So I’m a Christian.

Those are hard words to type as for a long time I was ashamed of who I was, or rather what I believed. Thankfully I learned that my shame wasn’t in my love of God, but in the way those around me acted who happened to also declare themselves Christian while they partook in legalistic finger pointing, shaming, and lots of hell fire and brimstone. Those things didn’t sit well with me as a kid but I didn’t know how or have the resources to understand why. I struggled through college, still going to church, still thinking you weren’t a “Christian” if you weren’t of an evangelical fundamentalist variety. But I started to open my eyes, first to my parents way of thought (No, people really didn’t give two fucks if I drank a beer, no one thought I was a slut because I watched a movie over at a guy-friends apartment without anyone else being there, and apparently going to a frat party is NOT a straight path to hell, even if you dance on the tables with your girlfriends because the guys were all tools anyway). Then after college I found a church and a denomination that spoke to my beliefs but without all the legalism and with a healthy dose of community to boot. Their youth groups went to build homes and dig proper latrinesĀ in the Dominican Republic for their missions trips instead of going someplace and running Bible camps for kids during the day and handing out tracts and trying to talk to people on street corners in the evening. Showing love and humility as a way to spread your faith speaks to me so much more than trying to force it down someone’s throat.

Anyway, as I’ve lived longer in The Big City, found an even better church home with a sense of community that I’ve never experienced before, I’ve been able to think through some other big ticket items. I’m also thankful for my church and the fact that there are people there, for instance, will vote for Hillary, or Bernie, or Rand Paul, or maybe even Santorum or Jeb Bush but even better: we will all still be able to worship together and love one another and share and discuss our differences and similarities over a beer like adults. Whereas a lot of people I grew up with would be HORRIFIED that I not only claim to be a Christian but also support gay marriage and am pro-choice. My amazing sister-in-law summed things up today, the day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing gay marriage: “So many rude remarks. Such prideful tones being taken. Not helpful. Either side. Should not our most deeply held convictions compel us to share them with others in a winsome way?” That my friends is the difference between the “Christian” I once was and the Christian I am now. And I am thankful to be in a place surrounded by Christians who think as I do, maybe not on the same side of certain issues, but who agree that love trumps all in how we treat one another.