A few weeks ago, I was sat talking to a friend, feeling uncertain about what path my future was going to take. I was worried about many things; what the best choices to make would be, how best to honour God in my life, and many smaller worries. The friend turned to me and told me that I would be able to honour God with any path I chose to take. Did I really think, in all of my worry, that my decisions would be able to uproot God’s path for me? She pointed out that I, in all the murky messiness of my identity was still fearfully and wonderfully made, that God made each of us out of love and will, and that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it!
Whether this is ‘Good Theology’ or not I am not sure. But it was a much-needed reminder that even the aspects of my identity that I am not proud of, or have been made to feel ashamed about, are still a central part of how I was planned out by God. The uncontrollable parts of my identity that I have been told in the past are not compatible with my Christian identity very much are, and form an integral part of, who God made me to be. Another friend recently told me that sin was something that stopped you from being the person God wants you to be, something that separated you from Their vision. I cannot be my whole, wonderful self if I try and suppress parts of who I am.
Being part of the LGBT+ community, I have sometimes struggled with accepting this. My friends and family are largely accepting, if not all affirming, though I’m not sure the same can be said of the church I grew up in, or of the wider Christian community I was raised in, which has repercussions on how I see myself. I don’t have the answers, and I imagine that questions about identity are questions I will deal with for the rest of my life. But the God I know is a God who wants me whole, in all the messy entirety of who I am. God made me this way for a reason, and my existence is no burden for Them – I can be sure of Their love.
Since coming to university my faith has started to tie in stronger than ever with my craving for justice. Finding groups such as SCM and my universities’ multi-faith chaplaincy has allowed me to gain a much wider perspective of what it means to be Christian, or to have faith, and how that ties in with social justice movements. University has meant finally belonging to a community whose focus on justice and equality is driven by faith and love.
For me, embracing my God-given identity has meant learning to embrace the voice God gave me. It has meant learning that I have a valid and important perspective to give and that experiences like mine have a place within the church. To use a phrase from a previous SCM blog, I am ‘Queerly Beloved’ in all parts of my identity.
Written by Libby. Libby is a member at Lancaster SCM.