I’ve gotten off track…
off kilter (what’s a kilter anyway?)
Though it shames me to admit it, it was the election. Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to get into politics here …I’m tired of talking about it anyway. This is about my personal reaction to the stress, the disappointment, and the fatigue of keeping myself informed and doing my part to “educate” the rest.
I’ve been a member of my current church for about seven years. Tammy and I began talking about finding a church almost immediately after we met, so for about four years we just did a lot of talking. Finding a church wasn’t that difficult, there were precious few options in Fresno for the gays to worship (though there are many more now), we would go to “that church,” along with the rest of TeamRainbow.
For the first four or five years, Tammy pretty much went by herself. I had a million excuses for why I didn’t like “that church,” my favorite: no red carpet. I actually told Tammy once that I really thought that churches should have carpet, preferably in some shade of dark red, maybe burgundy….it really didn’t matter, “that church” had a neutral shade of linoleum and it would never change.
Of course the real issue was the great, big chip on my shoulder. “That church” wasn’t my church, the church I had grown up in…the church, for the record, that I had abandoned long before donning the rainbow jersey. But now that I couldn’t have it, like a two-year-old (I know something about this), I wanted it and nothing else would do. To be fair, there were some things that I really had to adjust to…women preachers for one thing, that was just weird. The liturgical nature of the service wasn’t unfamiliar to me, because I had gone to mass with my grandmother often as a child, but the songs were all wrong.
I had to do a lot of work, or rather, God had to do a lot of work in me–outside the walls of the church. The faith of my youth was tightly interwoven with the people and personality of the church I attended and it was difficult to disassociate my faith from those relationships. I had to learn about God away from the church, I had to have a faith that wasn’t dependent on any particular church or individual pastor or friend.
I’m not sure that my new faith made the chip on my shoulder any smaller, I thought it had, but now I have my doubts. In time, I made a few friends through a home-based bible study group…I started to come to church a little more. Grace was born, that was a good incentive. I got involved with the hunger ministry and cooking on Thursdays, that was the clincher…my personal faith now seemed to “mesh” with my church experience and one increased the other. Hope was born, our lives were turned upside down, and “that church” and my family there became my refuge.
Then comes the proposition.
Since there is no argument against my marriage that isn’t steeped in religion, it was impossible to not internalize the debate apart from my faith. I tried. I failed. In the process, that big, ugly chip came roaring back to center stage. I can barely talk about religion at this moment, even my own faith, without disdain. “Church, why bother?” has crossed my mind more frequently than I’d like to admit in the last month. Of course I realize that none of this makes sense because “that church” has now become my church and my church is nothing like all the rest. I’m certainly not going to renounce my beliefs on account of a ballot proposition, so why in the world am I asking myself why I even bother with faith?
Something is off.