Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back To School, And So Little Time

Sorry folks it's been so long since I've written. I've had a bunch of things to write about, but I've found my time has become a precious commodity lately, and I just haven't had enough of it to blog.

So, what's taken up all my time? SCHOOL!!! That's right, I've been back in school this semester. I had dropped out of college a few years back, mostly because I was just so incredibly burned out, but also, and probably more importantly, because I was having some major doubts about what career I was aiming to go into. So, rather than spend the money for a degree I might not ever use, I decided to drop out and wait until I was sure about what I wanted to do. Four years later, I'm back at it again. Some of the doubts are still there, but I'm determined to finish school this time around and get that darn degree. I realize, even if I never use it, having it can never hurt me. Besides, maybe just getting back in school will help me move along and progress a little. I'd been feeling a little stuck the last couple of years, so maybe this will help. But getting back to the reason why I haven't been blogging much lately, I've been just absolutely swamped with homework. So, with work, school, and homework, my free time has become pretty limited. And I'll admit, I've been fairly exhausted the last few weeks. What free time I have managed to get, blogging just wasn't on my mind.

Okay, so the point of this post, besides telling you all what I've been up to, is to discuss some of my thoughts lately. Since getting back in school lust has become a much larger issue with me. Being on campus I find it almost impossible to keep my eyes from looking, and there is just way too much to be looking at. I forgot about how many good-looking guys there could be on a college campus.

I met this incredibly cute guy on the first day of classes. I thought I caught him looking at me a few times from across the room, and admittedly, I honestly couldn't keep my eyes off of him. And the following day of classes we ended up sitting next to each other and have ever since. He's just a really great guy. Well, up until a couple of class meetings back, I honestly thought he was interested in me. And I'll admit, I was developing a full-fledged crush on him. Then, he dropped the bomb. Not only is he happily heterosexual, but he has a girlfriend to boot. So, I was sort of stupidly crushed for a couple of days. I know this was foolish of me, but in a way, I don't think it was too very foolish either. I'm tired of feeling lonely—so sue me for wanting companionship! The way I see it, if we had gotten together... Well, I'm not sure what I'm saying. I just don't feel like it would have been that big a deal.

I don't think I care so much anymore. To be honest, I don't know what I believe anymore. I keep wondering why God would think it so wrong for two gay men to fall in love, want to spend all their lives together, and, yes, even express their love for each other through sexual means. The argument that's always weighed heaviest on me is that God didn't design us for such things. But I wonder why God would care so much if we simply found a way to enjoy His design in a way He may not have intended. For example, someone creates a product that is just absolutely wonderful, and later, someone else realizes a great new use for that product—one which the creator never really intended, but doesn't really cause any harm to anyone or anything in itself. Now, I wonder, what is so wrong with that? I sometimes seriously don't have an answer for that. So then I turn to the second reason why not to be in a homosexual relationship, which is faith in what the church calls sin as being accurate. The problem with that is that I know at times the church hasn't always been right about certain things. But I'm not sure what to believe. If I do end up finding a guy interested in me, I don't know if I'll act on that or not.

And now I wonder if perhaps I'm just so tired of the fight that I've given up on it. And if that is what's going on, then I realize I may not be where I need to be.

Getting back to school for a moment, I have felt a little overwhelmed. In a couple of my classes I feel so lost that it isn't even funny. And I find it absurd the way some teachers seem to think you can't be learning unless the process is as complicated and confusing as humanly possible. It's like nothing in college can ever be simple.

So anyhow, that's where I'm at. I'll do my best not to wait so long before writing again, but I suppose that'll depend on everything else going on. Hopefully things won't get too crazy.

15 comments:

jennypo said...

Hi Brandon,

I don't want to jump in and tell you what to do, because ultimately, that decision has to be yours, but if you are really unsure if God cares who you sleep with, then you could ask him to make it clear.

Ultimately, the whole thing really isn't about sexuality - it's about who God is and what he has a right to ask. And it's no simple thing he asks of any of us - but hear me when I say that he is ALWAYS worth it. No joy, no happiness you can scrounge from this life comes anywhere close to God himself.

Thought you might like this post:
http://pursuegod.wordpress.com/2007/10/09/male-and-female-does-it-matter/

RikFleming said...

Brandon,

You say, "I keep wondering why God would think it so wrong for two gay men to fall in love..."

Why not also say, "I keep wondering why God would think it so wrong for married people to fall in love with someone else's spouse..."

Or, "I keep wondering why God would think it so wrong for an adult male to fall in love with a 5 year old..."

The phrase "fall in love" is associating "love" with purely romantic notions, which can be good in a Biblical relationship. But even there, they can come and go with the moods of the individuals. So many divorces happen because people base the bond of their relationship purely on a notion of whether or not they are "in love" (defined by their feelings) so that once that intense emotion cools they see it as a justification for divorce, "We're not 'in love' anymore."

Having strong romantic feelings and sexual attractions should not be thought of as what defines "love" but rather love entails obeying God and self-sacrifice. After all, God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. (John 3:16) This does not mean that He had romantic feelings for us.

I understand how you FEEL. I feel that way too! But it is Scripture, not my feelings, that determine my actions and I constantly seek to renew my thinking so that it comes more in line with what Scripture teaches about love.

Love ya man!*

Rik

* NOT romantically!

Brandon said...

Rik,

I think sometimes about how Jesus loves me. The man died for me, and accepted something upon himself which I couldn't even imagine. I know that obeying him should be the most important thing in my life. But I get doubts sometimes about certain things. I wonder why two men should not love each other romanticly, especially if that love is just between them (I mean that no ones cheating on anyone else or doing anything like that).

I want someone physically here with me who loves me and who I can love in the same way as Jesus loves--someone I'd do anything for and who'd do anything for me. And I know emotional feelings of love are different from what I guess you could call real love. I'm just so tired of being alone and not having anybody. Really, I could care less about having sex. I just want the relationship--to feel close like that to someone... I've never known that.

One of my gay friends who lives in Maryland, I wish I could be with him. I really do love him. And it's not about looks or anything like that. I just love his company and who he is. And I feel so drawn to him, but I know I can't be with him. I'm just so tired of having these mixed sort of feelings. I'm tired of wanting someone and wanting to be loved, and feeling like I'm not allowed to love or be loved by anyone.

I know lately I've just been really, really tired. I have no doubt that that's just sort of weakened me in my thoughts about all this. I just don't feel like fighting anymore. That doesn't mean I've stopped though, just that I'm getting awfully weary of it all.

I love you too, Rik (likewise, not romanticly). :)

Jennypo, thanks for the advice. It's always welcomed. I do realize God has a right to ask of us anything He wants. I'm just not so sure sometimes what He wants. Maybe I should spend more time with Him in prayer about this. Thanks also for suggesting that post.

jennypo said...

Never Alone (Barlow Girl)

I waited for you today
But you didn’t show
No no no
I needed You today
So where did You go?
You told me to call
Said You’d be there
And though I haven’t seen You
Are You still there?

[Chorus:]
I cried out with no reply
And I can’t feel You by my side
So I’ll hold tight to what I know
You’re here and I”m never alone

And though I cannot see You
And I can’t explain why
Such a deep, deep reassurance
You’ve placed in my life

We cannot separate
‘Cause You’re part of me
And though You’re invisible
I’ll trust the unseen

We cannot separate
You’re part of me
And though You’re invisible
I’ll trust the unseen.

Brandon, heard this song and thought of you. I've believed that lie before, too - that whine in the wind - "You're alone, alone, alone..." The truth is, we are never alone. Jesus is a real human being - still has a body that can eat fish and bread and honey, and knows exactly what it feels like to be cut off and misunderstood. Don't give the Enemy of souls any more room to discourage you with his lies. Read God's word of truth - whether or not your feelings throw a temper tantrum. You are never alone, and neither am I.

Brandon said...

Thanks, Jenny.

MR said...

Brandon,

About that guy in your class with the girlfriend, is there any reason you can't be "just friends" with a guy like that? If companionship, not sex, is what you are after, there are lots of straight guys you can have that with!

My most helpful and enjoyable friendships have been with straight guys who know that I struggle with attraction to other guys. Please don't think that having a boyfriend is the only way out of loneliness, it's not!

Brandon said...

That's true, MR. But no straight guys I've known have ever put their arm around me and told me they loved me. None ever have. And maybe that sounds rather love sick of me, but maybe I am. Yeah, I can be friends. But that's not the same. I never feel close to any of them. I always feel exluded from the club, so to speak, like I don't belong.

jennypo said...

It's true, Brandon - no friend is going to fill that space. But though a boyfriend might fill it for a while, no human being can ever really be what we need them to be. Anything less than Him who is Love can give peace, joy, satisfaction only for a time, and then hurt in deeper measure, because all that is not Love is ultimately destructive. And what masquerades as love is deceitful - it will come back to bite us in the end. You may think that you don't care now, but if you refuse Love, you may find yourself trapped and unable to reach for Him when you do care.
If He seems cruel to have placed you in this situation, remember that he took that place too. He had no one who understood him. In his hour of agony, his friends all slept. And in his supreme suffering, he was abandoned even by his God - but we have never been forsaken by God. Friends and family may let us down, but our God is always near.
He has a plan for you, Brandon. He made you, and he has allowed pain to come to you, but his plan for you is Good. Remember, he never leaves us struggling indefinitely - the time is always measured. He is merciful. His heart is a father's heart.

MR said...

Jennypo,

You are right! Even a boyfriend could not fill that need the way God does.

Brandon,

God has blessed me with Christian straight male friends that have done exactly what you described. They have put their arms around me and said "I love you" with strong emotion. They have gone out of their way to make me feel one of them. It is possible. Do not lose hope!

I should also say that I have never found this kind of friendship among non-Christian straight guys. Even among Christians, it still takes time for love and trust to build enough for that kind of friendship to form. Mostly I find friends like that when I am reaching out in love during a time they are in need.

jennypo said...

"During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel - and God knew."

I love this line - "and God knew". He does know exactly how we feel. He cares for you, far more than you care for yourself, Brandon. If only you could see what He longs to give you. If only you could wait for his rescue.

Praying for you.

Neo said...

Brandon,

I think MR has hit the nail on the head. For me, the best way to fight the loneliness and unfulfillment of SSA is with close non-romantic male friendships. As MR said, the best friendships are always with Christian men, and they do take work. I think it actually works best with a straight guy because I can let myself get close without any fear that it will develop into anything sexual or romantic. But to avoid emotional dependency issues, it also helps to have several close friends and not to rely on just one. It is normal for guys to have several guy friends.

Is feeling excluded the same thing as the feeling of "not being one of them" that I have known all too well? Somehow feeling different from other guys? That sounds like what you're describing. For me, this feeling subsided over time as I learned to relate to male friends. The trick is learning not to be too hard on yourself when healing is slower than you would like.

College can be a great place to meet other guys, especially if you have a good Christian group on campus. I hope you learn to overcome your loneliness and to experience deeper friendship the way God intended.

Karen said...

Hey Brandon,

I can relate to your feelings. I have had those times too. What you are feeling is normal considering that you just embarked on a big change in your life-going back to school. There are new anxieties and stress that come with that. Plus, new exposure to guys--as you mentioned.

Naturally you would be feeling more tempted right now given the circumstances. I am sure you have probably heard of HALT. That is we sometimes need to stop and get our bearing when we are Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, or Tired. These are the prominent triggers for temptation. And, you are experiencing some of them. So, its no wonder that you feel tired and want to give up and who cares anyway.

Sometimes it helps me to remember HALT and when I find my thinking straying off, I realize, oh yeah, this stressful thing is going on right now and what I am longing for is some security and encouragement etc.

Going back to school is a big deal. But, I am confident there are healthy ways to deal with the new stressors as well as the new visual stimuli.

And I just affirm what others have said about getting into healthy deep friendships. I know loneliness is one of my biggest triggers. Maybe there are some student clubs you could get involved with. Plus that new straight guy friend.

Hang in there Brandon. Karen

Brandon said...

Thanks for reminding me of HALT, Karen. I think it's safe of me to say I've been all those things lately--hungry, angry/anxious, lonely, and definitely tired. And thanks for understanding. I AM working on new and hopefully better ways of relieving some of the stress.

Thanks to everyone else for your comments and concerns as well. Jenny, I appreciate your prayers. They're helping.

Dan in Michigan said...

Hi Brandon,

I'm just stopping through as I make my way through the blogosphere, and I stumbled on a comment of yours from another blog, and decided to check out your blog. I just want you to know that I can empathize exactly with what you were feeling when you wrote this post--I've been there many, many times in my struggle with SSA.

I could especially relate with this comment: "I want someone physically here with me who loves me and who I can love in the same way as Jesus loves--someone I'd do anything for and who'd do anything for me. And I know emotional feelings of love are different from what I guess you could call real love. I'm just so tired of being alone and not having anybody. Really, I could care less about having sex. I just want the relationship--to feel close like that to someone... I've never known that."

How that echoes how I've felt for most of my life! Here's the thing: though I am not advocating it, you may find that you need to find out for yourself if having someone to love, in a physical, tangible way, fulfills your needs and desires that you feel so strongly. It may be what you will choose to do. I will pray that you don't, but if you do, then God's grace will cover that. What I encourage you to do is to listen to the stories of those who have lived this life you are leading, who have lived for a long, long time and who have already discovered that the arms of another are never fulfilling. As St. Augustine says, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." I was celibate for 32 years, and finally had a one night stand. I hated how it made me feel, and so then I decided to have a boyfriend, someone to care for, where the love and sex meant something, and the sex took a long time to engage in. I found that it was empty too. I'm a very lonely man, but I have learned to turn that loneliness towards Christ. Thomas Merton wrote a very powerful book called, "Thoughts in Solitude." In it he talks about times of loneliness as being those times when God desires to walk with us like He walked with the Israelites in the desert. He writes that God viewed those times as idyllic times where He could be alone with His chosen people, yet the Israelites of course viewed it as a hardship to be endured. Lean on your Heavenly Father in your pain, lean on the arms of Christ, and though it is not earthly comfort, it is the only comfort that truly brings everlasting peace.

And as to being tired of fighting--that's exactly where God wants us. When we realize that we can't do anything without Christ, when we call out to Him in our very moment of darkest need, that is when He most longs to enter into our lives. Cry out to Him and tell Him you're tired of fighting, and if there's any fighting left to be done, it's got to be Him that does the fighting. That's what grace is all about!

Hang in there brother...there are many of us walking the same journey, a journey filled with a unique pain that I have come to view as a blessing, for it has allowed me to lean on God and know God in ways that those who don't struggle as we do can never understand or experience. There can be joy, even in the pain, Brandon. And what I encourage you to do is something that I've found very powerful: in moments of pain, follow Christ's example and offer it up as a sacrifice to be used by God in someone else's life. This is what I think Romans 12:1 is all about: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." Being a "living sacrifice" is our spiritual act of worship. The pain we feel, and the loneliness we feel can be transformed through the grace of God into an act of worship, and something offered to God on behalf of those we love.

God be with you! I've come to believe that we who struggle with SSA are uniquely gifted to do the work of the Kingdom that no others can do who do not know our pain. God desires to use our pain, on behalf of the rest of the world, and to transform more into His image. It's a strange thing, but I wouldn't rewrite my story now to write away my SSA, or to write a life where I decided to turn my back on God and fulfill my desires and live as an openly gay man. I would be cheating myself from so much God has in store for me that I would rather choose the pain of earthly loneliness, because it has caused me to draw close to the very fount of eternal Joy that I would never have done if I didn't feel that very earthly loneliness.

God bless you in your struggle.

Brandon said...

Dan,

I'm glad you stopped by. Thank you for what you said. I appreciate the empathy. And the words of wisdom.

To be honest with you, I really don't know what I'll end up doing. Part of me says that under no circumstances should I ever be with another man. Another part of me says it'd be okay if it happened in love.

I know so many people have told me their stories and how they couldn't find happiness being with another man. I think the problem I'm having is that I'm not happy now. I've tried very very hard to follow God and not give into anything and build a relationship with him, and at times that's brought me a tremendous amount of happiness. But it's like there's always this void. Like something is missing or not right. Everyone keeps telling me that God will take care of that, but He never does. And it just makes me wonder sometimes if maybe God is telling me something by this. And then that just gets me all confused and I don't know what to do.

I just don't want to spend the rest of my life alone. The thought of that terrifies me sometimes. I just don't see any possibility of me ever being with a woman. And if I can't be with a man, then that leaves no one. Friends can only be around so much. You can't really carry on actual conversations with God (though that's not to say God doesn't speak in certain ways).

I'm just whining now, I know. More than likely I won't end up being with another man. I guess I could just say that I'm not happy about it. I want someone else I can share my life with.

Anyway, thank you again for what you said. I really do appreciate it. I know God can use me and anyone through their pain. Knowing that does bring hope.

God bless.