My mind had been running away with me. I had imagined the possibility of such catastrophic proportions that I had managed to scare myself out of hope. That changed today with a simple one-hour conversation.
Last week, I made a commitment to have this conversation, essentially because it was a matter of integrity. I work at a protestant church, and I have for several years. I understand the beliefs of the people there, and I have consistently encouraged the development of their faith during my time there. In fact, one of the stands I have been taking for a long time is to encourage spiritual growth in others, even if their beliefs differ from mine.
Which is actually why my integrity has been in question for me. I don't believe all of the same things about God that the church where I work teaches. In some ways, my beliefs are very clearly aligned with the example of Jesus' life, but in some ways, my beliefs are rather different from mainline Christianity. I haven't actually shared that with anyone where I work, and fear has even led me to claim things that aren't true about my beliefs.
I had an incredible conversation today with the senior pastor, in which I told him my beliefs and commitments. I literally had no idea what he would say. In many ways, this very conversation was a step of faith. His response was that my beliefs sounded very Christ-like to him, and that the semantics of the church don't mean the same things to everyone. He acknowledged how the church benefits from my presence and my support of people's spiritual growth, and he basically told me to just be my authentic self.
I was blown away by the graciousness, acceptance, and connectedness of his response. What I had feared would happen was the farthest thing from the reality I experienced today, and I am grateful not only that I was willing to take a step into the unknown but that I was so incredibly rewarded for claiming my integrity. I'm seeing that my fear was the only thing keeping me from having it to begin with.