Keep The Faith
When you come from a strong religious foundation as I have, oftentimes you can live a life (or be late bloomers) void of experiences that actually make us whole. By “whole,” I mean a life that is complete, and in my belief, faithful. Many times we feel judged, frowned upon, less than, and any other word or phrase that one can imagine that has a negative connotation and doesn't lend itself to boosting a healthy self esteem. As a result, we may live our lives shrouded in secrecy, which I personally believe kills our will to live. God bless the soul of my Great Uncle, who was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which is the denomination in which my family reared me.
My extended family was the First Family of the church, a church that to me as a child, prior to the institution of the mega churches of today, would've been considered a rather large congregation. So, of course, I would imagine that some of my relatives felt a sense of responsibility in being (or at least appearing to be) devout, upright Christians. I spent many years serving many roles in the church, from alter boy, member of the youth choir, participant in church plays, Young People’s Department, member of the Junior Usher Board, and so on. Believe me, if any of us, young or old, missed church, we EXPECTED a call from my Great Uncle, the late Dr. Wilfred L. Reid, asking why we weren't at church. As a young adult, I moved to Los Angeles (Lost Angels, as he referred to it).
However, on my last Sunday at church before I departed Chicago, I was called into his office and reminded of Sodom and Gomorrah. (That probably was one of the last serious conversations we had.) Though my Uncle is gone today, and I don't make it to church as often as I once did, the lessons that he instilled are still with me. He probably wouldn't be happy with some of the things that I've experienced. He probably wouldn't smile about my sexual orientation. He probably would still be calling and asking when I am coming to church. I chuckle fondly as I think of this. However, I can say with certainty that through all of the negatives that he might say, Uncle Wilfred would definitely be very proud of the man of great faith and love I am today! A man who can look another man respectfully in the face, while being 100% of who I am, knowing that GOD loves me still! That's the lesson that I garnered from all of those years of discipline. In the end, we can only be ourselves. In the end, no matter how far we may stray (and believe me, I'm no angel. I just look like I am), we serve a God of forgiveness, redemption and LOVE!