Recently, Whosoever conducted a “Stories of Hope” essay contest, asking readers to reflect on what Whosoever has meant to them over the past ten years. We’ll be sharing these stories as we continue our celebration of our decade of ministry to GLBT Christians. The following story is the first place winner.
I have been in the wilderness, walking all my life, with questions that nobody wanted to answer. As a child brought up in England of an Irish parent, I was indoctrinated with the Roman Catholic teachings, where canonical laws were number one, masquerading as God’s law. I bought into it all, giving my life in a religious order of nuns. The best years of my life, as I truly believed it was the way for me to walk.
Falling in love with a fellow religious was a wonderful experience, all embracing, encompassing, of my love for God. These kind of relationships were known as ‘Particular Friendships’. We were brought before the Mother General of the time, questioned endlessly, and to avoid facing the wrath of the churches harsh rules, we both had to deny any relationship.
For me, that was the death knell of me and religious life, my world came crumbling down. I was so unhappy, that no matter what work I either trained in, or did, deep within my being, I was an outcast! In the end I was asked to leave the order, bundled out before dawn, and none of the community I had served in knew of my departure, until I was safely on the train to a ‘new life’.
Oh the deep pain I felt. An outcast from my calling!
I embraced heterosexuality like a drowning person, event to the point of allowing myself to marry. Those years were hard, no child, no love from a man who was selfish and a bully. Those four years came to an end, when he came in from work, and announced he was leaving. The next day he was gone.
Through all, I had a great faith in God, His Angels were my greatest help, bringing me through years of illness, living with M.E./C.F.S. For a short while, I walked the road of the ‘Born Again Christian’. Alas, when realizing the way they thought of gay people, and hearing preaching that they would be going to hell at death, deep inside I knew that could be me! I ran, as far as I could from that kind of teaching.
Five years ago, I had an awakening. I was rushed to hospital, having Deep Vein Thrombosis. The doctors were amazed I hadn’t died. So was I. It was then, this deep realization came over me, ‘be true to yourself, Marian’. I embraced my lesbianism, making phone calls, seeking support and finding so little here in Ireland. Not being able to ‘come out’, only to myself. What freedom and happiness, I was born anew. Those who thought they knew me saw the change and asked the secret, and no way could I share.
Now the battle started where I had to reconcile myself to God. Pondering, wondering, was I loved? Did He really make me this way? Was it in my genes?
To start the process of Really Knowing, and embracing my sexuality, I sat and asked my doctor, she was wonderful, accepting me and assuring me, I was born gay. So I studied hard, read, explored and let God’s love begin to heal the many years of damage life inflicted upon me. I also realized that the early calling I had to follow God was still real. So, continue I did, being ordained by life’s work, as a Minister. Still, there was no church that would accept me, as where I live, I will never be able to ‘come out’ to the public!
Still searching, I found a wonderful woman, who is now my life’s partner. She helped my interest in searching the internet, to find like minded groups of GLBTs, who wanted a real relationship with God. And I found Whosoever. Signing up and being a small part of a cog in a great wheel for God, bliss. In this short time I’m with this wonderful group of people, sharing, reading the forums, being in the Prayer group, seeing great faith, coming to know God loves us, each and everyone. This group has become for me, a great light. A place for me to be me. To allow others touch me, and me them, in a way that only we can recognize. To realise that the teachings we had heard, were lies. Jesus’ words to me, that I’ve hung onto for many a year, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’. Yes it is, and praise Him for those words, for here in this group, all of us so different, yet the same, God’s children, and He loves us just the same as everyone else.
If Whosoever ceased to be tomorrow, a big part of me would die. Why would that be? I would miss the community that is my home. That has embraced me in love and acceptance. Yes, it is based in USA, but we now have our own regional group, based in UK, and so far, we may be a small membership, but Jesus sent His Apostles out, two by two. And we always have our parent group looking after and guiding us.
I am proud to be gay. It is a lifestyle of every day living, of who one is, being a child of God. Being supported by same, like-minded persons, who have spent themselves for these last ten years, for newcomers like me, who have come home to a safe harbor from life’s blows.
I thank God for Candace and her team, for the site she has developed these years, for the prayer group, where God is active and very much alive in peoples hearts, and the forum, where we can fellowship in freedom, love and respect of all.