I clearly remember sitting in my room at 18, writing in a journal and sobbing. I was the worst of sinners. And no amount of prayer was changing that.
How could I be attracted to women? I grew up with all the right people, environment, schooling around me to guide me. I was so involved at church and I loved it. I loved my family fiercely, and now I felt as though they couldn’t love me if I embraced that part of me. Some of them literally said that to me. Hope was surely dwindling.
How incredibly thankful I am for the 12 years that followed that night. It was filled with some of the most severe lows, and intoxicating highs. My faith was truly tested in every possible way. My relationships with family and friends went through extreme ups and downs, and I made some bad choices motivated by hurt and loneliness. But at 30 years old, after coming to the end of my rope, I was faced with a choice. I spent a week alone with God, and through my vulnerable weeping I asked the unthinkable.
Can You still love me if I love the gay part of myself? Can you continue to bless me if I take the hand of the one I love, and walk forward in this life with her? Will I ever possibly feel peace?
The answers were not was I was expecting — and they were not what everyone was telling me they would be.
I felt deep inside my soul, a resonating YES.
YES, a thousand times over, YES. And more than that – nothing will be wasted.
Now I sit here at 33, married to my soul mate, wholly loving myself in true contentment, and embracing this life I have been given.
There are still people in my life who do not agree. And vehemently so. That is ok. We can disagree. But this is my truth, and I will embrace it proudly. I believe I have been called to share it, to live authentically, and to leave the rest to God.
And some day when I am no longer here, these words might still be. Which is why I wanted to write this down, as much as allowing such vulnerable and raw thoughts online is terrifying. But I feel like this is a good concluding chapter to the one I wrote when I was 18. What I have learned these past years can be summed up below. We hear a lot from the very conservative Christians, and the very liberal gay people…..I think there is room for my voice too.
So here goes. My (gay) agenda.
- Love as much as I possibly can, wherever I am, whoever I am with. UNconditionally. And not only if it is returned.
- Be present with who I am with at that moment. I won’t get another day like today.
- Extend compassion and grace, even when it doesn’t make sense. And when it doesn’t make sense, ask God for more.
- Use the gifts I believe I have been given, to the best of my ability, and to serve others wherever possible.
- Be thankful, for each breath. For each moment. For each walk in the woods and smell of fresh coffee.
- Encourage those around me. You never know how much that one sentence might mean to that person.
- Learn what it means to be truly, completely grateful, in word and deed. And see how that transforms my everyday life, because it does.
- Be authentic. Not arrogant or self-indulgent, but just genuine. People will know the difference.
- Challenge myself to truly get to know people and listen to their story. It is much harder to judge them that way.
- Cherish the beauty and fragility of humanity. “Help people discover that they are more beautiful than they dare believe.” – Jean Vanier
If I spend my days trying to accomplish this list, I think my life just might mean something.
Thanks for reading.
Photos of Stacey ©2019 Camilla Hrytzak.