To be Needy in the Church

I regularly face the need to curb my expectations of what it means to be the church. In my own neediness, I desire so much more from the body of Christ and yet I constantly feel others implying that I am the problem, not the church. As a result, the last few years have been a journey of trying to lower my neediness and change my attitude. I haven’t let others in and I have kept my neediness as much as possible to myself or the few friends who have committed to walking along side me. Deep down though, despite all efforts to convince myself that I am the one needing to change, I cannot help but feel the conviction that the body of Christ is failing.

The implications of this can’t only hit someone like me dealing with SSA but it must also hit so many other individuals who are in difficult, lonely or isolated circumstances. I recently finished the book “Is God Anti-Gay” by Sam Allberry and though I wasn’t too impressed with the majority of the book (it was pretty basic), his commentary on the church had a few good points. Allberry writes regarding the church,

Key to our witness and credibility… is the quality of life together, and the clarity of our message… With that gospel clarity needs to come relational credibility. The New Testament often connects the effectiveness of our witness with the genuineness of our love for one another.

Allberry also writes specifically about the church’s response to those who come out as being gay stating,

We need to love them more than their gay friends do, and we need to love them more than they love their homosexuality. Only then can we begin to point to the greater love that God has for them.

I walk in and out of church not truly feeling actively loved by anyone. I think about how week to week I can go without a single person telling me “I love you” let alone putting that into actions. While I know that many individuals “love” me, without a tangible reminder and experience, my self image, self esteem and self worth are never reinforced.

I’m afraid to show how needy I really am. I am scared to let others know that deep down I just wish someone would sit next to me, be present, put their arm around me and let me know that they are there… that I am not fighting alone. I hate that I desperately desire physical contact since I can go weeks without even a simple hug. I need reminders that people actually care and love me. Even greater, I need people to bring me back to the truth that God loves me. I know myself, my short comings, my continual failures and I cannot help but feel unloveable. Sometimes I need the church to be the hands and feet of God, to pull me back in when I want to walk away and to walk alongside me on this journey that will most likely be a life long struggle.

Caught in the Middle

My favorite online comment this week has been the observation that everyone’s news feed looks like a Skittles factory went to war with the Confederates. As the decision was made by the Supreme Court, all of a sudden the issue of same sex marriage has erupted all over the place and as a “side B” Christian, I feel caught in the cross fire.

Deep down it is painful to see how many individual’s comments are not simply regarding the ruling on same sex marriage, however they are yet again strong opinions directed towards anyone in the LGBTQ community. Sometimes I see glimpses of grace shown, but more often there seems to be a mentality that all hell has broken loose in this country and the gays are to blame.

As much as it is painful to see many hurtful comments from Christians, I have also been thrown off a bit by many Christians who were eager to throw on the rainbow filter on their profile and express their support for the “side A” view. I think it saddens me because as I view each of those individuals, I realize that I wouldn’t have their support in the decision I have made to live my life celibate. In their eyes it is foolish to make God a priority over my own feelings or attractions. They are quick to elevate the individual and express their viewpoint in how conservative Christians are hypocritical, contradictory and archaic in their view of scripture. I realize that I could never expect any of them to walk alongside me, supportive and understanding of the choice I have made. All of this leaves me further isolated.

There is a bit of anxiety building up in me as I see the polarization of the issue expanding into the church. I feel as though many of us who are actually struggling to live a pure and holy life with same sex attractions are going to be completely overlooked. We are becoming the unicorns of society, as it becomes harder and harder to maintain the “side B” view and lifestyle. It worries me that the church is going to get lost in the cultural battle and never recognize the true ministry that needs to exist in its own body. Christopher Yuan recently stated that the issue of homosexuality cannot even begin to be discussed in the church until the church recognizes a true biblical view of singleness. One of the major arguments for the Supreme Court decision rested in how a gay individual’s “hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.” I know that more and more, the life of a single individual is only identified as one of isolation and loneliness because the church has strayed so far from the original intent of the body of Christ. The church has yet to offer a satisfactory solution and until they do, it only makes sense that an individual in the LGBTQ community would want marriage as an equal right.

A New Year, Unfortunately Not A New Beginning

I was really glad to be over with 2013.  Obviously both good and bad happened through out the year, but I was done with it by the end.  Sadly, despite the year changing always seems to create a mental illusion that I am getting to step through fresh doors into new opportunities, changes, and a clean state, the reality is that today started off exactly where I left it yesterday in 2013.

It is  hard for me to find hope anymore.

With every year, I am actually surprised at how much more difficult my circumstance become and in the end I feel ridiculous for allowing myself to be caught off guard.  That is the scary thing about hope; when you hope, you allow yourself to be vulnerable to being let down as well.

While I hate to start off 2014 as a Debbie Downer, the reality is  I am more isolated, alone, and lonely than I have ever been in my life.  I feel helpless to my situation.  My efforts to find friendship and community has left me hanging dry, bitter towards the church, and somewhat depressed.  The desire to give up on the celibate Christian life is stronger than ever.  While I have not gone there in action, I know my mind has been dwelling there for quite some time now.

God I need you now, more than ever.

Something has got to give

Several weeks back during my small group with the guys, one of them stated that they felt I was living a duplicitous life by not being open about my struggle with homosexuality.  He said in many ways when I finally opened up to him, he felt as though he had been lied to this entire time.  He asked me why I didn’t live my life open about my struggle, especially since it would benefit a lot of people.

I didn’t and still don’t have a complete answer.  Perhaps it is fear.  Maybe pride.  I think that my desire to have control over my life is also a huge element.  The second that I come out of the closet to everyone, I no longer allow people to see me the way I desire them to see me.  I will always be viewed through the “gay” filter.  With that comes a bundle of misconceptions, lies, and ignorance.  I simply don’t know if I am ready for that at this point in my life.  I don’t want to be identified by being gay.  There is so much more to me…

At the same time, I want my life to be used by God and I continue to come into situations where opening up about my struggle would probably be helpful.  I had dinner Friday night with two friends from back in college and somehow one of them mentioned how different people from our school had come out of the closet.  As always, I played the devil’s advocate (or hopefully the stance that Jesus would ACTUALLY take).  Despite my attempts to shake their paradigm a bit, it was impossible for them to see outside of the typical church response.  To them it was simple… living a gay lifestyle is living in sin and so the church’s responsibility is to confront the sin.  As they made judgements about gays, I wanted to open up and let them know that the very person sitting in front of them was gay.  For some reason, I kept my story to my self… yet again.

I have had many similar conversations with many good Christian individuals.  I actually agree with almost everything they say about sin and the church’s response.  I do believe that living out a gay lifestyle is sin and that is why I choose to remain celibate.  However, the church gives no alternative or hope to those they confront and judge.  I am struggling to figure out how to further the conversation.  I have to believe that the church can shift their message to the gay community without straying from the truths of scripture.

Your Wife Breathes Fire That God Can’t

I have heard the same comment several times now from many of my married friends.  When asked about their struggle with porn and masturbation now that they are married, they all pretty much have said “it has become a lot easier, especially since the ramifications are much greater since it can now hurt someone else.”  I understand that once you are married and having sex, the temptation isn’t nearly as bad.  I also recognize that not wanting to hurt one’s spouse is a important reason to stay true to one’s marriage and not look at porn.  The part that bothers me is this…  Why has a spouse been able to light a fire under your ass that your relationship with God never could?

Every time I hear this response from my friends, I can’t help but feel as though their relationship with their wife has a higher impact on their life than God ever did.  Especially when such comments are followed by telling me that I wouldn’t understand since I am not committed to a spouse, I really feel as though people’s priorities are not in the right order.  Why should a man’s desire to not disappoint their wife ever be more impactful than the desire to pursue and please God?  I am excited for my friends and the fact that they are making headway in their struggle with lust.  None of them are so naive to think that marriage is the solution either.  It has always seemed slightly ironic what a man is willing to do for a woman… but not for God.

My Own Personal Hell

Last night I was hanging out with some guys and we somehow got into a conversation about our own personal kind of hell.  It was a very light hearted conversation as we shared some of the things in life that would make eternity in hell suck even more if it was personalized to our pet peeves.  I think it all started out due to a crying child behind us… thus someone said, that their personal hell would be eternity with crying infants.

After the first example, each person started throwing out their ideas.  Hell would be having to forever iron dress shirts.  Hell would be a continual to do list given to you by your wife, while she goes out with her friends.  Hell would be room temperature coffee being the only beverage.

I told them that hell would be the 5 minutes at church where everyone is suppose to greet the person next to them… except those 5 minutes would last for eternity.  Oddly enough, everyone agreed and related most to my example.  I think it is ironic how every church I know of has the time to meet and greet your neighbor and yet everyone hates it.  It is impossible to actually connect with someone during that time nor does it adequately allow for a new person to feel welcomed.  So why the hell do all churches still create such a hellish moment in their service?

Ramblings on Heaven and Marriage

Would you want to go to heaven even if Jesus wasn’t there?

I believe this question was posed to me at church once.  It really puts into perspective whether I am focused on saving myself or if I am truly desiring a relationship with my Lord and Savior.

I often question whether the church here on earth is anything like what God intended the kingdom of God to look like.  As I stumble through my journey with the church, it is very easy for me to be cynical.  Perhaps my greatest fear is that if the kingdom of God is what the church is like today, I know I don’t belong.  However, according to scripture and what I discern to be true, I know it simply cannot be so.  But I digress.  I actually wanted to pose another question of my own…

Would those of you who are married still view heaven just as ideal if Jesus was there but you were no longer married to your spouse?  Would you change your focus in life or the church if this were true?

 

Did you love them?

When we die and stand before God, I presume we will be asked what we did with our time spent on earth.  I imagine many Christians proudly explaining to God how they fervently worked to preserved the sanctity of marriage from the perverted corruption of the homosexuals.

Somehow, I feel like God’s simple response will be… “But did you love them?”

Diaper Jesus

Sometimes I am completely caught off guard by the circumstances and moments God uses to convict me of something in my life.  Today at work, I was getting frustrated with my student, who seemed to have regressed and forgotten all the progress we had made over the last two weeks.  Mondays are always the toughest days at a school for special needs because all of the students return from being at home for the weekend, where most of them have had no structure at all.  My kid must of had a particularly rough weekend because he immediately began ripping off his clothes and testing me in any way he possibly could.  Needless to say, my patience began to dwindle rather quickly.

Half way through the day, I went into the bathroom to change my student’s diaper.  The diaper his father sent was unusually large and so I did my best to pull it tight onto him, even though it probably could have been large enough to fit Shaquille O’Neil.  Anyways, one of my co-workers walked in and laughed about the fact that my student looked like Jesus… since he was naked except for a large white cloth pulled him.  While my co-worker was simply making a joke, a sense of conviction flooded over me.  Immediately, I felt ashamed for losing my temper with him earlier and I was reminded about how even the “least of these” are still precious in the eyes of God.

I want to learn to see everyone the way Jesus sees them.  While my students may be very low functioning with each of their individual special needs, the ironic thing is that I forget that I have my own special needs as well.  In fact, there are probably many instances where I am far more needy than they ever will be.

Victimization

A little while back I had a really hard conversation with one of my closest friends.  I asked him for his honest thoughts and he gave them to me.  What he said was not what I wanted to hear.  As I left feeling completely frustrated and misunderstood, I tried to comfort myself by telling myself that he had no clue what my life was like and how difficult it really is to be in my shoes…

Like so many other times, it was so much easier for me to play the victim then to stand up and face the hard truth in front of me.  I can point the finger at the church, my family, and my friends for all the areas that I am dissatisfied with life, however even if there are areas of fault in others, victimizing myself is never going to get me very far.  That being the case, why do I view myself as the victim so often?

I see it in society all the time as well.  People try to blame their circumstance on racism, sexism, or bigotry and in the end, I think it is simply a coverup for them to step up and be the better person.  Back when I was teaching in the public schools, “Is it because I am Black, (Mexican, a girl, etc)?” was the constant response from students trying to avoid the consequences of their actions when they got in trouble.  My students were under the age of 13 and somehow had already learned, playing the role of the victim was an easy way out of getting in trouble.

In today’s society, I see the LGBT community speak of all the hatred they experience from the church.  While this may be (is) true, when will the LGBT community choose to take the high road and start living out their own message of love and acceptance by loving the church despite its flaws?  All I see is hatred being combated by equal hatred.

In my own life I am trying to stop playing the victim.  It is incredibly hard.  Yesterday I was reassigned classrooms at work.  It was completely out of the blue and everyone at work (including myself) thought that I had done something to my supervising teacher that ticked her off enough to kick me out of her class.  I spent the whole day in the the new classroom trying to not get frustrated by what I thought was unfair treatment.  At the end of the day, having heard the rumors floating around, my new supervisor approached me.  He told me he had requested me to fit a particular need in his class and it had nothing to do with my previous supervisor.  I felt like a fool for all that I had assumed and how quickly I had placed myself as a victim.  As always, I need to start seeing my circumstances through a positive lens… my life is probably far better than I think.

How do you deal with the circumstances where you are being wronged but want to avoid playing the victim?