Saturday, January 26, 2008

Focus On God: A Change of Heart, A New Strategy

The last few weeks I've been trying to come to some logical understanding of my beliefs about homosexuality, and the way I should be responding to the homosexual desires that I have. Since just before Christmas I've been taking a different approach to how I fight those homosexual temptations. I've tried to put my thoughts into words several times now, about what this new approach or new strategy is, but nothing I've written has seemed to fully explain how I've been feeling and what I've been doing. So, I decided to be simple and just make a list of what I believe, what I want, and what I need to do in regards to overcoming homosexuality. The following is that list.

(1) I believe homosexual behavior is wrong.

(2) I don't believe God made me, or anyone else, gay. I don't believe He ever intended for anyone to have homosexual attractions.

(3) I believe it's possible for me to change my sexual attractions. With God, all things are possible as the Bible says, and I believe that includes even this.

(4) I want to change. However, if I am unable to change, or become straight, I want to be honest about that, and make the most of the situation, without losing hope.

(5) I don't need to get frustrated about what homosexual attractions or desires I have. God doesn't hold them against me, so why should I? They're nothing more than temptations, and no worse than any other temptation.

(6) I don't need to worry anymore about not gaining any attractions toward women. God doesn't require or demand of me to be attracted to women. If it happens, great, if not, it won't be the end of the world.

(7) I need to resist all homosexual temptations.

(8) I need to resist looking at pornography, masturbating, and creating sexual fantasies. These things only make me feel more homosexual.

(9) Whenever I am tempted, I need to go straight to God and pray for His help to be able to resist. I need to turn to Him whenever I see a temptation coming my way.

(10) If I do give into a particular temptation, I don't need to beat myself up for that or become all depressed about it. Rather, I should ask for God's forgiveness, accept His grace, and try harder the next time to not give in.

(11) The reason I don't want to give into temptations is because I love God and I don't want to hurt Him.

(12) I need to seek first the kingdom of God in all things. I need to ask myself if a particular action is one that God would want me to take. And I need to spend more time with God—in prayer, worship, reading His word, and being in fellowship with other believers—in order to help me know His will for my life.

(13) I need to trust God. I need to listen and accept what He tells me.

(14) I need to believe that whether my attractions change or not, things will work out as God has planned.

(15) I need to believe that God really does love me. He loves me even when I sin.

(16) I need to continue trying to see myself as God sees me; as somebody of worth and importance to Him.

(17) I need to continue trying to see others as God sees them. He sees them as He sees me. And I should have compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and love for them as God has for me.

(18) I need to continue trying to make friends. I love being able to love them and to be loved by them. They're a blessing in my life.

(19) I need to be more patient, more self-controlled, and less self-centered.

(20) I want to do more for God. I need to do more for God.

This is my new strategy, my new direction. I'm still in the fight, but I'm fighting smarter than I had been. I'm not worrying, I'm not getting frustrated—I'm being more patient and more honest with myself. And above all else, I'm putting my focus on God. I'm trusting Him and accepting His love and forgiveness, maybe for the first time in my life. I'm in this fight for Him. Not for me, but for Him. That's the difference, the change I've been trying to describe. I've got it now! It's all for Him. It's not about changing my attractions or about what I want. It's about loving God and trying to live my life the best I can for Him. I don't have to be perfect. I just have to try. And that's what I'm going to do. I think that's a cause worth really fighting for. It's a cause I really do want to fight for.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Great Debate

Did any of you see the Democratic debate the other night? I watched it pretty much from beginning to end and I just have to say, I was thoroughly disgusted. I'll admit, all three candidates seemed to have decent ideas on various issues, but most of that seemed to be overshadowed by the constant back and forth squabbling between Hillary and Obama. If anyone watched that debate and couldn't tell the level of animosity both these candidates seem to have for one another, I'd be very surprised. All either one of them seemed to be interested in doing was tearing the other one down. And then there was John Edwards. To be honest with you, I hope Edwards wins the Democratic nomination. He seems to me like the only genuine candidate the Democrats are putting forward. He may not be the best person to have ever run for the office of president, but at least he seems truly interested in trying to achieve things to help the American people, and to do it without tearing people to shreds in order to get the job. To my knowledge, he's also the only candidate from either party to tell us the truth about NAFTA, which is that it's done away with most of the good paying factory jobs our country once had and replaced them with near minimum wage jobs with no benefits. Admitting that alone tells me he's decent and honest enough to tell us like it is. That also tells me he's on the side of the workers rather than big business, since big business is the only one truly benefited by NAFTA and our countries current free trade policies. So, I'm rooting for Edwards to become the Democrat presidential nominee.

On the Republican side, I'm beginning to get the sense that John McCain will win. He seems to have the most appeal right now among most Republicans, I think. And he's been bipartisan enough in the past that I believe he'd govern in a much more moderate way than our current president. I think he'd be willing to actually work alongside of Democrats to help get things done. I actually like John McCain. To be honest with you, I'd hoped he'd win the Republican primary back in 2000, but no such luck. Looking at McCain now, I think he's a smarter candidate than he was back then. Aside from his bipartisan background, one of the biggest things that appeals to me about McCain is his stance on the war on terror and the war in Iraq. McCain says he wants to bring our troops home, but not until we've achieved victory in Iraq. Unlike a lot of people these days, I believe we actually can achieve a sort of victory in Iraq. The problem we're having, or have had, so far, is the way in which this war has been fought. I think McCain would handle the situation in Iraq much better than Bush has and would be able to do as he says; to win in the war and then bring home our troops (and without it taking another five years). But I also like his stance on the war on terror in general. His approach to that is that we should spend more effort and money to secure ourselves at home so that the enemy has no way of ever getting to us here. That, to me, sounds like a much wiser course of action than for us to be going all over the world fighting preemptive wars and the like as we have been. So, I'm hoping McCain wins on the Republican side. Having said that, I'll go a step further and suggest a McCain/Huckabee ticket would look pretty attractive to me.

Whoever becomes our next president, my only hope is that they'll be somebody who truly does care about making America great for ALL people, and not just a few. We have so many problems in this country right now, most of which could be solved in rather simple ways actually, and yet nothing seems to be getting done. I just pray the best man (or woman) will get the job.

And for those of you who may not know, I am a registered, moderate, Republican.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Fishing Trip

I remember one time when I was little that my Dad took my brother and me fishing. He drove us down this old abandoned looking road to a boat ramp that was no longer in use, parked the car, and we all got out. I remember looking out at the lake and thinking about how big it looked. It seemed to sprawl out forever, so blue and pretty. It was so beautiful. And it was such a wonderful day. I remember just being so excited about getting to spend time with my Dad like that. There was a small cove just to the right of the ramp and that's where Dad took us. There was a trail there that led out to this little cutout in the hillside, and there was a ledge, or what I guess you could call a jump off point just a few feet above the water. I remember us all three sitting there on the bank with our legs hanging over the side. I'm sure we looked like something from out of a Norman Rockwell painting the way we were sitting there, fishing like that. I remember after a few minutes of sitting there, my brother started to get fidgety. He wasn't very old at the time. I'm not even sure if he was five years old. But I remember he started moving around more than my Dad was comfortable with. None of us could swim at the time and I'm sure the idea of my brother falling off and going into the water was beginning to worry my Dad. I remember him telling my brother he had to sit still, and yet, my brother just kept playing around and scooting forward really close to the edge. Finally, Dad told him again if he didn't stop we were going to quit fishing and go home. At that, my brother settled down a bit.

For a few minutes, everything seemed fine, but then a group of teenagers came along, parked at the ramp, and began swimming at the mouth of the cove. When my brother saw them swimming and having fun, he immediately decided he'd have some fun as well. He started to pitch forward to go into the water. Luckily, Dad reached out for him just in time to keep him from falling. It was one of those moments where I think we were all scared half to death. Dad pulled my brother back and swatted him on the backside a few times for not listening to him and scaring him like that. Needless to say, that was the end of our fishing. Dad quickly got us back to the car and we were headed home. What had been a good day out, a nice little father and sons trip, had turned into an unfortunate disaster. Funny as it may sound, that's one of my favorite childhood memories. I learned something from it. But also, Dad was spending time with me. And any of those times whether they turned out good or bad, were good times for me. So much of the time he wouldn't spend any time with me at all, so, when he did, it meant something. I remember those times.

I think about God. He tells us not to do things, and he tells us that because He knows what's best for us. He knows we'll get hurt or that we'll hurt others if we do those things. I look at how my brother wouldn't listen to my Dad while on that fishing trip, and I think about how my brother could have slid off and drowned. But Dad caught him. I see the similarity between that story and how God is with all of us. He tells us not to do things, we do them anyway, but even still, he always reaches out to save us if we just let Him. Most of us actually do fall in the water a great deal of the time. Some of us kick our feet and wave our arms, struggling a great long time before reaching for His hand. And some of us never reach for it. We either don't see the hand because we're too busy kicking and screaming about in the water, we ignore it thinking we can save ourselves, or we had just prefer to stay in the water and drown.

I've held it against my Dad for a long time now because he didn't spend more time with me when I was younger. I hold it against him now sometimes because he still won't spend much time with me. But I love him, and I know he loves me. He's cared an awful lot for me over the years. He helped teach me right from wrong, taught me about God, clothed me, sheltered me, fed me, encouraged me, and stuck by me. I honestly was surprised by the way my Dad reacted when I told him I struggle with homosexuality. I could tell he was hurt by it, but I think he was mostly hurt because I was hurt. He just kept asking me, “Why didn't you ever tell me?” And he kept telling me he loved me. I think it really bothered him that I'd spent all those years hiding such a huge painful part of my life and going through all of that alone. When we finished talking about things, I made one request to him, and that was for him and Mom to please not treat me differently because of this. And so far, Dad and Mom both have been really great not to treat me differently than they did before. I don't think I could bare it if they did.

But I see how much my Dad really does love me. I've struggled for so long not knowing if he really loved me or not. I think back to all those times when he wouldn't have anything to do with me, when he'd ignore me, or times when he'd punished me more than I feel like I deserved, sometimes just because he felt like it, I think. By no means do I claim to have been the best-behaved child, I know I deserved most of the punishments I got, but there were times when I really do feel like I got a lot more than I deserved in the form of punishment. There was one time I'd got a deep cut on the back of my right thigh. I'd cut myself on a broken piece of glass, and probably should have had stitches for it, but didn't. A few days later Dad got mad at me about playing too loudly in the backyard. I honestly don't remember being very loud at all. But I remember he called me into the house, took his belt off, and whipped me, taking the belt across the back of my legs a few times and across that cut. Well... that opened up the wound, and when he was done whipping me I had blood running down my leg. My entire leg swelled up after that and it took a long time for that wound to heal as it should have. It's hard for me to overlook something like that. Thing is, I know my Dad isn't perfect. All parents make mistakes. All parents do things they wish they hadn't. They're only human, after all. All people do things when they're angry, tired, frustrated, or whatever else like that that they know afterwards they shouldn't have done. I don't have a doubt in my mind that my Dad did his best with me. And I'm sure that whatever hurts he may have caused me, none of them were deliberate or intentional, or if they were, I'm sure he wishes he hadn't caused them.

A lot of times, I look to God and see Him, in a way, like my Dad. But more than that, I see Him as how I wish my Dad really were. I think of all the things I think would make a perfect Dad and I see God. He loves me, cares for me, encourages me, is consistent, wants to spend time with me, blesses me richly in so many ways, teaches me right from wrong, helps me avoid trouble, helps me when I get into trouble, and always reaches His hand out to pull me back to Him. And He forgives me when I do wrong. In a way, I think one of the reasons it's been so hard for me to fully trust God is because I do relate Him in a lot of ways to my Dad. It was hard for me to trust my Dad when I was little. I never knew when it was okay to have fun around him or when to be quiet and not disturb him. But I never knew how he felt about me either. Sometimes he'd make it out like I was the most important thing in the world to him, and other times, it was as if I didn't even exist. He'd be one-way one minute, and completely different the next. I never knew how to take him.

Lately, I have been trying to separate my earthly father from my heavenly father. I think I've always known in my mind that the two are different, but maybe in my heart I've wanted to see them as one in the same. Maybe that's mostly because I've wished my father were better than he is. Maybe I've wanted him to be more Godlike in the way that he relates to me. Thing is, I know he isn't perfect, and I can't hold that against him. I'm not perfect myself. I know I've not always been the best son I could have been—neither to my earthly father or heavenly father. Looking back, I know I've done a lot in my life I never should have done, a lot that I knew better than to do. I know there have been a lot of times when I have been nothing less than a little hellion. But I know I don't have to be perfect for either of them to love me. Learning that love has meant a world of difference to me. It's helped to heal so many old wounds of my past.

Sometimes I can have rather mixed feelings about my childhood. I try to think about all the good times, and to thank God for all of them. But for all of those bad times, I just keep trying to see what good may actually have come from them. If they in any way help, or have helped, to make me a better person, then I'm glad for them too. I think about that fishing trip with mixed feelings. It started off as such a good time, and yet it ended with my brother crying, my Dad mad, and me disappointed. But one lesson I learned from that experience was not to jump off cliffs. I remember Dad explaining that to my brother and me. He told us exactly what could have happened if my brother had fallen—that he could have got hurt and died. He also told us how upset and sad that would have made him, and how we needed to listen to him when he told us not to do something. To apply that knowledge to later events in my life... I wonder if that didn't save me at one point. That first year I was in college, the devil tried really hard to convince me that I should drive my car off a cliff in order to kill myself. I wonder if somewhere buried deep in the back of my mind, God was reminding me not to jump off cliffs. I wonder if maybe it was for that very purpose that that childhood event took place, and why I've remembered it all these years. Dad taught me something as a child, and God reminded me of that later on to stop me from hurting others and myself. I think about how close I really did come to killing myself. And I'd like to think that... no, I know it was only because of God's love for me that He stopped me from doing that. I know I didn't stop me. It was something else. I think it was God lying heavy upon me to turn that wheel, to not go off that cliff, because he knew I'd hurt myself and so many other people if I did. Maybe I was simply trusting God at that point in the same way I'd trusted my Dad all those years earlier. Maybe God was just simply asking me to trust Him, and to not go through with it.

I think about things like that and I can't help but feel that if I can just learn to apply that knowledge of God's love for me and to trust Him more completely in all aspects of my life, to know what's really best for me, I won't end up flailing about in the water quite so often or for quite so long. If I can learn to trust Him more fully, maybe I'll not end up in the water in the first place. Maybe I'll be content to sit by His side, with my fishing pole in hand, enjoying the beauty of the day and the time spent in His love.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Conflicts In Desire

As some of you may or may not know, the title of this post is a play on words to the Joe Dallas book, “Desires In Conflict”. I honestly just felt like being silly, but that actually explains how I'm feeling right now. I feel... conflicted.

First off, I'm not sure I want to keep this template for my blog. I'd changed it about a month ago, but I've been wondering if that was a good thing or not. I actually find myself pining over the old look (for those who can't remember, it was the same as Jay's blog). What do you all think? Keep it as is, or go back to the old look? I can't make up my mind.

Okay, so now that that's out of the way, I'll get to the real issues at hand. First off, I'm not too sure I want to spend so much of my time trying to change my sexual orientation anymore. Now, wait a minute, before anyone freaks out, let me explain.

A few weeks ago, I was going through a short period of depression—confused, frustrated, lonely, distanced from God, trying to get into the Christmas mood—and I just felt so very tired. I felt like I honestly just couldn't go another minute without collapsing. I remember thinking, I just want my life to be better. I don't want to go through this anymore. I don't want to think about any of this stuff (my struggles) anymore. I kept praying to God, trying to figure things out, and the message I kept hearing was “Give up”. I felt like God was telling me to stop what I'd been doing and to give myself to Him; to trust Him, and allow Him to take full control of my life. I felt like He was telling me to stop thinking about all of the things that's been bothering me and to instead put all of my focus on Him. But, I'll admit, I was resisting doing that.

What helped, or what changed that, was when I read the book “God's Grace and the Homosexual Next Door”. While reading that, there was a particular passage that really made me think differently about God. One of the authors had made reference to God as “Abba”, or daddy. And that really got me to thinking. I had often heard God referred to as “Father”, but I'd never truly applied that understanding of God to my own relationship with Him. And I wondered, Could God really want to be a dad to me? Does He really love me like that? Does He really want me to be His son? Does God really want to know me, to spend time with me, to care for me, and to love me? I thought about all of this for many days and the answer I received was an emphatic “Yes!”. And when I realized that, I suddenly felt such a tremendous rush of love from God, and for God. I felt like every bit of me was being drawn so close to Him, and that felt so incredibly good. For the first time in my life, I finally realized what it was to know God as Father; to have a genuine father/son relationship with Him. That made me just want to be His completely.

I noticed, during that time, that all the worries, frustrations, feelings of loneliness, confusion—all of that—just seemed to have left me. And that got me to considering something. And this is something that I've struggled with somewhat the last couple of weeks. I feel like God is telling me not to worry or focus anymore on whether I'm gay or straight. I'm not so sure that that really matters to Him. Now, when I say that, I'm not saying that I feel like God is telling me it's okay for me to just give up my fight against homosexuality and just be gay, but just that, my attractions are not what's most important to Him. I don't think God holds it against me (or anyone else) for having same-sex attractions. When I see a guy walking down the street and my mind suddenly tells me, “Wow, he's really cute,” I don't believe God would consider that to be a sin. Now, if I were to lust after that guy, yeah, I do still think that would be a sin, but what I'm talking about here is immediate thought process—the first thought that came to my mind when I saw that other guy. So, I've been thinking, if that's not a sin, and if God doesn't hold that against me, then why should I? Why should I hold that against myself? Why should I struggle day in and day out, worrying and getting frustrated with myself, because of something I really don't think God is asking me to do? The only thing God has ever asked is for us to follow Him, to have faith in Him, to love Him, to obey His commandments, and to spread His word and reach out to others. Nowhere, in any of that, do I see God telling me that the only way I can truly be holy is to be straight. I don't think He requires a person to be straight, or attracted to members of the opposite sex, in order to be holy in His sight. God doesn't ask me to change my attractions. Those attractions are really nothing more than the product of Satan, and I can't control what Satan throws at me. What I can do, is obey God and not act out on those attractions, and not put myself in situations for those attractions to grow. I can resist them with everything I've got. And really, I think that's enough. That's all God ever asks of any of us, is to stand firm and not give into the evils of the world. Thing is, I'm not saying I think it's impossible for me to change my sexual orientation anymore. I do still think that I can. But, I don't think I can do that by focusing all the time on what attractions I have. I think, if any real change is ever going to come about, it'll happen because of God. I realize that thinking and trying all the time to change my sexual desires and the other problems of my life does not help to bring about any of that change. It's only when I focus on God, when I open up my heart to Him, when I trust Him and follow Him and obey Him, that any change ever takes place.

So, I've decided I'm going to focus my life more on building a stronger relationship with God. I'm going to spend more time with Him, in prayer and in reading His word. I'm going to go to church more—even if in church I sometimes feel like an outcast; I'll go in order to worship Him and to spend time with His people. I'm going to trust Him. I'm going to reach out to others more, to love them, to help them, to build them up, and to hopefully bring them to God. That's what I'm going to focus on from now on. Not whether I find that guy walking down the street attractive or not, but on living my life one-hundred percent for God. I'm going to give up, and allow God to have complete control over my life. I think that, what change will happen in my life, will happen because of that.

I am still going to be working on myself though. There are still things I know I need to address in my life. I need to make sure all pornography is gone and stays gone. I need to quit envying or coveting other guys. I need to stop viewing myself and others in certain ways and to see people more as God sees them. There are still things I know I need to work on, and I'm going to continue marching forward in that battle.

Okay, so getting back to conflicts. After having just laid out my new game-plan to everyone, I'll admit that I'm nervous about it. Anytime I question such things I tend to question everything about where I stand on all issues. I can see very clearly where it would be easy for me to leap from this new stance to thinking differently about other things as well. That puts me on edge, because I don't want to be confused or go down the wrong road without realizing it. And then that thought makes me wonder if I've already gotten off path. I am curious about what all of you think. I need some feedback. Am I on the right approach to this or not?

Lastly, I became curious the other night while on facebook and decided to enter the name of one of the guys I'd seen in some pornography awhile back in a search. To my amazement, the guy's name was real and he does actually have a profile on facebook. When I found that, I had this instant thought to send him a message telling him how much God loves him and wants to know him. I'm conflicted about doing that though, because I'm not sure if that was God telling me to do that, or if it was something else.

Please, help me find some answers!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Importance Of Friends (or: What Beats the Loneliness)

A few months ago, I got the following advice from Jay in response to the post I'd written titled Am I An Eleanor Rigby?:

As for loneliness, I only have this advice that works for me. Memory is the biggest foil for loneliness. Remember your friends, your travels, your family, the times when you felt comfortable and at peace. Think about them often, and try to make new memories by seeking out friends and having a good time. When you're with them, enjoy the moment and be blessed! When you're not, remember that they're still out there and still love you. Right now an intimate relationship might be denied you, but you can find just as much validation and joy in your friends and family.

Feel better, and God bless.”

Jay, your advice has helped.

One thing I have struggled with a lot in my life is loneliness. Because of some of my low self-esteem/self-confidence issues, lack of social involvement with others as a child, and fears about people finding out about my struggles with homosexuality, I've had a tendency to hide myself in near complete isolation a great deal of the time—I can be a real hermit. In doing this, I've made myself so terribly lonely at times. Contributing to that feeling is the fear of being rejected by others. There have been a lot of people in my past that I have tried to reach out to and be friends with who simply wouldn't respond back to me. They didn't want to be friends with me, I guess. And I've tended to take that personally as something purely against me.

I don't think I realized it exactly, but shortly after high school, for about three or four years, I think I just quit trying to make friends. I tried to be friendly or nice to others, but I wasn't trying so much to make friends with anyone. I thought it was pointless for me to even try. So many people had turned away from me that I think I just didn't want to be hurt anymore. So, I just didn't try. I'd given up on that.

One of the first bits of advice I ever received from anyone at Exodus International was that I needed to try to build some good, healthy friendships. I think the man who suggested that to me could see into my life just enough to know how friendless I really was at the time. So, because of that, he pushed me to find friends, to try once again to make friends, and to not just give up on that effort. I believe he also told me that it might be hard for me, that there would probably still be people rejecting me in the matter, but that I shouldn't just give up on that effort and be friendless the rest of my life. I think he knew, rightly, too, just how important having friends would be for me in my fight to overcome homosexuality. That's definitely something I've learned. I couldn't do this without the help and support and prayers of other people.

Looking back over this last year, I can say it was certainly one of the hardest years of my life. My preacher, of all people, showed no interest of helping me, which made me question just how open about my struggles I could be with others and just how trusting I could be of my church. I took a job that stressed me out and literally just sucked the life out of me. I was depressed and frustrated, and in general was seeing my entire life get turned upside down and inside out and it just is a miracle to me that I never lost my sanity throughout it all (I think I came close to that a few times actually). But, it was just a very difficult year for me. There was a lot of change for me, and I've never been one to handle change very well; I tend to resist that. I've struggled to see myself differently, to see others differently, to give up certain sins—all sin in my life really, and to learn how to trust God and others in my life. And I have struggled with making friends. I've let my feelings get really hurt many times this last year while trying to be friends with people. I've taken things a little too personally a few times. But, as I look back, I realize I have made friends. Some of my employees showed me on a few occasions how much they liked me back this last summer. There was one particular day when I was feeling so down, and my boss was just railing at everything I did, and a few of them wrote me a little note, left it on my desk, telling me how much they appreciated me and were uplifting me and encouraged me by not only that but by including a verse from the bible on the backside of the note. The verse was this: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under temptation, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) I was very moved by what they did, and I kept that note and reflected on it many times when things at work weren't going so well.

I was able to strengthen two former friendships as well this last summer. Two of my workers were people who I'd worked alongside of in previous years. I could often go to them and vent and also get advice, and I allowed them to help me be a better boss by listening to them. But, I also saw that the two of them always stuck by me. When everyone else seemed to be abandoning me there towards the end of things, they stuck by me. They cared and they helped me. I'll admit that bewildered me a little. I'm not used to people, other than family, doing that. And I realized by it that these two people are REAL friends. I only hope I can give back to them as much as they've given to me. I hope I can be and am being as good a friend to them in return. Like I already mentioned, I have a tendency to turn away from others and hide myself, so that's been something I've had to work through with them. It's like I keep expecting them to eventually turn away from me, so I have to keep stopping myself from turning away from them first (that's what I used to do to keep from being hurt).

I also found a friend in my Exodus counselor this last year. He's helped me so much in just being there for me and helping me work through some of the feelings of frustration and confusion I've had, but also to help motivate me to change my life for the better. I'm eternally grateful for him, and I thank God for leading him into my life. And I can say the same for my mentor through Setting Captives Free. Both of these men have helped me so much and really I don't know what I'd do without them.

I've also made several Internet friends. I took a chance back last winter, just before Christmas of '06, and sent an email to a nineteen-year-old college student in Maryland. He had been featured in his campus' newspaper for having stood up for his Christian convictions concerning his struggle with homosexuality during a “God hates Fags!” rally, in which he was not only called a “sodomite” by one of the speakers, but was also told he'd never get to heaven because of his homosexual temptations. He stood up to those people and “set them straight,” so to speak, and his college newspaper had decided to write an article about him and his struggles. I instantly admired him for being so open about his struggles, but also for having so much faith in God and for standing up so boldly for other Christians struggling with these things. I emailed him thanking him for what he'd done and offered him a bit of encouragement as well. I took a chance in doing that, because it was something I'd never done before due to a lack of trust for people over the Internet. But it's one chance I've never regretted. He responded back to me, and what has followed is a deep friendship that I cherish with all of my heart. I've made such a wonderful and godly friendship with him. Through that friendship, so many old wounds have been healed in my heart. We typically write back and forth to each other about once or twice a week, and we've done that for a little over a year now. My hope is that eventually I'll get to meet with my friend in person. But it's just been so great knowing him because we understand each other, can encourage each other, can lift each other up, pray for each other, and we actually do have a whole lot in common that we can talk about besides our struggles. I honestly do just love him to pieces. He's one of the best friends I've ever had.

I've made other online friends as well. I'd consider a great number of my fellow bloggers to be friends. I say that because you've been there for me and prayed for me and you've helped me by being so willing to share in this fight alongside of me. I've talked with a couple of you through email and I've made some good friendships there. You know who you are, and I'll thank you from the bottom of my heart for being friends with me. You're gifts from God, quite literally. And so are all of my friends.

Looking back, it sort of surprises me just how many friends I have made. I'd prayed for a long time for God to send people into my life, and I see where that's happening. I have friends now for the first time in my life! I have real, genuine friends who know me and like me and want to be around me. Sometimes that really does dumbfound me. I spent so many years thinking I wasn't worthy of friendship or of love. So many people had rejected me or made fun of me or turned away from me, and I think I was so full of self-hate as well for a few past actions that I just literally couldn't see how anybody could ever think otherwise about me. I thought I was unlovable. But I'm seeing where I was wrong for thinking that.

When it comes to loneliness, I continue to struggle with that at times—sometimes quite severely. But I know that when I try to do as Jay suggested and think back on all the good times, and to know that there are people who love me, who care about me, who do want to know me, and to know how God feels about me, the loneliness goes away. What's helped the most, really, is just finally realizing how God feels about me. He loves me—me, this horrible sinner who in no way deserves His love or anything else from Him! And that overwhelms me. I just try to think of all the good that really has been in my life, all those good times, all those good feelings, all those people who are my friends (even if I can't always be around them), my family and the warmth and love I've received from them, and how much God loves me and wants to spend time with me, and all those lonely feelings just go away. I thank Jay for his advice. It does help to think about these things, and to place them in my heart.

It just occurred to me that this is my fiftieth post, and I really can't think of a more befitting subject to have written about for this occasion than the subject of friendship. I'm glad I decided not to give up on making friends. It would have been so easy for me to have just accepted a lonely, friendless existence and lived the rest of my life in isolation. That would have been the easy thing to do. I'll admit, I think it's hard making friends. It's hard being a friend sometimes. For one, it's a two way street. Someone once told me, and I forget who, but they said, “In order to make friends, you must first be a friend.” I think that's great advice. How can a person make friends if they're not first willing to reach out and offer friendship to others? Or, for that matter, to respond back to people who offer you friendship? It can't be done. You have to reach out to others in order to make friends.

My hope is that all of you out there are making friends too and not just living lonely lives in seclusion. I hope you are at least trying to make friends, and have not given up. If you have given up, believe me, you're missing out on so much in life. Life is really hard living when you have no friends. When you have no friends, you have nobody to fall back on when the going gets tough, or who you can enjoy your life with, or get support or advice from, or love.

One of my favorite quotes is this: “No man is a failure who has friends”. That comes from the movie It's A Wonderful Life. And like George Bailey, the main character of that movie, I'm beginning to see just how wonderful my life is, and can be. I have hope now. And I realize there are going to still be plenty of lonely days ahead of me in my life. But I know now how better to handle those times. I have friends I can go to, and new friendships to make. I have good memories I can linger on. And, above all else, I know I can always turn to God. I can always lay my head upon His breast, talk to Him, and feel the radiant love that He has for me shining through. And that's what beats the loneliness.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Okay, so I'm in a mood. I'm just frustrated feeling. Really. I think I'm just so sick of so many people in my life, and I'm so sick of feeling stepped on by so many people. I've been trying to work through these feelings and keep my mind on God and to keep cool, but I just feel the need to vent. I'll do a preemptive apology now for the following.

First off, my brother is an idiot. There, I said it. I've never in my life known someone who could make so many stupid decisions on what should be some really easy decisions to make. I won't go into details, but it just really grates on my nerves that he could be so clueless about so many things. He isn't a dummy. I know that and I'll admit that, but it's just like he never thinks anything through, and he gets some of the weirdest of ideas sometimes that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever; he keeps getting himself in trouble, people try to warn him against certain things, he won't listen, gets further in trouble, and then wonders why all the time. He's just really starting to get on my nerves with all his b---s---. If I didn't love him so much, and if he wasn't family, I'd probably have told him to take a hike already. I've never spent anymore time than I had to around other people like him, but, well... there you have it. He's my brother for better or worse and I guess I'll just have to put up with him. We've been through so much together that by this point, it would be kind of ridiculous to disown him.

Secondly, I'm tired of my grandparents always calling on me to do everything for them when there are four other grandchildren who could be called on from time to time. I don't understand why I'm always the only one who has to do all this crap for them while the others never do anything. I mean, if it's just that they like being around me more than the rest, I understand that, but there ARE other ways of being around me rather than having me do all these chores for them all the time. We could visit more often, call on the phone, go on a trip, etc. The thing is, when they call on me all the time for these things it just makes me not want to have anything to do with them. I've got things of my own to do, and it just gets on my nerves that I never have time for anything I'd like to do anymore because people are always asking and expecting things from me. And it pisses me off because I rarely ever ask anybody to do anything for me. I try to take care of myself as best I can without putting anybody out. And if by chance I do ask anyone for help, it's like I always get a no. “Dad, will you help me (or teach me how to) change the oil in my car?” Reply: “No”. “Brother, will you help me move this piece of furniture?” Reply: “No, not right now [five days later--maybe]”. “Friend, will you go to that group event/function/etc. with me?” Reply: “No”. Well, I'm sick of it! I'm sick of feeling like I have to give of myself all the time and never get anything back from anyone else. And it's like if I do ask for help I'm usually made to feel like I'm the scum of the earth or something for asking. I don't understand it. And it's not that I do the things I do for other people in order to get something back from them. I'm glad I can help my grandparents. I'm glad I can do things for other people. But it would be nice if at least occasionally there would be something, anything, in return. It would be nice if occasionally somebody would return the favor.

This leads me to another issue. I'm tired of doing my best all the time and it never being good enough for anybody. I try to do my best at everything I do, and it's like nobody ever recognizes that. It's never good enough. I feel like I'm never good enough. Nothing I do is good enough for my parents, my brother, people at work, at church, and so on. Like Rodney Dangerfield always used to say: “No respect”. I don't get any respect. Mainly from my family though. It's like my family just thinks they can walk all over me all the time, and I'm getting so sick and tired of it. If it's not good enough, if I'm not good enough, then the way I see it, they can find someone else they think can do better and just leave me alone for a change.

I'm also mad at myself though. I've given in to a couple of things I shouldn't have—nothing too serious, but things I knew better than to do—and it's just been bugging me. I know that my acting out was really just a wrong response to some of the feelings I've had the last couple of days. But I also know that that doesn't justify anything. I'm trying not to linger too much on it though. I've asked God to forgive me and I'm trying not to do those things again and to move on. That's all I can do.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I'm just venting. Hopefully getting some of this off my chest will help some. I don't know. I'm sure, or at least I hope, that by this time tomorrow I'll be in a far better mood.

Sorry to be such a killjoy. I'll try to post something better next time.

Buddy and the Conservative Church

So, I was perusing through some of the other blogs I read, and I happened upon a link featured on Odd Psalms titled Buddy and the Conservative Church. I clicked on the link and what I found was one of the most touching stories I've ever read. It was about a man named Buddy who had struggled with homosexuality, lived a celibate life, and attended a conservative church, where he was often made to feel less than welcome. It is a story that should and ought to bring the modern day conservative church to shame, and hopefully, repentance and enlightenment, but it is also a story that brings a lot of light and hope for anybody struggling with being a Christian and having homosexual temptations.

I've added the link to this story under the links section of my blog. I hope all of you will check it out.

Love in Christ.

[I have found the blog/website in which this article was originally written. I have changed the before mentioned link as a result. The article can be found on under the link. The author, Misty Irons, is an incredibly understanding and compassionate fellow Christian. I truly thank God for her.]

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Comments Continued

This is the continuing discussion going on between myself and Feetxxxl, which you can further read about under the comments section of the post This Is For Scott, concerning whether or not homosexual behavior is right or wrong for a Christian to engage in. Anyone wishing to join in on the conversation, please feel free to do so.