I went to Vegas over the weekend to see my family and go to my cousin's farewell. I was only there for like 30 hours, but it was really good to see my mom and sister who drove up as well as other extended family members.
I was talking with my mom, sister, aunt and uncle about various church related things. I didn't bring it up... they started talking about experiences they've had in church and how it has been hard sometimes because they don't agree on certain things. My aunt is a pretty strong feminist, so she has issues with the fact that men can marry multiple women in the temple and women can only marry one and other similar doctrines. She has also been mistreated to the extreme by church members. Anyway, I asked why she still goes. Not out of accusation, out of honest curiosity. I wanted to find out why she continues to go even though she has some big questions and problems with certain doctrines/policies.
Anyway, that sparked an interesting conversation. My uncle said if he were in my shoes, staying would be insane. My aunt and mom talked about reasons why they go even though they disagree at times. Later, though, I was talking with just my mom and sister and my mom gave me really good advice.
After explaining my situation and how it is difficult to think about God without attaching the church (the organization in which I learned of God) and how the church uproots negativity, pain and mistrust, she said to let the church go for awhile. I am letting my experience with the church destroy my relationship with God. She said I should just focus on my relationship with God right now through prayer and meditation and leave the religion thing out of it until I am spiritually healthy again. I think she is right.
Here is what I feel like I have done: Growing up, I had a void. It was a void I refused to fill and no substitute worked. That hole was my orientation, and it was a large one. I tried to fill it with church, with staying busy, with prayer, with service, fasting, trying to date women... but that hole just got deeper until I could not feel emotion, I could not feel love, I could not believe I was loved, and my spirit broke. No substitute would do. Then, I had an experience that taught me that God did not want me to look for a substitute because there was none. I learned that living authentically and accepting love into my soul by coming to terms with and embracing my orientation was the only way to fill that deep void that threatened my life. Once I accepted the real thing, life became so sweet.
But I had work to do. How will I reconcile my faith and my sexuality? According to churches and religions, I could not keep both. In the beginning, I was hopeful that I could find a way... but after awhile, I had another void in me. God. I was trying to fill it with religion. I was so determined to force religion to embrace my orientation that I got sidetracked. But religion never did agree with my sexuality. It was God that taught me that to embrace it, NOT religion. Now I realize that a church does not own or dictate my relationship with God and that it is God who I need to look to for comfort and guidance, not religion.
So, I have decided to fill this new void with the real thing. God. I am going to focus on my relationship with deity. It is a new thing for me because in the past, I used church to cultivate that relationship. Church is what forced me to think about God, read about him, etc. But right now, my spirit is still wounded by my experience. The church is just salt on the wound at this point. I hope that once that void is full and my relationship with God is strong, the wounds will heal and I can perhaps approach the idea of religion again.
I have been using blame as a way to discharge pain and discomfort, and it hasn't worked. God claims to comfort and heal. I'm going back to God.