Today has been a fairly unusual day for me. I went to church for the first time in probably about five years. I had attended off and on through different parts of life, but it had been a while. I had stopped going because migraines, chronic pain, depression, and insomnia made functioning as a human being very difficult for a long time. The past couple of years, when being human became easier, I was dealing with something that kept me avoiding church and church people. God has always been very real to me. My faith in Him never wavered, I just didn’t attend the building with the people in it.
A few things kept coming up today pertaining to honesty. I believe that whatever form a voice takes, it should be honest. Even if I don’t give every detail, the truth of the matter should be in there or I’ve accomplished nothing. Even if I’m acting in a role as someone else, or writing fiction, or singing a song about something I’ve not personally experienced, I should be telling the truth of the reality of that story. So, I should probably be honest here about what kept me from going back more recently. My hesitation in writing about this topic is because I know some of you may get the impression that this issue will become my voice and you don’t want it thrown in your face all the time. I don’t think I would ever limit myself to one topic, but it is something that needs addressed because it is relevant to my day, my life, and my story.
I am a bisexual Christian. When you belong to a Southern Baptist church in rural Bible Belt America, that’s a pretty big potential for rejection and conflict. They (the Southern Baptist Convention as an organization) believe it is a sin. I do not. They will only allow out gay people certain opportunities to serve. I think that’s wrong. Then there are the individuals themselves who could hold any variety of views under the sun having their own reactions to my news, though I’m less concerned about that. There are a couple of people at church whom I’ve seen on occasion outside who knew, but basically, no one else did. I’m out to my family and close friends now. I’m not hiding or lying. It’s on my facebook and twitter. But, a lot of people don’t notice those things unless they are specifically told about them. So, I felt myself walking a line between honesty and strategically interesting answers that stopped just short of that truth.
Without being dishonest, when they’d ask how I’d been, I told them how much better my life is now, less pain and more writing, etc. When they told me I looked amazing, I told them I’d lost 70 pounds. I also told them I felt drawn back to church but, without getting specific, that some of my views had changed and I wasn’t sure if still I wanted to call this church my home or not. I told them that I’m going to try to attend more often and see where life leads me.
There are things I didn’t tell them, too. Knowing that I believe differently about something very divisive, I didn’t mention my orientation or specific views thereon. I didn’t tell them that I was having a little trouble feeling welcomed, because it had nothing to do with these people who were incredibly welcoming and as kind and amazing as ever. It’s a weird thing to know that, as per policy, if I were to be fully honest, I would be welcomed to a point but no further. I also didn’t tell them that so much of my improved health and how “amazing” I look stems from the peace, joy, and freedom of understanding myself so much better than I ever had before. Just like my relationship with God is one thing and my relationship with other Christians is another, so is my relationship with those individual Christians and my relationship with the church organization. It’s a bit conflicting.
I’m glad I went. I’m glad I joined some friends for lunch afterwards. I’m glad I came out to one of those friends while she was cooking said lunch. It was nice seeing so many kind and loving people and feeling welcomed by them. I wish I could have been more than just honest to a point.