Posts Tagged ‘counseling’

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  Unfortunately, the result is that I ended up depressed, withdrawn, and acting out in unhealthy ways because I was trying to be something that I was not…straight!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!

In the past few months, I have become acquainted with Michael Bussee and have talked to him on the phone a few times.  He is one of the original founders of Exodus International but left the ministry early on and came out as a gay man.  There are a series of videos that were made last Spring of him answering questions about ex-gay ministry.  I wanted to share some of them with all of you.  The one’s below I’m simply posting without any comment.  My next post will be a single video and my thoughts on that video.  So here are a few for you to watch…they are each very short.  But they provide Michael’s thoughts on ex-gay ministry.

INITIAL EXCITEMENT OF BEING IN EX-GAY PROGRAM

REGRET TEACHING THAT BEING GAY IS DUE TO BAD PARENTING

WE WERE ALL STRUGGLING SILENTLY WHILE PREACHING CHANGE

I NEVER SAW ONE PERSON BECOME HETEROSEXUAL

THE INHERENT HARM OF EX-GAY MINISTRIES

Leakage

Posted: December 31, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

As I have been processing the experiences of my life, I have come to the realization that I have been experiencing “leakage” in various ways for many years.  You may ask what I mean by “leakage”.  Well, I’m realizing that for my whole life, I have been trying to suppress my sexuality.  It is almost like I have been trying to push something down into a box and then I have tried to put a lid on that box.  But in pushing it down year after year, I have been expending a lot of energy trying to deny something that won’t die because it is a very real thing.  So in pushing it down, all I’ve really done is added pressure to a very real part of me.  The result is that the pressure has built up over time and my sexuality has “leaked” out in various ways over the years.  The problem with leaks is that they don’t come at opportune times and they usually bust out in ways that you don’t want them to.

Let me tell you, that picture above really represents my life.  I have been tried to be a good pastor, a good father, a good husband, etc.  And I have felt that to be all of those things, I had to deny my sexuality.  I viewed my sexuality as a defect…something that was caused by traumas in my early life.  So as time went on and I continued to deny the truth of my sexuality, I sprung leaks.  Internet pornography.  Cruising.  Online chatting.  Sexualized friendships.  Fantasy.  I have been an utter failure at suppressing this part of me.

Here’s the crazy thing.  Since getting into counseling and beginning to accept the reality of my sexuality, the leaks have stopped!  The pressure has been released because I have been dealing with my sexuality in honest, open ways.  I have found encouragement and support in relationships that I have opened up to.  I’m not denying it anymore.  In a sense, I have taken the lid off the box, releasing the pressure, and the leaks have stopped.  In embracing the truth of who I am, I am no longer “leaking out” in unhealthy or inappropriate ways.  Truth is setting me free!

My ultimate goal in beginning this journey was to find emotional health.  It’s amazing how that health is happening now that I am coming to terms with who I am and not trying to live in denial.

No more leakage for me.  Health and wholeness is what I am holding onto!

 

I had a big realization in my counseling appointment this week.

One of the things that I have been working on with my counselor (besides my sexuality) is the fact that I was raised in a narcissistic home.  My dad is a narcissist and that affected a lot of things in my home life.  One of the things that I have learned in counseling is that narcissists “groom” the people around them to believe that they don’t matter…only the desires of the narcissist matter.  So as I grew up, everything in our home revolved around my dad…his thoughts…his likes/dislikes…what he approved of and disapproved of.  And I had a very hard time getting to the place in my life where I could stand up for myself and what mattered to me.

Ultimately, that continued on throughout my life.  I have always had a hard time making myself a priority.  I always take care of everyone else but don’t do a very good job taking care of myself.  And that played out well in ministry!  I mean, come on, aren’t pastors supposed to care for everyone else?  That thinking played well with my whole concept of Christianity.  After all, I read in the Bible that we are supposed to think of others as more important than ourselves!  For many years now, I have never made anything “about me”.  It’s always about others.  I don’t even know how to focus on myself and to make things about me.

And that led to an “a-ha” moment in counseling this week.  I am feeling guilty right now with putting so much focus on my journey and what is going on in my life.  I am bending over backwards to make sure that I don’t do anything to hurt my family.  I am feeling very hesitant to take any more steps forward in the journey of my sexuality because I know I will hurt people and I would rather subvert my desires (hence the past 18 years of marriage) than to hurt my family.  I feel guilty because it feels like I would be making decisions that are “all about me”.  But as I was reminded by my counselor, I can actually do more damage to others by not being authentically me than if I choose to make some things about me right now.

Dammit…I want it to be about ME for once!

So I am going to learn to care for myself and to take a stand for the authentic “me”.  And in the midst of that, I am going to trust God for the best for everyone involved…including me!