Me and Jesus.

I tried to say all this in 200 words, and failed. I'm not sure if that is cheating or not...but whatevs.

I used to be as cool as you. In fact, I was actually much, much cooler. I was beautiful and hip. I had nice things. I had a lot of opinions, and they were pretty much the same opinions as those of the other cool people. I mean, I lived in New York! For grad school! In poetry! How delightfully impractical and perfectly stupid!

Through a series of unfortunate events in love and life, though, I found myself in a bind, and not really able to stand on my own two feet. I needed someone or something else to be in charge, and I started on a hunt for god. (Looking back, that phrase, “a hunt for god,” seems so silly. God was always there, waiting for me. I could feel his hot breath on my neck. I found it to be very annoying.)

I did a good job at hunting for god. I meditated with a Hindu guru. (I bet you never did that, did you?) I read Buddhist books and practiced meditation…like really practiced it. I didn’t just think about it as something I’d like to try one day. I devoted chunks of my day to sitting in an uncomfortable position on the floor and dumping out the contents of my mind like a jarful of coins. I did yoga—the hot kind where you sweat and stretch and get fly stomach muscles but also smell like incense and chant stuff to foreign gods with unpronounceable names. I kept at it…I worked this god-hunting thing hard and thorough, like I do most things.

Through all this, I found some stress relief. I found some interesting ideas. I found some comfort in difficult times. I acquired a collection of cool god kitsch, like handbags that definitely looked like they came from India and statuary representing fat and thin, human and animal gods from all over the world to remind me to be mindful, to make me aware of my awareness, to let me let go. All of this was handy equipment.

At the center of myself, though, there was still this ache and emptiness…and there was the undeniable, persistent whisper…Try me.

I knew who was doing the whispering, and I was pretty much horrified. It was my Grandma’s god. The God of the Republicans. The God that folks used to justify all kinds of ugliness, like being nasty to gay folks or poor people or keeping me from having health insurance, or slavery or rape or denying people birth control. The same God that the kids in dorky sweaters in high school had congregated around in their abject rejection of quirky, angry, atheist me.

And he was a daddy God. A male. That was definitely going to be problematic. I preferred gods that would sometimes show up as a lady, a Mama.

And this God was so damned persistent. It was like a very nice, earnest boy had a crush on me. I do not like nice, earnest boys. I did not want his attentions, his gifts, his unshakeable kindness and goodness. I wanted a little more edge in my God. I wanted a God with cooler stuff.

In the end, though, it wasn’t up to me. I could keep defining god however I wanted, but it didn’t make the undeniable Presence of the Living God change. It didn’t silence the voice, and it didn’t quench the thirst that was at the center of me. God was going to define me…I didn’t get to define him.

What finally sealed the deal for me and Jesus, though, was community. I found people who were not Republicans. (Well, probably some of them were. But they weren’t hateful. They weren’t like the Republicans I saw on TV.) I found a group of folks who accepted me right where I was and who embraced my crazy ass and loved me as authentically as I’d ever been loved. When I lost sight of God or got confused about what God was saying about me, they’d lift me up and remind me of who I truly am and who he truly is. I found a pastor and other leaders who were smart, funny, and compassionate. Nobody had a political agenda that was onerous to me. Nobody was nasty to gay people. I found kindness and hope and friendship, strife and reconciliation, real-life community with people who had been broken by life and who were finding healing by basking in the love of God.

My hunt was over because I let God find me. I accepted the blessings and mercy that he had been offering all along. With Jesus, I don’t have as many answers that make as much sense as I found with my pursuit of other religions. Karma is so tidy, and grace is messy. The same Bible that contains Job and his torment has the peace of the Holy Spirit, and that is confusing and complicated and hard to digest, but at the center of my heart, I know that all of it is undeniably real.


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