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!

5 comments:

RikFleming said...

Bro,

I think it is possible to spend too much time focusing on only one thing or only one area of our sanctification. Let's face it, focusing on SSA issues is not only tiresome - it gets BORING!

This is why my blog is about changing my entire life - not just my wrestling with my sexual temptations.

I have been learning to be more self-controlled in all areas of my life, more patient, more "other" centered rather than self-centered, more humble etc. I have also be working on my health issues (I am feeling great by the way!) as well as studying other theological issues. So many books.... so little time...

So, if you need a break to think about other things - feel free to do so. In fact, if you start working on issues of humility, patience, contentment and so forth you will find that they are all related to your SSA issues.

Why?

Because SSA isn't about sex, per se. It is about relationships and how we interact with others.

So, as you seek to be more humble, patient, giving, and so forth you will find that your relationships with others will change as well as your attitude towards God and the circumstances of your life.

I'm praying for you because I love ya bro!

Rik

Pastor Dazed said...

Hey Brandon.

Just reading your latest post was so refreshing. That's EXACTLY what i'm doing now. Part of the reason why i took down my blog was because it was an expression of all the attractions and desires i had towards men - to a point where i was losing focus of who i really was in Christ and who He was to me.

And so, i decided to change things around. Instead of trying to come up with an answer as to why i felt the way i felt - i decided that I would just live life for God.

I believe that as His child, He'd lead me to the right path: to be the man that he's called me to be and even to be with whoever He wants me to be with.

And so that's what i've been doing over the last little while. Reading books on getting closer with God, spending more time in His presence and doing my part to help the work of the kingdom.

The rest will sort itself out.

Good for you buddy! Keep your eye on the cross :)

PD

jennypo said...

This post was so refreshing. I do believe that this is where God wants each of us - concerned with Him instead of what we can do for him. Love from and for Him will do a far better job of keeping us from evil than all our energetic trying not to do the wrong thing.

Karen K from www.pursuegod.wordpress.com recently had an excellent post on grace that deals with exactly this issue - I highly recommend it!

You're in my prayers.

pursuegod said...

Hi Brandon,

I think you are right on track. I definitely get a sense from reading your post that you are hearing from God and have a sincere desire to follow after him.

One of the best things I did in my SSA struggle was get off the treadmill of trying to change my sexual orientation. I was so focused on that, and it just made me so tired and so full of despair when I felt like I wasn't changing enough.

I have found that God doesn't need us to focus on that to bring change to our hearts. As I focused my attention on him, just knowing him, and living out his bigger purposes for me, I grew spiritually and became a healthier person all around. I am much happier now.

Our lives are about so much more. God has given you life and spiriual gifts to move out into the world as his ambassador to touch other people's lives.

Keep holding fast to him Brandon. He is worth it.

Karen

PS--I was just in Kentucky in November. I went out there to visit Asbury Seminary. I am applying there and a couple other places this fall.

PS--Just my own opinion, but I am not sure its a good idea to e-mail that guy on Facebook. Perhaps, you can pray God will bring someone into his life that lives near him, and who also won't be as tempted by interacting with him.

Brandon said...

Thanks, everybody. I really do appreciate all of your comments.

Karen, I think you hit the nail on the head, so to speak. I've put way too much time into worrying about change and getting frustrated about not changing, rather than just focusing solely on God and letting Him change me. Thanks for commenting, and for writing what you did on your blog the other day. That really was a better clarification of what I've been trying to say to myself and realize here lately.

Ah, about that guy on Facebook, I did a bunch of praying about that the other night and a whole lot of thinking and I did go ahead and email him. He hasn't replied back, he may not, who knows, but I just really felt like God was telling me to write a few things to him. I honestly just wrote telling him I was sorry for looking at him inappropriately like that, and that I wanted him to know how much God loves Him and wants to know him. I also encouraged him to get out of the pornography business just so he wouldn't have sick, weirdos like me looking at him all the time. I don't know if any of it will do him any good, but I hope it will, and I am praying for him. If nothing else, maybe it was just a seed that needed to be planted.

Once again, thanks everyone for your thoughts. All of you are in my prayers.