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Agnostic Testimony 3
My Testimony, Such As It Is!

by Reverend Nikolai Alexandru

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I was baptised Catholic but I was raised Pentecostal, so testimony is something I understand. It is not something that I ever thought I would participate in. After reading other testimonies, however, I am suddenly inspired to do the same. So here it is, my testimony, such as it is.

I was adopted the week before I was born. My parents had to fight very hard to get me and to keep me (but that is another story). I have always known, for as long as I can remember, that these people are not my biological parents. But that never really seemed to matter. I was always part of the family and we had a very comfortable life. I spent the first sixteen years of my life attending church, believing in the goodness of God and actively participating in church activities. I even went so far as to attend classes in preparation for ordination. But then, something went horribly wrong.

My father declared personal bankruptcy when I was twelve. He lost everything. That is also the year that he was born again and began to consider attending bible college to become a pastor. I used to wonder why it is that people "find" God when they are at their lowest. I now believe it is because they are unable to confront the results of their own errors and to make amends without a crutch to fall back on ("I screwed up, but God will fix it for me").

From that point on, everything I did was a sin. From the books I like to read (I am a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy) to the movies I watch (mostly thrillers and horror) to the company I like to keep (apparently, my best friend growing up was the Antichrist). I never had a problem reconciling my love of fantasy and horror with my love for God - these were, after all, only make-believe. My father saw it differently.

Finally, I did what every good sinner does. I left home when I was sixteen and moved to the other side of the country. My mother cried for months. I, on the other hand, stayed in school, got a job and paid my bills. I made friends and I dated. And I never went to church again. After four years of condemnation, I no longer had any desire to commune with God.

My mother wasn't about to give up on me. After about a year, I finally agreed to go home for the summer which was just long enough to visit her and my siblings and some old friends. I lasted about two weeks. That's when my parents read my journal and a letter I was writing. Suddenly, my father had the proof that he was right, that I was a sinner.

You should understand, my journal was a mishmash of poetry, short stories, real life events and pure fantasy. I knew what was real and what wasn't, but to the outside observer, it must have seemed very confusing. And very revealing. The letter didn't help matters any. Unfortunately, I don't think it is easy for any parent to read what their son has written about his undying love for the boy next door. I found myself being dragged out of the closet, kicking and screaming, only to be told that I was an abomination that was going to burn in hell for all eternity.

All my father could ask me was "aren't you ashamed of yourself?" He was deeply ashamed of me and couldn't understand why I wasn't. I'd grown up in church, surely I knew how God felt about homosexuality? I thought he was going to hit me when I pointed out that Christ himself never made comment on the subject and the few verses that do don't necessarily condemn homosexuality; rather, in most cases, they appear to condemn acts that were considered male prostitution, coercion or cultic practices (and before someone points to Sodom and Gomorrah as proof, the sin in Sodom was not homosexuality, it was the violation of the laws of hospitality). So why should I be ashamed of myself? Besides, if this was God's plan for my life, who was I to question?

My mother wanted to know if I had ever been molested and did I want a sex change? She really was trying to understand.

Disillusioned and alone, and no longer part of the family, I returned to my own home.

They were my parents. They were supposed to love me unconditionally, weren't they? Despite whatever I said to my father, the effects of my "coming out" were devastating. I let his shame drag me down a long road of self-destructive behaviour. I dropped out of school. I drank my pay-cheque and did what ever drugs I could get my hands on. I became a compulsive liar and a compulsive eater. I did everything I could to avoid the issue. When I woke up one morning and had no idea where I was or how I had got there, I knew I had reached the bottom and had started to dig.

And I knew I needed to do something about it.

So here I am, twenty years later and a great deal has happened. I moved back to Ontario and I have had some noteworthy relationships (and some meaningless ones, as well). I have made and lost friends. I went to university where I graduated with enough credits for three undergraduate degrees (I only took one) when no one thought I would even finish the first year. I am still the only person in my family to go to university and graduate. And I am still an abomination.

There have been other events in my life that have had an impact, but it was that single question, "aren't you ashamed?" that had the most dramatic effect. It caused me to turn my back on my faith and my God. Nevertheless, becoming a priest was something I still felt drawn to. I went to the Jesuits and I went to the Buddhists and I even went to the Satanists. They all required that I have faith. In something. And I no longer had faith in anything. Then I found this website and I realized that it didn't matter. I think I might have finished reading the introductory paragraph before I applied for ordination and I have never looked back.

So here I am, today, sharing my story with complete strangers. But what does it mean? Testimony should be more than just a story of woe that led to greener pastures. It should teach and it should inspire. I don't know that I have done that here. All I can say with any certainty is that I don't know if God exists and I don't know if God doesn't exist. And I can stand here, on my own two feet, and pat myself on the back for my accomplishments because with the help of complete strangers, I am becoming the person I want to be, not the "shamed" man I used to be.

 

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