Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household, I heard quite a bit about how prayer was the ultimate weapon. The first line of defense.

“A good offense is the best defense,” my mother said, citing some wartime cliche.

We were taught to pray offensively — to attack specifics in our prayers.

In the tense stalemate that my relationship with my parents has become, I’ve heard from various family members that they are praying for me. I’ve been told that I’m bitter, that I dwell in the past, that my selfish desires for sin have corrupted whatever caring tendencies I had.

In all my hours of offensive prayer, I never imagined that I would become the enemy — the pathogen to be disintegrated by the family’s immune system of prayer. The pain of no longer being seen as a person with the capacity to and the need for love, and of being seen instead as the carrier for some highly contagious plague, can be overwhelming.

When I discussed this with one of the sisters that I have come out to, she suggested that this pain is a sign that I need to repent. In her mind, if you follow God’s will, you will be happy, and any pain is a sign of sin in your life. In her mind, the fact that I am queer dulls my spiritual senses and makes my faith ineffectual.

I know instead that my family is so afraid to confront the things I have said that they would prefer to shut me out.

This isolation is not my choice, but I choose to embrace the loneliness.