Posts Tagged ‘marital damage’

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!

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  Unfortunately, the result is that I ended up depressed, withdrawn, and acting out in unhealthy ways because I was trying to be something that I was not…straight!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

Last week, I finally told my youngest son what is going on.  I have to say that it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.  I will never forget the look on his face when I said, “Mommy and Daddy have decided not to stay married to each other.”  His head bowed…he looked down…a frown came on his face…and tears began to well up in his eyes.

And then I told him why…I’m gay.  How do you explain that to a 9 year old?  And how do you help him to understand that even though the family is going to change, that we will always be family.  And how do you help him to understand that none of it his fault?  And how do you help to heal the pain that he is feeling when he hears news that hurts so deeply?

I cried.  It hurt me to see him hurt.  I hugged him and told him that I love him and that I will always be his dad no matter what.

And it killed me.

It was seriously one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

 

Sometimes all you can do is tread water and try to keep your head up.  That’s what my life has been like lately.

I’ve had a number of people say to me in the last week, “You haven’t written anything on your blog.  What’s going on???”  Well, all that has been going on is that I have been treading water.  Nothing of significance has changed.  If anything, it is getting harder and harder to keep my head above water.  Here’s some of the reasons why:

1)  My wife gave me a deadline at the beginning of the year to have my future worked out by the end of this year.  In case you haven’t noticed, that’s 2 1/2 months away!  I still have been unable to secure a new job and that has kept us living in limbo for way too long.

2)  The distance continues to grow between me and my family.  My two oldest kids continue not to speak to me.  And just this morning, I realized that my daughter “unfriended” me on Facebook.  It hurts that they resent me so much.  I am trusting the counseling process, though, that my son is in and I pray my daughter will be willing to see a counselor at some point.  As of now, she refuses to go.  My wife has days that I can tell are “bad days” for her.  I think her patience with this process is waning.  Still, she wants everything to go well financially, so she has no choice but to wait this out.  It’s just hard on all of us.

3)  I am growing more and more discontent at the church where I am employed.  I am struggling with the narcissism exemplified constantly by my senior pastor and it is getting very difficult for me personally to work with him.  I have “recovered” significantly through counseling from the narcissism that I grew up with in my dad…so working for a narcissist is painful and frustrating.  In addition, I have grown to be so much less conservative in the application and practice of my faith…so I really struggle with the conservatism our church stands for.

But there are a few good things happening.  First, I have an interview this week for a part-time position with the Postal Service.  Also, I am hoping to meet with a guy who I hear may be hiring for the funeral home that he manages.  Please pray for these opportunities!

I have a couple more things I want to share but I will put them in more posts later this week.

 

The past few weeks have been really rough.  About two weeks ago today, my wife took a stab at me publicly and that really hurt.  The same day, I found out that my daughter is now pissed at me and doesn’t want me to speak with her (just like my oldest son).  Honestly, I blew a cork.  I was so hurt and so angry.  After all, I have been bending over backwards, trying very hard to do right by my family in this situation.  And now, it feels like I just keep getting “punished” for everything that is going on.  I decided that I am done being hurt by my family.  I told my wife that I was done and that I will be taking drastic steps to move on as soon as possible.

Things have cooled down since then but the hurt kept me in a lot of emotional darkness for a good week.  But needless to say, life at my house isn’t very friendly right now.

But this weekend, I had a revelation.  I think I have finally come to a place where I am able to let go.

I think it has taken all of the pain, especially the pain of the past couple of weeks, to bring me to a place where I am able to let go and move on.  I have a feeling that God has been trying to pry my clenched fists open!  I have been trying so hard to have some sort of normalcy at home…to still be a family…to hold tightly to all that I know…and holding that tightly had to come to an end.  I can’t move on with my life is I’m holding tightly to my old life.  I think God used the hurt I’ve now experienced with my family to help me to let go so that I can move on.

Now don’t get me wrong…I still love my family.  My kids will always be my kids and I look forward to a better relationship with them in the future.  But I think I needed to let go now so that it would make it easier for me to take the steps forward that I have needed to take.

Plus, the last couple of weeks have been very difficult at my church.  There is a lot of pettiness and legalism going on.  That, too, has brought me to a place where I know I need to let go there as well.  I need to move on.  I need to be in a different type of ministry setting.  I can let go and move on.

So I am letting go.  I am ready to take the big steps of faith I need to take to move on into the future.  I wish it didn’t take so much hurt to cause me to let go.  But I guess God will use whatever He needs to in order to get my attention and help me to move.

So thanks, God!

 

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.

 

Some days are just sad
Those are the days I feel alone in my own home
It’s those days that I feel a giant wedge between me and my wife
I know she is thinking
I know she is worrying
She is hurt…
…and feeling trapped
For her everything has changed
and yet nothing has changed
She is pushing me away…
…far
…far
…away
she doesn’t know what else to do
when things are this painful
I’m not the man she thought she had married
I’m not even the man I thought I was
I’m different
strange
queer
and there’s nothing I can do about that
coexist
that’s all we can do
until God provides the way
until the dollars sprout in new fields
And until then
things are
just…
sad…