As I look over my life, I have always felt different than other boys. I always felt that my interests were more “feminine”: music, arts, museums, antiques, even doll collecting. My mother tells me that she could send me out to play in white and I came back clean! I think she always feared that I was “one of them” and that message came out loud and clear. The other message was that good Christian folk were not like that. So my difference was kept in secret even, so I thought, from God. Of course, how silly it is to think that the God who made me could not know of my struggle.
I can remember having what I know now as gay fantasies and after reading “those passages” in scripture, being on my hands and knees praying to God to forgive me and to wipe away the feelings. How lost I felt, alone in my guilt and shame. “How could God love me, this worst of sinners?” I would think. Even with these feelings, I was active in my church, using my musical talents, hoping that no one would notice how different I was.
Now I am older, a pastor, married, with grown children, still facing the reality that I am gay. My family knows my struggle but my church cannot know. I hurt inside, that different little boy who loves and wants to serve God is still there, unable to reveal who I am, still faithful to the church who, if they knew, wouldn’t have me. One reality has changed, however: I know who I am now in the eyes of my God. I am whole and loved as I am….a gay man, embraced by grace into the work of God, knowing that one day I will be free to be me. If only the church and denomination in which I serve would also live in that grace and accept me as I am. I am here…waiting.
Rev. Lee VanderKerk is a pseudonym chosen by an RCA minister serving a local congregation.