiritual circles, we’re taught to protect ourselves from certain attacks and worldly temptations, but there are pillars of identity that seem foundational, unchanging and inarguable. These things you never really think to protect because you assume they can’t be destroyed. Race, sexuality, social interactions, those just are what they are, right?
That was the year I found out not only what being black meant to me, but also what my skin color meant to other people. That was the year I was devastated and disappointed in the men, particularly leaders, I’d admired. And that was the year I finally grasped the fact that I wasn’t exclusively attracted to men.
Since high school, there were plenty of signs and behaviors that are like “duh” moments now, but I’d always just summed them up to experimentation and/or avoiding labels altogether. Being anything but straight just didn’t make sense. I mean, I grew up in church. I was a spiritual leader in so many circles. I’d been saved for years at that point. Like, I knew Jesus personally. How could I possibly be gay?
It was the Pulse Night Club shooting that triggered the spiral, more than anything else had up until that point. I was truly devastated. I’m talking obsessed with finding out everything about the people who died, crying uncontrollably, even at work, even to the point of falling out on the sidewalk in front of a church during 5 o’clock traffic. I was broken and I had no clue why.
I searched for solace in all the ‘right’ places: church, counseling, Christian friends. I tried; I really really did. Luckily for me, I had people with good hearts, but it wasn’t enough. No one knew what to do with me and the faith that I had wasn’t strong enough to handle this without help. So after feeling like a stranger to everyone I knew and everything I knew to do, I ran into the open arms that promised me peace: The LGBTQ community.
I found exactly what I was looking for, but it was not at all what I needed.
Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find community, acceptance, and friendships that I still benefit from today, but the war inside me never quieted. I only made my life louder, but my distress never died down.
Even though there were times when I tried to turn around, tried to change or kill my same-sex attraction, it never took. My self-sufficient ways
worked happened for years. I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I chose to follow Christ, but my sexuality chose me. In my mind, I ascribed to the belief that “you can’t be both”, but that meant that the rest of my life was already decided before I even had the choice to decide.
I felt cheated out of the opportunity to be the Christ-follower I wanted to be. I’d already dedicated my life to Him; spent years happily serving him and the Church. How could he take it away from me!? He wasn’t the loving God I thought he was…
Then 2020 (at 30 years old), the pandemic-life-crisis hit me like it did everyone else. Up in my mouse-infested apartment in D.C., I was alone in a way I’d never been before. He finally had me in a place where I couldn’t ignore him. We fought for a few months (yes, I fought God. Lost miserably, obviously, but fought nonetheless), but eventually we hashed out some deep deep seeded disappointment and pain.
Through time, he lead me to a place where instead of trying to rid myself of my same-sex attraction, he’s lead me to use it to strengthen the Church and bring other alienated people to Christ.
My years of wandering were very confusing, empty, and painful, but here are the good things that happened when I walked away from God and my faith:
- I ‘forgot’ all of the tradition and man-made Christian ideas. I was re-introduced to God and not ‘church’
- I found my mission and gained the professional & personal experience I needed pursue it
- I met the people I feel called to minister to and advocate for rather than the narrative about them, because I wasn’t bound by rule-following
- I learned firsthand that the grass isn’t greener on the other side
- I finally gave God all of who I am and instead of telling me to change, He told me to let him use it
- It taught me real faith; the kind that’s still there even after the sky falls down