Crisis, Reconciliation and Renewal

24 05 2012

When I was younger, Dad and I liked to play ball every now and again in our yard. One of these typical days (I do not recall exactly when, but I must have been about 12 or 13), I remember asking him, “Dad, what does it mean when someone is gay?” Dad thought for a moment, and then finally said, “It’s when a man has the ability to love another man or a woman has the ability to love another woman the same way your mother and I do.” “Oh, ok,” I replied. “That sounds all right, then.” I still do not know what my father thought when I asked that question. This part of who I am and how it has affected the relationship I have with my parents moved from typical denial, to anger, to shame, and finally acceptance and welcome. Looking back on my youth, there were hints that I was not “like the other kids” in this regard, but by and large I either ignored them or did not notice them until I was at the Academy.

I was enjoying a ministry at the Academy with the weekly columns, the fellowship group, the bible studies, but this realization that I was a gay man marked the beginnings a crisis of faith. I did not seek out help for fear of being ostracized by the Christian community or being expelled from the Academy, so I tried to sort it out on my own, with limited success. I ultimately realized that who I was did not change anything about what I wanted to do as far as serving God. One of the two friends I confided in offered some encouragement. “Don’t worry,” he said. “When you follow Christ, you become more and more the person you are meant to be. You become more and more yourself.” I eventually did seek some informal counseling through the chaplains at the Academy. They could see how much this was troubling me and were very full of compassion. At their advice, I requested and was granted a leave of absence from the Academy. In June of 1995, I left the Academy. I got a job at the local mall on Long Island where I discovered a knack for the various aspects of merchandising. I decided not to return and instead decided to make my own way in the world. Eventually, I worked my way through another school while continuing to support myself.

It was here that I also encountered a strong sense of hostility towards the Church and to God, even among very good people. Living in fear of rejection by two cultures (the gay community and the Church) which both define a major part of who I am and are also rather hostile to each other at times is not a pleasant way to live. But, I made the best of it. I did make friends in the secular world, and I did continue to go to church and participate in the life of the community as best I could. I still did not know how I could reconcile the two halves of myself, for while I knew the Scripture was clear on the extent of the work of Christ, saying that nothing could separate us from the love of God (Romans 8), it was also clear on certain prohibitions of behavior. Could one really trump the other? Living in these two exiles continued for quite a long time.

In June of 2002, I had moved into Manhattan after landing a job as an executive assistant at an investment bank and adjusted to the change in fiscal dynamics required. At long last, I began to seek out a form of healing the two sides in earnest. I started attending church again regularly and got involved in the choir at Calvary Baptist Church in midtown Manhattan. By a stroke of luck I came across an organization in March of 2004 which had helped me to find what I had been seeking all of this time. Yes, there are answers to why the Bible says what it says, and yes, the power of the Cross and the power of Grace are greater than we can put our minds around. Going through the process of reconciliation and integration are beyond the scope of this biography, but suffice it to say, this was the first time in a very long time where I knew wholeness. One half of me did not conquer the other half … the two halves merged and I became one person again. And that sense of freedom and liberation, I think, has made me grateful for what God has done in Jesus Christ more than I ever had before

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