“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
This was the first verse I was ever given from the Bible. I was 16 years old and it was given to me by my ex boyfriend of 10 years. Yes, you read correctly, 10 years. From 16 to 26 I dated my high school sweet heart, on and off.
Without going into too much detail, he was the reason I became baptized in the first place. Let me explain.
When I first met him, I was a troubled teen, meaning, I was 15 years old and thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. How else was a small town and two-team varsity athlete, as a sophomore, supposed to feel?
However, the truth was I was a scared and troubled kid. My parents had gone through a divorce a year before and my mother was going in and out of a mental institution. She had (finally) been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and was fighting for her life.
As a 28, almost 29 year old, I can now understand the strength and courage my mother had, still has today, to fight the disease and live the incredible life that she has. Yet, as a 15 year old, that was a different story.
I felt ashamed, I felt alone, I felt “poor me,” and it showed. My grades were slipping, I was partying with the older crowd and my poor choices were starting to take a toll.
But then my ex showed up. He had just transferred from a small Christian school and knew nothing about my troubled past or the state I was in at the time. He saw me for me; a strong, talented, stubborn (for you Mom) athletic young kid.
I am sure he had heard the “rumors” about me, but that’s the thing, he didn’t care. He had made the choice to get to know and see me for me and make his own decision.
For the first time in my life I felt free. I didn’t worry about hiding my home life or my mother’s battle. I let down my walls, and to his credit, he loved me more because of it.
That was all I needed to believe or start to consider becoming a Christian. I was so intrigued with the religion that is based and founded on love. How his family just loved me for me. How they took me in and never once judged how I had grown up; my family’s history, my financial status, everything society ordains as important. They threw it all to the wind. There were no conditions and even through the mistakes, their love never wavered.
Trust me folks, 10 years, is plenty of time to make a massive pile of those. We had numerous difficult conversations, we disagreed, we laughed, we cried together, trust was broken and gained, and yet they always accepted me back with open arms.
Even now, after all the time that has passed, I know that they will always love me and would be there for me in a heartbeat. They were and always will be my foundation of Christianity. What they taught me will never be forgotten.
However, today, I am also writing this for a reason. You see I am sitting here on a plane on my way back to Houston. I have just left Vancouver, where I attended my partners’ sisters’ wedding, and as I posted a photo of just that, I found a comment that reads as follows:
“Cool photo but sad story being told through it.”
Talk about killing the mood. The only good news about ALL of this is that, once again, social media has ignited a fire in me to speak my mind.
Enough is enough. So, for the young pastor who wrote that underneath my photo, to all my family and friends, and to my better half, this is my rebuttal. MY heart, MY religion = LOVE.
To Whom it May Concern,
Whether you believe in Jesus, Buddha, Allah, everything, or nothing, we have all heard the words below in one-way or another:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love NEVER fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Now read that again.
Read it as many times as you want. Soak those words in, because that is my foundation. Those are the words of my religion and the essence of my beliefs.
You see, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that I am deeply in love with Erin Katrina McLeod. Yes, I know, she is a woman. Yes, I hear you, it is wrong. Yes, I know, I am sinning. Yet, please tell me who can throw the first stone?
Jesus, God’s only son, the one who died for our sins, the one who bore and continues to bear the weight of them, asked, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” of the woman at the well. No one was able to throw that stone and I ask you, who are you to do so? (John 8:7)
Even after everyone cleared the area and He asked the woman who could condemn her, she replied with, “No one sir.” “Then neither do I Condemn you,” Jesus declared, “Go now and leave your life of sin” when Jesus spoke again to the people, He said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”(John 8:11-12)
So, I ask you or anyone else, who are you to tell me what is right and wrong? And yes, I hear myself: Who am I to do the same?!
Trust me when I say, living in the “light” is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. It was the moment where I let go of my pain, of all of my anger. When I started to understand the power of true forgiveness. When I accepted all my mistakes, and finally took a hard look at the selfish human being that I had become.
Every day I have to continually remind myself of who I am and who I want to be – who Jesus has called me to be and by loving Erin, who only reinforces that, you think she hinders it.
That is where you and I are different.
You see, I have accepted my life, my actions, and my voice. I know that just because the religion I choose to live by is love, that does not mean you or anyone else has to follow. That’s where I understand that everyone is different. That God has made and numbered the hairs on our heads for a reason. This is where I have found my peace. Where your words brought tears to my partner’s eyes, for you to prove and share your point, my own reassured her of everything that she is to me.
That has always been my deal with Erin – that was my word to her. That love will always win. That everything she stands for, everything that she was and is, how she pushes me to be more loving, more honest, more giving, and to be a better version of myself daily is something I am so incredibly proud to be a part of and would never hide.
She teaches me to be more patient, to be kind, to not envy, to not boast (still working on that one since she makes it difficult – in a good way) to swallow my pride, to not gossip and be forgiving no matter what. When I am in her arms, when I hear her voice, my heart feels protected, trusted and she has allowed me to find my faith again after losing my father.
Erin, as an agnostic, has shown me the strength of always choosing hope and to believe, no matter what, how judgment gets us nowhere and everyone has some good in them. She has shown me that even when we feel defeated and broken, tomorrow is always a new day and that to make someone else smile is one of the greatest gifts that we have as a human being. Lastly, she has shown me that true selfless love never fails.
The last time I checked, you can’t get more Jesus like than that. Wasn’t He the one that came back to heal the broken-hearted, to inspire the poor, to give hope to the sick, to feed the hungry? Wasn’t He who taught and preached that everything and anything done with love cannot be destroyed?
My point is, just because I am in love with Erin, does not make me any more a sinner than anyone else. At the end of my days, when I am standing in front of my Creator on judgment day, I pray that I will say the same thing I am saying today:
“Forgive me father for I have sinned. For the mistakes I have made, for the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. I know I did not always do it right, but I accept any punishment for my actions. I thank you for your guidance, for your love, and for your support throughout the years. For being my rock and my strength when I felt the chains were too heavy to lift alone. Please allow my family and friends to know that I am okay and will always be with them, that I am so proud and honored to call them that. And lastly, please tell my best friend, the love of my life, thank you. Thank you for loving me, for honoring me, and loving me faithfully through to the end.”
After that, no one, not ONE person can tell me exactly what He will reply with. Some may argue that He will say, “You are condemned to Hell.” Or others might say He will smile, look at me with his fatherly eyes, and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Regardless of those words that follow, which will only be between God and myself, what I am trying to convey is, we ALL sin. No one is perfect and ALL of us possess the greatest gift in world. LOVE!
Whether you believe it is a sin or not, I will never apologize for loving someone, faithfully, with everything that I am, and honoring them daily. Loving someone will never be that to me and as one of my best friends, who is a believer says, “No matter WHO that someone is, we ARE to love everyone. That is the GLORY of our faith and of our Creator.”
Ella C. Masar
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