17 November 2012

Blue Jeans

Everything seems to be a waiting game lately.

Waiting for decisions to be made.

Waiting for my mind to change.

Waiting for you to come home.

Waiting for the next day.

And the next.

The next.

What's next?

08 November 2012

Cargo Cult

We all have those words we just don't like.  I think "moist" is a pretty common one.  I've also heard "palm" as being a word that just doesn't feel right on the tongue.  Physically it's kinda weird too.  Did you just try it?

Today, and in general, mine is "lifestyle".  Seriously?  This isn't a wardrobe, a passing trend or bad haircut.  This is life.  Whoever coined the phrase "lifestyle, gay" was a mastermind.  Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it's just demeaning to call an integral part of someone a lifestyle.  

Throw "choice" into the phrase and I might have to cut someone.

Sometimes I wonder if some of these words that I hear and cringe at or that hold a completely different meaning to me will ever resume their "normal" and intended context.  I guess it doesn't really matter, just intriguing.  Indeed.


Natalie Dee comic: totally 100 percent not true * Text:

That's it, I'm off to bed now. I'll leave you alone.


04 November 2012

Daily Reconciliation

I've been asked to do a "study" with the Youth Elders (yeah, gotta love that oxymoron) about my understanding of this "issue" of homosexuality and Christianity.  It's a little daunting.  A lot stressful.  And even more terrifying to reason that we are not just speaking of an issue that is dividing the Church, but an issue that will determine if I can stay a part of ministry and to a certain degree, continue to follow some of the same teachings and ideologies that I grew up with.

For this reason and others, I am going to start a new blog.  A less personal and emotional one (if I can handle that with such a topic) that will seek to inform and demonstrate how I have come to find myself where I am in relation to sexuality and the Bible and God.  West Side as a corporation stands on the belief that to be "homosexual" is not a sin, but acting on any such feelings is sin (and apparently one that needs to be reprimanded more strictly than any other sin even if they've never asked if I've acted on it or not, the intent is enough apparently).  I, quite obviously, do not hold such beliefs.

With this new blog I hope to answer some common misconceptions on the topic, Biblical and in general; and help myself organize my thoughts and talking points before bringing them to The "No-Touching" Committee (as I've deemed it).  If nothing else, I hope it helps others understand that there is much more than one-side to this issue and just because we've always known or held something to be "true" doesn't mean that we can't think outside of that or even perhaps evolve our thinking.  For how else can we learn, and how else can we better understand the vast array of intricate differences that God has place around us in this world.


See you on the other side?

A Science Apart

There's a word that I keep finding on my heart and in my brain lately.


I don't know what's going on right now.  And I am so frustrated by the shape and process this is taking, but I don't want to let that frustration and anger overtake me.  I feel like the grace of the Spirit has really protected me thus far and I want to make sure to reflect that in any and all steps I, myself, take in this.

I think I shall e-mail them tomorrow.  Get their take on why certain things have transpired that they assured were unnecessary steps from the beginning.

Thank you to those who have been praying, have asked others to pray.  Even if I don't reap the benefits of the decisions that shall eventually be reached, I know that they will help others down the line.

Still ridiculously blessed and thankful for the grace poured over me

01 November 2012

What Makes a Man____?

I've been trying to figure out a way to write this all down.  And I've been avoiding doing it all together because that somehow makes it more concrete.

October has been a strange, strange month.  This year has been a roller coaster, and no point in time has encapsulated that more than these past few weeks.

Everyone seems interested in telling me how they feel about this.
The excuses they have to feel as they do.  The justifications they've made for the decisions they've come to.

I feel like I've had a death in the family.  As if there is a piece of my life I can no longer reach on this plane.

Enough of the waxing.  Let's cut to the chase.

After telling me more than once that my sexuality would not change my role in leadership or ministry with the youth, session had a secret (not really, but achieve nonetheless) meeting about a "hypothetical" leader with such sinful same-sex attraction and what should be the course of action.  The final verdict was handed to me last Friday.  The following Sunday was the first Fuel/Refinery/SALT I haven't been to in years with the exception of being out of town.
It felt so foreign.  I couldn't sit in church that morning either.  Listening to songs of God's graciousness and receiving stares of much less was enough to drive me from the pew before Ralph even got around to the message.

I feel so conflicted.  My heart is breaking.  For myself and for WS.  I want to fight, but I don't want to be told over and over again how the traditional interpretation of scripture condemns me to a life without any sort of romantic love or deep connection.  I've read the scriptures, I've read the commentaries, I've read beyond them, I've studied context and hermeneutics and so what if I don't have a theology degree or MDiv.  Your viewpoint changes nothing in the Church, nothing in how it treats people or allows them to live.  Mine allows me to live a life loved by God and accepting myself instead of continuing the torturous facade that everything is fine and however much I pray will be enough to make me blameless in the eyes of the Church.

It is not the Church I should seek to please.

So you can keep me from the youth I've spent years getting to know and building community and fellowship with.  You can break my trust in the church I've come to call "home" and "family" and I will still be there for any one of those people on an individual level because that is life-giving.  But you will not take away the relationship that has been built between me and my creator.  My faith.  Only one person can break that--and that is the person the faith belongs to.

I will always love WS.  But right now my journey seems to be leading me away from there.  I don't know what's in store for me.

I just don't.


17 October 2012

Hard Way Home

I read Psalm 31 this morning between rushes at the shop.  I can't remember if it's the exact one that Dave referenced in his talk Sunday night, but it was a comfort regardless.  I had been so down on myself again after what transpired yesterday.  And then came the realization that I shouldn't take it that way.  This "battle", if you will, does not change how God feels about me, does not change how I feel about God.  If anything, I think this will strengthen our relationship, though it will take a whole heck of a lot of trust and patience.

Nor do I think it will necessarily change their relationship with God.  I don't know at this point what this will all change, but I think it will be worth it.  Probably in ways I can not even name or think of at this point.
And they are not my enemy.  We are working through this together.  We just don't understand each other fully.

I just need to focus on staying positive, getting back to where I was.  Reclaim the sense of peace that only the Holy Spirit is providing me with the knowledge that it's out of my hands.

"Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth."

16 October 2012

The Edge of Myself

Had the first of what appears to be a series of meetings with the Youth Elders today.  Everything in me wants to run away.  To make a break and run.  How much easier it would be.  Stop the pain where it is.
But I know that's not what I'm being called to do.  I am called to see this through.  To stand up for what I've come to believe.  For where God is in my life.
I'm tired, so tired, of pretending this doesn't exist.  And I was free.  For 5 glorious days, I felt so light and happy.  And I'm back in the dark, the weighted expectations.  

God, I hope this is all worth it.  Help me to put trust into what you are doing.  I can't live in this vicious cycle.  Intercede.  

11 September 2012

Casually Cruel

1 Peter 3:8-9

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters.[a] Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.

Hard words to put in to practice when you feel like you're always getting the short end of the deal.  That you do more for less.  When you see others go without consequence for doing something you know you would be judged for.  For seeing people you thought were your friends slowly slip away and you become so much less than.

Enough of that.  I need to escape the confinement of expectation and discover a new plan.

I went to Sunday School/Bible Study this week for the first time in a couple years.  It felt good.  I think I've been slipping down the slope of going through the motions of being a "good Christian" of late.  Especially with the rapid disintegration of the small group that I really felt God wanted me to create and be a part of.  That mixed with other reasons have made me feel more apathetic about actively spending time with or seeking God.  It all just seems so discouraging.

However, I am so thankful for the handful of true friends I have around me.  I always think it's funny how God tends to take the people I expect the least to ever have anything in common with and before I know it, they're the people who seem to be there the most.  So many of my really good current friends or people I have been closest to in the past have been people I never thought I would like when I first met them.  Shows what I know.

Not a whole heck of a lot.


26 June 2012

The Longer I Run

So there I was, scrambling to catch up on reading for small group last week, and God went ahead and placed one word in my head:  lukewarm.  He did not, however, see fit to place any particular context with it.  I was reading about the will of God, but the author had made no mention of being lukewarm or anything that really even corresponded with it.  I knew it had to have been a word from God and I knew almost immediately the reference and what I thought he was trying to tell me.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Revelations 3:15-16
 I'll admit, I did have to Google that. And it may have also brought up some Katy Perry lyrics along with it.  Regardless, I know what God was trying to tell me by pulling that one little word to the front of my brain.  I was lukewarm.  I believed in Him, but I did not trust Him.  I was not staking my faith, my life on Him.

What I mean by that is, when I acknowledge it, there are some very real and very potent fears in my heart.  Fears that fuel indignity and more so, anger within me.  Even though I have become inconceivably less angry and unhappy over the course of the last 5 months, I have still been hanging on to fears that I shouldn't be.  And the Big Guy was totally calling me out on it.  And it sucked.

He was calling me out on eternity.  You see, despite knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves me, despite reading texts such as Love Wins, despite being an affirmed Christian since the age of 8 or 9 there were times I would still bog myself down with the thought of being separated from that love.  Of an eternity in Hell.  I would get angry at God for his seeming injustice, unfairness.  For feeling like I was created to be abandoned.  I was so wrong, and God knew it.  Duh.


How could I be so blind?  He is omnipotent.  My God is all-powerful, all-knowing.  My God is good.  In being lukewarm on the issue of my salvation I was essentially rejecting these qualities of God.  I am so thankful that I no longer have excuse to be lukewarm about my ultimate fate.  His plan is my destiny and I know that as with all of his beloved children, my eternity is meant to be spent with him.

I originally wrote most of this in my journal this morning while sipping some delicious Costa Rican coffee and saturating my ears with some Liszt, yes, Franz.  I didn't really intend to share it with anyone, just let it serve as a reminder to myself and testament to God.  Then I remembered that testaments are meant to be shared.  Then I saw the Oreo cookie post.  Twice.  It was the second post with a link to actual comments on Oreo's Facebook page that changed my mind.

I like to think that I am open to other people's views.  That I don't write-off their opinions as I believe many of them would write off mine.  I think that I am a pretty open minded person.  But sometimes it is so hard to look at or hear those other opinions and not get discouraged.  To have a word that is used to describe one aspect of you in one context and in the common vernacular be used to describe something stupid, or lame, or  wrong.  I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer here.  Truly, there is so much love in this world that I feel like I am only really feeling for the first time.  There is so much that has changed and so much that will continue to change.  I am so thankful for the revelations of God in my daily life, in my friends' lives--I want to share it, I want to hear about it.  I am thankful for the 16-year-old homeschooled, child of Evangelic Conservative Christians who also happens to be a lesbian and out and willing to call out those who don't think she can be gay and love Jesus and like Oreos.

Mostly, I feel sorry for those people commenting such harsh things about rainbow Oreos right now...because we're going to spend eternity together and it's still going to be exponentially more flabbergasting than multi-colored Oreo fillings (which for the record look kind of disgusting).  Oh, and more incredibly awesome too.


29 February 2012

Equally Skilled

Ecclesiastes 11
Invest in Many Ventures
1 Ship your grain across the sea;
after many days you may receive a return.
2 Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;
you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
3 If clouds are full of water,
they pour rain on the earth.
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where it falls, there it will lie.
4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
5 As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
the Maker of all things.
6 Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.
Remember Your Creator While Young
7 Light is sweet,
and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
8 However many years anyone may live,
let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
for there will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.
9 You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.
10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart
and cast off the troubles of your body,
for youth and vigor are meaningless.
I don’t remember when I first read this passage, however, even as a “J”, I fell in love with it.  I tend to plan out my steps, even when I have no idea where I am headed.  I can be honest in saying most of the time I have no idea what path I am taking, but so help me God, I am taking that path.  But it doesn’t need to be like that.  Much like Jeremiah 29:11 or Psalm 139, God’s plan is so much bigger and better than anything I could ever fathom or conceive.  That’s why I especially love Ecclesiastes 11:5 so much.  We cannot understand why God does what He does.  He had a purpose for creating mankind and for continuing to love and pursue us even when we sinned and fell short of all the glory He intended for us.  He has a purpose in creating each and every person on this Earth, the path they walk, the way they know His presence whether through His Word or just His Spirit.  There is reason behind us all.
It is with these words and this truth on my heart that I will walk into Ralph’s office tomorrow.  I set up a meeting with him so that he can hear directly from me that I, a follower of Christ Jesus, am also gay.  I don’t know where this will lead.  I have hopes and I have fears.  I sat in service Sunday morning and wondered if this would be the last service I would attend at West Side without feeling like an outcast.  I’ve taken part in this church my entire life.  My parents were married there, my grandparents were married there, I was welcomed for 22 years there.  Will this change that?  I think I’d be in denial if I didn’t say yes. 
Perhaps I’ll be banned from volunteering.  Perhaps nothing will happen.  Perhaps they’ll call a Secret Session Meeting in my (dis)honor.  I really don’t know how this will play out.  My dad and I were talking about coming out to the church the other day and he said something I had thought about, but hadn’t put much energy into.  He said, it might not even be the staff that takes issue with me being a part of ministry, it may be the parents of the youth I serve who truly find a problem.  Perhaps I’ll be dishonorably discharged without a hearing or chance.
One thing I do know.  I will not be the victim.  I have done nothing wrong.  People will tell me that so long as I am not “active” or “practicing” or “engaging in a lifestyle of sin” that I am fine to continue on and serve God and the Church.  Seriously, you want to use descriptions like that to describe a human life?  You make me sound like a voodoo robot.  People may disagree with the “homosexual lifestyle”, I get that.  However, to them I ask, do you know that the one thing you are trying to deny me is love?  There is no other “sin” in the Bible that requires someone to forsake love.  None.  How can we single out one specific “sin” and ask it to trespass against the one commandment Jesus gave us?  Now this gets into another blog entirely or rather another conversation entirely. 
I guess what I wanted to say is, I know where I stand.  I stand on the path of God.  I have no clue at all where that is, but it will lead me to places I cannot imagine.  I have seen too many of my Christian friends come out only to lose their faith.  I think as the representative of God’s word on Earth, the Christian Church holds much guilt in that.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  No matter what one believes, God’s love should surpass any misgivings about another person’s differences.  I don’t know another out gay person that still has faith.  That troubles me and scares me even.  I don’t want that to happen to me.  I have to remember that West Side is not God.  It is a place seeking and honoring God and it is a wonderful place at that.  If they reject me, it is not God rejecting me.  How could He?  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  He has plans for me.  He has plans for you.  “You cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”  Thank Jesus.  If I understood half of the things He did, I think my head would explode.  That’s just how awesome it would be.
I am scared to enter that office tomorrow, to give any reason (illegitimate as it may seem) to be disqualified from the full benefits of Church leadership.  But I do so in the hope that someday things will change.  The Church has for far too long made enemies of the people it should be reaching out to, embracing, protecting.  In the name of Jesus, the Church has persecuted Muslims, science, women, black people, women again, Jews, more Muslims and gay people.  I don’t see why more people aren’t upset about this.  The Church is not infallible.  God is.  The Church is not God. 
It’s late and I didn’t mean to go on a tirade against the Church.  In truth, it has done so much good for the world, but the darker parts of its history should not be forgotten.  Obviously, it’s something I’ve personally looked into and feel deeply rooted in.  For what is faith if not an introspection of God’s work in our lives in order to better understand His work and our purpose within the world.
“Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
May tomorrow contain all of these,

14 February 2012

Grudge Has Still Got Your Heart

The worst part about being a responsible grown up Christian, if you have a problem with someone, you have to go to that person directly and face it.  Even if you heard about said problem from someone else, you can't continue spreading the issue before resolving it with the original fire starter.  And if the secondary person wishes you to not tell the source that they told you about it, then you have to wait for the source to gather their grievances and approach you then.
  What a messed up and sickening web we humans weave.

03 February 2012

Reverent Love Burn Us Up

This week has been overestimates and underestimates.  Very few moments have been right on par with what I expected.  Mostly, my heart has pumped more adrenaline than I thought possible without going into cardiac arrest.

So Sunday night.  A typical one.  Went to WS at 5 for worship practice, then walked upstairs to the aptly named Upper Room to wait for youth to show up for Fuel.  They always trickle in over the first 20 minutes so most of that time is spent socializing and checking in with students on what they have going on in the coming week.  A lot of jokes, laughing, and social games.  I got a text in the middle of this icebreaker period.  It was unexpected to say the very least.

Michelle wanted to get together and ask me "about something very personal" and she was "a little scared too", but would be ok with anything I said.  Despite being one of my longest and most trusted friendships, Michelle and I had had fewer interactions and conversations over the past year or so.  If there was something personal she was scared to ask me about, there was only one thing I could think of that it could be.  All I could think was that there was no way she could be more scared than me.  I also remembered I still had two hours of hanging out with Christian high school students and this was no place to have a panic attack.

I made it through seeing the youth off for the night and after grabbing my guitar went out the back sanctuary doors into the darkness to find my car.  Finding myself outside without the threat of worrying the students and other leaders that something was wrong by collapsing to the fetal position in the middle of Stu's talk, I began to feel the gravity of the situation that lay before me.  I wish I were kidding when I said this was my worst fear brought to life.  It sounds foolish, but I was terrified of Jake and Michelle finding out I was gay.  I imagined losing some of my deepest friendships, my second family, my job even.  Man-alive am I a pessimist or what!

When I drive, I normally have a concrete block attached to my gas pedal.  This night, I drove 15 mph the entire  40 mph stretch of Aaron Drive.  I felt physically ill upon arriving at Applebee's for the designated meeting.  Bless her heart, Michelle greeted me with a smile.

After a couple minutes of light banter and me refusing to order anything that I knew I wouldn't be able to eat or drink anyway, we got on to the reason we were there.  She told me that people at work had been talking about me.  She didn't say who exactly, but rumors had been weaving through the Cuda lately and people were questioning her and Jake about me and she wanted to come and talk to me about them rather than continue the whispers and gossip.  She told me that she and Jake had become increasingly worried about me as they could tell I was completely miserable at work and torturing myself over something but there was no obvious cause so they knew it was something big.  She assured me that their love for me was unconditional and all they wanted for me was to be happy.  She asked me if I had thought about or was questioning my sexuality.  I don't know that there is ever really a "right" time or place for that question to come up in any situation, but in that Applebee's at 9:00 PM on a Sunday evening in the middle of a three-day weekend from work, it was the scariest and most honest question I had been asked in a long time.  And it was completely "right".

I told her what I was planning on telling her in the days or weeks to follow but could have just as easily pushed off for another month or year even had she not intervened.  I told her I knew I was gay and she didn't laugh at me, she didn't recoil, she didn't even go mute.  Though I could barely form sentences during our two-hour session, Michelle spoke to me in love and appreciation for being honest with her.  I had no idea such a reaction was possible.  She stressed I would very likely have a rough road ahead of me, but that all she and Jake wanted for me was to be happy and "freedom for my heart, soul and mind".

In no way were these the same people who had sat around their table one night years ago and joked with those present about the fags and dyke they employed at their coffee shop.  These were the Christian man and woman I looked up to and tried to model myself after.  These were the people I became friends with through missions trips and small groups.  These were the people I loved more than almost anyone else in the world.  And finally, finally, I was back to being me.  I am not exempt in this.  There were times I turned on them too.  I cursed their names and thought them terrible people.  For the most part, that was my own fear poisoning my heart.

This week has been hard.  I have gotten used to pushing my feelings aside.  I don't lie about or fake my emotions or ideas, but I know how to hide and avoid them.  This week, I have come out of hiding.  Over the past couple years I had built walls so high around myself even I had no idea where they ended and the open skies began.  I don't believe there has ever been a time I've felt more vulnerable.  However, I would not and will not go back.

Over the course of the next two days, I had personally told everyone at work.  They were completely positive and accepting and just glad I didn't feel like I had to hide around them anymore (have I ever mentioned how much I love my coworkers, cause I totally do).  Those feelings of misery and torture that Michelle had observed me having at work--gone.  I don't even know how to describe how freeing it was.  I kid you not, a brick the size of Texas was removed from my shoulders.  And more importantly the stone over my heart started to crack.  I hadn't realized how much anger had been inside of me and how sufficiently it was eating me alive.

When Wednesday rolled around and my madre made it back from her 10-day trip to Mali, God had already set up a prayer network around me for telling my parents.  I was also given amazing perspective on my issue when Mom told us about the looming drought in Africa and how farmers are eating their crop seeds just to survive.  Just like in school where you don't want to follow the thought out and wrenching presentation just given on the Holocaust with your 5-slide power-point on the Iron Curtain, I didn't want to follow starving children in Africa with "hey guys, I'm gay".  But there was no way I could go another day without telling them.

I plucked up the courage.  They looked me in the eyes and told me they would always love me.  My dad said, "you'd better thank your Uncle Randall (my dad's gay brother) because if I hadn't known him I would have a lot harder time with this."  I told him I thank God everyday for my Uncle.  After giving me a hug, my mom followed with, "well I guess I had better stop looking for a boyfriend for you then".  And then without missing a beat, "don't think this doesn't mean I don't want grandkids!"

Ladies and Gent, my parents.

Now don't you go thinking I forgot the brudder.  I told him six months ago.  He loves me and is a "modern" man and we haven't spoken about it since.

There's still people I need to tell firsthand.  But knowing that most of my closest friends and family know and don't think any less of me is incredible.  I am dead serious when I say I do feel free.  I had completely underestimated the hold hiding this had had over me.  I also disregarded how this was affecting my relationship with God.  This entire time I have felt Him, and tried to figure out where He was trying to lead me in all of this.  But at some point I got so focused on me and my confusion and pain that I stopped following the plan he was laying out for me.  Even though it has only been a few days since I've come out, His hand has been in it all.  I feel like I make Him proud again.

I know there are people who would say I am wrong, that there is no way God would create me this way let alone want me to live an openly gay life.  I understand that, I do.  Some of the people I told this week are struggling with that very same thought.  I used to struggle with that very same thought.  But after years of wrestling, I am at peace in the knowledge that God loves me.  I ask, why would anyone worship a God of love if doing so means denying them the possibility of experiencing love?  His love is broader than any of our minds can imagine.  It's possible the Bachmanns and Phelps of the world are right and I and everyone like me are going to Hell, but what loving God would decide that.  The God of my heart wants me to be happy and rejoice in Him in every aspect that He created me to be.  My heart is saturated in thanksgiving and grace and I am so very blessed to be alive in this time and in this place.

The same person I always was and always will be,

25 January 2012

Savoring This Heart That's Healed

A Testimony  23.01.2012

I always thought that in order for people to love me, I needed to be perfect.  This wasn’t necessarily an overt thought, but it has in many ways hijacked my life regardless.  I have always tried to be everything that everyone expects of me. The place I’ve tried the hardest to exceed expectations is within the Church.  I went to every youth group activity and spent a week at a Protestant camp every summer.  In high school, it was not uncommon for me to physically be at church 3-5 nights a week.  I played guitar in the youth worship band, even led for a few years.  I went on amazing mission trips to Oakland, Costa Rica, New Orleans, Mississippi, and Albania.  When I graduated from high school, I continued going to mid-week youth events as a leader all through my college years.  I served on a nominating committee responsible for hiring an Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry.  I worked a summer as a mid-high intern.  My life was almost exclusively school and church.

As I look back now, I wonder how much of that was for other people and their expectations of me rather than my own free will to dedicate my time.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved and still love most of the activities I take part in at church.  I truly love worship and singing praises to God—stressful as the background has been at times.  I love all of the amazing youth I get to work with and have gotten to know over the years.  Some of those kids I have been a part of their weekly lives and mentored from 4th or 5th grade into their high school years.  That is such an amazing and life-touching experience that I am unfathomably grateful to have been a part of.  I have gotten to know some of the most influential people in my life to date through my time and work at the church.  These people mean more to me than they will ever know. 

Even with all of this involvement within the Body of Christ under my belt, I always felt different, like I didn’t quite belong where I was expected to fit.  I felt isolated, separate from my peers--Church going and not alike.  It seemed to me almost like I had some piece of me that was biding its time in the recesses of my being.  I had little clue or words to describe what this mysterious part of me was, but one thing I knew for sure, I didn’t want anyone else to know about it either.  I pulled away instead, taking any difference with me.  Little did I know that these feelings would only intensify, especially once I solved this elusive mystery.

I more or less figured it out when I was 17; a senior in high school, an overwhelming time bomb of hormones, anxiety and life.  It hit me like a swift, heavy punch to the gut one day, though I wouldn’t even admit it to myself in my journal for months.  Regardless, I knew I was gay.

This discovery scared the shit out of me.  Here I was, quite arguably the epitome of a “Jesus Freak”—the Sunday school attending, worship leading, committee sitting, mission going, goody-two-shoes of a student and I was gay.  What did I do?  Exactly what most gay Christians do.  I hated myself.

I lived in denial for almost a year.  Told myself it was fleeting, it would go away, that my previous and barely existent crushes on boys would return.  I prayed for all these things and more.  Every day.  All I wanted was to be normal.

 When self-hatred and prayer and any other remedy I could attempt failed me, I stopped hating myself a tiny bit and instead began to hate who I thought was playing the sickest joke of all and had made me this way--God.  Why would He create a person to have feelings that they’re told from a very young age are inherently sinful?  Thoughts and desires the man standing behind the pulpit delivering the message of the Lord condemned time and time again to the ears in his audience, young and old.  For a supposedly "loving" Creator, He was doing a bang-up job.  With ideology such as this, I asked myself an endless stream of questions mostly centering on the thoughts:  What good are you? Why are you even alive? And my personal favorite, how could God ever love a creature such as you?

By the time I was halfway through college, I knew that I was not going to change.  I had always been gay.  I was always going to be gay.  Nothing short of complete denial was going to change that.  That became the first good milestone to my journey—accepting myself as I was.  Being on good terms with myself again, after so long, freed me up to reconcile myself to someone much more important.  Yep, the God that created me and according to so many conservative Bible-thumpers, wants me to burn in Hell for eternity just the same.

I refused to believe it.  I could put no stock in a God that knitted me in my mother's womb only to send me to a place of never-ending torment for something in which I feel I have no say.  So I began devouring books, websites, opinions, facts, my bible (I actually utilized my concordance which prior I thought just made my bible look bigger and more important).  I read everything.  Both sides of a cataclysmic argument.  I not only wanted to know what I was now standing for, but also for what I had previously stood against.  In my earlier years I had squirmed at the thought of gay people and would never have batted so much as a gloss-free eyelash at homophobic comments.

This post is not the time or place to debate the (few) biblical passages that speak on the subject.  Instead, I want to focus on another aspect:  why now?  I have pretty successfully (I think) hidden in the closet for five-years now.  And that is exactly why.  I have been hiding in fear from the world.  I’ve listened to homophobic slurs, jokes, comments for too long.  Some of the people I love most in this world have said some of the nastiest things about me--and they don’t even know it.  I once had a student tell me in the midst of a light-hearted conversation over coffee that if I ever “turned lesbian” she would “punch me in the face”.    A girl I had known and mentored on Sundays from the time she was in third or fourth grade was saying this directly to me and my heart has never been more crushed.

In truth, I’m exhausted.  I’m tired of pretending it isn’t a problem.  The problem not being that I am gay, but that hiding it makes me safer.  I’ve lived in the fear of rejection for so long and I don’t want to fight anymore.  I’m done making excuses.  If this is going to make people uncomfortable and possibly even get me ejected from their lives, so be it.  I will pray for them, but I don’t need to subject myself to them.  I need to take a stand for me.

At youth group one Sunday evening in high school, a leader ended the weekly talk with words I have never forgotten, but have also not put into the practice they deserve.  “What is fear doing but getting in the way of what God wants for me?”  I need to take a stand for God. 

I firmly believe I am exactly who He created me to be—from the color of my eyes, to which hand I write with, to my sexuality, to my small stature, to what I like and dislike, to every tiny fiber of my being.  I am His creation and I am proud.

There are very few people in this world who know this about me.  If you are reading this you may now count yourself among them, but you won’t be such a small number for long.  I’m not going to make some big spectacle of it or some trivial update on facebook.  What I am going to do is start having conversations, beginning with my parents.  I love them so much and I know they’ll love me and accept me for who I am, but that is still a small shelter for dropping such a bomb.  Perhaps I'm being dramatic, fearing the worst.  Where I'm sure it will come in handy, however, is for when word spreads at Church.  I have an unshakable premonition that I will be asked to leave worship and more importantly my youth leadership role.  It makes me sick to think of having to do that, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

As I said, I am ready for conversation.  It’s been a long journey to get here and I am more than ready to start a new chapter.  God has blessed me immensely during this time.  Many of these blessings I have only realized in retrospect, but I know He has been with me every step of the way and will continue to bless and love me up until the day none of this will matter anymore because we will be with Him.  

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:2


22 January 2012

01 January 2012

Swimming in the Floods

Best New Years yet.  2012, you will be mine.  New friends, new experience, new goals?  With the same old motivation probably.  Oh, I don't care anymore.  Water is rising up. 
Happy New Year ya'all!