The #OurStory series is my attempt at sharing the stories of others, of showcasing different perspectives and viewpoints. I named it 'Our Story' because I believe we have more in common than separates us, that we're all here trying to figure it out, that if we spent more time looking through others' eyes we could see a whole lot more. These are people's stories, but this is also my story. This is your story. This is our story, as a whole. --Robert
Have you ever worn sunglasses indoors?
When you step inside a building, the light might not change too much-- you might forget you have sunglasses on. But as you take steps forward, toward the interior of a building, the sunglasses stop making sense. They start getting in the way. They make it hard to see things clearly. For me, that's one of the ways I know when darkness is coming back. It's heavy, it's dark, and it makes less and less sense as I move forward.
At 17, I asked for help. Unfortunately, my parents knew only the stigma of depression, so they denied that I was sick. And I get it – you don’t want your kid to be the one that’s hurting.
Depression makes people ask “why,” and that’s one of the most dangerous things about it. It manifests as something you wish you could explain, but often, you can’t.
Thankfully, my parents set me up with a counselor, who introduced me to a Bible study. This group started talking about light and dark in the Bible. About how light conquers dark. About saving grace. About unending love. About forgiveness. About community. And as much as I'd like to give God all the credit, it was His community that came together to show me light within my darkness. I turned 18, saw a doctor, and got the medicine I needed. I made the transition to college, and both faith and medical support helped me survive it.
But the reality is, in that moment, the church helped me in a way I never knew that church could. It was a saving grace.
In my first summer as a college student, I joined a different Christian community. I threw myself into it. These were my people, and I trusted that the place was filled with bright, bright light. About halfway through my time there, I started to see cracks in that façade – homophobia and fear of those who were “different.” Then, suddenly, I felt the sunglasses effect. I was struggling in a significant way, so I opened up to the community for support. Instead, I was told that I was "unfit to be around others" and asked to move out.
This was not the light, the hope, nor the love that I had been told that Christ felt for me, but in that moment, it felt like those Christians were speaking on His behalf. I felt unloved, but I wasn't angry. I felt like it made sense. I thought, "Of course they rejected you! You're a danger to the people around you! You aren't in control! Your misery stifles the community!"
These were lies, of course, but I trusted them. Because one of the ways depression fights best is blurring the line between lies and truth.
As I transitioned back to school after a very rocky month, I tried to recommit to my faith. But I'd been burned, and I found it overwhelmingly difficult to find the light. It seemed like my church was focused on talking about anything other than love. I know that other messages have value, but I really needed life and light, and I wasn't seeing it.
Back at school, I realized that I am bisexual. This is a tough thing for me, still, because of all the things that I have been told about sexuality. I can imagine the reactions now:
"You'll get over that someday!"
"But that's not really a thing, is it?"
"Hmm… It sounds like something that God could get you through. Should we pray about it?"
And if you're Christian, reading this, wishing you could protest, promising that you would never say these things, thank you. But there are places in the church where my sexuality is considered a sin, and there are places where it’s thought to be a mental illness. Like mental illness, the story of sexuality is often controlled by the stigma. I struggle with my own identities because of the things that the church told me about “people like me.”
So a while back, I stopped going to church. I stopped believing in God.
This is not a comeback story. This is my story. I don't know how I define myself religiously, but it is not as an "active believer."
But I know this: the church has the power to save lives. It saved mine! And while I wish that I could buy in again, I have also seen the other side of the church’s power – the power to hurt.
So for now, I'm trying to love people in this world. Hard. I support those who find their hope in the church, and I am so happy that they have found a home. For me? I know I can't handle being burned at this (very stable) point in my life, so I am waiting. I'm not sure what I'm waiting on, but I'll keep waiting.
From all communities.
Interested in sharing your story? Find more details here. I'd love to hear from you!
Other entires in the #OurStory series can be found here.
Stories are posted with minimal editing for grammar or structure, not content. To change what someone else wants to say to fit a narrative I want would be to betray the underlying belief behind the project.