When I was 5 my mom had my little brother. When I was 6 1/2 she had my little sister. When I was 8 my stepfather, my siblings’ father, started becoming incredibly religious. To the point that he was up late at night praying in the living room with candles lit, speaking in tongues.
Like I said. Really religious. Or insane. Take your pick. I won’t judge.
So we were going to church, every Sunday, every Wednesday. I loved it. I liked the community, the other kids, the adults who knew me. I kept going even after my mom and stepfather split up. He was picking up my siblings anyway, so it was easy for me to keep going. I was a “Missionette” which is the evangelical version of a girl scout (my brother was, by contrast, a “Royal Ranger”).
And I went to youth group. I loved youth group. And good lord did I want to believe that everything was going to be amazing and fabulous and great if i just prayed enough, fasted enough, believed enough. There was a lot of indoctrination. We were told time and time and time again about all the teenage Christian martyrs. The girl who was asked “do you believe in God?” by the Columbine killers and, when she said yes, they shot her. Which turned out to be totally not true at all but makes for a great story for a bunch of tweens and teens trying to figure out this big old world. We were asked, “would YOU have the courage to stand for God like that?”
I tried really hard to fit in. But I always knew that I didn’t really believe what we were being told. I did, however, really like the ministers. The youth ministers, the guest preachers, and our minister. His name was Rob and he was a good guy. Looking back he was a total homophobic asshole but I did like him.
And more than liked them? I wanted to be them. It seemed like something I would want to do. I loved doing the kid’s services and all of that kind of thing. And though I really dislike myself for it now, I liked going into the community to talk to people about, you know, the love and eternal salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Not what I’m all about anymore, if you hadn’t noticed.
But the point was that I liked ministry. I told people that I wanted to be a youth minister or a missionary when I grew up. I thouht that those high school and college students who went to other countries to do missionary work were The Coolest People Ever. Seriously.
I was no longer welcomed at the church after I was 12 or so, and it hurt. But I got over it. I went to high school, to undergrad, I moved a few times. Church wasn’t a part of my life.
And now it is again. And in the past few months I have met more queer, young, vibrant, sex positive, feminist, enthusiastic, accepting ministers than I knew existed in any form.
I don’t know how I feel about any of this. Suddenly that thing that I wanted when I was in middle school is vaguely an option. I don’t know that it is what I want at all. But it’s weird that it’s an option again.