The other day I found (and threw out) a letter from a “concerned friend”. Now before you read this, don’t think I’m preaching. I’ve got a lot of stories to tell and this one just happens to be a good one about God (mostly to balance out the one from yesterday when I referred to Religious Indoctrination). Last night I watched a very spiritual episode of Glee and it got me thinking. Religion, Faith, Spirituality whatever you want to call it has to be reached by the individual.
This is the story of the day I lost my faith and how I got it back…
It was October 2001 and the day before I’d told her I was gay. She told me she’d pray for me and sent a letter and told me she’d call me for a proper chat the next day.
When she did call me, all hell broke loose. She was a friend from my old Christian school and for some reason I believed she would support me during the hardest time of my life.
She did not.
My “friend”, who shall remain nameless, proceeded to batter my confidence, my mind, all my emotions and my faith in God in a 20 minute tirade of phrases such as “We don’t think that this is the right thing for you” and “we’re praying that you ‘get through this’" and "God wouldn’t want this for you”. I was very upset and felt utterly betrayed, these people I’d known for five years, some longer, I felt had turned their back on me.
I have never spoken to this particular friend since. She made me very angry and I left the church. I turned my back on God for almost ten years. For around six years I was completely lost to Him, partying at college and university, drinking to excess, experimenting. This sounds as though it’s going to be one of those born again stories, but it really isn’t. About a year and a half ago, a good friend of mine, an old lecturer from university who is now a vicar got back in touch. I won’t go into the whole story, but she must have been praying from me because in the weeks that followed I began to feel spiritually lonely. Throughout those previous ten years, I had prayed in moments of high anxiety and when I was scared, but I hadn’t talked properly to God, or listened.
Shaken, I went to my own vicar and explained everything that I was feeling and what had happened. I told her that I felt like God didn’t want me because I was gay. She reassured me that God loves me and is happy with my choices. I realised that I am on a path not of my making and that every experience had led to this moment. I had a choice to make… God or nothing.
After that, I went back to church for a few weeks. Funnily enough, it was harder to come out as a Christian at work than it had been to come out as gay! I felt such peace and ready to make another choice. I decided that church was not for me, but God was. Since then, I have made my own relationship with God – as I say “we’ve got an understanding”. I try to live as good a life as is possible. Everyone makes mistakes and God loves me in spite of these.
God made me in his image so how can my behaviour be so abhorrent? God is love. The words are interchangeable, so when I express my love, I’m doing God’s work.
It affects my day to day life in ways that most people won’t notice until I point it out to them. I try not to take the Lord’s name in vain, you’ll hear me saying “oh my gosh”, and I say “God Bless” a lot, and mean it. Prayer means different things to different people, and He’s reading my thoughts all the time so I don’t feel like I need to take special time to talk to Him. I don’t go to Church because I prefer to have a personal relationship with God, and I don’t read the Bible because the fact that it has so many interpretations means that the true word of God has been lost over the centuries. I don’t like the fact that each denomination has a different version.
So there you go, that’s my spiritual journey in a nutshell, and possibly the most personal blog I’ve written to date. Take from it what you will and understand that although I won’t pray for you… I will think about you a whole lot!