Disclaimer: This is long af lol
I’ve been feeling moved to write about my spiritual journey and the changes I’ve been undergoing for awhile. I waited because there were still things I was ruminating on and was coming to understand. So I wanted to get clearer on things before I wrote this. There is still a lot I am unclear on, but I feel ready to start sharing. So here we go 🙂
I want to begin by thanking anyone who takes the time to read this. By doing so, you bear witness to my truth. And that’s something I really appreciate, whether or not you like the way my truth is presented here. Sometimes just being heard is enough. So thank you.
I was raised up in Christianity, like many Black Americans. I went to church with my mother, my maternal grandmother and my father. But of all the adults in my life, my father was by far the most religious. He and my mother divorced when I was very young, so I only saw him every other weekend. And sometimes not even that much, depending on what was going on. But he was there enough to make an impact on me through his presence in my life. Something I am grateful for even though our relationship was very strained during my childhood.
Religion was the thing that drove a huge wedge between my father and I. Religion was not his entire identity, and I was always happy when I got to connect with him outside of that. But it influenced him drastically and so it influenced me just as much. I was a weird, quiet, fantasy-loving child who never quite understood Christianity. My dad tried to teach me about it and we went to church all the time, but I was always bored and confused. So it didn’t impact me positively.
Growing up, Christianity was presented to me in a way that scared me and made me feel guilty. I did not feel God’s love for me. I felt disdain and disappointment. I felt like I couldn’t be myself and do right by God. It frustrated me, especially because I felt like my father wasn’t interested in knowing me as much as he was interested in molding me to be who he wanted me to be. As I got older and grew more open-minded, my confusion and guilt turned into confusion and anger. I rebelled against Christianity. I was disgusted by how much hypocrisy and intentional wrongdoing was happening in the name of Christianity.
I was young and infuriated. No one was able to get to me to help me really understand who God was. So I started to look for God elsewhere. At 19, I started a journey. I have always called it the journey to finding myself. And it has been that. But it was also the journey to find God. I started studying different religions, trying to figure out what the truth was. I learned a lot of useful information that helped me on different levels and in different ways. And while there was truth in the things I had come across, and even connection, I was still always left wanting more. Searching.
For a few years I had adopted a somewhat open-ended form of spirituality. It evolved over time and changed as I did, offering a certain amount of guidance and success. That was fine for a time. But then, something changed. It started with me refusing to give readings. I went through a couple of periods where I was completely revolted by the idea of giving readings. Just the thought of touching my cards made me ill. Last spring I went on an indefinite hiatus from giving readings. (I revamped my business model a couple of times to revisit doing it, but ultimately I decided to quit for good. Not because I think tarot is evil, it just became more of a barrier for me to hear God. So I stopped.)
This was when my relationship to my spiritual path really started to change. It was as if the veil was being lifted and the more I saw of my spiritual community, it was clear that I wasn’t in alignment with what was happening anymore. I had never been completely lumped in with any one group, but I definitely was apart of a certain spiritual type that became popular within these last 5-10 years. The one thing that I believe separated me from a lot of other people were my intentions and my caution not to speak on things I wasn’t personally experiencing. I never had the desire to be apart of “guru culture”. Even when I made mistakes, the driving force behind every move I made was to be a better version of myself, and I believe that made a world of difference.
At any rate, I slowly but surely started leaving that path behind me. But it wasn’t until last fall that the transformation really started taking off. And it was because of none other than my father. Me and my father’s relationship has drastically improved over the years. Our relationship started to really grow and develop a few years ago with us connecting over…basically everything but religion and spirituality. He was still a devout Christian, but he didn’t stay the same person he was when I was a child. Full-disclosure, there are still things we disagree on–which I think is normal. However, I grew into a young adult who was less afraid to be myself and he grew into a more compassionate and wise father. So over time, we became close.
For years, he asked me and my children to come to church with him. And for years, I declined. Early last year, I started allowing him to take my children with him, after I felt I had equipped them with enough basic understanding about love, respect and tolerance. They loved church and so he continued to take them. He would always ask if I wanted to come with them and I continued to decline. Until one day, I didn’t. Last fall, in late October he asked me if I wanted to come to church. And I said yes. I don’t know why I said yes. I don’t know if it was curiosity or if I felt like I would receive a message I needed. But I agreed and I went.
Church was being held in the auditorium of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. A place that I love and have a lot of personal history with since my mother used to work there when I was a kid. I spent a lot of time there over the years and it remains one of my favorite places in the city. So returning to church wasn’t as nerve-wracking as it could have been for me, someone had not been in years. It was akin to coming home.
I was apprehensive about the church and the pastor, but I didn’t allow my ego to dismiss things so quickly. Deep down, I knew that regardless of if I agreed with everything about the church and pastor, I wouldn’t have been there if there wasn’t a message for me. I wasn’t about to miss it by looking down on the vessel. So I gave it a fair chance and I was so glad that I did. I was glad that I said yes on the day that I did because it was perfectly timed.
I came away feeling renewed. I didn’t hear any bigotry or fear mongering. I didn’t hear any oversimplifications of spirituality or the bible. What I did hear was information that helped me put together things I wasn’t able to understand when I was studying spirituality on my own. It was like I had fragmented pieces of the truth. And when I came to church, I got some really important pieces that I was missing. Things started clicking that I hadn’t been getting before. So I continued to go. I began studying the bible more and piecing together more and more of what I needed to continue my spiritual progress.
On Christmas Eve of 2017, I re-dedicated myself to Christ. For a long time, I didn’t tell anyone. There are still a lot of people who don’t know. Although I had been open about going to church, attending church and becoming a Christian are two different things. The truth was, I didn’t know if people would accept me. It wasn’t until I became a Christian that I realized I didn’t really have any other Christian people in my life, save for family, many of them much older than me. I had no one else I was close to who would really understand this important shift that had taken place.
I also was ashamed. Not of Jesus, but of myself. What would people think? I had been on this wildly different path for years and was known for it. I also had openly denounced Christianity several times based on the negative experiences I had and the terrible things the church as an institution has done. I didn’t want to seem fake or a hypocrite. I also struggled with how I could continue to be an ally to my LGBT friends and community while being a Christian. This particular concern prompted study of scripture and intentional connection with LGBT Christians. (I will share more about this at a later time but for now I’ll just say that my spirit and my research says that homosexuality, being trans, etc does not displease God. It’s mankind that has an issue with it. Many Christians will disagree with me, but that’s that on that.)
I didn’t know if other people would be able to see as I saw, the difference between the wrongdoings of organized religion and the truth of who Jesus is and what leading a life where you follow Christ really means. But slowly, I started to tell people. And now, I am writing this.
There is still a lot I am figuring out. I don’t have all of the answers. But I do know what my heart tells me. I know what I feel. I know what’s real to me. My decision to be a Christian wasn’t made lightly or rashly. It wasn’t a choice that was made for me by family or societal pressure, which is the way it was happening in my childhood. It wasn’t a choice made out of fear. It was a choice that I made because when I needed help developing my relationship with The Creator, strengthening my faith and understanding how God’s love could best operate in my life, it was Jesus who helped me get that understanding.
So that’s my truth. This is where I am. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you all.
Peace & Love