After running the gamut of churches, I feel that I have made a wonderful connection with God during my last two plus years with the United Methodist Church in Palm Springs. Never have I felt the wonderful presence of a loving God in my life as much as I have felt it in the Palm Springs congregation. I have always felt that I was spiritual but not religious; however, that has not been the case since I have become a member of The United Methodist Church. Truly, each Sunday I feel the presence of God within our church. At moments during the sermon, I get goosebumps and tears well up in my eye as I feel the Presence of God touching my heart calling me closer and closer.
Is this a sign that I am finally home?
Just today, as I sat in the rear of the sanctuary during a memorial service, I found myself fighting off tears. I am not an emotional person; however, I feel God’s presence in a way I have never experienced it before. I want more people to feel the presence of God in their hearts. When I met my partner of the last 10 and 1/2 years, I wondered if I was husband material. As the years went along and I found myself drawing closer and closer to this man. Our needs are very similar and we haven’t been apart. Every day, I believe my greatest accomplishment is telling him how much he means to me and how much I love him. Don has always been my champion for success, and has encouraged both my education and spiritual growth.
From the very first I have felt that I have a companion who cares for me as much as he does for himself.
These selfless acts that we each show to one another everyday are what make a great couple. Our bond is stronger than many couples I see. It wasn’t until our friends from the Midwest invited us to join them at their marriage ceremony in Iowa that Don and I began to contemplate marriage ourselves. Our friends are from Oklahoma, and Oklahoma did not recognize same-gender marriage until late June of this year. However, California has been recognizing same-gender marriage since June 26, 2013. Don and I were legally married on our 8th anniversary August 3, 2013 in our home by a loving and understanding pastor. Only a small group of people and our minister were present. While the occasion was happy and festive, I didn’t feel as though I was making a bigger commitment than when Don and I began living together. Still something was missing. It was a great day, but it did not mark the highpoint in our relationship, because, we are still as much in love today as at the beginning of our relationship.
I have never felt that I wasn’t Don’s spouse. It still feels a bit awkward to say, “Don is my husband.” Why? In 2015 we were invited to speak about experience at the Same Gender Holy Conferencing Event at the United Methodist Church in Redlands. I had a great group discussion, but Don felt there were some people in his group who did not share his enthusiasm. In October of this year our pastor the Reverend Dr. Amanda Burr announced that she would be conducting a renewal of vows service in the church sanctuary as part of the Celebrate Love event. I am not sure people understand how profound this invitation was to me.
Being able to stand in the sanctuary of the church where I am a member, take the hand of the one I hold dearest to my heart, and make my commitment to Don once again with other members of my family of faith present was what had been missing before.
In doing so, I am even more profoundly aware of the commitment I have made, heart, body, mind and soul. To profess my love in the presence of God, in the consecrated place of God, and sensing the Spirit of God being poured into my heart is the most profound and touching experience of my life. Is my life different? No. Is my marriage more legal? No. Do I feel more connected to God? Yes! I finally feel as if I am living the life God has wanted for me all of these years.
I feel I am stronger spiritually because I have experienced God’s Gracious “Yes” in my life.
God is Good All The Time.
“Celebrate Love” was a celebration of marriage equality and a renewal of vows ceremony for all married couples on October 10, 2015. A celebration took place at four United Methodist congregations in California: Pasadena First UMC, Pacific Beach UMC, San Luis Obispo UMC, and Palm Springs UMC