On November 18th, 2012 I had the incredible privilege of giving my testimony at a beautiful little church called The Cove. The events that followed changed a lot of things.
In 2014, Rachel Held Evans asked me to tell that story on her blog here. When our pastor at the time asked me to tell my story, it was an instrumental moment for me.
Many many years of doubt, shame, struggle, guilt, hurt, chaos, loneliness, tears and prayers had led me to the moment where I could stand up in front of our genuine community, and plant a flag in the ground. I had made it here. Or more accurately – God had led me here. I had peace, and now God had given me enough courage to talk about it.
The place where I struggled and had been hurt the most – here I would celebrate. I could feel a pin drop as I began to speak, and I felt every eye on me. The crowd wasn’t very big, but I knew almost every person in the crowd fairly well – which was actually more intimidating than 2000 strangers! I was extremely aware that this was more than a poignant moment for me.
As I spoke, I did feel like it was God’s story, and not my own. I was just the main character. I am so humbled by that thought. He can, and does use, the least of us. When I finished, everyone in the room clapped and gave me a standing ovation. Not that I had said anything in particularly amazing… but they were showing me their love. I took it all in, and I hold it tightly with me wherever I go. That real love touched me beyond words.
Here is a link to a downloadable mp3 podcast of my story. My hope and prayer is that it touches or encourages even one person who may be struggling. He is pursuing us, always, and so gently. Just listen for it.
I bookended my story with the quote below by Thomas Merton. I think it will continue to dictate where my life flows along this meandering river, as long as I remember these words.
2018 Update: We now belong to an incredible little [and inclusive!] church in Maple Ridge, BC, called Open Door Church. Our awesome pastor Bradley asked Tams and I to share our journey with our new community.
2019 Update: I am currently working on an illustrated book of my story growing up gay in the conservative church. It is called “Dear Younger (gay) Me”. Read my announcement about it here! Please keep an eye on my social media for updates! 😀
Photos of Stacey ©2019 Camilla Hrytzak.
“MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”