The very last thing that I ever wanted was to be a Christian. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in a very particular sect of Apostolic Pentecostal folks that were quite tightly knit. You could say that we were like family, and for the most part we literally were just that. We didn’t take kindly to outsiders. For most of my childhood I was on the pew every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night homework be damned. I hated every single second of it, and by default developed a great hatred and anger toward God.
So I escaped. I became pretty much the exact opposite of what I’d learned to accept as Christianity. I couldn’t buy my first pack of cigarettes and sneak into my first nightclub fast enough. It really didn’t take me long to figure out that an 18-year-old with a decade of sexual experience under their belt was quite a desirable commodity. Let’s say that I didn’t lack for company or a warm bed very often. Let me tell you, being homeless at 18 is a lot easier when you’ve abandoned all morals in exchange for the illusion of safety.
I tend to tell friends that my 20s were a pretty awful time. Truth be told though, my 20s weren’t awful for me, I was having a blast. It was a pretty awful time to be around me.
The point of this story? I was pretty awful. I certainly wouldn’t enjoy the company of the person that I was.
But something has changed.
Although I’d read the Bible many times as a child under duress, I approached the story of Jesus as a philosophical study instead of a religion and I was positively inspired. Almost immediately I began the process of intentionally letting go of my anger and hatred. Instead of the fire and brimstone that had taken up residence in my head, I found a story of love and redemption. Instead of fearing and shunning the outcasts of his time, he actually sat with them. He listened to them. He loved them and called them His. Jesus loves the characters in the Bible that were most like me. Jesus loves without exception.
Growing up transgender in the Bible Belt in an apostolic cult during the 1980s AIDS crisis, I was taught that GOD hated me and that I was beyond redemption. I spent a long time believing that. I still do believe it in the darkest corners of my mind If I’m to be honest, but I’m trying. The story of Jesus tells me that God loves me and I try to believe that. I really do.
I pray that it’s enough.