Part 1 is here.
Home is an interesting concept. I have mixed emotions about it. If it refers to that place where my biological family exists, whether it’s where they live or where they gather together from time to time, I don’t get the feelings of nostalgia and warmth that many people do. In this sense, home is where I’m known, at least a part of me is known, that person who lived with them until I graduated high school and moved out of the house. My experiences after that changed me in ways that made going home increasingly difficult. Coming out as gay and sharing with them my theological transformation created a chasm between my family and me. My changes were taken personally, seen as a betrayal of all that's most important to the family. To their credit (and mine, too, I suppose) there is at least enough decency in our family values that we have not cut each other off completely, but what connects us is a thin, worn thread and the effort it takes to keep that thread from breaking is exhausting.
Home can also refer to that place where we live. That gives me much warmer feelings now. Until four years ago when I met Lisa, home in this sense was a place where I kept my stuff, slept when I was in town, and occasionally hung out when I couldn’t find something better to do. It was practical and functional, but not warm. Now, home has a sense of connectedness that gives me a feeling of security and acceptance. It’s a place where I love and am loved, where I let down my guard, allow myself to be vulnerable to the point where I know heartbreak is only a single breath away at any moment, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. What Lisa and I have created together has given me the greatest sense of satisfaction and contentment I’ve ever known in my life. And home extends beyond the boundaries of the place where live to include a group of friends who are family, people who accept us and share in our lives and when I think of them I get the warm, nostalgic feelings that many share when they talk about the homes in which they grew up. With all of these people, there isn’t a part of me that I’m afraid for them to know. My past is of no consequence. Many among our friends share it, and for those who don’t, it doesn’t raise any red flags. It’s just a point of great curiosity. Likewise, who I am now is allowed to grow and change. That kind of acceptance, of past and present, gives me a deep sense of support, like the kind of support roots that run deep into the soil offer a plant that flourishes.
I am a fortunate woman. I am grateful for it every day of my life. Having all this finally has helped me come to a place where, perhaps for the first time in my life, I know I’m alright. I don’t feel like I have to be anything other than what I am now and that feeling provides the foundation for much healthier choices about what I will become than at any other time in my life.
But experiencing home in those relationships has helped me see that the welcome I’ve received in churches over the past few years is just that, welcome, but it is not home. And while the most recent of those choices has come close and could in time feel more that way to me, it doesn’t for the simple fact that I feel like my past as an evangelical Christian, specifically a Baptist evangelical Christian, isn’t understood, that it’s something I have to leave behind for people to think that I’m really one of them.
To be continued (you know you're going to get tired of this)....