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Members of the LGBTQQ community have historically encountered hostility and misunderstanding and stigmatism from members of religious communities. When I first began to be aware of my sexuality, I was aware of this, and I was sore afraid. Especially having been “The good kid,” for all my life. What would I do now that I was “one of those people”?

For a long time I experienced self-loathing and quite a bit of shame. Hating yourself and how you are is very draining, particularly when that thing you hate about yourself is something you had no control over in the first place.

I am delighted to say that after some years of that, I encountered the grace of God as presented by some very loving, welcoming and compassionate people.

I think what happened is I was made to let go of the expectation I had of myself to be perfect. In the eyes of the church, I would never again be the poster-child because I was gay. Once I became comfortable with that, I began to experience quite a bit more freedom, because I wasn’t trying to be perfect all the time.

When you know you’re going to fail at some point, and disappoint people at other points, and you accept this, then you are free to let go of these failures and disappointments. You are free to take responsibility for your actions knowing that your inherent worth is not damaged. You know God’s grace is real and available to you no matter what, so you are free to be the best person you can, be as kind and helpful to the people around you as you can, making amends where you need to, all without fear.

I spent so many years being afraid of failing, of disappointing people, of angering God. All because of who I was inside, that I couldn’t control. Then I realized…that’s the whole point of grace! I’m a failure and God loves me anyway. Never mind what people think.

God’s grace is precious.

God’s love is powerful.

With that in mind, I live so much more freely.

I don’t always perceive these same freedoms in my Christian brothers and sisters and I wish I did. I wouldn’t wish my stresses and tensions on anyone…but the freedoms I’ve found? I wish everyone could be this free.