I was raised Baptist. My church was a part of the GARBC (General Association of Regular Baptist Churches). The church took its beliefs very seriously and so did I. My family attended church three times a week (twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays nights). I was very involved even at a young age. I did Pals and AWANA when I was younger and as I grew older I got involved in Quiz Team, Church Choir, and Talents for Christ. I merely say all of this to show that I was very involved and very set on living a life for Jesus.
It was made clear to me at a young age that there was a fine line between a believer and a heretic. One must believe the entirety of the Bible in order to be a believer. Anyone who could “pick and choose” their beliefs was merely a heretic.
I tried very hard to live the life that was expected of me and for the most part, I thought I was. Deep down, however, I knew that there was something that didn’t fit. As I grew into my adolescence I realized that I was attracted to men and that was a big problem for me. I struggled with those feelings for a long time. I tried my hardest to “get over it” and to overcome the “temptations,” but nothing really worked for more than a short time. I would fall back into my old thoughts and that was always very frustrating for me.
At that time in my life the worst thing that could have happened would have been for someone to find out that I was attracted to men. I was always overly cautious and honestly tormented by my fears of discovery. I would go to unreal lengths to prevent this. Every day on my paper route I would go through conversations I had that day in my head to make sure that I didn’t say anything “gay.”
I would also watch myself walk in the mirror to ensure that I walked like a “regular” person.
By the time my senior year of high school rolled around I had serious doubts about my religion. I thought about how so much of my beliefs were based on faith. I considered people born into other religions who believed for the same reasons I did. How could I know that I was born into the correct religion? These doubts along with the fatigue of fighting my gay tendencies wore on me.
Finally, it was time to choose a college. My parents wanted me to go Cedarville University, a rather strict Christian school. I was drifting from the church and knew that I didn’t want to go there. I chose Bowling Green and decided that I wasn’t going to go to church when I got there. I wasn’t going to believe anything. I was just going to live my life and see what happened.
By the end of my freshman year, I accepted that I was gay and things in my life started going uphill. For the next few years, I cut religion out of my life. I decided that I could not be a Christian because I was gay and I was raised to believe that you had to believe the entire Bible or none of it. I chose none of it. That worked out pretty well for me.
I did miss some aspects of church. I missed singing the hymns and I missed the community. In the summer of 2010 Ethan Roberts (my boyfriend at the time) wrote a paper on Unitarian Universalism. He thought it was interesting and asked me if I wanted to go with him to visit a church. I decided that I was ready to start thinking about religion again and came to MVUUC. Ethan and I came on and off for a few weeks. We both really liked it. We were amazed that there was a church that actually thought things out intelligently and encouraged independent thought. The people were all very welcoming and we fit right in.
Many of my friends at the time had church choir jobs (mostly singing in choirs) and I realized that MVUUC didn’t have a choir. I asked around and offered to start a choir. The church agreed and I have been coming ever since.
At first I liked the church because it didn’t tell me what to believe. I had been told what to believe all my life and I hated that. I honestly didn’t know what I believed. MVUUC made me feel welcome even though I was searching. I loved that I could finally feel content just searching. I find now that for the most part, I believe what most of the congregation believes and I am no longer afraid of calling myself a Unitarian Universalist. I thank the church and its members for extending their arms to me and helping me along in my religious journey. I truly feel that there is a special place for me here at MVUUC.
That is why I belong.