I have been blogging 12 years today. There were some dry spells in there but I blogged my first post on February 6, 2004. Many of you have read this, others have not.
I am having a problem starting this post because if I wrote down everything it would go on for pages and pages. However, in order for the story to make any sense I do have to start at the beginning.
I was raised by my mom and my (step) dad who were both very accepting of everyone no matter what. Both of them were blue-collar workers and lived their entire life based on acceptance of all. They lived, worked and voted their beliefs. I never heard a derogatory comment come out of their mouths. I never heard a racial slur or an insult based on mental or physical capabilities, religion or sexual orientation. Even my biological father, who I rarely saw was a man of strong values when it came to acceptance. He was a Union representative and stood up for those who were discriminated. Back in the 70’s and 80’s the majority of people in the working force that dealt with discrimination were either uneducated or “non-Caucasian”. My biological father fought for all of them. He did not back down. Even though my biological father was an abusive husband and father he had good qualities. I believe my outspokenness, my spirit of fighting for what is right and standing up for people who can`t stand up for themselves came from him.
So, what the hell happened to me? I don’t know. I really don’t. I started going to church when I was 16. I went on my own and my family did not attend. It became my entire life. (Even as I write this I feel so much shame.) I basically turned my back on the way I was raised. I started believing that people who did not believe the same religious beliefs as I did were “doomed to hell”. I started believing that homosexuality was a sin and homosexuals chose to be gay. I believed God did not hate them but God hated their choices.
(I am having a lot of trouble writing this. I feel humiliated but I have to tell this story.)
I went to church and believed these beliefs (among many others) for about 12 years. Then 9/11 happened. I got very depressed. I could not understand how something so awful could happen. If I voiced my questions of God’s place in such devastation in church I was told not to question God. But I did. My outspokenness started getting me in trouble. From there, I stated questioning everything. Why did God allow poverty, mental illness, physical disabilities? Why did God allow the Holocaust? Why did God allow small children to be sold into the sex trade? Of course, nobody had answers that satisfied. I was simply told that the world was a sinful place and all the bad things were as a result of sin. I could accept some things being a result of sin. I could not accept things like during the Holocaust babies were thrown into the air and used as target practice. I could not accept babies and small children being sodomized. I could not accept all the atrocities.
Over a period of a year or two my faith plummeted. I prayed daily for answers. I read the Bible and looked for answers. I found no answers. I became very depressed. In that time my evangelical husband offered no support. He and I started going completely opposite directions. During this time our marriage ended though there were many issues outside what I was going through spiritually.
So, here I was single and on my own. My church friends never called me when I separated from my husband. I left church each Sunday feeling worse than when I arrived. I would drive home and cry. I prayed. God was so far away. Or was God even there in the first place? I stopped attending church as I found no comfort.
It was during this time I started blogging. I read many, many blogs during this time. One day I came across the blog of a man that had H.I.V. His partner had died and he was living with the disease. I started reading his posts but did not comment. I also started reading blogs of others in his community. And I saw something I had never considered. His hopes and dreams were just like mine. His love for his mom and dad was just like mine. He grieved the loss of his partner. He spoke openly about everything. For the first time I started seeing a man and not a homosexual. I eventually started commenting on his posts. Very few of his posts had anything to do with being gay. It was seldom mentioned. He spoke about visiting his mom. He took pictures and talked about traveling. He told stories about his cat and his church. He spoke a lot about living with H.I.V. And I finally got it. He did not “choose” to be gay. It was who he was. I eventually “came out of the closet” with him and told him what I had believed and apologized to him even though he never knew when I first started reading his blog that I was reading it in judgement. I asked for forgiveness. He was deeply touched but one of the surprising things was one of his friends read my comment and it brought her to tears. She was a lesbian and had been persecuted ever since she came out of the closet and nobody had ever apologized to her.
It took me about 15 years to come full circle. From a loving and accepting family I became a judgmental, self-righteous hypocrite. During this time I also asked forgiveness from my family for turning my back on how I was raised. The amazing thing is everyone accepted my apology and never brought it up again.
It has been a long journey. I no longer go to church as I still find no comfort. My faith is what it is. I have more questions than ever but I do still believe in a God. I am at a place where I have no answers to the problems in the world. Perhaps I never will. The difference now is I have so much love. I never would have got to this place if it were not for blogging. Blogging opened up my eyes to how other people live, not just homosexuals. Blogging has also showed me that people of faiths vastly different than mine were amazing people. Blogging has shown me that there is a huge world out there. I love that.
Update – I do go to church occasionally now. I consider myself a Quaker which is vastly different than my old beliefs.