Today I am going to be presenting my friend Christian. I'm really bummed I don't have a good picture of us, but the one I have is of us eating my favorite pizza at Ambrose.
Christian and I became good friends because he answered the call of seeing me in pain and in need, and decided to be there for me. I met him at my house when my good friend Kolby threw a little party. Christian and I had a small chat and told him I wanted to be his friend.
We hung out a few times that semester but I think our friendship was sealed when he shared that he lost both his parents when he was 16. During that time I was going through a really bad emotional road trip, I was in a lot of pain and at times didn't want to live.
One day as we were hanging out, I asked him if he was staying with his parents for the break and he just replied, "No I am staying on campus. My parents passed away when I was 16 so I stay in the dorms during the breaks."
When I heard that, I felt extremely connected to him. Not because I can relate to his pain, I never lost both my parents months apart from each other like Christian had, but I knew this guy went through hell and made it out okay, and that gave me hope for my life.
Since then, we have been friends for about 3 or 4 years and I love Christian and look up to him. I asked him to write about the time when I first shared with him my attraction to the same sex. I want to add, I also think I trusted him because he studied psychology and I in my experience those who study that were a little more open to my life and my worldviews.
"When I was an undergraduate student studying psychology, a classmate invited myself and a bunch of my fellow students to his apartment for a night of food and games. It was here at this small party that I first met Richard. One of my earliest memories of Richard was playing a card game called Mafia, a game of elimination where each player must use only their wits and their ability to persuade to convince all the other players that you’re one of the “good guys” and that someone else in the game is the “bad guy”. Everyone gets a secret identity, and nobody knows who the “bad guys” are. All it takes to win is to convince everyone else that you’re one of the “good guys”. It’s a pure social party game, and before I even knew Richard’s name, I had the opportunity to see his competitive nature, quick mind, and verbal skills come together to provide one of the most entertaining and interesting games of Mafia I’ve ever experienced. This was my first impression of Richard, and it’s one that’s stuck the more I’ve gotten to know him. He is smart, quick witted, and unafraid to question and prod for the truth. Where others might be content with a familiar answer, Richard can often be found asking with an air of curiosity, “But why?”
It was later that I would learn a little more of Richard’s story. I learned about his struggle with being a homosexual man who believes that homosexual actions are against God’s will. I learned about many different people who had influenced Richard’s life in his journey to cope with this uncomfortable clash between feelings and beliefs. I got to learn about the many people that have been a part of Richard’s life. I learned that some of the people in Richard’s story became incredible sources of support and hope for him, whereas others, even if they were well meaning, had left Richard with more wounds and questions than healing. Through these conversations I began to understand more of what it means to be a homosexual man in the church, and I began to understand where many Christians’ good intentions might be doing more harm than good. More than anyone I know, Richard has taught me about the importance of speaking honestly and not shying away from ugly truths.
From the very beginning, Richard and I had made it clear that we wanted to be intentional about getting to know each other. Very early on, we literally had a conversation that went something like the two of us formally declaring to each other that we were going to be friends. Naturally we had many conversations about his thoughts and struggles towards being a homosexual Christian in the church. I remember long hours of talking with Richard, hearing about his struggles, and hearing about the pain that he often felt when his needs were not being met in the context of the church. Mostly I wanted to understand, but I also wanted to be available in the hope that just by listening and trying to understand, I might be able to ease at least some small portion of the suffering that Richard often has to endure on a day to day basis. To this day, we still often have these sorts of conversations. Richard has told me that he sometimes feels bad because some days our relationship is mostly just me listening while he relates his struggles. It’s never really been something that has bothered me, but I know that if I was in his shoes, it would bother me too. I think people usually see friendship as an equally giving relationship, but the reality is that sometimes and in certain seasons we have to ask more from our friends than we can give them. To me this is simply the nature of friendship." - Christian Stokes
Christian has been a big support in my life. As he mentioned, our friendship started off with him being there for me way more than I have been able to be there for him. That saddens me a little because I realize how needy I am, but it also makes me feel happy that I have Christian friends that are there for me. They are the Church. They are doing what Jesus wants us to do for each other. And it starts with just listening and learning. Christian has never tried to fix me, change me, and he hasn't pulled away from me. He listens. He gets frustrated with me. He plays board games with me. We have fun. We talk about the pain and loss in our lives. And we talk about our ideas about being a Christian and how much we should learn about ourselves in order to help others. We are friends.
For those of you who struggle with homosexuality, at times is seems like we are the only ones in agony because of our want for deep same sex intimacy. The church doesn't understand all the time what that means so that can make us feel alone in a dark room with pain in our hearts. But remember, others have gone through significant amounts of pain different then us. Until we share and be transparent with others, we will not learn from others and hear their stories. Whenever I feel pain I remember there are Christians that exist with deep pain too. It is different than mine, but they still trust God and his father skills to love us and take care of us.
Please Share with others your deep dark secrets and let them share with you theirs. Then we can walk together in pain and in hope for the future Kingdom of Christ.
Thank you Christian for being the CHURCH!