Always Resonating with Nouwen

The feeling of being abandoned is always around the corner.  I keep being surprised at how quickly it rears its ugly head.  Yesterday I experienced that nasty feeling in my innermost being.  Just raw anxiety, seemingly disconnected from anything.  I kept asking myself, “why are you so restless, why are you so anxious, why are you so ill at ease, why do you feel so lonely and abandoned?” …Talking lessened my anxiety and I felt peaceful again.  No one can ever heal this wound, but when I can talk about it with a good friend I feel better.

What to do with this inner wound that is so easily touched and starts bleeding again?  It is such a familiar wound.  It has been with me for many years.  I don’t think this wound -this immense need for affection, and this immense fear of rejects -will ever go away.  It is there to stay, but maybe for a good reason.  Perhaps it is a gateway to my salvation, a door to glory, and a passage to freedom!  -Henry Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey

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Of Course I Can Ruin Vacation

I have had the last two weeks off from work.  While it was nice to have a vacation, I quickly realized two things: 1. Not being paid for two weeks sucks. 2. Having two weeks off as a single guy sucks as well.

Thankfully I had a good time the first week going on a road trip with my sister up north, however this past week being alone with no one around has been really rough.  All of my friends happened to be gone and so I literally spent most of the time alone.  I hate the fact that at my age, I am already looking ahead to years of vacations spent either alone or scrambling to find anyone else at all who is able to get away from their significant other.

I know I should be thankful for the time I have right now, where I can go anywhere and do anything that I want, without too many strings tying me down.  Of course, all of my married friends keep telling me this.  However, I don’t think anyone recognizes how lonely it can be.

Upon returning from his vacation, one of my good friends told me about a conversation he had with his wife about the future plans.  He told me about how they dreamed about what they wanted to do in the future and where they might move to…  It became abundantly clear that no matter how good of friends I may be with my guy friends, when it comes to their future plans, I don’t factor in at all.

I have been struggling with this thought over the last couple of days.  I know that my need for community has been a major factor for me returning to Southern California.  I don’t think I would be where I am at now, had it not been for the people that I knew I would be seeing on a regular basis.  However, to know that in a couple of years, all of those friends will be moving on to fulfill whatever dream they have with their spouse, really is difficult to deal with.  Simultaneously, it makes me wonder if I should release myself from my attachment to these friendships.  I clearly value the connection I have with them far more than they ever will and as a result, my life is being directed by such relationships far more than it should be.

My desire to leave has begun to kick in again.  Knowing that my friends would never stick around because of me makes me want to move on.  I feel caught because am aware of my need for community but at the same time I feel as though I am only setting myself up for a lot hurt down the road.

When A Friendship Hits The Ceiling

One of my biggest fears with my friends is that at some point they will reach their point of limitation in our friendship where they cannot go further.  I have had enough people come and grow through my life that I don’t expect people to stay around.  Despite an incredible amount of grace that has been shown me, it has taken me quite some time to learn to trust even my closest of friends.  No matter how much I have forced myself to go beyond my insecurities and trust others, I live with the dread that it will eventually end.

I reached one of those points of limitations with one of my closest friends.  It hit me harder than I ever imagined.  He was someone that has walked with me for quite a while now and I am closer to him than any other friend.  To feel as though I reached the limit in that friendship was devastating.  A lot of hope I had in being able to develop solid male friendships has been lost…

I am really struggling to understand the balance between relying on God completely as well as having support from friends.  I know how easy it can be to become emotionally dependent on a friend.  At the same time, I feel as though God does use people in our lives to help us get through tough times.  I want to believe that a person like me can have a substantial, solid, and deep friendship with other guys.  I desire to hold onto the hope that there is a place for a single guy like me.  It is just so hard at times… I don’t feel as though I stand a chance in view of most guys getting married, investing in their career, or simply being emotionally/relationally stupid.

Be Alone or Feel Disconnected

Sometimes I feel more lonely being around others than when I am completely alone.  I have written about this before and I am really feeling it this weekend.  Last night I went to an Angels game and today I got to play a couple hours of beach volleyball with some friends.  I should be excited and happy I had opportunities to hang out with others, but instead I am in a complete funk.  I think the biggest reason why is with both activities, the other individuals had to “fit” them into their schedule around the time they spent with their wives or girlfriends.  For me, this was the only interaction I was going to have with people for the weekend.  Even while hanging out, it just felt weird to be around a group of people who I would call “friends” and yet know that not one of them really knew what was going on in my life.  Their lives could continue on without me and it would not make any difference whatsoever and yet for me, I need them in order to have even a remote form of community.

I don’t know which is worse: being alone or being around others and feeling completely disconnected.

I honestly hate having to force myself to interact during these times.  Everything inside of me screams to retract and isolate.  Tomorrow I have another BBQ to go to, celebrating the graduation of one of my friend’s wives.  My attendance honestly does not matter as no one would even notice if I did not go.  I feel as though I am trying to wedge myself into my friend’s already complete lives.

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

For the past three weeks, I have felt as though I have had zero control over my life.  Also, never would I have thought that issues with my car would be capable of completely taking over my life.  It really makes me appreciate the year I spent traveling without worrying about the “stuff” I owned in my life.  In the end, I feel as though I don’t own my stuff but my stuff owns me.

Ever since my accident, I have continued to have one thing after another go wrong.  Every time I feel as though I have finally managed to get things under control, something else goes wrong.  After all thats gone on, I am pretty sure the devil is the master of the auto industry and has a direct switch to everyone’s check engine light.  It seriously felt as though everyone in the car industry are all Satan’s little minions sent to torment us/rape us for everything we have.

I ended up having a couple melt downs through out the past few weeks which was a rather humbling experience for me.  I reached the point where I felt so overwhelmed by all that was going on (not just issues with my car) that I simply couldn’t handle everything on my own.  It was a really pathetic moment to look at my life and realize that almost every aspect of my life wasn’t going well and I felt powerless to change things.  Everything from my living situation, church, friendships, job and car all seemed out of my control.  No matter how much I tried, I felt incapable of succeeding at life in general…

I hate showing weakness, but it was reassuring to turn to a few people during those moments and see how they were more than willing to be there for me.  It was also interesting to reflect on why I was willing to let certain individuals see me in my broken and messed up state, while I hid it from others.  I guess it is an honest reflection of how much I actually trust certain individuals… which for some is a lot less than I would have thought.

Now that things have finally calmed down a little, I really want to refocus again.  The month of March basically was a black hole that never existed.  I feel as though I made no progress at all and I really need to start moving forward again.  It has been a rough start to April but I am expecting things to start improving soon.  I just don’t see how things could get much worse… (and yet life always seems to surprise me).

I am the honorable filler in your life

I am feeling very insecure right now. While today was an excellent day all around, the smallest little thing knocked me off the edge and put me into a downward spiral. The bottom line of it all is that I will always come second to a persons marriage and somehow I have to come to a place where I am ok with that.  The thing is that I don’t know if I can…

There has been some tremendous growth in my friendships over the past few months. While I am normally able to focus on the positive, the doubts begin to creep in and I really start questioning if it is worth fighting for community and relationships. In almost every friendship that I have, I come second to a significant other and as a result I always feel as though I am simply a filler in my friend’s lives. The sad fact is that my honorable status of being a filler is even contingent upon the fact that their spouse or significant other is working, busy, or not around.  I know that the honest truth is that I am important to them and that they do value our friendship, but most days its hard to feel or see that truth.  Maybe it is due to my selfish tendencies, but I can’t help but desire to be preferred by my friends. I want them to desire to hang out with me, rather than finding time they can spare to fit me into their lives.

I don’t think they ever think about how the words they use affect me.  How would anyone feel valued if the most common line given in reference to their desire to spend time with me is “Let me see if I can find some time” or “I will see if (wife’s name) is gone and I am not doing anything”?  I recognize that their marriage is the most important relationship in their life and I want to support them in making that their utmost priority.  However, I cannot keep fighting for these friendships if I am the only one that puts value on them.

I want to hold onto the hope that it is possible to maintain friendships with individuals who are married.  I want to believe that marriage is not an exclusive stage of life but people can develop relationships and community in all walks, single or married.  More likely than not, due to my same sex attraction, I will never get married in life.  To come to grips with that reality has been difficult enough, but to have to recognize that all friendships are forfeit because I will never experience marriage is almost unbearable.

Brick Walls Broken and I’m Being Myself

I was driving home the other night after hanging out with my friend Will and for the first time in a long time, my heart was overflowing with joy.  It was a strange feeling for me to experience, as it is a rare occurrence.  I can’t even remember the last time I had such feelings.  I sat there and tried to figure out why I had these feelings and I realized something…

I finally felt comfortable being myself.

My relationship with Will has continued to grow deeper over the last two months and God has been doing some amazing things in our relationship.  As we have grown closer, I have slowly been able to let down my guard and truly share whatever I am feeling.  Never in my life have I been able to do that.  There has always been a filter.  However, as he has shown me his willingness to walk with me on this journey, I have been able to let go of the walls I have always needed to put up.

Not only was I able to be myself, but I felt known and understood by someone.

It has been scary as hell to utter what is truly going on inside of me.  I have had to come to recognize that I am different from the “normal” man and that the depth I desire in my friendships with guys is far more than others.  I have always hated to admit that.  No one wants to admit their neediness.  As I have slowly opened up with Will, he has pushed me to keep being vulnerable and thankfully, he has been able to grasp what is going on in my life.  With most men, I have always felt as though I am talking to a brick wall.  As I force myself to be transparent and vulnerable, in the end nothing registers with them and I walk away feeling more dejected.  Thankfully, by the grace of God alone, my relationship with Will has developed to where it is now and I think I am finally seeing a breakthrough in my own life.

As I drove the rest of the way home, one fear quickly set in… nothing this good can last.  I don’t know if the devil was trying to fight back or if it is merely the pattern of life that I have always experienced, rising to the surface, but I knew that I didn’t want the fear to paralyze me.  I know challenges will come with my relationship with Will and I am fine with that.  As good as things are now, I don’t want them to stay here.  With every challenge we face and overcome, our friendship will only grow deeper.  For now, I simply sit here in a state of gratitude and thankfulness.  I have found the glimpse of hope that I have been needing in order to get through this rough stage in life that I have been going through.

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…

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.

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?