Sitting here looking at this blank screen, there are so many things I want to say. So many ways I want to express my thoughts.
The following is what I managed to get out.
When I was 17 years old, I started a children’s program in my home church with 2 amazing friends. I became a Children’s Ministry Leader at a young age, building a children’s program from the floor up. I found volunteers to give of their time weekly, I wrote scripts, I wrote curriculum, people donated speakers, lights, sound boards, projectors, etc… and we turned an old gym building into a lively and fun experience for children weekly. I had found my passion.
At the same time, I started college at Charleston Southern University with a major in Youth Ministry. However, after one year of college there, I decided it wasn’t for me- and instead I…
Moved to Sydney, Australia at 19 years old. I started college at Hillsong International Leadership College where I studied Children’s Ministry under the title of Pastoral Leadership.
I stopped the program in Sydney halfway through and moved back to the US to begin work as a Children’s Pastor at a fairly large church in South Carolina. I became a full time pastor. I had an office, I was in control of a huge children’s auditorium and children’s program. I sat in weekly pastoral meetings, I attended conferences, I wrote curriculum every week, and preached 2-3 times each Sunday from a stage. I counseled children, wrote and directed plays, wrote and produced a summer camp, and led a large group of volunteer teachers. I was living my dream.
Two years of working in the church and I decided to move back to Sydney, Australia to finish my Pastoral Leadership Training, now switching my focus from Children’s Ministry to Social Justice. Through my time at the church, I had a draw to really get involved in outside community based projects. I finished out the program and received my certificate from the college in Pastoral Leadership with a focus on Social Justice and Community Engagement.
I returned to South Carolina, and began working with a small church-plant. I became their part-time children’s pastor, helping to build their children’s program and began working on outside projects as well, to engage the community.
I was invited, as the Children’s Speaker, to a conference in Fiji, where I went and had the opportunity to speak internationally at a conference for kids, in correlation with an adult conference that was also taking place. I also became a community speaker, speaking in chapels and assemblies and classrooms at local schools in South Carolina. People knew my name, they knew what I was for, and they knew my passion.
My career as a children’s pastor, speaker, and social justice advocate seemed like it was on the right track, and I had high hopes and dreams of the future.
Then my life changed.
Shortly after my return from Australia the second time, I met someone. I fell in love. We spent a lot of time together and I learned a lot about myself. However, little did I know, that a date to a baseball game would be the “game changer” that would change the course of my life. Someone from the church I worked for at the time saw us there. They told the lead pastor. I had a meeting with the pastor and his wife- and I was let go.
A week later, I came out to my Mom. I’m bisexual.
The weeks following that, I lost all control of myself. I became depressed, and ended up losing the other part time job I had at the time because of that depression. Members of my family stopped talking to me, I moved in with a friend, and that is where I laid in bed day after day. I cried if anyone tried to talk to me. I felt completely alone. I didn’t eat and I lost weight. I contemplated life, I questioned my identity, and I withdrew from everyone.
A month later, I ran away to NYC. It was my escape and not well planned. I didn’t know how I’d make it, or who I’d really rely on, but I did it. It was a struggle- and after a few months of being there, still dealing with my depression- and dealing with it in negative ways- I moved back to Charleston for a while to become financially stable. Almost a year later I moved back to NYC and have been there since.
Now- Two and half years later..
I’ve found MANY people to help me and guide me on my journey. I’ve met lifelong friends through the struggle, and I’ve became a more independent person. My heart has grown immensely, and my mind has come to understand so much.
Many people have questioned the authenticity of my relationship with God- and let me just say- I feel as close to Him as ever. The idea of sexuality being something that separates someone from God is asinine in my opinion. Sure, I don’t understand it all- but I do understand that God loves me, He knows me, and He guides me. I’ve done my research, I’ve studied, and I believe that equality as a human race and acceptance as believers still has a long way to go.
I believe there are many misconceptions about what the Bible says concerning sexuality, and I’m thankful for the churches that understand that and that have made a stand to not condemn- but better understand. I’m also thankful for the people in my life who truly love Jesus and help me daily strengthen my relationship with Him and my church that always inspires me and guides me further as a believer.
I now live an amazing life in New York City- where I get to manage events for a Children’s Enrichment Center, I’m able to write and work with editors and other writers, I travel the world and explore new cultures, and I get to meet so many amazing people who are also on a journey. Unfortunately, I’ve also met many who have similar stories- that have been pushed out of the doors of a church after being loyal members- and have since turned their back on it. That’s unfortunate and such in opposition of what Christ taught.
I recently read an article titled “Why, as a Christian Pastor, I Support Marriage Equality” and this is just a small piece taken from pastor Aleem Ali…
“Across the centuries, ‘the Church’ has been certain about a lot of things. Questionable positions have been articulated on a whole range of issues, such as the shape of the earth; Indigenous cultures; human trafficking; race; mental health; wealth distribution; tattoos; suicide; parenting; and, gender equality. The harm that has been done to people in the name of ‘God’ is deeply distressing. The hermeneutic and theological argument in relation to homosexuality and marriage equality must be also open to question and critique.”
People are quick to criticize things that are foreign to them, things that they’ve never dealt with or that they don’t understand. I’d urge those people to study and explore with an open mind. Frankly, we don’t know it all and there are things we are still discovering, daily. I’d urge you to take some time to listen to the following podcast.
In the end, I’m not writing this message because I feel it’s necessary for me to move on- thankfully my acceptance and worth doesn’t lie in people’s opinions. However, I write this because I know there are people struggling. Dealing with depression and having a hard time navigating their journey, their unique journey that is special to them. Who look to other things to cope- alcohol, drugs, suicidal thoughts— I’ve been there. Just know, although there are negative voices out there- the spirit of LOVE is stronger. And God loves His children and would never turn His back on you. You were created just the way you are- and the culture in which we live must come to understand that.