This week, Kiera shares her faith journey as a gay woman and how The Hearth became a refuge and welcome space to wrestle with her own experience of a loving God and not-so-loving Christians in her past. I am so grateful for Kiera’s bravery and vulnerability in sharing her story with all of you. I am hopeful for a future where there are more Reconciling in Christ Churches for members of the LGBTQ community to find fellowship and safe worship. ~Kaylee
If I had to choose a word that defined my relationship with the church, I would say it has been tumultuous; though that doesn’t even seem to cover it. I grew up in the Southern Baptist Bible Belt where my earliest lessons about God were what He thought I could or could not be. Don’t be boy crazy, but be sure to get married young; ask hard questions, but not when it concerns a man’s behavior; take up your cross, but don’t be honest enough with yourself that you even know what that cross looks like. Most importantly, don’t be gay. You’ll go to hell if you’re gay.
I had a hard time with all of the rules, but especially one in particular.
When I came out, many of the relationships I had built within the church imploded. From spiteful letters to rude comments made to my parents, the response felt needlessly dramatic and cruel. Meanwhile, now happier than I had been in my adult life, I had begun the work of deconstructing what a Christian faith meant to me.
The community I have found at The Hearth has played a significant part in that endeavor by living out words of a Savior who commanded His disciples, not to show needless hate, but genuine love. No matter how hard I struggled, what questions I asked, if I showed up to church feeling humble or angry, I was greeted happily with a beer and a community devoted to kindness.
The journey to figure out what I believe is far from over. Faith seems like a concept too elusive even to define, much less to profess in the God of the Bible. Much as I wish I could say exactly what I believe or how I feel, I know I have decades of trauma to unravel first. Then the work of reconstruction begins. However this exploration ends, whether I return to the faith of my childhood or find God some other way, I find the most profound comfort in knowing that I have a home with the Hearth.
Cheers and peace,