Artwork by Ellie Camp
If you can find the courage to name ‘here’ – especially in the place you do not wish to be – it can help you be there. The pain is only deepened when the location is resented or, even worse, unnamed. Hello to here. —In the Shelter, Pádraig Ó Tuama
How did I end up here? And where is Here?
For myself, Here is Kansas City. Here is being a graduate student in my mid-30s. Here is being a mom of two kids. Here is identifying as bisexual and having this identity erased because I am married to a man. Here is often being the only Asian American in any given room because of that other Here: the Midwest. Here is recognizing that I no longer fit neatly into any particular label of “Christian,” and wondering, why do I stay?
Some of these Heres are exciting; some of them are painful. All of them have, at some point, been Heres where I do not wish to be. Sometimes I have literally said: Fuck Here.
I don’t want to live in the Midwest, especially under the circumstances that led me here. I don’t want my sexuality to be questioned daily. I don’t want to be the only one who looks like me or have someone ask me, “But where are you from?” And I don’t want to keep wondering if I have space at the table. Sometimes it seems like it would be so much easier to walk away from the church. Make a clean break. Find a new Here.
So why. Why do I stick with Christianity? Why do I still choose to engage with the church or find importance in the structure and community of religiosity? Some days I ask myself these questions. That’s a lie. Most days I ask myself these questions.
And here’s the answer: I don’t know.
That’s the honest truth.
Maybe this is the form of togetherness that I am most familiar with. Maybe the language of my soul still communicates best through liturgy and theology. Maybe I still find value in a story that preaches Love above all else.
Or maybe not. I really don’t know.
Here’s what I do know:
If Love is the foundation from which I live my life, I will not regret it. If I hold things loosely, there is more room for growth and change. If I admit that I know nothing concretely, I have everything to gain.
I know that goodness can be found in the most unlikely places; that what I once considered profane only appeared so because I could not see clearly enough to find the sacred.
I know that hoarding power is a façade for fear of loving oneself and one another.
I know that if I make space in my life for what is true, I will experience both gut-wrenching pain and soul-bursting joy.
We are Here for good.
We are Here for Love.
This is my creed. This is how I name the space where I find myself. This is what I know in my deepest being.
If I can hold this knowing and still be welcomed by Christianity, then Here I am. And if I cannot be welcomed, there I will go.
So, for now, I stay. Here.
am I Here because
I choose to be? or because
Love chooses me? yes.