Yesterday, I finally met with the man from my old church. Have I named him? He needs a name. I think I will call him First Father Figure. FFF for short.
I guess my meds kept me from being nervous or afraid. Inhibited my serotonin re-uptake or some phrase equally attractive to the Xanax spambots. In any case, I was ready. It was his suggestion that we meet somewhere not on familiar territory, when I had fully planned going to his house. Instead we went to a place where I could eat BBQ ribs. So that helped a lot too, lol.
We started with a little more catch-up on the state of all his sons. He has so many real children that it's ridiculous. I was always trying to fight through the throng of kids to get to him, until I just gave up. He was/is a good man, but he just never had enough time for me. So I went chasing other fathers. However, he will always be my first.
So the meeting yesterday was not about trying to recapture the love I once had for him, or to re-establish the relationship I had longed for now that my rivals had been scattered to the four winds. It was about eliminating the vacuole of shame that lie beneath the surface. I had turned my back on 17 years of my life, and I was choosing yesterday to turn back towards it again. To face it with eyes wide open.
FFF and I had quite a chat. I went into my details by starting with the day I realized that I had been abused when I was a kid. Then I lept ahead to the time I started going to our church and how my hindsight informed me of the reason why. I told him about how it was a refuge from the fear of sex. I told him how I left all my relationships that he knew about, and the ones that he didn't, because of these fears. And I finished my account with the admission that if this were any other planet, or if this were a more advanced time, I would probably be a Gay American.
FFF's love for me remained intact. Of course, his solution for my life is for me to stop watching porn, no more masturbation, and cut out the secular music while I'm at it. If I were to return to the sterile womb of fundamentalist Christianity (these were not his exact words, mind you) God would then be happy with me and see me through to a married, fulfilling, sexual relationship.
Without getting into theological debate, he and I spoke for about 4 hours. So I was determined to stay out of that realm. But it was clear to me towards the end of our visit that our theology has a major point of departure. He believes that my behavior will earn God's approval and I have come to believe that there is nothing so great (or pure or chaste) that I could possibly do to impress God. The Bible says this; "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Or something like that. And no I don't know where to find it at the moment.)
So if God and Jesus is real, as this past week attests to, then He knew what I was--what YOU are--way before I did, and He STILL died for me. So what am I going to give to Him to make him "happy" with me? To "earn" His death? To be "worthy" of His sacrifice?
Not a damn thing. Because He did it all for me while I was already a sinner. He did it for me because He wanted to, not because I wrestled it away from some dragon.
God is either happy with me or He is not. There's nothing I can do that He doesn't see straight through to the truth of. If I go to church, am I going because I want to log time in towards a Hell Immunity Badge or because there's something in church that I really want? If I deny myself the pleasure of this God-created phallus, am I doing it because I truly believe somehow that it offends Him, or am I denying it because I want the bragging rights of how holy I am? Is any of my behavior, for good or for evil, EVER enough of a smokescreen to hide behind?
I think not.
Meeting FFF was the first gate. My next gate will be to visit our pastor. FFF says Our Pastor (for FFF still attends my old fundie church and is a deacon now) has mellowed greatly since the days of Hellfire & Brimstone. FFF says that I should give Our Pastor a chance to hear my story with the increased possibility that I won't become the church's next and greatest pariah.
And wouldn't that be nice?
But you know what? I'm not afraid anymore of what Our Pastor will say about me. If he burns an effigy of me in the church parking lot, or ignores my case completely, it will be no matter to me. I know I can't go back to them and their lifestyle. I know I can't believe anymore in their Conditional God. So where I thought I was going to lose something vital by being rejected by them, I realize now that time has already taken care of it. I'm changed and I can't change back. I won't change back.
Now God, it's on you. What do you want to do with me as I am? As I've become.
As You've made me.
Because I still believe in You. And I still love You. And I still want to serve Your ideals. Your greater good. I still believe in the divine. In the better angels of our nature. In a Calling.
I still believe.
Lord, help thou my unbelief.