Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

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!

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Sorry for my lack of posting for the last few weeks.  Life has been crazy.  I will get back to my regular updates shortly.  But today I want to pause and add this post as a part of The More Excellent Way blog carnival on the subject of “inclusion”.

I am in my 40’s and have been “in the closet” for most of my life.  I lived a straight life, got married, had kids, and have been a pastor for 17 years.  All along, though, I knew I was gay.  But the message that I got from churches and from seminary was that being gay is not ok…and therefore I had to do whatever it took for me not to live as a gay man.  During the past 20+ years, I have silently struggled, constantly trying to suppress my sexuality so that I could be a “good Christian”, a pastor with integrity, and a husband and father.  Unfortunately, the result is that I ended up depressed, withdrawn, and acting out in unhealthy ways because I was trying to be something that I was not…straight!  You can only suppress your identity for so long before it affects your emotional health in negative ways.  My negative emotional health crippled me, my marriage, my parenting, my relationships, and my ministry.

18 months ago, I began a journey towards emotional health.  With the help of a counselor, I came to grips with my identity, my sexual orientation, and how living a lie has caused tremendous damage to me, my family, and my ministry.  As a result, I have recently quit my job at a large Evangelical church in our area, had to find new employment, am moving out next week, and will be getting divorced from my wife.  After so many years in the closet, I am now beginning to live a new life out of the context of who I believe God created me to be.  There has been tremendous cost to become who I already was…but I now believe it was worth it so that I can be true to myself and how I am wired.

I am in the process of planting a new church that is radically inclusive and I have found that there are many people in our city who have been a part of conservative Evangelical churches and have suffered a similar lack of emotional health due to the lack of a message of inclusivity in those churches.  Many are very wounded by the lack of acceptance…and even downright rejection…that they have felt.  It is so sad that so many of us have had to live a lie because we couldn’t be accepted a Christians in any other way!

I often wonder how my life would have been different, had full inclusion for the LGBT community been a value in churches 20 years ago.  While I am thankful for the blessings that have come out of the last 20 years of my life, I know that the pain and damage done could have been avoided if I had had even one Christian tell me that I was ok.  If only I had known that God loved me just the way I was!  If only I had learned that I could be gay AND a pastor!  If only.

My new little church plant seeks to be inclusive of everyone.  I pray that other people’s lives will be touched by the message of Grace that I hope we always communicate.  And maybe…just maybe…a life will be saved from the damage that I had to go through in the past 20 years.

Full inclusion of the LGBT community in Christian churches can LITERALLY save lives from the irreparable damage that is caused when a person tries to suppress who they are for the purpose of acceptance by God and other Christians.  While people my age can’t go backwards to fix the past, we can certain fix the future for the sake of our brothers and sisters who desperately need to know they are loved by God and others!

Things have been moving so quickly, I have hardly had time to stop and write about things that are happening.  But this week I will write a few posts to get caught up!

I resigned from my position at my old church a couple of weeks ago.  I actually gave notice til the end of the year but the senior pastor likes to get people out the door quickly.  So…he decided to pay me into January but get me out the door on November 30.  So Wednesday of this week is my last day.

It has been a whirlwind!  My resignation was announced to the congregation a week ago as I stood before 1000 people and told them that I was moving on.  And yesterday was my last Sunday in the church services.  I can’t believe it happened so quickly.  I had to say “goodbye” to people the past two Sundays and I know there are some people who haven’t been around those two weeks and have no idea I am gone.  Crazy!  I had a story down that I was telling everyone as to why I was leaving (all of which was true…it just wasn’t the whole truth).  There were tears shed by some people and I know there are others who are confused as to why I left.  A lot of people said really nice things to me and I was wished well.  I only wonder what those same people will say and think when the truth finally gets around!

There is so much change going on in my life right now that I don’t think I have really processed the emotions of leaving the church.  I love that church…and love many of the people.  My time there was really good.  I will miss seeing those people regularly!

 

 

I have to be honest with you…I have really been up and down lately.  My emotions are up one day and down the next.  I don’t know what to do with it all.  I guess it is to be expected.  I mean, really…I’m kinda going through a lot right now!  It feels like I am riding a seesaw of emotions!

You may have guessed from my “Niche” post that I was feeling pretty good earlier this week.  Sunday’s service with my new church was extremely fulfilling and I felt the blessing of God in a huge way.  I was feeling energized and exited about the future.  I felt freedom in being myself and connecting with the people of our church in a very authentic way.  It just felt so good!

But things came crashing down as I got into this week.  My evenings this week have been very discouraging at home.  It’s hard not feeling welcome in your own home!  There has been a deep silence between my wife and I and that just compounded the alienation I have already been feeling with my kids.  Yesterday was a particularly “down” day for me emotionally.  I can’t begin to communicate the despair I was feeling.  The hurt and rejection I feel from my family runs deeps.  I was starting to question whether there would ever be healing in my relationship with my kids.  I wondered why they feel so hurt so as to feel the need to completely distance themselves from me.  I was feeling discouraged about job opportunities.  And all this week I have been feeling like I can’t do this “double life” thing much longer.

I think that is what is really getting to me.  I have wonderful glimpses of my future life from time to time.  But then I get forced back into the closet…back into conservatism…back into hiding…back into dishonesty…back into having to fit into a mold of constantly proving my value at my old church…and all of that crushes me.  I am getting to the point that I just want to scream, “I’m done!  I can’t do this anymore!  The box you are all trying to fit me into is squeezing the life out of me!”

I know that all of this points to the fact that the end of this period in my life is quickly coming to an end.  I will have to take the next step soon, one way or another, or I will literally go mad.  I cannot keep my world together as it is much longer.  I will be forced out of the closet and into my new life because I will be unable to keep up the charade.

Up and down.

The pressure is building.

Relief MUST happen soon.

 

I have to tell you, I have really found my niche.  It feels really good and it is very energizing!  I am excited to see where this all leads.  For me, being a pastor of an evangelical church that is open and affirming is the niche I really believe I was created for!

Several years ago, I felt “called” to reach out to the gay community and to minister in the gay community.  But because of where my life was at that time, as well as my belief at that time that homosexuality was a sin, I never acted on that call.  I knew it was something God had put on my heart but I didn’t know how to step out and do it.  Now…I am doing it.

My new church is still small.  Because I have not officially come out yet, I can’t really do any advertising other than word of mouth.  But our church is growing, slowly but surely.  And it feels so right and so natural to be a pastor to the people God has brought.  I get to be my 100% authentic self and don’t have to hide or put on a mask.  I get to minister out of what God has done in my life and who He has created me to be.  I am finding that it is SO NATURAL to love the people God has brought to this church!  We have nothing to hide from each other so there is a freedom to be ourselves and to love each other just for who we are.  I appreciate them and they appreciate me.  We support each other.  We laugh and have fun.  And most importantly, we pursue God together.  No one is telling me how to do my job because I don’t get a paycheck (yet) from the church.  So I can just do my thing…honestly and authentically…out of the love that God has poured into my heart for these people.

Regardless of anything else going on in my life right now, I love my new church…and I love that I have found my niche!

Dammit…I need a breakthrough!  Like…now!  I need it ASAP.  I don’t know how much longer I can do this.  I feel like walls have been built up all around me, keeping me from being able to move in any direction.  But there has got to be a breakthrough soon!

It’s Friday night.  My wife and I just had a very difficult emotional talk.  She’s at the end of her rope.  I’m doing the best I can with mine.  My oldest son is done.  We have to have a change soon!

A commenter on my last post said that it’s probably time for me to move out.  Yeah…I know!  The problem is that moving out then brings my youngest son into the knowledge of what is going on (he doesn’t know yet) and I can’t trust him not to say anything at church.  WE ARE STUCK BECAUSE I AM A PASTOR AT A CHURCH WHERE I HAVE TO HAVE THE APPEARANCE OF A GOOD CHRISTIAN FAMILY IN ORDER TO KEEP MY JOB!!!!!  There is no room for any chink in my armor.  If I could move out now and help all of us to begin the process to heal, I would!  But I can’t.  Sure, it would be a difficult thing financially.  But imagine if I had NO INCOME.  That’s why this situation is so very difficult.

My wife said to me tonight, “I don’t think you know how difficult this is for me.”  She’s right…I probably don’t.  And at the same time, she has no clue how much pressure I am under.  I have to go to work everyday as a pastor and act like everything is fine in my life.  I have to deal with crap on the job and then come home and deal with all of the pressure here.  I have to deal with the fact that I currently have ZERO prospects for a new job.  I have to deal with the pressure of a wife who is reminding me that I gotta be gone and have a new job by the end of the year.  I have to deal with the fact that my oldest son hates me.  And I have to try to keep sane enough to live my life, start a new church, and begin new relationships that will be with me in the future.  And when she says, “You might want to invest in your other son a little more now so you don’t lose him like you did our oldest son,”  I want to scream!  Cuz guess what?  I’ve got NOTHING to give!  I’ve got more pressure on me right now than I’ve ever had in my life!

Oh…and did I mention how I feel like The Church has let me down?  And how I feel like God has let me down?  And how I feel like the only reason I’m in this place where I am right now is because I believed everything that well-intentioned Christians told me and I THOUGHT I was doing the right thing for God????  I drank the kool-aid!  Yeah, I feel a little disillusioned with God and Christianity right now.

But I’m trying really hard to redefine my faith through all of this.

So yeah…I need a breakthrough right now…really badly!

Sorry to vent.

 

A little over a week ago, I had a totally gay day.  Like…totally gay.  My whole day was gay.  It was my big fat gay day!

It was a Sunday and I had the day off from my church.  I decided that I would go and visit our local Metropolitan Community Church.  If you aren’t familiar with the MCC churches, they are a denomination whose main focus is reaching the gay community.  I was told that I should try go and visit there at least one time, so I decided that this would be the day.  Now this may seem funny, but I walked into that church and felt a bit out of place.  You see, I have never been around so many gay people in my life!  And that actually kinda freaked me out!  There was a 70ish lesbian couple that sat a few rows in front of me cuddling through the whole service.  There was a transgendered woman sitting across the aisle from me.  And there were lots of gay couples and single gay men greeting each other with a “holy kiss”.  There I was, the guy in the process of coming out of the closet, and I’m surrounded by a wide variety of gay people who are Christians, and I felt like a fish out of water.  But I kept my cool, tried to learn from the experience, and participated in the service.

Now the interesting thing was the range of thoughts running through my head the whole time.  I could write forever about the different observations and thoughts I had of the church but I won’t bore you with that.  But I will say that the most interesting thing going through my head was that I was checking out the other men at the church and comparing myself to them.  This is nothing new…I have compared myself to other men no matter where I go.  For my whole life, I have compared myself to other men and ultimately felt “less than” in most cases.  But I experienced something new that day.  I looked at the other men in that church and for the first time, I felt “more than”.  For the first time in my life, I felt more manly.  I felt like more of a man than the other men there.  And quite frankly, I didn’t know what to do with that.  More on that in a minute.

Later that day, I went to my new church plant.  We had some new people that day and both were lesbians.  Honestly, I never been around lesbians at all so this whole lesbian thing that day was very new to me.  Turns out, these gals are gospel singers!  So spur of the moment, we end up having them sing a gospel duet at our little gathering.  As they were singing, I sat there, again, with tons of thoughts going through my head.  The overwhelming thought I had was, “Oh my gosh…where the heck am I?  I’m sitting in a new church where I’m the pastor and two lesbians are singing country gospel.  How the heck did I get here?”

It was, quite simply, a day with overwhelming new experiences.  I am so new at all of this gay stuff!

So at the end of my big fat gay day, I had this feeling of uncertainty.  Maybe it’s because all of this is so new.  But I had this huge feeling that I just don’t know where I fit.  I don’t totally fit in the “straight world” but I really don’t feel like I fit yet in the “gay world”.  I feel in-between.  I know that feeling will change over time as I get more accustomed to being around the greater gay community in our area.  But for now, I just feel like I’m a wanderer.  I don’t know where home is.  I don’t want to feel “more than” or “less than”.  I want to feel at home…like I belong…like it’s all comfortable.

I hope I feel that way soon.