It’s been nearly a year since I chose me.
I left the only church I had ever loved because my soul gave me no choice.
I was christened in that church.
I was baptized in that church.
I sang beside my entire family in that church.
I gained mentors and friends in that church.
But I still had to leave.
And I’ll never forget that day.
I parked my car at the church, proudly displaying my Human Rights Campaign sticker. Hours later, I sat at an afternoon worship service listening to a preacher who nonchalantly said, “and a woman has no business being with another woman.”
Although it wasn’t the first time I heard the proclamation from someone at my conservative childhood church, it would be the last.
I finally realized I couldn’t worship the sacredness of God in a place where people couldn’t see that same sacredness inside of me.
It wasn’t enough for people to love me “despite my sexual orientation.” It was time for people to love me because of it, and because it was one of the many reasons I could proclaim to be “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The day I decided to leave that church was not only one of the most difficult days of my life, but it was also the day I realized sacredness doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
In fact, it was leaving this vacuum of presumed sacredness that saved my spiritual and physical life.
Until that moment, I didn’t want to consider that worship, beliefs, or God could be different than I had ever known. I had to relinquish the idea of the safety in sacredness to move forward with my life.
There’s nothing safe about sacred.
When you seek the best version of yourself; when you seek the best version of your religion; when you see the best version of your God—you must leave important people, places, and prejudices behind.
When you desire to spiritually mature in a new and special way, you’ll critique faux holiness and embrace holy danger.
This isn’t a battle of conservative versus progressive. This isn’t a battle of evangelical versus mainline.
This is a battle for the soul.
This is the challenge to search for the sacred, and this is a demand that you give up what’s keeping you from finding it.
Will it require leaving a church? Leaving a denomination? Leaving a friendship? Leaving a job?
There’s nothing safe about sacred, and you might have to lose something before finding it. Over and over again.
So I shouldn’t just say it’s been a year since I chose me: It’s been a year since I chose to find the sacredness within me at any cost.
I might not find safety in the pursuit of sacred, but I hope to find my version of God.
Marchae Grair is many things. A Netflix addict, puppy enthusiast, songbird, Millennial dreamer, and God lover, to name a few. She is the editor of New Sacred and social media associate for the United Church of Christ. Twitter: @MarchaeGrair