Towards the end of college, I fell in love with someone who did not share my adoration of Jesus. This was the first time that had happened. Subconsciously I was probably looking for someone who would give my heart a rest, but at the time he seemed to come out of nowhere.
I loved him, and I think he loved me back, and we talked too much about our differences while heralding the ways in which we were the same. He felt like a fit for where I was going, literally.
After my Europe experience, I was itching to move just as soon as I got my diploma. I told anyone who would listen that Oklahoma was no longer for me. I had friends who expressed interest, and the boy was on board, and we all had very grand plans.
Until he dumped me.
The sudden rupture of this relationship cracked my soul wide open. Everything I had been pushing against internally lay bare on the sidewalk. I called a mentor, someone I admired at the summer camp I had abandoned in a huff, and sat on my balcony and explained, through sobs, how I had systematically dismantled my life and my Lord.
She spoke with grace of grace, something I previously thought was bestowed on criminals or atheists, not on little girls who had let their doubts dictate their actions.
I moved to LA, I started to heal, and I was working at MTV when I first found out that I had landed on prayer lists. It was presented to me that I was in need of prayer because I had strayed from the path, first by drinking alcohol and later by dating an unbeliever. Now that I was in the most liberal state in the nation working for a depraved television network, I was, surely, in Satan’s hands.
It shouldn’t have, but this incensed me. That anyone else thought they had a better handle on my walk with God was enough to keep me away from anything Christian for a while. One day in the car, I saw a bumper sticker that said All Who Wander Are Not Lost.
It was silly, cheesy even, but it bolstered my thoughts that had been festering since I moved west. It is not lost on me that God spoke through a bumper sticker, something I resolutely dislike.
Emboldened by this message, my prayers changed from “I’m sorry. Oops. I’m SO SORRY” to “I need some direction...I’m searching for guidance and my eyes and heart are open to it.”
After six or so months in LA, I decided maybe I should look for a church home. I had never become a member of a church while in college, but my days had been filled with fellowship then. The churches I had tried had never compared to my hometown Community Church. Now in California, there were lots of options.
My roommate and I attended several Sundays at a beautiful Presbyterian Church in Beverly Hills. I had never known any hymns or liturgy. My jobs and former churches had always been very casual, so it appealed to me to show reverence in my dress and ceremony. The church didn’t have a lot of young people, though, and it didn’t hold my interest for long.
After I’d lived in LA for about a year, I moved in with one of my first true California friends. Rachel was Jewish and I had never had a Jewish friend.
I was very busy those first few years in Los Angeles. I worked a lot and spent a lot of time and effort treading water, like almost everyone else I knew in their early twenties. I started going to a mega-church that overlooked the ocean. I enjoyed the preaching, but I arrived and left alone and was almost never spoken to. I didn’t really mind the anonymity. One summer I was on the road for a television show for six weeks. When I returned, there were multiple letters in the mailbox. The oceanside church had split, each side sending written pleas for their case. It was the last time I tried to find a church home.
I was housesitting for some friends when my cell phone rang, a planned phone date with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We had been a part of one another’s lives since we were children in the same neighborhood. In a conversation that I will remember all of the days of my life, he told me he was gay.
As we untangled what that meant, for his life and our faith, I let the thoughts that I had been edging towards for years form on my lips for the very first time: I do not care what the Bible says.
Continue to Have Faith, Part VII and epilogue...