I was raised in the church. I live in the church and I will die in the church. My church. Mine is one of love, and compassion. Acceptance, and understanding. They do not compromise their beliefs to accommodate others, but will show love to all even when others would not. I was raised in the church, and I abide by their principles. But I do not follow blindly. My identity is in Christ, and through Him I can do anything, be anyone. Within reason. A murderer? Probably not. A politician? Sure. A scientist? If it makes you happy. If it is what I am being called to do, what I am passionate about, what I have a gift for, then not even the sky is the limit. I was raised on the church’s principles, because I was not yet old enough to realize my own. I was taught that we are all sinners by nature, but that God loves us anyway. I was taught that having a relationship with Christ means trying our best not to sin, but accepting that we will. And that we are forgiven when we do. And I was taught that we love the sinners no matter what, because that is the model Christ set for us, and because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But I learned that some people did not take that message entirely to heart. Some people decided that it was up to them to persecute sinners. Some people decided to cast out sinners. Some people decided that all sins were not equal. That some bore more weight than others, even though the Bible says that God will punish all crimes equally, the liar in the same way as the murderer. And in realizing that I am a sinner, I realized that my crimes all weighed the same on my heart. The anxiety of a lie was the same as the depression of my attractions. To women. Of course, I thought that if the church knew, I was done for. I believed the stereotype that all churches were homophobic, even having been raised in the church. My church. My home. I was scared, and fear amplifies worry. I struggled, trying to find a place in the LGBT community, while retaining my place in the church. My church. I decided that I was gay, and the church- my church, my Christian community, my family- would just have to deal with it. That it wasn’t a sin. Some expert must have misinterpreted the Bible along the way. God made me in His image, and loves me no matter what, so why can’t everyone else? Eventually, I realized that it was a sin. It hit me hard. But I also remembered that everyone has a sinful nature. We are all sinners. It is human nature. If I recognize that it is a sin, and actively decide every day to not act on it, I am doing my best. It is the way I was made, make no mistake. This is my struggle in life. It was given to me on purpose, because God knew that I could handle it. Handle myself. Find a way to work this into something manageable. Realize that this is part of my sinful human nature. That I cannot change that. But that I can choose, every day, not to act on it. Because who you are is not a sin, but how you act and who you choose to be can be. I used to try to find my identity in my community, the people around me, myself. I tried to find a way to merge being gay and being a Christian, but you don’t need to merge something that already fits together just fine. You just have to look at it differently. Now I find my identity in Christ. Not myself, not any of my communities. Because He is all I’ll ever need.