My grandmother died on November 25, 2014.
The first sprouts of my cynicism began to force themselves out from the dirt of my subconscious on October 19, 2014.
I was exhausted. For the past two years, I had gone from playing keyboards one weekend a month to having one weekend off every six weeks. I was one of two people on the team who could play keyboards, and the staff was grooming the other guy to be a lead singer. Plus, we were also short on drummers, so if he wasn’t singing and playing guitar, he was drumming. On top of that, there were some weekends I was playing bass guitar and keyboards at the same time.
I was cynical. I had sat through sermons in which the pastor explicitly stated women were responsible for bringing intimacy to the marriage bed. I had endured every comment about “crazy women” and “lazy men.” I had remained silent through all of it, because I believed (and still believe) the church itself is much bigger than its leader, and because it contained the most generous and Jesus-like group of people I had ever met.
On October 19, 2014, I played my keyboard like usual. What wasn’t usual, however, was the speaker. He was a wealthy man who consulted with business executives for a living. He spoke about how to become successful, and even used the Bible to back up his points. From the stage, he spoke about his consultation packages and books for sale out in the lobby. I played my keyboard to close the service, and it was over.
I was furious.
Everything he said was antithetical to the gospel of Jesus. Everything he was saying supported the pursuit of material possessions. He explicitly stated that God wants us to be successful, and he implicitly stated that success is defined in material possessions.
And, the key to all of this success was not God’s provision (which would require trust in Him), but confidence in ourselves.
Me: The Kingdom of God is as much about losing everything as it is about gaining everything. The Kingdom of God is upside-down. If God gives you more material possessions, you are expected not to be a “good steward” of it by investing it and making more of it; you’re expected to give it up for the good of your community. You’re expected to give more than others, because you’ve been given more. The Kingdom of God is about community life — not about personal success.
A month later, my grandmother died. The worship leader gave me time off, and I stopped going to the church. I needed to heal from everything that was going on.
On January 2, 2015, my great-grandmother died. At this point, I decided to come out to everybody, and soon.
In February, I received a text message from my best friend. Someone at the church had spread rumors that she and I were in a romantic relationship, and she thought that the rumors had originated with me, so she stopped speaking to me. As I dealt with the situation, I spoke with the guy in charge of the band.
“So, I don’t plan on coming back after this whole rumor situation. It’s caused irreparable damage to my friendship, and I can’t abide gossips. But, hypothetically, if I was to come out as a bisexual supporter of gay marriages and LGBT relationships, what would happen?”
He sighed, gesticulating with both hands open toward me. “I just know that the church wouldn’t want to support the lifestyle.”
And, within three months, every stable thing in my life was obliterated. I had only my family. My friends, all involved in the church and the rumors and the misogyny and the deception, abandoned me. Two matriarchs of my family were dead.
I could speak of how I was suicidal, or anxious, or paranoid, or prone to self-harm, or lonely, or isolated, or angry, or cynical, or silent, or any of the other things that occurred as a result of losing these things, but I won’t.
Yes, it felt like I was drowning in a puddle.
Yes, it felt like my hands had been cut off.
Yes, I went months feeling like I couldn’t breathe.
But that isn’t what is important.
I’m glad I lost these things, because not many Christians have the opportunity to go through something so horrific with only Christ to trust in. I didn’t have a choice not to trust that he would be there.
The mortality of humans made me trust the stability of no relationship.
The evil tongues of humans made me trust the respectability of no relationship.
The selfish desires of humans made me trust the love of no relationship.
The only stable thing left in my life was Jesus — a perfect, immortal God.
A perfect, immortal marriage of dirt and deity who danced around me each day I resolved to kill myself.
A perfect, immortal God who held my hands back from physically beating myself senseless.
A perfect, immortal God who was on the floor with me as I cried every ounce of salt and water from my body.
In my isolation, I learned that Church, people, programs, songs, and debates are distractions.
This is my theology: all I have ever had, all I have, and all I will ever have is Jesus.