WHY I STAYED
The following letter was originally posted by The Catholic Woman.
I’ve been attracted to women since I was 15. Men were a little earlier. Everybody’s got something, eh?
I was raised in the Catholic Church, encountered Christ in the Eucharist as a teen, and have chosen formation and community ever since. On my last birthday, more than 1/2 my life had been spent intentionally following Jesus. Next birthday, 1/2 my life has included attraction to women. Sister to sister…that’s a long time. Years of arguing with God, of pining and tears, of watching friends get married and start families. Years of lackluster CatholicMatch dates and years of falling hard for dear [female] friends.
Why am I still here?
It’s a good question. If a certain sort of happiness is becoming increasingly celebrated in our culture, what’s holding me back from walking out the church door or, at the very least, walking through a more “accepting” once? Is it because I’m afraid of public church-y opinion? Of losing my friends or disappointing my parents? Is it because my education and career have - been in ministry and everything I’d built would come crashing down? When your life has been artfully constructed with reliance on a single lynchpin, disrupting it would have catastrophic effects.
I can’t say I haven’t wondered what it would be like to watch it all fall apart. I’ve played out the scenarios. Perhaps we all have that melodramatic, impulse to self-destruction from time to time, the wild-hearted urge to run for the hills, wondering if something easier lies beyond the horizon… In the end, nobody can run forever. Not even in their own imagination. At some point my mind comes up short. I sink to my knees and close my eyes for a moment, only to find Someone waiting when I open them. In the end, the reason I remain Catholic isn’t a cost-benefit analysis. The truth is simple. I’m in love. I can’t explain it any other way.
I know I’m not alone in this. Somewhere, thanks to the internet, I know some of you are reading this. I don’t know why you want to go. Maybe you’re in love with a woman or you wish you were a man. Maybe your marriage isn’t what you hoped. Maybe you’re already divorced. Maybe fellow Catholics are scarce and going out with your hard-partying co-workers is the closest you get to intimacy. Maybe your boyfriend doesn’t understand chastity and you’re just so tired of sleeping alone.
Are you in love, my sister? Are you in love with the Lover of your soul? Because I don’t know any other way. I don’t understand why we carry crosses we didn’t choose. I don’t understand why we must wait in the darkening silence of the tomb. But I do believe that something can be born in the womb of an empty heart, that a new day comes, that the stone rolls away, that a gentle voice is near at hand: “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
Christianity is the agonizing, brilliant transformation of broken things to new hearts. To acknowledge and accept my wound isn’t to act out of it. Instead, I have hope in a God Who shows me His scars, a Lord with a Heart as wild as mine.
In His Heart,