Well, of course we are...after all, most of us feel born this way, right? If God is all about deep, spiritual love, then wouldn't that love run way deeper than gender, chromosomes, body parts, hormones and all?
Let me preface my "spiel" by saying I am only describing my own personal journey. In no way am I trying to be a crazy evangelist who prescribes "correct lifestyles" to others. I just know what is reaching me now, but I also recognize that what works for my journey doesn't necessarily work for everyone else's.
I grew up in the Roman Catholic church (no offense to anyone of that religion). My Nana...bless her heart...was a native of Ireland, and you could say she was "hard core" about the religion. So...being raised in the religion, there was so much attention drawn to sin. So much emphasis is placed on repentance and unworthiness. To have just about any enjoyment of the world is considered sinful. Even thinking so much about the sin is considered sinful to them.
In my early 20s, going to college really opened my mind to other philosophies. It's amazing how that small commuter college in Augusta, GA brought a variety of people to me (Maybe it was the local military base...which later became the place that supplied me with women...haha). To shorten this already long story, I started thinking critically and I pulled away from the Catholic church. A few years later, when my straight-wannabe marriage fell apart, I got the courage to just be me...which includes being a lesbian. Though I never denied the existence of God, I threw away the idea of church altoghter. It's not that I needed a church to help me understand what I believe...but with all the negativity that pollutes our earthly lives, I definitely needed a place to find support for my spiritual journey and to be around others who also seek spiritual renewal as I do. The weekend before Thanksgiving, I gave it a shot.
The church I've been attending is not what is "typical" of mainstream religion. It's not a place to go to be told how to act. It's not a place to be told what horrible hellbound sinners we all are. It's more or less a spiritual gym for me, where I can focus on my journey to a deeper level of existence, to be filled with purpose and to put it into action. For those enemies I seemed to make in recent years...for those whom I feel have misjudged me or simply dislike me....nobody has come to dislike me more than myself. I feel, in the past month, though, I've started being my own best friend again. So...at this point...as I felt the energy of the Holy Spirit permeate my own energy this morning...and, as Carla puts it...I was "getting down with the Lord up inside the church" (or something like that)...it felt great. It came to me that all along, I've been avoiding the work of the higher powers, insisting on the "I'll do it all by myself" attitude. But, you know...help from the Lord doesn't usually come directly from him. For example, a person in financial trouble might pray for help...but of course a stack of cash won't drop from the sky. However, help might come in the form of a lower-than-expected energy bill, the plummeting gas prices, etc. That was not my particular problem, but merely an example. I can say, for myself, I've made such a huge deal about retaining my pride and leaning on nobody. For example, I often refused to ask for any help or suggestions whenever the kids drive me crazy, because as a single parent, I've put more pressure on myself to make sure they have just as good a life as kids with 2 parents in the home. You know what, though? Two parent homes aren't without drama either. Another issue I REALLY started to struggle with this year is my emotions...often, I felt I couldn't just admit how I felt about things...and even felt I couldn't grieve over my Nana...because I worried everyone would dismiss me as bipolar anyway and invalidate me. Yes, that has happened, but I now realize that most people don't actually make that assumption. Just like any other person, I have my ups and downs. Also, of course, there were relationship issues and failures for me...and I attribute a lot of it (though not all) to my insistence of independence, rather than interdependence. I was so busy protecting my heart and my ego...plus, I didn't like myself and I couldn't understand why anybody would like me either.
The pattern of existence I described above was anything but productive for me and anyone around me. I seemed to slip just a little more as time passed...not realizing I was slipping...and I couldn't figure out why I felt so heavy, why my heart was so gloomy, why I had become such a pessimist, or why physically, I was getting fatigued and having chronic (nagging, but not debilitating) pain. I will admit something I wouldn't admit then...I told Kristin that something had to change in my life...that I just didn't feel I could go on at the rate I was. I'd wake up in the mornings already exhausted by whatever the day had in store. I had so many moments I wished I could disappear to an isolated place...and even more scary, I had moments I wished I just didn't exist at all. I knew my spirit needed renewal.
A day after I composed my "renewal" blog, I attended church service for the first time. They spoke so much of restoration. Yes, it feels like the service is all about me. Haha. At any rate, from the first morning I attended, I knew something had changed inside me...like a bulk of the burden was lifted. I didn't necessarily know why, except it felt like the mega-responsibilities I'd placed on my...well, responsibilities, had not seemed so tough. I had expected I should be this wonderful parent who never screws up...and that when my kids make mistakes, it's all my fault. I had also expected that as an alternative school teacher, I should be helping kids straighten their lives out and that...after a few months, they would be all better if I was really doing a good job...that, on top of the fact that special ed kids should achieve the same level as regular ed (riiiight), and dyslexic kids would suddenly read and write well, kids with math problems would suddenly do algebra, and kids with ADHD would suddenly sit still like the cherubs within. Hahaha! Yeah, as I type, I see how crazy I let things get. Even back in the day as a counselor, I felt I wasn't doing my job if my clients had setbacks or didn't get "cured" after years of serious problems. Yep, I can see where I put so much on myself to control aspects of human life that weren't meant for me to control. So...I'm not saying that was all my problem, but that was definitely A HUGE BULK of it. I set incredible expectations for myself and those around me, thinking I could singlehandedly change everything and everyone for the better...almost as if I were the one in charge of the world. Without divine intervention, though, I couldn't even help myself. Without allowing those who cared about me to be supportive in whatever way (even friends who simply give lots of hugs), I was also blocking light that God intended for me.
A song that once was, but no longer is, my theme song is "I am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel. I really truly used to give myself pep talks with that song. It has lines such as "I touch no one and no one touches me...I have no need for friendship, friendship causes pain ...If I never loved, I never would have cried...I have my books and my poetry to protect me," and "The rock feels no pain...and the island never cries." Yeah, of course I had tons of emotions, but I'd deal with them with my handy-dandy "quick-release button" located somewhere deep inside me. If a situation hurt me, I'd simply disconnect from the person or people associated. I'm sure I've burned more than my fair share of bridges in my lifetime...Anyway...it feels good to have installed more lightbulbs in my heart. It feels good to be filled with spirit again...to feel alive...to feel loved and to feel capable of loving.
Again, I'm not trying to push this on anyone...just sharing a blessing that overpowers my struggles. You don't have to be straight to be loved by God. All too often, those against our civil rights use God as a way to justify their intolerance. I just don't feel he agrees.
Friday, January 02, 2009
At the risk of being verbally abused I have a thought that has been bothering me. I am aware that those advocates who are out there to watch out for my rights as a gay man and father have to pay attention to everything that happens. With that said, I feel that the "hype" around the president - elect's choice for a minister for his invocation is making us seem as non-inclusive as we accuse the "other side" of being. I do understand our need to monitor what is going on and to pay attention but can we just exclude this guy because his views don't mirror our own? I don't know..but I do have this feeling that is what we are doing.