Meet­ing God face to face

GA Voice - - Faith & Religion -

It has been 20 years since I was a mem­ber of any church, and sev­eral since I’ve ac­tu­ally sat in one. Is­sues re­gard­ing my sex­u­al­ity are the main rea­son for this ab­sence. It wasn’t al­ways that way and one mem­ber of my fam­ily still stands as the ex­am­ple of how a Chris­tian should be.

I grew up Protes­tant and was very ac­tive in my church through­out my child­hood. Sun­day school, youth group, and choir were stan­dard parts of my rou­tine, and be­cause of my long blonde hair I was type­cast as the an­gel for ev­ery Christ­mas play.

It wasn’t un­til pu­berty hit, and I re­al­ized I was gay, that I be­came sen­si­tive to the lan­guage of the ser­mons. Af­ter hear­ing one too many pas­tors in high school and col­lege out­line the path to Hell for those who weren’t straight as an ar­row, I de­cided church wasn’t worth the frus­tra­tion it caused me.

That aban­don­ment was tough for me, since be­fore I be­came the tar­get of the church’s judg­ment I was quite happy there. I not only en­joyed the weekly an­cient bib­li­cal tales, I also loved the peo­ple within the build­ing. I grew up with them. I hated the thought that their love was so con­di­tional when it came to me.

Shortly af­ter I be­gan to sleep in on Sun­day morn­ings I knew I had to come out to my fam­ily. I had not been hon­est about who I was, and af­ter mov­ing to At­lanta I knew it was time to grow up and own my au­then­tic self. The per­son I was most in­tim­i­dated to tell was Dad.

A for­mer bas­ket­ball player, my father was about 6 feet 2 inches tall and had served in the Korean War. He was a big per­son­al­ity but quite dis­tant at home, so he and I rarely had in-depth con­ver­sa­tions. Add to that his ded­i­ca­tion to dis­ci­pline and strong work ethic, and I had the per­cep­tion he would not be thrilled with my con­fes­sion and was quite pet­ri­fied by the idea of telling him. I wasn’t a coward, and his in­flu­ence taught me that re­gard­less of my fear I would have to look him in the eye and show him who I was.

That hap­pened at a Wendy’s, of all places. We had stopped to grab lunch while on an er­rand, and I took ad­van­tage of our alone time. I let him know about me, and even con­fessed that of ev­ery­one in the fam­ily I thought he might be the one who was most likely to re­ject me. His re­sponse?

“Je­sus wouldn’t have re­jected you, so why should I?”

Af­ter all those years of at­tend­ing church, all those sto­ries I read in the Bi­ble, and all the con­ver­sa­tions I had about re­li­gion, this was the most Chris­tian mo­ment I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced in the pres­ence of what a true Chris­tian re­ally looks like. An old-school South­ern ath­lete and vet­eran, some­one born in a time of not only ho­mo­pho­bia but also racism, held his spir­i­tual fo­cus on the ac­tions of one per­son and fol­lowed suit. I was never so proud to be his daugh­ter.

My father passed away in 2001, and I am grate­ful I had the op­por­tu­nity for that con­ver­sa­tion be­fore he left this earth. If I ever find a sanc­tu­ary full of peo­ple like him with arms open to wel­come me back into the fold, I’ll set my alarm for Sun­day morn­ings again.

“Af­ter all those years of at­tend­ing church, all those sto­ries I read in the Bi­ble, and all the con­ver­sa­tions I had about re­li­gion, this was the most Chris­tian mo­ment I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced in the pres­ence of what a true Chris­tian re­ally looks like.”

Melissa Carter is one of the Morn­ing Show hosts on B98.5. In ad­di­tion, she is a writer for the Huff­in­g­ton Post. She is rec­og­nized as one of the first out ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties in At­lanta and one of the few in the coun­try. Fol­low her on Twit­ter@Melis­saCarter

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