I was sitting on the chapel floor, staring at the tabernacle, in tears. I was supposed to be happy. That was the promise, right? If I followed Christ and the teachings of His Church, then I was supposed to find joy, freedom, fulfilment…but I was so unhappy. I thought of my non-Catholic queer friends who were so full of laughter, and I couldn’t square my experience of them with how I thought I was supposed to feel. In my anger with God, I finally broke down and told Him all the things I had been keeping from Him for so long. I told Him about my desire to be with another woman, to be married one day, to have a family. I told Him that it was just so difficult to imagine a happy future without this.
For a long time, I had kept those thoughts cut off from the rest of my heart and stored away safely in a place I hoped God wouldn’t find them. I had been too ashamed to show them to God, thinking that He would be angry with me for desiring such things. But as soon as I began spilling it out, I felt a tug on my heart to keep going. It was as though He was inviting me, saying, “Tell Me more. I want to hear all about it.” Instead of being angry, He was asking my permission to be a part of my dreams. He was asking to be invited into my longings for happiness and peace.
It’s not easy to open yourself up to love. Before that day in the chapel, I had been following the Church’s teaching, but I had been following it out of fear. When it came to same-sex attraction, my encounters in the Church usually went something like this: “Are you sinning? No? Keep it that way.” No one seemed particularly interested in whether I was following the teaching for healthy reasons as long as I was following it. But then I met queer friends outside the Church, friends who weren’t afraid to ask me the difficult questions: “Are you happy? Do you feel loved? Do you feel supported?” My experiences with them forced me to face the shame and fear that were festering in my heart. Fear and shame had kept me on the straight and narrow (pun intended) for a while, but they couldn’t last.
I missed the girl who loved watching murder mysteries, belting out worship songs, Christmas music all-year-round, and grammar (no, seriously). I think God was missing her, too. But even more than I was missing myself, I was missing God. I looked at this God I had built up in my mind, this aggressive and domineering figure, and He wasn’t at all the God I had fallen in love with in high school. He wasn’t the God I had spent hours talking with in my bedroom or the God who had been there for me in my most painful moments. The God I had fallen for was gentle and passionate. He was the God of the Song of Songs who says, “You have ravished My heart, My sister, My bride. You have ravished My Heart with one glance of your eyes.” When I remembered the One I had fallen in love with, I knew that I didn’t want any life apart from Him. Not really. I just needed to remember who He was, and I needed Him to untangle all the little lies that had convinced me that His love was too much to hope for.
I recently came across a quote in a Catholic magazine that went something like this, “Woe to the one who is chaste without love; and woe to the one who loves without chastity.” I’ve been the one who is “chaste without love,” and it’s a desolate place to be. But it’s not where God wants me or anyone else to be. I’ve realized that it’s not enough to follow the rules and the teachings if we aren’t open to receiving God’s love. In the mercy my friends showed me by challenging me with uncomfortable questions, God granted me the grace to bring Him all the cut-up pieces of my heart—all the pieces I had hidden away—and let Him make them whole again.
In high school, I had thought that I could make a one-time promise to follow this teaching and be done with it, but my desires for a romantic relationship with another woman haven’t changed. In fact, as I’ve travelled through college, they’ve only developed from a desire for a girlfriend to a desire for a wife. But in those desires, there’s the temptation to shame and there’s the invitation to be loved. I choose the invitation to be loved by God beyond my wildest imaginings. I’m still queer, and I’m also loved by Him who is the fulfillment of all desire. Every day, His grace opens my heart more and more to His love. I hope that one day I’ll be able to do for someone what my friends in the LGBT community did for me and help others see that we never have to settle for fear or shame. With Christ, there is only ever love to meet our every desire.
"Jane" is a pseudonym. This story is anonymous for personal and professional reasons.