It has been one year since I was forced out of full time ministry because of my own sin and because people found out I was gay (note that is two different issues).
I am going to post some reflections and “lessons learned” over the next few days, as I reflect back on the year. This morning I was praying during my morning time with God that this coming year would be a “new year”. In Judaism, you are commanded to mourn for one year… and then you must move on. Much of what I have gone through is a mourning process over loss — loss of friends, community, church, mission, purpose, etc. I am hoping God will give me new friends, new community, new church, new mission and new purpose this coming year.
I still pray for reconciliation with my previous church and with individuals there. But after a full year, with very little progress, I hold little hope… but I keep praying, trusting God to change hearts.
There is a lot to reflect upon from the past year. First, the biggest obvious change in my life… I am now living as an openly gay follower of Jesus Christ.
The change here is that for 17 years I was living as a non-open gay follower of Jesus Christ.
The change is not in my identity or who I am or who I love… but that other people now know and can decide to love me anyway, or reject me.
I have never hidden the fact that I am gay from Jesus. (lol — try hiding anything from him!) I have never felt shame or guilt for being gay before Jesus. He has always known (probably before I did) and called me to himself anyway… and then he gifted me and equipped me and called me into various ministries… always fully knowing. There were never — and are never — any secrets with Jesus.
Over the years I have struggled with how to live faithfully given my situation. Often times I struggled with the notion that I didn’t want to be gay, hoping that Jesus might change me. But the answer I always got was that “I love you as you are… and my grace is sufficient”.
But being open about it to others is a change.
It some ways a very hard one. It opens you up to attacks, ridicule and rejection. I have experienced all of that this past year. It also makes some people just feel awkward around you. I have experienced that too. Some have said I am going to hell because of it or have lost my salvation. Others have implied I must be under the influence of demons. I have heard some crazy stuff this past year.
But in many ways it has been a good thing to be open.
In the midst of rejection by so many, I have experienced the beauty of unconditional acceptance by so many others.
In the midst of being shown no grace by so many, I have received unbelievable grace from so many others.
And even more significantly, living without secrets and hiding has given me a self-confidence and self-love that I have not had before… and it has helped me overcome a longterm social insecurity that often came across as introversion but was really a deep-seeded insecurity.
I am not one to pretend something is good when it is not. Nor am I someone to pretend that all things that are must be good and God’s plan. If I could undo the past year (and the events that led to it) I would do so without a hesitation or doubt.
That said, living as an open and honest gay follower of Jesus Christ is a far better way to live — and I believe more honoring to Jesus — than living as a hidden gay follower of Jesus Christ.
More reflections tomorrow…