Is the love of God and the pursuit of Him only available for certain people?
When I was 5, I wanted to be a Country-Gospel singer (no judgement, please)
When I was 7, I wanted to be a Veterinarian (only the furry cute ones, no snakes or reptiles)
When I was 9, I wanted to be a Painter (I spent hours dreaming of what my studio would look like)
When I was 12, I wanted to be an Architect (however, math is not my strong suit)
When I was 15, I wanted to be an Interior Designer (despite the fact that I'm colorblind)
When I was 17, I wanted to be a Pastor.
When we grow up, we have an idea of what our future will look like. We have an idea of what life will be, and how we will develop into our future selves. We have passions, desires, beliefs, and social constructs that shape us and shape our outlook on life. We also have doubts and reservations, hurdles to jump and trainings to complete.
What I never took into consideration, when growing up and dreaming, was my sexual orientation. I never defined myself by it. I never thought about the fact that what I was naturally attracted to would hinder the dreams my heart dreamt. I never thought that the person I would one day love would determine the places I felt welcomed, the places I had to seek out to worship, the places I had to look for work and a career.
All I knew was, I had passions that burnt inside of me. I wanted to make a difference in the world, I wanted to follow the purposes of my heart.
I grew up in the church, a mix between the front pew of a Pentecostal Holiness Church where my grandfather pastored and a Southern Baptist Church where my mother sang in the choir every Sunday. The differences in worship style were confusing, for sure. What wasn't confusing was my desire to worship, to seek God, and to tell everyone I knew about Him.
I did become a Pastor. I studied at an amazing Bible College and I fell in love, deeper than ever before, with my creator. My heart for people grew-- the hurting, the abandoned, the outcast... as I focused on social justice and the pursuit of happiness for all.
After 6 years of ministry leading, pastoring, and preaching... my purpose in life came to a complete halt. I fell in love with someone. Someone who made me happy. Someone who felt right. Someone whose gender didn't align with the predetermined expectations put on me by my society or religious institution. When I was asked to step down from my position in the church and give up my passion in life... I was for sure that I would never enter, much less serve, in a church again.
I heard the voices. The hatred. I had seen the news reports, I had heard the conversations among religious people. I felt worthless. I felt unwanted. I felt ashamed.
However, nothing could compete with the love I had for my Savior. I knew, in my heart, that the God I served was not the same God that these religious people spoke for. I knew that God had created me, that He knew me, and that the passions inside of me had been a gift from Him.
It was during this time that I began to dig even deeper into the heart of my God. To seek out truth, to seek out my beliefs and my convictions. God never left me, but I felt as though the church had. I felt alone, I felt judged, I felt afraid- many times. But there was one thing that I knew, that I held on to... I was accepted, I was loved, and I was created uniquely by a God who was for me.
Spirituality is a journey. It's a personal relationship between you and God. It isn't your neighbor's religion, it isn't your mother's religion, it isn't the churches religion. It it YOUR relationship. We all have a unique story, and God will take us on our own journey if we allow Him. My heart has grown exponentially during this process that seemed so difficult and tough. I have never felt more aligned in my purpose and my desire to see love win continues to burn inside of me. I'm a fighter, a fighter for equality. For justice. For freedom.
If you, or someone you know, is dealing with similar issues-- this is what I have to say. Seek God and His heart. Everyone has an opinion, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily for you. Be careful who you let speak over your life. Seek Him yourself and hold tight to His promises. And, above all else, run after your dreams! Don't let anyone take away what God has given. Be bold, be a fighter, make a change, and show love to everyone.
Don't give up. And don't allow those who claim to "speak" for God tarnish the gift He has given each and every one of us. #persevere #onlyoneyou