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Posts tagged ‘being real’

What you see is … what we have?


Why did I tell you?

We were at a retreat center deep in the Californian forest. I asked you if I could have some of your time to talk about something important, and you made the time. It might have been late at night, while us restless 20-somethings milled about in the paths and in and out of the various buildings. It took us some time to find a warm spot where there was not much foot traffic. It was probably raining outside this particular long weekend, as it often did each year, nearly a decade ago.

Why did I choose to tell you? You were safe. I knew that most likely our friendship would be safe, that you not keep a polite safe distance from me. There were many things I wasn’t sure of, but I was very sure that I would not be harmed by revealing my story to you. We were already good friends.

After getting to know you for three years at that point, I was certain that you would not be disgusted or weirded out. I knew that you were not driven by prejudices. You never put up a front or pretense, you were always real.

You were loving and caring. I knew that you would not leak my story out to others. I saw that you were a man who set your priorities upon an abiding relationship with Jesus, and that any action would only by careful consideration of how Jesus would have done it.

When I told you, my voice retreated, and I saw those words come out of my mouth that were now impossible to take back. But you asked me thoughtful, meaningful questions. Each question respected my dignity, and was with a caring eagerness to know more about me.

I told you because I needed help.

There was no emergency or crisis anymore, but I needed at least one close friend in the city who knew what I was going through and where I wanted to be headed.

I told you because I needed at least one person to watch for me if I happened to choose to make stupid choices, or when I was particularly lonely or hurting. I needed someone to talk to when I needed reassurance, and someone who would not be afraid to tell me the truth if I was starting to talk nonsense.

I told you because I was certain at that point that at least in this area you did not share my struggle, and were in a position to help, to strengthen, to remind me of who I really was and what I was becoming.

You were actually the sixth person I had told up to that point. During college, after first revealing my struggle to a girl, I told my pastor over some Round-Table Pizza, then told one of my dorm-mates, then another guy. In the city I lived in after I moved away from school, there was only one person who knew, and that person moved away.

Oh, yes, there was a risk.

There were those I wanted to open up to, but I chickened out before the grand reveal, and talked in generalities until we moved on. There were “best friends” I had told and was never heard from in the years since, not because of prejudice, but because they did not believe that my same-sex attraction indicated anything that needed healing.

It would be years before I told my own parents and my own brother. By that time I told them not because I wanted help, but to show them the miracle that had happened in my life, right before entering into a new adventure of becoming one with a woman I had fallen in love with.

So thank you. Thank you for making those 5 minutes of courage worth a lifetime, and for being someone I can still turn to after all these years. Thank you for being the one to remember this moment, when I myself had forgotten. That in itself, speaks volumes of the friendship I had with you. I love you, brother.

Photo by jessgrrrr


I’m trying to write to you without sugarcoating. I’ll get there soon enough.

My wife reads what I write here. I thought of not letting her know so I can write more freely, but I’m already conscious of the fact that my sons will someday grow up to read what I write here. I think about my friends who will find me here.

As much as I will try not to censor, I’m going to always choose my words carefully.

In the years I’ve thought of writing about myself, I wanted to tell all its ups and downs, like reading a novel about not knowing where it’s going to end up. I’m not here to tell you the end of the story, you’re arriving at the middle of it as much as I am.

I’m having a difficult few days. These difficult days come once every month or so, probably more frequently recently than it has in past seasons of my life, where it had been about once a quarter. If you are a skeptic, this is the moment where you say, “See, he hasn’t changed at all! He’s living a lie!”

So we might as well get this out of the way. I haven’t changed.

When I walk down the street, my eyes are drawn to the men. If I’m tired, lonely, stressed and especially not aware, and I happen to be alone at home, I may start poking around the internet for pictures of men of a certain appearance. If I’m especially careless I’ll look for outright porn. Sometimes these binges lead to masturbation, and I sometimes keep awkward secrets from my wife until I come back to my senses.

Like what happened yesterday.

I actually wrote up this post a full month ago, and totally chickened out on posting it.

I’m a hypocrite. I said it so you won’t have to. This is also my way of dealing with the fear of being called one.

So if I haven’t changed, so what should I do now? Should I divorce my wife? Should I break the vow I made, leave the one I love, leave the one who loves me so sacrificially and so completely? Should I leave my sons? Should I leave my flesh and blood, so wonderfully made after my own image, whom I wish I will never grow beyond my “fuzzy kisses?”

Should I abandon the journey, forget experiencing my “second adolescence,” and discovery of growing up as a man with a deeper wholeness I never knew I could have? Should I consider all the amazing confluences and orchestrations from my Creator—nudging me each step towards healing, with the added surprise of falling in love for my wife—merely cosmic accidents? Shall I believe that these experiences to be incongruent with a God that merely wants me to merely “embrace the way he made me?” Should I abandon his sweet voice, that today gently tells me “don’t” to seawater and points me towards a true refreshing drink?

I have nothing to gain from walking away from this path. I would truly then be living a lie, denying everything that has proven true in my life.

I have changed. I amaze myself at how much more I love my wife than I did even on the day we got married. She just grabs my attention even when she’s trying to be by herself doing her own thing. I love the way she fills me up and builds me up. I love pursuing her. I love serving her.

But, change—changing to heterosexuality—is not the goal. Growing in a healthy, whole identity of manhood is. Growing closer into an intimate, dare I say, sexual oneness with Jesus is. Google the Jewish uses of the verb “to know.” Becoming more and more like Jesus, that’s the change I’m looking for. Remembering of the true form of my desires—desire for affirmation as a man from my father, desire for belonging in the fellowship of men, experiencing unconditional, sacrificial love—compel me to pursue these good things. But I forget.

Often, I have to say out loud, “I remember.”

Yesterday, I was poking around for new scans from a particular Japanese comic artist, a subject I will (gasp) write about. My affinity in recent years, whenever my hunger turns in unhealthy ways, has been for this: I fall for stories of authentic belonging, desire, and affection. I now quickly tire of graphic visuals of men in action—it strikes me as empty and juvenile, and I get distracted by all the pain, disappointment, and emptiness I see written all over their faces.

I remember. I remember who I am. I remember who God is. I remember what He’s done, and where He’s taking me.