September 8, 2016 by acontraryspirit
6 months later….
A lot of life changes going on for the wife and I this year. I got a new car…a Subaru. I’m definitely feeling the love as my father-in-law would say. It’s nice to have something shiny and new. I don’t treat myself to much when it comes to things. Don’t get me wrong, I live quite comfortably. But there isn’t much, now that I’ve mastered the art of borrowing books from the library, that I want to buy (with the exception of yummy edible and drinkable treats, of course). So a new car is nice. I was falling out of love with Casper and frankly, I think Casper was falling out of love with me.
On top of this, our family is growing! I gave it the old college try, several times, as I’ve written about here once or twice but then it was my wife’s turn and on the second go – bam! Fertile Myrtle, that one. So we are on the road to being moms and growing our family which is exciting and so terrifying at the same time. But I’m pretty sure that’s how a lot of folks tend to feel as first time parents-to-be. More to come…
The other news – I’ve been visiting a church, like the same one; more than once…
In the past I’ve visited some churches – UU, Catholic, Episcopal (several). I’ve had this romanticized idea of the Episcopal church thanks, in part, to my bible study leader growing up who admired the liturgical traditions. So I figured I would too. But the few Episcopal churches in my area didn’t quite fit me. They made me uncomfortable – extremely uncomfortable. Maybe partially because I didn’t know if the congregation was welcoming or not.
After these visits, I was beginning to think I was the problem – familiar territory for my relationship with church. And in researching, which is what I do when I’m in unfamiliar territory, mainly on Relevant Magazine, I kept finding that it is not supposed to be about comfort, and about a church that fits us perfectly. Apparently, it’s our consumer driven culture that makes us think we should be comfortable in church. And so I kind of bought into that thinking for a hot minute and avoided church again because of it.
And then I realized that I think that’s bologna. Is it good to be in uncomfortable situations or to have uncomfortable conversations for purposes of growth – yes! I live my life trying to meet uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations with grace. But, I mean, I am queer. – irrevocably, fully and thankfully – and I’m trying to be Christian. I have no interest in exploring my sexuality through the lens of a church that thinks something about me needs to be fixed (or really that they have any place in thinking something about me needs to be fixed). I do have an interest in exploring opportunities for faith again. Not the blind faith I bought into at such a young age. I’m talking about what faith really means when your main place of residence is doubt (aka adulting in the 21st century).
So yea, I need to find a church where there are at least a few people (ok – really I’d like at least the church leaders) who welcome my whole queer self and not only that, but embrace my queerness. I believe that is necessary for my growth – and isn’t that what the life of Jesus really shows us too? That radical acceptance of all the images of God, even the ones in our enemies, is how to really live on this planet? I’m interested in exploring the faith of radical acceptance, of unlimited experiences of God through other people – all kinds of people – why limit it to only certain people – doesn’t that limit God?
So needless to say, the search for church was still on and I realized I wasn’t willing to compromise and be the token ‘gay’ at a church that didn’t want one. I had just finished Nadia Bolz-Weber’s second book – Accidental Saints – and figured I ought to check out some Lutheran churches. And low and behold, I found one, a 15 minute drive from home that had in their FAQs a simple yet decision making question for me.
‘Are gays and lesbians welcome here?’
The answer – yes we believe that all people are children of God.
I mean, this is a rare find in my county. Not that I live in a super conservative state, but I do live in one of the more conservative counties of our state. So I showed up, the first Sunday for the traditional service which I enjoyed even though I didn’t see anyone who looked like me. And then the next Sunday for the contemporary service. Not quite my cup of tea but I still felt welcome. The pastor even reached out to me, scheduled a lunch we’ll be having soon, and I’ll be able to talk to her, to really ask the questions I need to know about this place.
Is it the end of my search? I honestly don’t know. What does this mean for the form of church I end up participating in? I don’t know. Maybe it won’t be the membership type. But the more I linger without true connection to other doubters trying to figure out this faith thing, the more I know I need a community. They don’t have to be queer. But it would be nice to find some doubters trying to live this story that I could gather with, support, and receive some of God’s grace from. Maybe I’ll find some of that grace in the people who gather in the walls of this Lutheran church.