Brad Stevens : Austin, TX

My Spiritual Path
... A Journey of a Lifetime.

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I wonder what God would say about treating someone in that fashion. I guess they must have related the “hate the sin” portion of their standard statement to my partner John … because their actions and lack of words showed us that they obviously hate him with every fiber of their being.
When the family was about to walk down the aisle to seat ourselves in the funeral, my sister Vicky held back her husband from walking in after John and I so they didn’t have to sit next to us. Then, there was a scene when we got to the front of the church. No one wanted to sit by John and me so everyone was trying to jockey for position. John and I just sat down and let everyone else make asses of themselves. My sister Terri and her husband wouldn’t even sit in the same row as us, so they sat behind us.

During the luncheon following the funeral, a couple of extended family members made comments about the seating issue. Once I explained the situation to them, they commented how childish my sisters and brother were being. Yep, well, uh-huh ... welcome to my world! John and I had some wonderful conversations with some of the extended family. Interestingly enough, those who did not live in West Michigan seemed to be more educated on the subject of religion and homosexuality than the religious zealots themselves. Fascinating, really.

After the luncheon, I met a final time with the funeral director to wrap things up with the invoice. Then, it was over.

I was afraid of how I might react now that the funeral was over. My partner and I chose to take the high road throughout the entire event. But, now it was over. And, now we didn't have to take being treated like trash any longer. Part of me felt like walking up to each one of them and giving them a healthy piece of my mind before leaving.

Even though I felt heartbroken that my relationships with my siblings had not improved, strangely enough, I became very calm and aware. It felt as if God was saying to me … “There, you see, it’s not about you”. And, He’s right. It’s neither about me nor my partner. It’s all about my sisters and brother and the religious zealot “stuff” that clouds their minds.

My father’s funeral ended up bringing peace to me. I no longer feel that little part of me that wonders if it’s me or them that is creating this separation in our family. I no longer wonder if their view of being Christian has some semblance of walking with God. It doesn't. They just spew forth hate, and it has nothing to do with God's teachings. Strange, really … that my father's funeral could end up giving me a sense of peace. Truly, God does work in wondrous ways.

My father had always been a yeoman in my life. He never let his religious beliefs stand in the way of his love for his son. He truly showed me what God's love is all about. My mother, over the years, has become more accepting of John and I. It is not an easy thing for her to do ... but, indeed she has tried. And, John and I take our hats off to her for her efforts.

My brother Rick and my sisters Terri and Vicky are another story. They have become even more hardened and hateful over the years. As time goes on, Terri reminds me more and more of how my mother used to be ... which is incredibly ironic.

My partner's family is also involved with an organized religion; but not the Christian Reformed Church. And, the difference between my family and my partner's family is dramatic. The contrast is not so much in religious beliefs as it relates to homosexuality. His family does not agree with our lifestyle either, but they treat us with regard and with love. They recognize our relationship. We have been able to find a common respect for each other's beliefs ... a vast difference from my own family.

It wasn't until my early thirties that I became involved with a different church that recognized and even celebrated the fact that each individual is on different paths in their walk with God. I realized then that I found the true support and comfort I was seeking.

The members and attendees of the church were as varied as snowflakes in winter. Some were highly spiritual, able to communicate the writings of the Bible quite eloquently. Others were new to religion ... and yet others were giving religion 'another try'. It was these later two types that were most vocal, sometimes openly vocalizing bitterness in their statements regarding religion itself. Yet all within the church supported each other because they understood that all were on different portions of the path to God's grace. Most important to them was supporting each other, no matter where on the path one may be.

The contrast to the Christian Reformed Church is dramatic. And, thank God for that.


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LAST UPDATED: FEBRUARY 3, 2006

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Copyright © 2000 BRAD STEVENS all rights reserved worldwide
Austin, Texas