Unfortunately I was still very conflicted inside, battling with mental health issues and trying to navigate new found friendships. At the same time I was having to deal with judgement based on my previous lifestyle, my beliefs in science, family issues, gay issues. Ultimately I felt under a huge pressure to be someone I wasn't. I felt like I was living a lie, like a hypocrite. So I left the church as my understanding of the world was too different. That also meant I abandoned my faith in Jesus, I could no longer sing praise, in fact I couldn't even listen to worship without feeling uncomfortable. I guess I wasn't ready for Christianity.
The problem was I was trying to be the perfect Christian, I changed the way I dressed, immersed myself in Christian music, attended 3 different churches on a regular basis, got involved as much as I could with youth work, worship etc. But it wasn't me. I felt so broken I didn't know who I was so I adopted this persona that I really wasn't comfortable with.
So when I started socialising again with non Christians I found I didn't have to be this perfect Christian and I slowly rediscovered who I was. I like heavy metal and dressing slightly odd, I'm not a modest dresser, I like to flaunt what I've got, I've got a good figure so why not show it off in well fitting clothes. I was having fun again and I didn't feel under pressure. So this reinforced my leaving the church.
Well anyway, here we are 4 years later and I'm going to return to church. This time I think I'm ready. I'm not lost and broken and essentially on the rebound as it were. I'm happy, I know who I am, I'm in a good place in life, but there's something missing.
Several times over the past 4 years I've experienced callings back to church, yet never acted on them, it's always been too scary to face. This time I'm taking the challenge. I don't know exactly what prompted me to seek out a church. Perhaps it was attending my Mum's church on mother's day, it brought back memories of those 6 months where I was heavily involved and I missed it. I missed feeling close to God. I felt tears rolling down my face during the worship, I didn't sing as I felt I couldn't as a non believer, but somehow it got to me.
The following weekend I went down to London riding pillion on Sephi's bike. It was a boring ride consisting of mostly motorway lasting several hours. So what did I do? I thought, I pondered and I talked to God. It's been a long time since we've spoken, and I didn't really get any answers. But I carried on talking to him and I decided to investigate some local churches, asking them on their views on homosexuality.
I found an article by the Guardian about one local church who was affiliated with a church in New York who believed that homosexuality was a disease to be cured, which I found very offensive. That particular local church never got back to me on it's views on homosexuality, so I knocked it off my list of churches to try. The other two churches I emailed however both got back to me very quickly with an offer of coffee.
So I went and had coffee with the elders from both churches and I got the answers I was looking for, thanks God. Both seem to be very welcoming and non judgemental churches, they obviously weren't pro homosexuality, but differentiated between orientation and action and viewed the action as equal with any other sin which I'm happy with.
So I'm going to go to one church this Sunday and the other the following Sunday and see what I think. Then I might try Alpha and see if I can join a house group. These are the two churches:
In the meantime I've still been talking to God, reading the Bible, praying and rediscovering my relationship with Jesus. It turns out I still do have the capacity to believe in Him. However Ill keep my stance that religion is like penguins talking about nuclear physics. It's all beyond our comprehension. But faith is different, it's separate from religion. I have faith and I believe in Jesus. However I will be taking the Bible with a pinch of Salt. God's word? I believe it's man's interpretation of God's word so it is fallible. There seems to me to be a lot of personal opinion in the Bible ie Paul, it's useful to study I don't think it should be taken the absolute word of God, more inspired by the word of God.
Plus I do have an issue with homosexuality. If God made man with no mistakes why would he create an orientation where someone can enjoy the gift of sex? Especially when the male body was created with a prostate that when stimulated via the anus produces orgasm. Looking around at the animal kingdom there is evidence of homosexuality, so why would it not be natural in humans too? I guess this is something I have to disagree with the Bible. I've asked God on the matter, we'll see what he has to say.
As for my current situation and how that fits in with God, I'm not sure. I am currently living with my boyfriend Sephi and in a sexual relationship. Some say this is incompatible with a relationship with Jesus. Perhaps I should leave him and find a nice Christian boyfriend? NO! I couldn't imagine that, I'm in love, I'm not leaving. Plus the damage that would cause is huge. Jesus is not in the business of breaking up families. We may not be married yet, but we are family. Should I put a stop to the sex? Perhaps, but I think that would cause too much friction and hurt, not to mention I'll drive myself batty. I know from experience that a sexually frustrated Belle is not a nice Belle. So what do I do? Get married? Well this is what we're working towards, a proposal is hopefully on the cards. However we can't get married yet as I'll lose my NHS Bursary, so we have to wait until I'm qualified. So until then we'll carry on as we are as I've yet to come under any strong conviction to do otherwise. I need to take my walk with Jesus one step at a time and hopefully by the time Jesus asks this issue to be tackled there will be wedding bells anyway.
So I'm going to come just as I am to Jesus, I'm not going to try and change anything and be something I'm not. If God has a plan for me then I'll embrace it, but I won't try and pre empt it this time.