SELF WORK: You can choose God + choose yourself.
I’m not sure what your relationship with God is like. But, I’m more proud of my relationship with and to God and religion than ever before. Before you click away, let me explain.
I grew up in Winston-Salem, NC. I had two parents, but I was “raised” mostly by my mom and extended family. My dad was around - and we adored each other - but our relationship (prior to the present) was less than consistent.
Actually, if I’m honest, prior to the present, inconsistency has described most of my interpersonal relationships - with just about every body. And much of that was because of what I was taught about God and religion.
As a young, queer, Liberian girl, I was taught to believe (and made to feel) that Jesus and/or God didn’t approve of my sexuality, and as such, my basic identity and way of being. That kind of core rejection of my personhood made me (somehow) simultaneously choose people I knew could never fully love me, and also all too easily rejected people who seemed willing to show me love. Early teachings about my inherent disconnection from God made me hate myself at times. But mostly it made me flee from home, and all forms of traditional, communal religion - until I learned that what I had been taught had very little to do with me or the love of God at all.
Today, I’ve grown exponentially, and learned so much about how my past emotional cycles and spirals were - even when I didn’t know it - holding me back from living the life of my dreams.
I also have made peace with the fact that God is available to all of us. All we have to do is remember that we’re worthy. - I also attend church, again. But - none of my beliefs about myself have anything to do with what any other congregation member thinks about me or God or organized religion.
I have decided that all of my feelings about myself belong to my own interpretation.
And speaking of interpretation, below, you’ll find one of the sermons from my pastor, Steven Furtick, about just that. This sermon absolutely changed how I felt about myself, and ultimately changed the course of my life.