Faith and religion have both played an integral part in my life. I grew up going to church weekly, participating in youth groups and bible studies, and attending Christian schools. Everyone I knew shared the same worldview and belief system as I did. I was convinced that people who practiced a faith differing with mine would spend eternity burning in hell and I wanted to make sure I never fell into that category.
Religion was fear based for me. I was told that if I had a sin I had not asked forgiveness for, God would not listen to my prayers. If I did not close my eyes when I prayed or open my mouth big enough when I sang in church, God was unpleased with me. It felt as if God’s love required my perfection, a goal that remained continually unattainable.
Throw sexuality in the mix.
I was never boy crazy. I felt different among my girl peers as they swooned over boys; I couldn’t fully understand their obsessions. I dated a few boys in high school and college but it never equated into a serious relationship. I remember being drawn to certain girls with an urge of wanting to be their friend. Not just their friend, but their best friend; the one they would come to for everything and want to spend every waking moment with. What I have come to realize is the longing I had for those friendships were amongst the first of my girl crushes.
What I was feeling and what I was raised to believe were forcing conflict within. I wanted God to love me, but I also wanted to be in a relationship where I could be my true self. This sparked a whirlwind of anxiety and depression, sleepless nights, repression, and the constant thought I was doing something wrong.
If only I could change that one thing.
But there would be moments; moments of silence when the noise of my thoughts subsided and I could hear one truth speak clearly. “You are loved by God and He sees nothing wrong with you.”
I have begun to let myself be comfortable with my true being. There are, and will be, times in which I may feel the pressure from surrounding Christians that try and tell me to change. However, instead of their opinions throwing me into an emotional chaos, I am able to hold onto the truth that God loves me regardless of my sexuality.
Embracing our true selves may be a difficult, but also rewarding journey. Some people may hurt you, disappoint you, and even reject you. But, there will be people who will surround you and support you, who will love you regardless and welcome you with open arms. I chose to seek out the latter; not looking back, but standing firm in bravery, and acknowledging myself. My true self.