I am the harm that you inflict.
I am a former Christian. As such, Rooted is a risk for me. Even so, I’ve been lucky to meet and have rewarding relationships with interfaith Christians in the last few years. How they blend their beliefs with an inclusive, loving God who cares about everyone is a marvel to me.
Because I walked away from Christianity when I was about 14. My best friend was bullied by the mean girls of our youth group for how I stood and talked. I just thought I was being cool. The experience uprooted me.
I felt alien, alone, unwelcome in a sacred space that was once my happy place. I sat literally behind my peers with my mom when I really wanted to be among them. And I stopped reading the Bible.
I am your brilliance and frustration.
Fast-forward 20 years and I’m a happy Unitarian Universalist. I’ve always favored an expansive view of god, even as a young Christian. Jesus and the Holy Spirit moved in me when our pastor spoke and I never believed that a loving god would bestow Scriptures to one group of people and then leave the rest bereft and, in my childhood teachings, be-damned or, at best, left to God’s mysterious ways.
That loving god wanted all of us to go to Heaven and, in my agnostic Universal Unitarian worldview, I am still a relative of that god. God is a humanist!
Still, I have learned to appreciate pieces of my childhood Christianity: Just be with me, as Jesus said before his crucifixion, is one of the most intimate and moving expressions of vulnerability I’ve ever seen or read. It caught in my throat when I read it recently. Were those mean girls with me? Not really. Yet they knew not what they did, to be Jesus-y again.
The nuclear bombs if they’re to hit.
I realize on one level that their antics were just human, just products of the stress they were enculturated into in a middle-class environment that, in the 90’s especially, was sending mixed messages to girls about who they could be, about the borders of femininity and masculinity, and about who to include in their shiny braces-bound smiles. Those social teachings were defying that loving god in some ways.
I am your immaturity and your indignance. I bawled when I saw video of a group of college students drowning out a hateful – anti-queer, of course – pastor with merely a guitar and a rendition of How He Loves. I played The God of Angel Armies on loop while recovering from an anxiety disorder. And yet I’ve distanced myself from Christianity because it seems like every time I glide toward it, someone or something hurts me.
I am your misfits and your praises.
I know this is human, but it is also religious. People telling me that I’m not a boi, people assuming that my de facto relationship status should be celibacy and loneliness, people mouthing that boxes just don’t seem to fit me. I broke through those boxes almost a decade ago. Why should I put myself back in on. And yet.
I am your doubt and your conviction.
The Transcendentalism that comforted me while I was without a church was, in part, rooted in Christianity. I gave my mom a coloring book of Psalms last year and we shared an awe in the fluidity of God’s love within it. And it is no small thing that I make God with a capital G. It just seems to fit the Psalms.
I pray in my agnostic-who-prays way that Rooted, that going to a space of trans and gender-creative Christians is going to heal some of the wounds that I’ve walked away from when I took away Christianity from my life. Help me to find ways of confronting hate, however hidden by my scars and psychic tattoos, that I simply ignore. Both internalized and, I fear, directed at certain kinds of Christians. And Muslims. And religious people in general. And yet.
I am your charity and your rape.
Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. With all of the human and, therefore, complicated, things that arise in religion, there has always been the presence of love. That’s why I love my church and it’s why I’m pursuing ministry as my calling.
I am your grasping and expectation.
I watched a video on hate and even saw love in the empathy of the members of the Westboro Baptist Church. Their basic motive for telling people such soul-crushing things like God Hates Fags is because they don’t want us to go to hell. Yes, they do see us as symptoms of a modern world that embraces “Sin” (capital S this time) and identities, soul paths in my language, which they basically don’t understand or agree with. And they’re relentless in their tactics of trying to bait and humiliate (or is this white supremacists I’m describing?) others. But at the core there’s empathy, love.
I see you averting your glances.
The mean girls at my church were acting in fear towards something they didn’t understand, just like the WBC folk. At the core, we all want to love. Even if we draw a line in the sand about who will be the recipients of our love.
I see you cheering on the war.
And am I that different? I rage against the rules of some churches because they seem stifling and exclusionary to me. This is just me dealing with my own exclusion complex set up by the church I went to when I was a teen and a tween.
I see you silencing your sisters.
I say I won’t argue with Christians. Not because I don’t know enough to formulate a good argument (needless to say I don’t) but because I fear they’ll win. That they’ll secretly be right. That the god I still love in the quiet moments doesn’t love me back, or worse, is ashamed of who I am and how I love.
And I love you still.
And yet, again. “How he loves.” That’s the main theme.
I think Rooted is going to help me piece together the lapse between when I stopped going to my Christian church and when I found a home at my UU one.
My entire life for a semester at San Francisco State was a found poem jotted down in blue ink in my world music notebook. Somewhere that semester I reawakened to love, spirituality, and the sacred. One of the phrases I wrote in my notebook was, “The soul fills in the spaces,” probably by Rumi or maybe by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
And for all of the pain I have experienced I love the mean girls still. I even occasionally dream about them. They shaped my young life and brought energy and light to it. To me.
And I love you still.
I guess I want to go to Rooted to forgive them. For they know not what they do.
For more information on Rooted or to register for this transformative conference, click HERE.
Are you an ally and wish to donate towards scholarships for transgender and gender non-conforming attendees? Click HERE to donate!