Thursday, February 23, 2012

Doubt and Struggle

I wrote this as a paper for one of my classes, but it felt like a good thing to restart the blog with.

    If I were to pick a theme in my faith it would be that of doubt and struggle.  In choosing to reflect on a time when I struggled with doubt I can think of no better time than now, in my current spiritual state.  But what led me here is just as important. 
   At one time my spirituality was very black and white and had a very firm foundation.  I was, in general terms, a typical evangelical Christian.  I believed in the Bible as God's Word and understood it as a moral guideline for my life.  If the Bible said something was good, I believed that to be true, and similarly if the Bible claimed something to be sinful or bad, I also believed that to be true.  But this blind faith in a limited interpretation of the Bible was not helpful to my life.  It caused me to feel immense guilt for never living up to this unrealistic expectation of perfectionism and this God full of grace that the preachers spoke of never felt truly real.  God's grace was abundant but the grace of our peers often falls short, making God's grace all the more difficult to grasp. 
    After years of trying to change my wants, desires and attractions, I began to doubt if they were the evil, sinful things so many in my faith had named them to be.  I had been caught in an endless circle of shame and guilt, feeling more and more lonely because admitting that I was attracted to the same sex was as good as calling myself a pedophile in the eyes of most people I knew.   Outing myself would not be met with love and acceptance nor grace.  It was a fearful and repulsive thing to this faith community, where calling someone a "faggot" was totally acceptable because "homosexuals" weren't in the church.
But my struggle continued and my doubt grew.  I began to wonder if my community had all the answers and if these fringe Christians who spoke about homosexuality as being part of God's creation; those that embraced the gay community as just another colour of the rainbow (pun intended) were on to something. 
    So, I studied, absorbing all kinds of writings and interpretations of what the Bible was referring to in those handful of verses dealing with homosexuality.  As I questioned and read I discovered two things; first, that not everything I read I agreed with.  Sometimes the scholars felt as though they were little more than commentators, throwing opinions around freely but never really appearing to have a solid argument.  This made me feel better about my struggle; perhaps it was somehow more legitimate if I wasn't willing to settle on something just because it said what I wanted to hear, that I didn't have to choose between my God and my sexuality.  Secondly, I was impressed (and a little shocked) to discover that there were many, many disagreements on what the Bible said about many, many things.  Everything from women's equality to whether we were still allowed to have slaves was STILL being debated among Christians; things that I thought a consensus had been reached on long ago.  It was through this time of searching that I came to realize the great diversity of belief, even within  the Christian world.  I felt more and more comfortable believing my sexuality could be accepted and even blessed by God.  But in accepting my sexuality as a healthy part of my life, I was no longer acceptable in the church, so my faith was forced to change once again. 
    Recently I met with a pastor in the community who is also gay so that I could discuss the challenges I'm faced with currently in my faith.  Our last paper for practicum asked us to describe our spiritual resources and I found myself at a loss.  I knew what my spiritual resources used to be, but I could no longer name them, and I came to realize I was unsure of a great many things in my faith.  I realized I have begun to question many more things about my faith and so my old way of connecting to God no longer felt right.  This pastor was a great help in guiding me along my spiritual path, but I am realizing more and more that doubt and struggle are simply part of process of forming my faith; a faith that may never actually be formed but constantly in the state of becoming.  And so I am sitting in that, challenging and rediscovering my spirituality, doubting and struggling with my beliefs and trying to be content within the messiness of it. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The corny mystery

Do you ever have something that makes you think of God?  A lot of people associate God with nature.  People see God in the sunsets and mountains and thunderstorms.
I love thinking about God in that way, wondering about this being who is beyond my understanding.

I see God in the sunsets, mountains and thunderstorms.
But you know where I really see him/her?
You'll never guess.


When I watch squirrels, I can't help but think of God.

They remind me that God is playful.  When I see a squirrel I can't help but laugh a little at how they bound around and play.  It reminds me that God has a sense of humour, and not in a dark ironic kind of way, but in a playful joyous, giggling school girl kind of way.  Yes, I did just compare God to a giggling school girl.  God is weird...and silly...and kind of...corny.

Our image and understanding of God can be as unique as we are.  But we usually carry around a lot of baggage when it comes to thoughts on theology.  So many people are so certain of who God is, and no one can seem to agree with anyone about it.  Everybody has answers but no one seems to be asking questions anymore.

You'd think that after getting a degree in Religion and years spent contemplating and thinking about God I would have some solid answers.  The truth is the more I learn and understand about God the fewer answers I have.

One of my favourite Professors from college said that after years of education and studying theology he has fewer answers now than ever.  You see I think the more you know God, the less you know of him/her.  The more you know of God the more you realize there is no real way to know God.  In fact if God was able to be fully known, would S/He really be God?  If it were possible for me to understand and figure God out, the being that I believe created this amazingly beautiful and complex world, well...that would be an awfully disappointing experience.  I sure hope God is beyond our human understanding.

God is so mysterious.  That is a part of the beauty.  For me, it's the best part.  :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I can't count the number of times I have been told how important it is to attend a church (body of believers) as a Christian.  Growing up in a church setting and attending a bible college stressed the importance all the more.  Church is where you plug in with other believers, it's where you are challenged, where you can worship and where you find community.
I don't disagree with any of those things.  That is what it should  mean to meet and become a part of the church (which is not a building for the record, but more accurately defined as a body of believers).

But what happens when you no longer feel welcome in the body of Christ, which is the church.  When instead of feeling like a healthy extension of that body, you begin to feel more like the infected limb that the rest of the body just wants to cut off?  Or worse, and what I find more common, is when people stop taking your faith seriously because it is different than theirs.

I know I need a community where I can meet and be challenged in my faith.  I know I need a place to worship and focus on God.  I know I need a place and group of people who will support, love and encourage me in my faith.  I know my relationship with God is suffering because I do not have this connection to a community.  But where is that community?  How many churches are genuinely acting this out for all those who seek it?
As a gay christian I find it next to impossible to be comfortable in church.  The church became a place where I felt insecure, unwelcome and judged.  Now I recognize that some of this may be in my head, that perhaps some of these insecurities are solely my own to contend with, but many people share my experience, regardless of sexuality.

The church, which is supposed to represent God's unconditional love, is now experienced as a place where women feel silenced, the gay community is openly hated (or at best unequal), and broken people are told to fix themselves before entering.  One needs to experience and understand God in the same doctrinal way as that community or they may be forced to "move on" to find a place that more closely shares their belief.

What happened to diversity!? A community whose motto used to be "come as you are" has turned into "come as WE are".  Why are we so afraid of difference?  Why is there such resistance to sharing and conversing with those who believe differently?

God. is. BIG. enough. to. handle. the. conversation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Not yet I guess

I wrote a whole blog today, and then decided not to post it.  My thoughts are not quite formed enough for this one yet.  I was happy to write though.  In my mind this was a very productive blog.  Sorry you cannot read it yet.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In defense of my faith...

Here is a note I wrote to a friend recently.  This friend is conservative in thinking and disagrees with my sexuality and my approach to faith.  Here is what I wrote back.  I have taken out personal references so that he may retain anonymity.

Hey _____, 

Thanks for the update. I think we see things differently but please don't disregard my faith or convictions simply because they aren't the same as your own. 

My beliefs and morales about my sexuality were something I struggled and studied over for years. I did not throw away scripture or choose my own desires above Gods. Scripture is deep and complex and though our interpretations vary our appreciation and approach to the Bible is very likely similar.

Saying something like "knowing very clearly what the Bible says" only makes me wonder how well you truly know it. I mean no disrespect in this, but I have spent years in a conservative bible college with professors (who would be considered conservative themselves) who have dedicated their lives to interpreting scripture.  The one thing they all had in common was that they agreed the original language and interpretation of scripture is often complex, confusing and difficult to translate. Scripture is so incredibly beautiful, but it is not often "easy" or "clear". 

I have no false sense of changing your mind about your beliefs nor would I want to. I think the different interpretations, perspectives and understandings of God and the Bible promote exactly the kind of diversity and beauty that God represents. Perhaps where you are in your beliefs is exactly where you should be, but I would ask that you give me the same grace and at least allow for the possibility that I may be healthy and exactly where I need to be as well. 

I can't explain to you the freedom and peace I felt when I finally started to accept and love myself for who I am, all that I am. My sexuality is only a small part of what makes me who I am, but it is a beautiful joyous thing as well and I fully trust that God has made me just as I am for a reason. My sexuality is a gift. Not one that is always easy to take, as there will always be people who are fearful, ignorant and hateful of what they don't understand.  But I have come to truly believe it is a beautiful thing over the years. I wouldn't try and change it even if I could. 

At one time I was at a place where I fully gave my sexuality and life to God and was preparing to marry a girl. It was God who convicted me of this and made me question if that was healthy. I felt it was wrong to marry someone whom I would never truly desire the way she deserved to be desired. It felt selfish. I am gay because God led me down this path and called me out to be who I am. 

I very much agree with you about God's grace being infinite and beyond anything I could have ever imagined. God has given me more than I could have ever anticipated and I feel blessed to be in a relationship that is beautiful and healthy and to have friends that love and support me in both my faith and my sexuality. 

I appreciate your prayers and will also be praying for you. That's what the church is about. I hope that I can be there support you if you ever need someone to talk to. 

You're in my thoughts, 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Accepting that I am a writer...

I have been putting this off for a ridiculously long period of time.

In all honesty, I don't even remember when I made this account, but here it is and here I am finally posting an online journal.

You see, I've come to the have come to ACCEPT that I am a writer.  I know, it doesn't sound like the most dramatic of realizations and certainly doesn't sound like something that I should have to "accept" as if it's a terminal disease.

"Oh, did you hear about Robyn?  He just found out.  He's a sad."

But there's a lot of pressure in declaring that I am a writer.  It means I have to prove something not only to you, but to myself.  I have to spell things correctly (gasp!).  I have to be entertaining, funny, witty, relevant and worst of the worst, I have to make sense.

I'm an introvert, which basically means I never stop thinking.  But my thoughts don't have to make sense!  If I choose to accept that I am a writer it means I have to put my thoughts on paper...or at least online, and that means I need to organize my thoughts in a way that other people can understand them.  I don't understand my own thoughts most of the time, how the hell am I going to make other people understand them?!?

What if I can't do any of that?  What if it turns out I don't really have anything to say?  What if my thoughts and opinions are wrong?  What if I'm not affirmed by all the people in my life who matter?  What if no one even notices?  What if I can't live up to all the expectations and hopes and dreams of what it means to be a writer?  There's a lot of risk in this declaration.

But here I am, declaring it to...well, to no one really.  I'm declaring it to myself I suppose.  Because being a writer really has nothing to do with anyone else but myself.  I'm not claiming to be a talented writer.  That's an entirely different kind of declaration.

This is more of a confession.  I'm confessing that I need to write to stay sane.   I'm confessing that I believe my thoughts are worth writing down, even if only to myself.  I'm confessing that I am self absorbed enough to believe that my thoughts and ramblings might actually make a difference if released out into the world.

So maybe being a writer isn't an illness, but more like a cure.   Here's to hoping my cure is entertaining.