This Blog Is Moving

Posted: March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

When I originally started writing this blog, I was trying to stay anonymous.  But life has changed and I don’t need to do that anymore.  So I am moving my blog to a new site where I can openly be me.  Plus, I feel the blogging bug starting again and I think I have a lot of things to say that will be coming soon.  So if you’d like to continue to follow my blog, please head on over and subscribe at One Pastor’s Journey.  All future posts will be there.

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Well, it’s time to start going “public” a bit more.  I’ve started a YouTube channel because I really feel a calling to get my story out and to speak to the damage that ex-gay ministries cause.  Please subscribe to my YouTube channel…more great things to come!

I knew there would be relational fallout due to my coming out.  I had mentally prepared myself to accept the fact that there would be people in my life that would not handle the news well.  Despite the mental preparation, I definitely was not emotionally prepared for what would happen.  I secretly hoped that we could all continue to get along and be friends…but that just didn’t happen.

The best-man from my wedding decided we couldn’t be friends anymore.  He quietly dropped me from Facebook and has not called since I came out to him.

Several church “friends” decided that we can’t be friends anymore.  They have dropped me from Facebook as well.  One publically ridiculed me on my Facebook wall before deleting me.  That was such a loving, Christian thing to do!  Another person that I was very close to at my former church sent me a message saying that I was bringing him down and that he had to cut all ties with me. 

One formerly “good friend” has spent a lot of time writing to me and trying to convince me of the error of my ways.  Support is definitely NOT what I am getting from him.

I’ve met with a few friends one-on-one and told them what was going on.  They seemed like they were surprised and could “agree to disagree” but I haven’t heard from them since.

And then there’s my parents.  They have stressed over and over again that they are “not mad because I am gay”.  BUT…they are mad at me…mad because I broke up the family…mad because I have stressed out everyone in the family…mad because I am not doing so well financially…mad because I “lied to them for so many years”…mad because they had to deal with this in their 70’s rather than in their 40’s.  It has been almost a year and they have yet to meet my partner or come to my new place.  They are keeping a distance from my new life.

Thankfully, while there has been all of this fallout in relationships, there is good news too!  There have been some very supportive friends who have continued to be friends even though my whole life has changed.  I am very thankful for all of them (many of you are reading this right now).  And…I have NEW FRIENDS!  And despite what many might think, all of the new friends aren’t all gay!!!  I have been able to surround myself with gay, straight, single, married, Christian and not-so-religious people…all of whom accept me and like me just for who I am.  So in the past year, I have found out who my real friends are and I have made a bunch of new friends.  It has been a difficult process and there have been relational casualties along the way…but I am not lacking in the relational department at all.  God has provided a strong support system for me.

I am so thankful for my friends, new and old, who stand by me and love me for who I am!

Those of you who are around my age will probably remember the film, “Free to Be, You and Me”.  It was a film designed to help kids in the early 70’s to feel good about themselves and to be understanding of others.  It was truly “evil, left-wing propaganda” designed to break down stereotypes.  🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot about that song this week.  The reason is that for the last year, I’m finally beginning to understand what it is like to be free to be me.

Gosh…I spent so many years trying NOT to be me.  All through junior high, high school, and college, I worked hard to make sure that nobody knew I was gay.  After all, being gay was a fate worse than death back then!  Being gay was my little secret…kept in my head and not talked about with anyone.  I was too ashamed about the fact that I wasn’t “normal”.  And of course, Christianity told me I wasn’t normal so that made it worse.  If God didn’t like me this way, then I was in trouble!  I had to do my best to change.  Years of counseling ensued with all sorts of techniques aimed at learning how not to be me.  Then I got married and I spent 19 years in a marriage, trying to deny who I was so that I could be a good straight husband and pastor.

I spent so much energy for so many years trying NOT to be myself so that I could be somebody else.  And ultimately, that didn’t work.

And so now, I have learned that it is ok to be me…and with that has come a great deal of freedom…

I am free to notice attractive men.  I am free to act in ways that are natural, rather than trying to cover up any gay tendencies.  I am free to love the man in my life.  I am free not to worry about what others think.  I am free to be open about who I am without having to hide.  I am free to be in church and have my arm around my partner.  I am free to minister out of who I am, rather than trying to minister out of a caricature that I have created.  I am free to be me…and that feels really good.

I love the freedom I have to be me.  I love that I don’t have to waste energy being someone I’m not.  I love that I can put the voices of nay-sayers behind me and not worry about them.  And I love living in a city where being gay is not looked down upon.  I am a normal part of this city and I don’t have to hide.

My prayer is that everyone who is reading this would find the courage to be themselves.  You don’t have to change.  You don’t have to be anyone else.  Do whatever it takes to be ok with who you are…and then live it!

You and I are free to be you and me.

 

 

I received a comment recently from someone wanting to hear how my faith has been impacted by my journey.  That is a fantastic question, but I’m not sure that I have much of a definitive answer.  I guess the reason for that is because I am still in process.  My faith is still figuring out where to land and is still dealing with the negative side-affects of all I’ve gone through.  So all I can do is tell you where I’m at today.

Here’s what I know:

1.  My old faith is dead.  What do I mean by that?  Well, it means that my new faith doesn’t look like what my old faith looked like.  I literally cannot move in conservative Evangelical circles anymore.  I just can’t do it.  I can’t go to those churches.  I can’t listen to those messages.  I can’t agree with that narrow theology.  It just doesn’t fit me anymore.  Now don’t get me wrong…I haven’t thrown all of those beliefs out.  I’ve just only held on to the core beliefs of Christianity and really don’t even want to get into a discussion about all of those “extra add-ons” that so many churches adhere to.  And most of all, I can’t subscribe to a moralistic philosophy of ministry anymore that is all about trying to make you a better person by doing all the right things and not doing all the wrong things.  I can’t do it.  I don’t believe in that.

2.  My new faith is not “solid as a rock”.  It’s in flux…and I’m perfectly happy with it being “in flux”.  I know more of what I don’t believe now than what I do believe.  I’m OK with things being up in the air…with things not being resolved…with not having all the answers…and with my pursuit of God being more relational and less theological.  I don’t need to be right and I am SO okay with that!

3.  My new faith has a lot more room for people.  There was a time when I pigeon-holed people and put them in categories based on what they believed and how they lived their lives.  Not so anymore!  I now believe in a much-wider Kingdom of God!  I’m not running around deciding who’s “in” and who’s “out”.  Instead, I have become open to seeing how God works in people in so many different ways.  I am ashamed for how much I used to put God in a box.

4.  My current faith isn’t concerned about “getting close to God”.  I used to believe that I was closer to God the more I prayed and read the Bible.  If that is the true definition of being close to God, then I’m failing!  But I no longer believe that is true.  I now see God as being a part of everything, rather than being relegated to a “quiet time”.  I know I am close to God all the time because He’s always with me!  I’m still not really sure how I feel about prayer anymore.  And I’m still not really sure how I feel about reading the Bible anymore.  But you know what?  I’m ok with that.  I know that this is a season…and God is 100% in the midst of this season with me.  So I feel very content hearing a reading of Scripture and reciting written prayers at church services.  Those readings and prayers give voice where I currently have no voice.  I hope that makes sense.

5.  My new faith is just fine…and I can minister from exactly where I stand today.  A conservative Evangelical person reading what I’ve written here might consider me a “back-slidden” Christian, unfit for pastoral ministry.  I beg to differ.  I think I actually have more to offer now than I did 3 years ago.  In fact, I’m able to speak to the millions of people who have been wounded by conservative Christianity and yet who still want to seek God.  So many of us have walked away from the faith.  But I refuse to do that.  God is way bigger than all of that church crap we all put up with.  I have faith, and in many ways, it is bigger than before.

So no, I haven’t lost my faith.  It’s just different.  And I’m very happy with my new faith.  If you want to “correct” me and help me to regain my old faith…don’t waste your time…I’m never going back.  Jesus talked about “new wineskins” and I am definitely into the new wine!

I am a dad.  I will always be a dad.  I love my kids no matter what.  The moment they each were born, I fell in love with them and will love them until my dying breath.

The problem is, my kids don’t want me to be a regular part of their lives right now.  They are hurt.  They are wounded.  They are embarassed.

I haven’t spoken to my two oldest kids in over a year.  They refuse to speak to me…they refuse to see me…they refuse to interact with me at all.  They are both in high school and they have basically chosen to write me out of their lives. 

My youngest kid didn’t want to see me at the beginning of this year…then he let me back into his life for several months…and now he doesn’t want to see me again.  I think it hurts him too much and he’s too embarassed by me.

I can’t tell you how much hurt I have experienced in the past year because of my estrangement from my kids.  It is a pain that just won’t go away.  And no matter how hard I try to change things, I can’t.  Nothing works.  So I am forced to let go and ride this out.  My counselor told me a year ago that it could take 10 years for my kids to come around.  I just didn’t know that it would be so painful in the process.

I have cried a lot over all of this.  It’s a horrible feeling to be so completely rejected by your kids.  I know that part of this is because of past mistakes I made with them.  Part of this is them punishing me because they are so hurt.  Part of this is their faith, which tells them that I am a huge sinner.  Part of this is their mom, who is letting them make their own choices about how they relate to me.  It’s one big giant painful mess and this is, by far, the worst part about my journey in the past year.  A large piece of my heart has been torn away from me and there is nothing that can heal that pain right now.

Some might chide me and say, “Was it worth losing your kids in order to gain this new sinful lifestyle you now have?”  That way of thinking is ridiculous.  I didn’t choose between my kids and my sexuality.  I had to choose life over death.  My former way of life was killing me and I had to make changes in order finally to begin to live.  It’s just that the cost of life and wholeness and health ended up being my kids…at least for now.  I trust that over time, we will be able to work through all of this and have some sort of relationship in the future.

I desperately miss my kids.  I can’t write any more right now or I’m going to break down into tears.  So I just have to say that this loss is far more painful than I ever imagined.

When I got married, I made a committment to my wife:  I committed to love her until death do us part.  I planned to grow old together.  I planned on working through any issues that we had.  I figured with God on our side and if we depended on Him, we could have a successful, life-long marriage.  I had decided that divorce would never be an option.

Yet in May of this year, my divorce was finalized.  I remember how I felt when I got an email from her saying that she had received notification that the divorce was final:  I actually got tears in my eyes.  It’s not that I still wanted to be with my now ex-wife…it’s that I was just so sad to have gone through it all.  I was sad that it didn’t work.  I was sad that I had gone against everything that I had believed at one time.  And I felt the sting of the finality of it all.  I am now a divorced man…something I never thought I would be.

And things haven’t gone the way that I had hoped they would.  Yeah, I know, I often see things through rose-colored glasses.  I really believed that my ex and I would be able to have an adult friendship after the divorce.  I really believed that she would know that I would never intentionally screw her.  I really believed that we would be able to have as “normal” of a relationship as is possible for two people who are divorced.  And…it just isn’t that way right now.  I left almost 11 months ago and things are still very shaky between us.  I hope that at some point in the future, all of those things that I believed will actually be true.

In no way do I regret getting divorced.  It had to happen and probably should have happened years ago.  I cannot be who she needs in a husband.  We really should have never gotten married.  In fact, I remember laying in bed on my honeymoon…just days after getting married…and thinking, “Oh my God, what have I done?”  I really should not have married her in the first place.  I should have been brave enough to listen to what my gut was saying…”you’re gay…this isn’t going to work!”  But that’s all water under the bridge now.  I am glad that our marriage is over because it was so unhealthy for so long.  I don’t miss being in a relationship where I was so unhappy. 

But…going through the divorce was still very painful.  We were together for 20 years.  We had kids together.  We were part of the fabric of each other’s lives for nearly half of my life.  And that is now over.  You can’t go through that without feeling pain and loss.  A part of me is dead and gone.  And despite moving on into a new relationship, that old part of me will never be replaced because she was the one that I had kids with…and that is a very powerful emotional attachment.

For me, divorce has been very bittersweet.  It’s been good and it’s been bad.  It had to happen and it is still incredibly sad.  I should have never gotten married to her…but we shared some very important years together.    B  i  t  t  e  r  s  w  e  e  t. 

Again, I am living with the tension and this is my reality. 

And believe it or not, I will always love her.