This blog is part 2 of a 4-part series I’m calling My Rad Life: Life Changing Moments in Being Rad. It came out of me being very focused right now on the ways in which my life suddenly changed for the better. Very often through challenges that later proved themselves to be blessings. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. Today, I’m going to share with you how I embarrassed myself right into my life purpose.
Social media asks us questions every five minutes about our lives. Memes ask us our favorite movie or to change one word in a song title. Recently, one went around about what was the most embarrassing thing you ever did. I paused and thought about it. Took about 30 seconds for it to come to me.
When I was freshly out of college (and had not yet escaped organized religion) I attended a Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was super creative as a young man and always looking for an outlet for that. So I was in charge of the church’s theatrical stuff. You know, like the Christmas Pageant. Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, and shepherds attending their flocks by night.
The people playing those parts were young people my age or even younger. My part was narrator. After our little Christmas Play, my job was to say “Now please turn in your hymnal to page 112 and sing with us ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.’”
Except that’s not what I said. I do not know why or how it came out of my mouth, but I said “Now please turn in your hymnal to page 112 and sing with us ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Queer.’”
I kid you not. That’s what came out of my mouth. The entire cast fell to the floor laughing, including me. Everyone knew I was gay. I went to the church with my boyfriend. So it took a solid 10 minutes for people to stop laughing their heads off at my Freudian slip.
Hold on. It gets worse.
So yes it was a funny slip, but I was also mortified. And terrified I’d do it again on Sunday morning in front of the entire congregation. So that whole week I went around the house practicing in my head “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”
You know where this is going, right?
So it’s the big day. The Sunday before Christmas. My little field of actors had done their part and Jesus was in the manger. I turned to the congregation and said “Now please turn in your hymnal to page 112 and sing with us ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Queer.’”
My actors fell apart. Bam! They’re rolling on the stage in uncontrollable laughter. As was the choir behind us. The choir director (who was a friend and also gay) was shaking with laughter with his face in his hands. He tried to cover it up by getting people to start singing, but it was no use. The organist and the pianist were both totally falling apart with laughter that they couldn’t play.
I was so embarrassed that I ducked behind the alter.
At first the congregation didn’t understand what was happening, but then as they realized what I had said (and turned to the people around them to tell them what I said) a WAVE of laughter roared from the front of the church to the back.
I thought. I was going. To die
Seriously people, I am not kidding. This is not a joke. It totally happened. And by some crazy miracle, I dared to show my face in the church the next Sunday (but not for very much longer.)
While people laughed that day, they didn’t continue to laugh. Shortly thereafter, the minister of that church starting firing people on staff who were gay. The organist was the first to go. Then my friend the choir director. I was only a volunteer but I didn’t give them time to ask me to step down. I just walked in, told the minister what I thought of him, and quit.
I also quit organized religion.
I know that organized religion is a powerfully helpful thing for some people. And I honor that. But for me, it was place of shame and judgment. My little embarrassing moment in the church turned into a spiritual redirect that would lead me to a place of joy, love, and unwavering faith in God/Source/The Divine. I can laugh about it now, but it was horrible in the moment. And yet it rescued me (and others) from having to feel as though we were less than worthy of the love of the Divine. It sent me on a 35 year path of spirituality and the angels. And enlightened me of a life purpose to remove the fear from spirituality. A life purpose I’m still on and still passionate about.
So… the most embarrassing thing I ever did is also one of the best things I ever did. It literally led me to my life purpose. It was a total life changer.
Speaking of life changing experiences, one of the best things that ever happened to my business was re-meeting Muni Syed. He took my flailing social media game and turned it in to a home run! (See last week’s blog.) Now, I’m teaching a class with him on how you can up your game and launch your spiritual business to the next level. Check it out here!
With you on the path,
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Radleigh your story touched my heart and, yes, made me smile. I, too, left organized Religion. I made the decision to leave 11 years ago when my son came out to me. He called me after gathering every bit of strength he could. When he told me, I paused & asked him “are you happy, are you healthy, are you safe?” He said Yes. I said ok. Now he went silent and then asked
“is that it?”. I told him God doesn’t make mistakes and you are just as wonderful to me & God now as you have ever been. The relief in my son’s voice was palpable. At that moment I chose to respect the everyone’s own decision regarding Religion. God doesn’t live in churches. God is everything & every where. My son, the liberal arts/theater major who can bring a smile to everyone is to this day happy, healthy and safe. Radleigh, God .must really love and trust me because two years later my daughter came out to me too. My youngest sons only reply was to shrug his shoulders and say ok. I’m blessed in every aspect of my life. Thank you for bringing magic to my life.
Thank you for being such a wonderful mom.
Wow ,so funny at first , But how upsetting to hear what happened , We are all one , can’t believe how some people judge others , Treat others like you would want to be treated .I’m Thankful you are able to share your story with everyone ,You are such a Funny , Caring person ,you really Brighten everyone’s day ,Thank you for being there for us all .Have a Great week , Looking forward to Part 3 .
What a poignant, funny, not-funny, painful yet transforming story, Radleigh!….My husband and I pastored a church for 27 years in upstate NY – it was progressive enough to go along with us when we strongly suggested we become an “Open and Affirming” Church (which means completely supportive in every way of the LGBTQ+ community). Soon we became known as the “gay” church in town. It was wonderful. LGBTQ+ folks from all backgrounds and spiritual persuasions began pouring into our church. Before long they were the leaders, teachers, choir members, drama directors and actors, deacons and worship assistants. There was nothing they couldn’t or wouldn’t do. It was a beautiful time of heaven on earth. Then my daughter told me she was gay. I said, “Hallelujah! We brought you up in the right church!” and she agreed. Just wanted to put in a plug for those brave churches who have learned what Jesus meant when he taught that God is Love. (My church is in the United Church of Christ denomination, by the way.) Thank you, Radleigh, for being the beautiful, unstoppable, sparkling Spirit that you are!
Oh my goodness. What a lovely thing to say. Thank you. And thank you making a safe place for us.
Oh Radleigh, you’re SO welcome! I am in your Magical Membership group and have been loving every minute. Love and blessings to you!
Way to manifest the change you desired, Rad! Talk about your soul and the Divine knowing your needs better than you think you do and showing us the Divine has a great sense of humor. 🙂 I love this story so much – may I share it with others in my Manifesting group (and give you credit, share the link, etc.)?