everpresentlovingkindness

The following is a repost from Facebook on Feb. 1

Dear Joan,*

There is no easy way to say this, so I will try to put it as gently as I can. If you are gay, God cannot help you right now. What I mean by that is not to say that God can’t help you later. As scary as this sounds, you’re on your own.

I do not mean this in the absolutely terrible way it sounds. You have been harmed by religion and told that you are less than perfect. You have been told that these feelings for women will go away, but you haven’t seen any evidence of it. You think you must be celibate for the rest of your life, never experiencing the joy of a really great marriage. The constant messages that have been drilled into your head have made you feel the fear that comes with thinking that God doesn’t love you.

Walk away. Leave that where it is. Give yourself time to heal from those wounds, because you need time to work out what you really think. Trying to undo years and years of indoctrination is going to take time, especially if you want to reach out to a more liberal denomination and keep church in your life. Stop going to church, and don’t go back until you’re ready to, in a sense, take it on. Knowing God is bigger than you think. It can and will absolutely change your life. But right now, you need to rest.

You need to rest in the same way that a church gets what they call an “interim pastor.” After a beloved pastor leaves a church, an interim is there (for lack of a better term) to take all the bullets. The congregation can be angry and upset~ why shouldn’t they be? The person responsible for teaching them things that change their lives emotionally and spiritually is not going to be one of those people that leaves without incident. The interim is a time to take a breath so that the congregation can welcome a new pastor, having resolved the issues and conflicts that came before.

In the same way, I think you also need the “peace of interim.” Leave God where God always sits on your heart. Fill the time that you used to fill with church with something else. Join a soccer team. Learn to make beer. Go to concerts and read books. Stimulate your senses in a way that you haven’t done before. Think about something else and let God fade into the background.

Eventually, there will be a time when you can think about God and not the hurt that you endured. You will see the everpresentlovingkindness. You will want to pray for your friends and family. You will see the amazing clarity that comes from getting your thoughts organized enough to speak to God one on one. There is no specific order to prayer, but in my own life, I find that if I have some idea of what I want to say, the answers come more easily.

And when that everpresentlovingkindness has arrived, you cannot nurture it in isolation. Christianity is not a solo endeavor. You’ll want to reach out to a group of people that will hold you accountable. Pray with you in pain and ecstasy. Give you the opportunity to give back to your community and feel the uplifting feeling you get when you’ve helped someone else. Allow yourself to feed your soul… that part of you that is your still, small voice.

But in order to feel that level of joy, you have to work through that level of pain. That’s going to be the hard part. In order to make yourself open to what God has to say, you have to work on yourself, first. Get a therapist. When I pick out a therapist, I go through the directory listing and write down all the names that sound like New York Jews. It’s profiling, yes, but it tends to yield the best results. My current therapist, for what it’s worth, is absolutely friggin’ brilliant and could pass for Larry David. But that’s my system. You’ll have to find what works best for you.

The point is that in order to receive God, you need to give attention and love to yourself so that you are able to recognize God when you’re ready. Again, you need to separate your old relationship with God and give yourself space to create a new one. Give yourself permission to protect your heart, because you are about to go through a tremendous loss.

The friends you currently have that are not enlightened enough to let go and love you for who you are will drop you in a hot minute. It’s going to be lonely, you’re going to be more scared than you’ve ever been in your life, until you realize that friends who don’t love you for who you are aren’t really friends. You’ll find new ones, and welcome the old ones back into your circle as they finally realize that they were wrong. And not only that, but embarrassingly so.

Your former friends won’t know what to say when they realize that they’ve been acting like segregationists in the Jim Crow south. Worse than that, they acted that way toward you, their old friend, the one that despite their condemnation, you’ve loved them the whole time. Despite their brazen attacks on your personhood, you still remember the time they stuck a glue stick up their nose in second grade. You will follow this path over and over as more and more people seek you out to tell you just how terrible they feel that they made your childhood so much more difficult than it had to be. It’s a good time to pull out that glue stick story.

You are going to be fine, because you are already sitting in the perfect white light, the everpresentlovingkindness of the Holy Spirit. Turn inward, and see what happens. Knowing yourself is knowing God, knowing what you are capable of giving and receiving in this absolute abundance of joy. But take your time. Don’t try to accept all of this at once. It is a journey, and not a race. I am here to walk beside you. I do my best thinking while mobile.

Grace and peace from the everpresentlovingkindness of that Holy Spirit, both now and when you decide to put the first foot forward and step down on sacred ground.

Amen.

Author: theantileslie

I'm 42. I am single, probably because geeks don't get laid. But I do enjoy that my age is now the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

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