Losing my faith quickly in religion and humanity, I realized that I needed to find a church that I could be myself in. About three months before “losing my faith”, I was normal as normal can get. I attended a church were I was the youth pastor and I enjoyed every minute of it. Then tragedy struck that took me away from the church that I loved to an uncomfortable situation. What happened is that I could no longer call myself in anyway a Christian. Christianity to me was a group of brain washed non intellectuals who came and talked about how the world was going to end and that we should be ready. I didn’t want any part of that and I still don’t. This caused me to search high and low for a church that would take me in. For the three months in between, I would visit many churches and synagogues with my best friend. We worshipped with an all LGBT community who taught me that Jesus is found in everyone. Another Sunday, we attended an Emergent Methodist Church that shared the Bread and the Cup which taught me about love and compassion for all people. These communities were wonderful and I met so many great Christians, but I didn’t want to have to drive to church an hour away.
In those months, I met a man, named James, living in a mission house at a used bookstore who was looking for a book by Shane Claiborne because his pastor recommended the book. I told him that I would send it to him because I lived an hour away and we exchanged phone numbers. As I sent him the book which is about helping those who are less fortunate I thought why isn’t this church helping him instead of telling him to read a book telling him to help others. This made no sense to me. So I visited the church a few times with James and then either ate with him at the mission or took him out to eat. As our friendship progressed I got to help James move out of the mission and into a one bedroom apartment. In James, I saw a reflection of myself. A person who is on a journey moving place to place and only gaining more.
One Sunday my best friend had to work and I needed to find a church. And this Sunday I found it, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Frostburg, MD, which is fifteen minutes away from my house. It was in this church I found liberation. Liberation from myself into a community that isn’t perfect, but doesn’t pride themselves it yet embraces the diversity and the creativity of people. I finally felt that I could question who I am and what my faith is about. My faith had been refined through a fire of love and this results in the person I am today. I believe that it is only through communities that we find true liberation. It is in other people we see the reflection of true humanity. And it is through Christianity, I believe that I can fully be human.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.