Today, I’m writing as part of a “synchroblog” for Addie Zierman’s new book Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark. The book is a wonderful reflection of trying to have faith in our dark times, when we can’t see God’s light. The synchroblog is where reader/bloggers like me can a) help promote the book, and b) share our own stories of faith in darkness.
This is my story.
New Years Eve, 2014. 11 PM. My toes froze as I stood outside a friend’s house, quietly fighting with my boyfriend in the Michigan cold and snow, porch light providing the only illumination. My father had kicked me out twenty-one days before and my boyfriend’s family had kindly taken me in for Christmas, Now, during New Year’s, we were visiting some of his gay Christian friends in Grand Rapids.
Three weeks. That was all the time I’d had since losing one of the most important things to me. I always considered my family part of my identity. I took pride in my name and lineage. And I thought I could count on my parents to support me and be a safe haven when I needed. That idea took a harsh beating in the years following my confession of being gay, but I still believed it. Until my father told me to leave.
Then seeing my boyfriend enjoying himself with friends I didn’t know, seeming to prefer their company to my own, I felt like a burden. I looked around and wondered why he was with me instead of any of these other guys. My own family didn’t want me; why should he?
For that matter, why should God?
New Year’s Eve, 2014, and I stood crying and barefoot in the Michigan snow, having the first of many emotional breakdowns. The stars were gone and darkness closed in on my heart.
When I lived with my parents in Colorado, I was surrounded by stars and galaxies. The night was always bright with light. I felt loved and cherished. But then I came out to my parents and those lights began going out. They told me I was making a horrible choice, being deceived by Satan, that I had to become straight. They said I couldn’t be gay and be accepted by God.
And when they said that, I became angry. I threw tables in the remote library study room. I screamed. I cried. I refused to believe what my parents said. It couldn’t be true. It couldn’t. Nonetheless, those words slipped into my mind and stayed there, eating away at my faith and heart like a cancer. And the light of God’s love began to grow dim.
Reality seemed to confirm what my parents said. After coming out, things kept going wrong. I lost my psych minor because I failed a class and had to rearrange my schedule and classes so I could still graduate on time. My parents and I couldn’t talk about my sexuality without starting ginormous fights. And after college, I couldn’t get a job in my field of study and had to settle for a low-paying retail job. One thing after the other after the other, all wrong.
Then my father told me to leave. He said he would not suffer my rebellious lifestyle any more. My mother called me and told me tearfully she hoped I knew what I was doing.
That day, I lost a huge part of me. I had been rejected by my own parents, who were supposed to love me no matter what. I had failed to convince my parents that being gay is okay. And that question of whether God still loved me enveloped my mind like a shroud.
I didn’t face that question for months. I would try to laugh it off with an “Of cource God loves me. The Bible says so.” Of course, I’d then remember the Bible also said that men who had sex with other men were an abomination and should be killed. (Leviticus 20:13.) I refused to consider whether God hated me or not because I feared the answer might have been “Yes.”
But like a tumor, that dark question simply grew and grew until it was all I could think about. Finally, with a voice constantly threatening to break and unrelenting tears, I admitted to my therapist that I feared God hated me and that I was a mistake. That I should never have been born in the first place. After all, for most of my life, that phrase was an oxymoron. Antithetical. I was always taught that being gay was sinful, detested by God and rightfully scorned by good Christians. But here I was, a gay Christian, a thing that should not exist.
I talked to theologically-minded friends and that helped push back the darkness. I sobbed to my therapist. I even began going to church again, after finding a safe place to call my “home church”. But this past week, when my pastor told the congregation that God loved and cherished us, I couldn’t help but cry. And some days I still struggle to believe God loves me. That He wants me.
I wish I could say that I now have the answers and feel no doubts about my faith. But I don’t. The darkness is still there, still pervasive. But I do see light. Not at the end of a tunnel, but as a shining star in the night sky, slowly, ever so slowly, growing brighter.