GOD = LOVE

I was wired at birth to be forging the way for deep, meaningful, and life-giving relationships. I take my friendships seriously, and place great importance on their place in my life.

(Often times, if you could be in my head, you’d hear me examining relational interactions, whether I was involved or had just observed one. I am stimulated by observing how people love and treat one another.)

I still have vivid and happy memories of my first best friend, Brent Morrison. He & I both loved anything that had to do with a ball and the outdoors. Brent made childhood fun. It was easy and we were innocent. We were the kind of kids that were nice to each other because it came naturally. I remember spending a lot of time at his house, playing outside and eating ice cream…and of course licking the bowl clean.

Bryce, Jenny, Brent, me and my dad

Bryce, Jenny, Brent, me and my dad

My friendships throughout grade school and high school were light and free due to my parents influence of loving all people, accepting all people and including all people. Socializing came easy for me and so did athletics. People were drawn to me and I rarely found myself lonely during these formable years of adolescence.

Unlike my childhood relationships, my adulthood relationships were forged under scrutiny, supervision, and control. When I joined Master’s Commission (MC’s), at 22 years old, my friend circle slowly started to dwindle through the pressure of Christ Church Kirkland (CCK) culture and teachings.

Very early on the, MC program spoke with authority regarding “Covenantal Relationships”. The idea behind this teaching was built upon shared commitment to ideas, to issues, to values, to goals, and to the specific teachings of CCK. These relationships we were forging would be for eternity.  “We” were building the kingdom of God, and swearing allegiance to CCK’s teachings strengthened the congregation.

My friendships were now wrapped up in CCK language, CCK prayer meetings, CCK events, CCK teachings, and CCK dogma. Relationships became “us” and “them”. “Us”, CCK community & “them”, anyone outside of CCK. As long as I followed the lead of the church culture, I would belong to CCK – I would be a “daughter of the house”. My friendships with others were constantly examined by my “discipler’s” and my discipler’s discipler’s…all the way up until it reached Norm and Marcy Willis, as this was the way of the Shepherding Movement.

Looking back today, my friendships went from care-free in my youth, to intense scrutiny and insecurity in my adulthood. During my time at CCK, I and others would spend time dissecting everything about our friendships. During our discipleship meetings, questions about our relationships were always brought up. I constantly felt a need to mimic what those around me were doing to fit in and win approval…to my demise, I was a people-pleaser.

In 2008, it had been 11 years since my first interrogation with CCK elders about my only sexual experience, which was with another woman. Before leaving the meeting that day, it was impressed upon me, not to share about my experience with anyone. I obeyed on the outside…but on the inside I still had a desire to find a deeper, personal understanding of why I had this sexual relationship.

In the 12 years I was involved with CCK, I only shared my sexual experience twice, both times with girlfriends whom I felt were a safe place to explore what the hell was wrong with me.  In sharing I hoped that someone could help me “normalize” my experience without seeing me as wicked or sinful, untrusting or a swindler. In my heart I didn’t feel any different and I didn’t want to be treated any different. Looking back, I was seeking perspective and acceptance from my peers. But I was also seeking acceptance and perspective from people who didn’t allow the idea being gay as the reason for my sexual experience. Gay was a sin. Gay was a choice. Gay people were wicked and needed deliverance. And because of whom I was seeking acceptance from, I didn’t find it at CCK. It was years later in the quietness of my room, with only God listening, that I found my answers and freed my mind.

Much time has passed since the days of CCK, and I have had the rare opportunity for years of “quiet time” to reflect on the weight I carried with me for so long. I have witnessed the transformation of my whole being, by accepting myself as God made me. Self-acceptance healed my soul and opened up my life to rich experiences and friendships that are no longer tainted with conditions.

I write today out of love, not anger, but most importantly, I write my story in hopes I can bring validation and healing to others who have gone through similar situations.

GOD = LOVE.

photo credit: Gaelle Marcel

photo credit: Gaelle Marcel

 

 

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