Aching for a little touch

Sometimes my body simply aches.  I can feel it over every inch of my body… the desire for human touch and affection.

Most of the time I have been able to keep myself under control.  I can be around really close friends and not have the desire for them to simply lean on my shoulder or for them to move their arm when we accidentally sit too close.  Part of my craving may have to do with the lack of touch that I experience on a regular basis.  The real truth is that I crave it because touch is the most direct sign of acceptance and love.

This past weekend was one of those times when I couldn’t control my desire for touch.  I constantly felt the ache and desire for my friend to simply show a little affection.  It scares me when I recognize these feelings with a particular guy.  I start questioning if my feelings go beyond my desire for depth in our friendship and in reality I am attracted to my friend.  It is such a fine and dangerous line.

All of this happened this past weekend with one of my closest friends.  He doesn’t know about my struggle with S.S.A. yet and of all of my friends, I fear that our friendship will be over once I tell him.  I am starting to take the view that if any of my friendships can’t withstand my being open and honest with them, then they are probably not worth investing in.  That being said, I was planning on opening up to my friend this weekend, but I chickened out.  Maybe next time…

Obstacle or Opportunity

Today was a really frustrating day.  I spent several hours job searching without much success and I finally left the apartment just to have a change of scenery.  Whenever I need to get out of the house, I usually end up at Starbucks.  I have been to Starbucks over 12 times in the last three weeks alone and I am on the fast track to get my gold card at this point.  While I could be proud of that fact, in reality it is the sad reflection of my life and how desperate I am to simply be around people instead of sitting alone in the apartment.

Anyways, pathetic-ness aside, I normally spend my time at Starbucks reading and journaling.  While I was spewing my frustrations into my journal today, I happen to scan back through my last few entries over the past month.  I don’t normally read what I have previously written, but as I did, I couldn’t laugh at how almost every single entry started off by my complaining about how badly my life sucked at that moment.  I quickly realized how negatively I view life all the time.

I read recently that one of the differences between rich people and poor people is that rich people see opportunity in everything while poor people see an obstacle to overcome.  While my goal isn’t to be rich, I realized that the principle in and of itself was important.  The filter that I look at my life through was having a major impact… and I am sure that others were able to see that as well.

Yesterday I opened up to my small group about my struggle with homosexuality.  It went well and the guys were very thankful for my transparency and honesty.  What I realized today was that I went into that situation viewing it as a trial that I had to endure.  I was worried, stressed, and nervous the whole night and it even affected me physically.  If I had viewed it as an incredible opportunity, perhaps my entire approach to the night would have been significantly different.

The truth of the matter is that by me being open to the guys , the potential for the work that God can do in our group increased significantly.  Not only could God use that group to impact my life in a new way, but I know that every guy in our group is going to be challenged in new ways.  I should have walked into that room last night realizing that I could be initiating a new chapter for all of us.

I am hoping to intentionally change my thinking as I face each day.  It is far too easy for me to fall into a rut and sit there and wallow in it.  If I can even make a little bit of progress and view every circumstance as an opportunity, I think my life would become significantly better.

Invitation to a Journey

I use to think that when I opened up to someone regarding my issue with homosexuality, it was a desperate cry for help.  I came to the point where I recognized that I was incapable of dealing with my struggle alone and I needed people to come support me.  I always feared their response because I was only concerned about how it would affect me.  I was afraid to lose their friendship.

As I have slowly reached out to people and continued to develop relationships, I have come to realize that sharing my story isn’t just a cry for help.  As I open up to somebody, it is an invitation for them to join my on this journey, to walk with me, and grow together through the experience.  I am learning that it is isn’t just me that benefits from them, but it is mutually beneficial.

The reality is that as they walk with me through my struggle, they will grow.  There is an entirely new paradigm that they will be able to look at life through.  They will be exposed to new ways of how they view people, how they view love, and how they view the church.  It is a side of the human struggle that they have never comprehended or experienced.  For me to be vulnerable to people and open up, it is more than me just screaming out in desperation.  I am learning that I am creating community by opening up.  For most Christians, unless they know someone who is gay, befriend them and hear their story, most people stay compeletely oblivious.  They remain stuck on the stigmas that they have and judge others off of stereotypes.  No wonder the church is viewed as full of hypocritical and hateful bigots.  If I am doing what I am suppose to be doing by pursuing Christ whole heartedly and continuing to mature in my relationship with Him, when someone joins me, they are exposed to a whole new side of life that they have never gotten to see.  It is a journey.

With my friend Will it has taken over four years.  It definitely has been hard for me at times.  Initially, I desperately needed him and I struggled to communicate with him what needs I had and how he could meet them.  I have always felt insecure about the fact that I needed him to help me in my struggle.  However, just tonight I finally recognized that he has grown a ton through this relationship. It hasn’t been just one way.  Will is seeing the church in a new way, he is seeing brotherly love in a new way, and he is seeing what it means to be Christ to someone else in a new way.

We are both realizing that it is not about what it is to be a gay Christian or what it means to be a friend to a gay Christian.  It is far bigger than that.  The bottom line is… what does it mean to love like Christ would?  Normally in our comfortable and safe environment in the church, we are never forced to do that.  However, through our friendship and this journey, we have been given an avenue to learn this together.

And by the way, tonight when he hugged me good bye, it was the longest hug yet.  It felt good.  He still does that “bro hug” where he pats me on the back, but we will work on it.

Checking off task #20

Today was a good day.  It is a rare thing for me to be able to say that at the end of the day, especially on a day where I did not leave the house even once.  I woke up to realize that it was pouring rain outside and as a result I didn’t go for my normal jog.  Usually this would result in me lying in bed for an extra hour and in the worst case, going on the internet and looking at porn.  How pathetic is that…waking up to porn?

Thankfully, this morning I managed to get out of bed and get a good start on the day.  I created a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish during the day.  This included everything from doing the laundry, contacting half a dozen people, preparing to lead our Bible study on Wednesday, and of course continue with my job search.  I ended up with a list of 31 different things to get done.  It is 10:30pm right now and I am currently accomplishing my 20th task.  Not too bad.

I also decided to implement some spiritual disciplines to my life.  I deeply desire to hear from God right now regarding my future and the steps He wants me to take.  More than anything, I really want to utilize my down time to be effective and efficient, rather than pathetic and lazy.  It is so easy for me to fall prey to the desires of the flesh.  My hope is that through practicing some spiritual disciplines, I may slowly be able to bring myself to a place where I do not get in the way of being be used by God and hearing from Him.

Tomorrow I am heading out early to take my car to the mechanics.  I am praying that the financial damage is not too painful.  Even though I currently have no income, I know that I need to take care of things or else it will cost me more later down the road.  Though I hate to pull a cheesy parallel, it is very much like my life right now.  There are clear indications of areas that I need to work on in my life and yet I ignore it to be dealt with on a later day.  It is stupid really… since I know I am setting myself up for serious trouble.  Sometimes I just have to dive headfirst into the crap and face it head on.

I am also meeting up with Will for dinner, which I am always look forward to.  Though it isn’t always easy to be open and vulnerable, it has been cool to see how God is working in both of our lives as we walk together on this journey.

 

My Pride Before God

Never in the Bible is pride mentioned as part of the armor of God, and yet more often then not, it is the primary defense of most Christian men.  While money may be the root of many evils, in reality it can be said that all sins stem from pride.  Pride is the reason we protect ourselves.  It is the source for our selfishness.  It is the reason we cannot be open with one another and live transparent lives.

For me, pride is the reason I feel inadequate amongst my peers.  It is why my time of unemployment is viewed as a shameful period, rather than a time of refinement where God is preparing me for my next step.  Pride is the reason why I am so vain and desire what others have.  Pride is the reason why I feel the need to protect myself rather than trusting in God to do His work in and through me.  Pride restricts me from living life freely and abundantly.  My pride is the reason why I live life for the approval and validation from others instead rather than letting my identity be built upon how Christ views me.

All seven of the capital vices stem from pride.  While the church focuses and judges individuals on outward sins such as homosexuality, divorce, adultery, pornography, and lust, rarely do we hear anyone being called out due to their pride.  It is a shame, particularly since pride is usually the reason why I try to replace God in my life and instead rely upon my self.  Oh, how foolish I can be.

Easier To Stay Alone

“Nothing sucks more than feeling all alone… no matter how many people are around.” – J.D. from Scrubs

I walked out of my small group and instead of being rejuvenated or encouraged, I felt even more alone.  In as much as I need to be in community and desperately need people, often times I end up being worse off after putting myself out there.  I have only shared my story with one of the guys in the group and that could be part of the reason.  As we speak about jobs, marriage, and other elements of life that are typical for the “normal” guy, I feel inadequate and incomplete.  Instead of being confident in who I am and the road that God is calling me to, I feel as though I am having to justify myself to these guys.  More than anything, I don’t feel known, understood, or accepted.

I am leading the group next week and my plan is to open up to the rest of the guys.  If I am committed to developing this community, I am going to have to be vulnerable.  I know that it is important for me to do this, however in doing so, it means that I will now have to walk along side not one, but three guys in their own insecurities, ignorance, and misunderstandings of what it means to struggle with homosexuality.

A year ago, I would always dread the response I would get form people by telling them my story.  I always felt bad that I had to inconvenience their life by letting them know that one of their friends was gay.  I feared rejection.  Today though, it feels more of a pain to deal with the misconstrued and twisted ideas that Christians already have regarding the issue, then worry about how they respond to me.  The hardest part of all of this is that once I tell someone my struggle, there ends up being an expectation in my mind of how I wish they would walk along side me and be apart of my life.  Rarely does that ever happen and usually once I put myself out there, I get burned even more instead.

Sometimes it feels like it would just be easier to stay alone.

My Big Gay Safety Net

One of the things I learned over the past year and a half or so is that my story is not my own.  I have always been careful with whom I have shared my story, struggle and past.  I maintained a mindset that the person needed to deserve to hear my story by showing their ability to be trustworthy and mature.  I always viewed my struggle as something that I dealt with and that by opening up to others, I would be the one impacted… not visa versa.  The reality is my story is not my own to protect, but it belongs to God, to be used for His glory.

Giving up the rights to my own story was essentially giving up my safety net.  It meant that I would have to be vulnerable with people I might not be able to trust.  With the way that communication is these days, all it would take is one person to make a statement on facebook and my reputation would be immediately ruined.  However, I had to take that risk.  It meant that I would have to trust God to work in the lives of those who hear my story.

Something you should know about me is that I never lie.  Ever since I was a kid, it was one thing that my parents drilled into us and I have always maintained that standard.  While I may never lie, I am extremely good at manipulating conversation or avoiding answering questions.  Particularly when people ask me questions that could lead to them accidentally finding out about my struggle, I have learned to weasel my way out very smoothly.  This has come from years of experience.  Unfortunately, the people that I share my story with aren’t so good at keeping secrets.  I have only been outed once and thankfully it didn’t go viral on the internet.  Nonetheless, learning to give my whole story to God has been a difficult journey and I am being especially challenged right now to trust God by sharing my story.  I don’t want to… but I know I have to.

The question I have been pondering is what are my responsibilities in regards to sharing my story with others?  What does it mean to have discernment in regards to whom I open up to?  Some of my friends are not mature enough to know how to deal with a gay friend.  Do I still tell them even though the likelihood of our friendship ending is high?

Dumb things Christians say…

I have told my story to only a handfull of  people.  Every time I tell my story, there is always the fear of the individuals reactions.  While I haven’t had any major blow ups, complete condemnations, or long term ostracizing, I have still heard plenty of dumb responses from many Christians.  So here is a short list of MY experiences of people’s response or just comments on homosexuality in general.

1.  Maybe God gave you the gift of celibacy?

2.  Can I pray for you? (… and proceed to try to cast a demon out of me.)

3.  You know, you don’t really need to be attracted to girls… just find one girl you are attracted to.

4.  Are you attracted to girls at all? (a.k.a. is there any hope that you aren’t gay?)

5.  Well, your attraction is still there so clearly you must not be doing the right thing.

6.  I heard that God has healed others, maybe you just need to pray more.

7.  All gay people choose to be attracted to and act out with the same sex; they can all burn in hell for all I care.

Great Posts I Stumbled On

There are so many areas in these posts that I can relate to…

The F Word – Part 1

“Christian men are afraid of being perceived as gay or remotely gay or a tad gay or even a little glitter pixel of gay. I can’t tell you how many men I’ve seen hug and another man nearby says, ‘That was so gay.'” – Part 1

The F Word – Part 2

“I have mastered the ability to blend in with straight people; they rarely suspect I’m gay. In the Christian world, being gay is right up there with child molester.” – Part 2

The F Word – Part 3

“Because you have to understand, I can manage the same-sex attraction part… However, you can’t manage the isolation, the fear and dread of someone finding out and losing that relationship. You see, we, the Strugglers, the Forever Singles don’t get a family. The hardest part is not being someone’s first. You married people out there, your spouse picked you. You are their first priority. We Strugglers don’t have that luxury. We are an afterthought, the Eternal Third Wheel.  Our loneliness is our miry pit.” – Part 3

Job Fail

Unfortunately, I found out today that I did not get the job I interviewed for on Monday.  Obviously I am disappointed hearing the news.  I was truly hoping to land that job, but I guess God has got something else planned for me.

More than anything though, I am getting very tired of my life.  It is hard to wake up every morning and look forward to a day of sitting in front of a computer screen, hoping to use it to find a job instead of screwing up and wasting my time looking at s*** on the internet.  I wish I could figure out a way to do something useful with my time, but it is definitely difficult.  The loneliness is starting to kick in as well.  There are definitely some days where I end up not interacting with anyone or leaving my building.  I have got to do something with myself before I turn into one pathetic mess (or perhaps I have already reached that point).

I am trying my best to keep a schedule and do what I can to stay productive.  I wake up, go for a run, eat breakfast, spend an hour doing devotions and then after that it all depends on the day.  The days that I make a check list of things to get done, I usually do better than the days that I don’t.

Trusting God right now is getting really tough.  I want to believe that He has something lined up for me in this life.  I am completely willing to do whatever He calls me to, but at this point still feels like I am just waiting.  I hate waiting…