"Angela? Would you join me here, please?" For some reason the pastor was motioning me to come forward from the back row of the crowded Sunday service at church. I was holding my husband's Holy Communion because he hadn't returned to his seat from ushering, so I had no choice but to bring it with me as I went to the front.
I had decided early that morning that I wouldn't be taking Holy Communion. In fact, since the previous Thursday evening, I had seriously started to doubt whether I had made the right choice in becoming a Christian and whether I had really ever needed God at all.
For the first time in months, my daughter had decided to come to the Thursday evening church services. She said she was coming with her father and me because she "really wanted to be a good person." Sadly, as much as she seemed to doubt it, I already knew that she was a good person.
But just as the musical portion of praise and worship ended, my daughter suddenly blurted out under her breath: "I can't take this anymore. We keep singing on and on about God's love for us ... It's all so hypocritical! I can't stand it anymore. If God doesn't love me, who cares? Who needs Him anyway?" And with that, she got up and left before we could stop her.
The rest of that evening was a blur. If her coming to church again had made me feel elated, her leaving simply brought reality back. We were "born again" Christians with a secret.
Our family's "walk" with God had started six months after our daughter told us that she thought she was gay. It was a strange sensation to have this startling and devastating revelation run parallel with our joining a church and making a serious commitment to a God we had always believed in but never had taken the time to get to know.
My husband was certain that everything would fall into place once our daughter met the "right" boy and decided to take a "wait and see" approach. For me, however, the devastation was complete. I secretly grieved a daughter who was very much alive; and yet who, somehow, was inexplicably gone.
I couldn't, wouldn't confide in any of the church leadership because I was in complete denial. Revealing this "secret" would be like accepting that it was true. I couldn't even say the word "lesbian" out loud. Instead, I went through all the motions of attending church regularly, learning the worship songs and flipping through my Bible, all the while just barely holding on emotionally.
I kept asking myself how it was that we had never seen this coming? I sifted through memory after memory, searching for clues. Had we been so completely blind and dysfunctional as parents that we hadn't realized it?
I didn't know anything about lesbians or homosexuals; their issues had never had anything to do with our lives. Heart-wrenchingly, "gay" took on a human aspect that I had overlooked. Beyond the stereotypes and ridicule were very real people. Precious, living, breathing people ... just like my daughter—fiercely loved by families that were just like my own.
What tore me up inside was that now my daughter would be lumped together with a group of individuals who for the most part were rejected by society and who in most cases were erroneously depicted as nothing short of modern day lepers, sexual deviants and child molesters.
Relentless questions kept playing over and over again in my brain. What had gone so horribly wrong during the years that we had built our lives as a family? Hadn't we been ordinary, even boring maybe?
What about all the precious memories of baking cookies, bedtime stories, macaroni art and Disney movies with "happily-ever-after" endings? Had the affection and happiness been unreal? When I looked back, all I saw was twisted rubble, and now that we were Christians, the religious ramifications of what my daughter "was" added nothing but a tremendous sensation of guilt and humiliation.
Still very unfamiliar with the Bible, my attempts to piece together what the Old and New Testaments said about homosexuals left me unsure and conflicted as to whether God really loved my daughter at all. Even before becoming Christian, she was already familiar what society thought about "her kind," and religion just seemed to levy the final stamp of condemnation on the whole issue.
The very same verses that I struggled with had already convinced her against God's love for her. When rumors surfaced in church that she might be gay, the concern of church leadership, however well-intentioned and compassionate, caused her to withdraw from the church community altogether.
I never pleaded before God as desperately as I did that Thursday evening. Uncontrollable tears turned into torrents of accusations. God was nowhere to be found.
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