I’m not a Christian and, if I were to take it a step further, I’m not religious. I can trace these facts to two main causes. The first is my father. My father taught me that Christianity was full of judgement. He instilled in me an understanding that to be a Christian one must hate those that were not. I watched him call liberals evil. I watched him call Barack Obama the antichrist and I head him on numerous occasions refer to homosexuals as freaks. This leads me to my second cause.
I am gay. I think I first became aware of this in eight grade, but the phrase itself didn’t cross my mind until my Sophomore year of high school. It was rather unfortunate timing because I had left public school for the first time in my life to attend a private Christian school. By then I was absolutely certain of two things. First, I had cemented my political beliefs as a liberal and that, in the eyes of my peers and teachers, was absolutely unacceptable. Second, I was gay and if anyone found out, I would not only be ridiculed, but I feared I might be expelled. This experience taught me that Christianity was equivalent with judgement and exclusivity. It taught me that if I wanted to live my truth, I could not expect Jesus to walk alongside me.
I am now twenty-six years old. For the past several years, I have called myself a Spiritual Buddhist. Buddhism spoke to me because it demanded love for all of humanity. It taught that we are one with every living thing in the universe. Basically, it taught what I believed to be the opposite of exclusivity: inclusion.
Unfortunately I live in Texas. Buddhism isn’t widely practiced here and any form of group practice is extremely rare and at times, expensive. In fact, I distinctly recall telling my therapist that I, “couldn’t afford to be a Buddhist.” And, (in order to provide a somewhat smooth transition), it was my therapist that turned my gaze back to Christianity.
My therapist told me that Christianity, in her mind, was much the same as Buddhism, at least when it came to the parts that were most important to me. She thought of Christianity as a lesson in loving all of humanity, without judgment. She never pushed the teachings of Jesus on me or made me feel guilty for my lack of belief. Rather, she met me where I was and told me that Christianity wasn’t my father. She told me that being gay and being a Christian weren’t mutually exclusive. She helped ease my anger and resentment at the religion.
So, now I am searching. I’m reading the Bible. I’m following a devotional. I pray. I’m keeping my mind and my heart open to the idea that maybe God is walking alongside me. I’m starting to consider the idea that perhaps He isn’t judging who I am, but that He made me who I am. I don’t know that I feel his presence yet. I’m not sure He hears me when I pray. But I do know that I’ve always believed He existed. He is the one I plead to when I am at my worst, He is the one I blame when I am at my angriest, and He is the one I thank when I am at my most relieved. I am listening, my heart and my mind is open and perhaps maybe, one day, I’ll find God.