Throughout the summer, I’ll be posting how I learned to be the most authentic version of me while holding onto my Christian faith. Six posts: how I came out as queer, polyamorous, and kinky.
I started with Part One: Coming Out Queer. I suggest you read that first.
Abraham’s son Isaac needed a wife, and God told Abraham he should not take a bride from the Canaanites among whom they were living. So Abraham told his servant to return to the land where they were previously and select a bride from among their people. So his servant traveled with all manner of gifts at his master’s request and when he arrived at a well outside the city of Nahor, he struck a deal with God. He would stand near the well and ask for water, and whichever girl offered water not only to the servant but also to his camels, “Let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” As he requested, so it happened. A young woman named Rebekah showed the servant kindness and, with the blessing of her family, followed him back to Canaan where Isaac was waiting. And so the story goes, Isaac took Rebekah as his wife, and he loved her.
I revisited this story when I was twenty-four, living with my parents, and needing to believe love was possible . . . for me. I’d just broken up with N, my first adult boyfriend, and was wrestling with the guilt of my first bout of sexual exploration. I was worried because my only real relationship had been with someone I hadn’t been passionate about. Was I capable of falling in love? Was I worth falling in love with?
I had friends who were married, who loved their husbands or wives and vice versa. Some of them, I knew, would love each other until they died. Since I was a little girl, I wanted that kind of love, that kind of companionship. I watched every romantic movie that came out with the kind of bittersweet hope that someday that could be me.
I needed to believe that could be me—that there was nothing wrong with me that made me incapable of finding that fulfilling kind of love, and I held on to the belief that it was God who gave me this desire and who could fulfill it.
So, like Abraham’s servant, I made a deal with God. I decided to take time off from dating and devote myself to learning the nature of love through the lense of my faith so that I’d be ready. And I decided on an arbitrary date—the next solstice—to ask God to lead me to the person who would be my husband. I even asked that we’d know each other by the cross necklaces we’d wear.
But I was lonely—too lonely—and I had a friend who was attracted to me but who I knew I couldn’t love. Still, before the solstice when I moved into my own space, I messed around with this friend. I wondered, then, if I wasn’t ready. Did I need to make myself pure for God to fulfill my request?
On the solstice, I woke up and went to work. I still remember what I wore: an extra-long and well-fitted blue-striped button-down shirt with white capris, a classic outfit that showed off my hourglass figure and made me feel like Marilyn Monroe. After work, I went to a jazz show with friends, then joined other acquaintances for drinks. Everywhere I went I searched for him. I thought I would know him immediately. But I met no one that day who even remotely felt like a possibility.
When the day ended and I was back at home, I journaled an angry prayer to God. Angry that I’d believed so much in something. I felt dirty and guilty and afraid that I wasn’t worthy. But if that were true, I was also angry, that I had to be perfect in order to please God.
Shortly after the solstice, my cousin and I went to see Becoming Jane, a film based on Jane Austin’s life. In the movie, Jane and a young man fall for each other and almost run off together, but because of family obligations, they realize they can’t be together. Jane Austin never married, and the man she almost ran off with named his first daughter Jane.
I had this deep faith that God provided the right person – eventually – for everyone who truly wanted that companionship. But the thought that Jane, who devoted her career to celebrating stories of marriage, would not end up with her own, was devastating to me.
It changed me. I didn’t it at the time, but the certainty I’d always held that my “One” would someday arrive faded.
After that I stopped waiting for God. Depending on your perspective, you could say God failed me or that I proved myself unfaithful to God. But I choose to believe something different. I learned not to limit my understanding of how God works in Their children’s lives. But I didn’t understand this until years later when I became so grateful that God didn’t give me what I wanted.
It was after my failed solstice and Becoming Jane, that I started taking ownership of my needs and stopped feeling guilty about it. I gave up, for a season, on the idea of finding a husband and took comfort in the physical presence of friends. I stopped worrying about being single at the same time that I found new ways of trusting the Spirit. When I stopped worrying about sin and asking God for very very specific things, I think God had more room to guide me.
In order for me to be ready for something as “alternative” as polyamory, I had to shed the notion that God created all people to live the same story. And when I met a woman who introduced me to the idea of polyamory, all of a sudden there were new options in my mind about what could make me happy.
Soon after I learned about polyamory, I met David—the first person I’d fall in love with. He wasn’t a Christian, and I never would have dated him if I’d met him even a year earlier. But I can’t imagine where I’d be without having five formative years with hm. Years with a man that allowed me to explore my feelings for women, and who encouraged my music and my writing, and someone I felt passionate about who reassured me I was worth loving.
Continue to the next post in the series