What Hope?

I have had to do a lot of listening lately.  With my community of close friends all moving away, I no longer have the avenues where I am able to be fully authentic.  In many ways it can be rather stifling to constantly filter my thoughts and actions from those around me.  At the men’s bible study I attend every week, the issue of how to deal with gay Christians has come up fairly frequently.  While I try to challenge everyone’s thoughts, since they do not know about my SSA, I pretty much sit and have to hear their opinions.  It can be pretty painful and discouraging.

It is easier for these men to speak about adult Christians who are now choosing to live our their gay identity, because in their minds they capable human beings and as adults, are not viewed as having relational needs that need to be met.  Most married individuals don’t grasp the life of a single person and the loneliness that results.  Without seeing these basic needs, they only assume that living a celibate life is the obvious answer and it is a simple choice of obedience.

I am still waiting to hear a church that provides hope for the gay Christian or Christian with SSA (whichever wording you need to hear to feel comfortable).  I try to consider what I would tell to my 13 year old self, around the time where I was just realizing that I could possibly be gay.  While it feels justifiable to many to judge an adult and their actions, a 13 year old, who without choosing realizes that he is attracted to men is in a different place.  What message can the church give them in terms of the timeline for their life?

If I had to speak to myself at that age, all I can say is that it is only going to get harder.  You will only get more isolated, you will live without being known and all you can do is hope to hold on to your faith even though the temptation to experience relationship constantly feels overwhelming.  I am only 30 and I never thought life would be this difficult this early.

Typical kids are told somewhat of a timeline for their life with the stages that they should eventually experience.  You graduate from high school, then college, you date, you get married, you establish yourself in a career, you have kids, you live a life as a parent for a while, you become grandparents, you retire so to enjoy your family and all you worked for, then you die.  For a person with SSA, with all stages of life related to family being removed, outside of career there isn’t much to expect.

I recently started going to a Catholic support group in my area (not because I am Catholic, but it is one of the only areas of support close by).  Part of my desire was to hear from older men dealing with SSA and how they are getting to experience life with hope.  Sadly, most of them are still struggling even at their old age.  They don’t speak a life of hope, excitement, fulfillment or expectancy.  Rather the only thing they can hope is to hold on to Christ and remain obedient despite the daily temptations and the feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Until the church can speak of a hope and a life that isn’t merely survival, I feel as though the options for a gay Christian is either change your theology by convincing yourself that the side A is actually a Biblical option or prepare for a long life alone.  I cannot allow my theology to be changed by my experience, but the option I am living now is so difficult.

I have hope for eternity but I don’t have hope for tomorrow.  I dread the coming years and how the life of obedience will only get more difficult.  I am tired, weary and the burden is extremely heavy.  The promise of Jesus in Matthew 11:30 seems far and distant.

Go Back to Jesus

I was walking to a restaurant tonight with one of my best friends and out of nowhere a woman walking passed told us “Go back to Jesus.”  We both looked at each other and back at her to make sure she was speaking to us and she turns to me and said “You in the purple shirt, go back to Jesus.”  It was such a bizarre experience and caught both of us completely off guard.  

As we sat down to eat, my friend asked me if I thought she directed it at me because she thought I was gay.  In all honesty, besides the purple dress shirt that I was wearing, I do not come across as being particularly flamboyant or fashionable.  Almost embarrassingly, my boss wore the exact same shirt to work today so I doubt that it had anything to do with looking a particular way.  Still, I could see how compared to my friend who was simply wearing a T-shirt and jeans, I could possibly have come across as looking a certain way… though I still can’t imagine it. 

Regardless of the woman’s intentions, due to how out of the blue her comment was made, it stuck with me.  As I drove home tonight, I continued to mull over her words and wonder if God may have given her a word that I needed to hear.  I know that regardless of how simple a statement it is, I do need to “go back to Jesus.”  I am caught up in my life’s circumstances.  I constantly am allowing myself, my friendships, my community and my church to dictate my view and relationship with God.  

I was reading Isaiah 6 this morning and was struck by the overwhelming awareness of Isaiah’s  sinfulness in response to being in the presence of God.  God purifies Isaiah through the coal brought from the alter.  Only once his sin is atoned for and guilt taken away is Isaiah able to be in the presence of God.  For myself, it is only by the blood of Christ that I am able to be in God’s presence.  As simple as a concept as that is, I constantly am working my way towards a connection with God and I need to recognize that my efforts are futile.  

As strange as it was, perhaps the word to “Go back to Jesus” is the very thing I need to hear and be reminded of right now.  

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.

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.

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.

Merry Christmas… thank you God.

Hello World.  Merry Christmas.

Praise God for on this day He sent his one and only Son, humbled in a pitiful and limited physical body, to save our sorry little asses to show that He loves all of us… a perfect and complete love for all of us homosexuals, fatties, narcissists, coveters, adulterers, haters, racists and sinners.

Happy Birthday Jesus.