Dear Christians, I'm Bisexual, And God Still Loves Me
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Dear Christians, I'm Bisexual, And God Still Loves Me

"All I felt was God's love for me unfolding in the very center of my heart, the heaviness that had controlled me for so long was emptied, and I could finally breathe."

Dear Christians, I'm Bisexual, And God Still Loves Me
Gracie Mandel

The car was filled with tension; a tension that was surface level yet still palpable. I knew the words that I had to say, and I knew that it had to be done, but I just wasn't sure if I was brave enough to speak them.

It was late April of 2016 when I had come home from a residential facility treating women with eating disorders and other mental health issues. I was away for exactly 27 days; yet it felt like I had been gone for an eternity. So, what does being bisexual, recovering from an eating disorder and a practicing Christian have to do with one another? Well to me, they mean everything.

From an early age, I knew that I loved deeply. I loved people in a way that felt like too much at times. My stuffed animals especially, I had names for every one of them and I'd always get them used because I felt like I had to save all of the orphans that were being given away. Growing up in a big family, I never felt alone; my three brothers and two sisters would keep me company and I always had someone to play with. It wasn't until the end of 5th grade when I learned how to play by myself—not because I didn't have friends, but because I felt safer being by myself. I felt a love for people that was too much.

Perhaps, God's love was being directed through me. When the other girls would play house, they'd ask me to be the dog, but I would always leave and write poems on my desk instead. I learned early on in life that feeling like I could be myself was more important than adhering to someone else's idea of you. My favorite part of the week was when I'd go to church with my grandma; I loved learning about the bible stories and experiencing the overwhelming love that God had for me. Amidst the love from God, my big family, and my poetry—I still felt like something was missing.

Flash forward to freshman year of high school, and my dad was in the final stages of colon cancer. Though I was still a Christian, I was the farthest away from God than I had ever been before. At that time in my life, I knew that I had started having feelings for girls, but pushed them away simply because I could not trust my emotions. I had to trust in something, and if I couldn't control my emotions, my desires or the life of my father, then I believed I could control an eating disorder. The feelings I had for women were at first numbed, subdued even, I wouldn't allow myself to feel because of how completely out of tune I was with my own body. You don't really have any drive for physical affection when your body is shutting down from purging and starving for years. After my dad died, my eating disorder got worse because I not only had these feelings for women that couldn't stay, but I had this love for people that I knew could be taken away at any moment. I also dated guys in high school and I loved it—so I was confused as to why I could like girls too.

I had prayed about my emotions; I prayed that somehow God could magically fix me—my eating disorder. I never put into account the reasons for the eating disorder, and slowly things began to be put into place. When you have emotions that have been pushed down for years, it's only reasonable that your body pushes those emotions back up in ways that aren't exactly adaptive, but very much maladaptive. It was when I was away at an eating disorder residential treatment facility for a few weeks when I found the lyrics of a Tenth Avenue North song called "You Are More" on the laundry room wall. The lyrics described a girl crying, a girl who had felt like she was 'too far to love,' a girl that was just like me. In that moment, I felt God's love like never before. I felt that God was telling me that whatever I was feeling was OK, that whatever hardships I had gone through weren't as powerful as He is and that I am allowed to love others in the most miraculous way just as He loves me.

So there I was in the long car ride home from treatment, the words were itching its way out of my mouth. The music was quiet, and my mom and I were talking as the words "I think I'm Bisexual...actually, I know that I'm bisexual" came out. All I felt was God's love for me unfolding in the very center of my heart, the heaviness that had controlled me for so long was emptied, and I could finally breathe. She replied with love and confusion and terror; my mom thought that she knew me, yet this secret nudged itself between me and everyone I loved for so long. She researched and prayed and read the bible just as I did. I also reached out to Christians in the LGBT+ community, and I even went to a support group in a church basement. When I began to be in search of the ultimate love that God has for me, I was able to feel safe, feel full—without my eating disorder. God's love had set me free, the love for others, both girls and guys, had set me free.

When it came time to pick a college, I chose Eastern University. In all honesty, I was pretty scared to attend a Christian university. I didn't know how people would react, and yet all I have found is love and support. In the past, Eastern has reacted to Trans and LGBT+ individuals with a turned eye. They refused to acknowledge one Trans student, and it was a long four-year battle for her. It was not so much the community's fault, but the administration's. However, the times are changing because Refuge and the college's LGBT+ Alliance have welcomed me in with open arms. Even those that disagree with who I am have loved me and supported me, they have asked questions, and I've answered open-heartedly.

I'll never forget the night after the presidential election. Everyone was praising God at the weekly Wednesday Night worship, and my one friend comes over to me, looks me in the eyes, and as I'm crying and says 'I'm sorry." She would never know what it's like to be LGBT+, but she does know what it means to be a Christian.

It's been almost a year since I saw those lyrics on the wall, and here I am with a beautiful girlfriend who loves Christ and who means so so much to me. Here I am a year later, opening up about my struggle, my sexuality and my happiness. I want to thank my girlfriend for believing that love trumps hate, that love is found in God's word and that His love for us is what matters most. Our love for Him is what matters most.

Dear Christians,

My love for both genders (male and female) does not hinder God's love for me. The support I've found from both my family and friends is more powerful than any hate the devil brings. Mathew 22:36-40 says:

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (NIV)

I think what I really realized is that it doesn't matter who supports or doesn't support me and my sexuality because I know that God loves me unconditionally. I know that in my heart I will love others more profoundly than I ever did when I was in the closet. I'm going to be a chaplain next year in hopes that I will share the love I have for God with everyone around me.

So Christians, please remember that God teaches us first and foremost to love unconditionally no matter how much hate is surrounding you. God loves me unconditionally, whether you believe me or not.

-Sincerely, A Church-Going, Jesus Loving Bisexual

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