Peace is what has caught me off guard. I never imagined life would be full of this much peace and gratitude. I was fully prepared for the pain of coming out within a non-affirming Christian family, but I did not anticipate the inner peace.
In fact, during my own conversion therapy process, I named that my greatest fear was coming out–regardless of my decision for celibacy or not. Years later, I received therapy where I was simply met in my authenticity.
“We will find our way if we begin with being ourselves,” that therapist would say.
Growing up, my grandfather always told me, “Know who you are, like who you are, be who you are.” What a great way to express steps toward inner wholeness. The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom”, from the root word for wholeness.
For many years of my life, I tried to convert who I am. I tried to change who I am so my community would love who I imagined they wanted me to be.
Longing is most common experience I had when struggling to hold my own wholeness. Diving deeper and deeper into my identity, how I am a “unique utterance” of God, as theologian John Philip Newell would say.
Speaking of theology, never in my life did I imagine I would meet my partner at church. I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I tried to ignore her. In fact, I avoided eye contact with her while “passing the peace” and greeting one another–how hilarious is that!
Thank God my partner, Olja, had no fear to very boldly introduce herself just before sitting down. She proceeded to ask me out to coffee while I was waiting to receive Communion. Wholeness and authenticity go hand-in-hand, and thank God I got to experience both in meeting my partner at church.
I think the most beautiful part about receiving my own unique identity as a gay woman has been learning that every step of the process is a gift to receive–not judge, convert, repress, manipulate, or justify. Rather, being fully me means I am following Christ in the fullest form. Praise God that today, I adore who I am and get to be who I am every moment of every day. I wish that for every human processing their sexuality, because all of our identities are a gift to be welcomed.