Today I saw a soccer game one of my friends was playing in. My friend is a leader on the team and many of the guys look up to him. He is a pretty cool and likable dude. But today after the game I saw something remind me there is hope for the Church to be the primary family for those belonging in Jesus' New Kingdom who are single, married, and attracted to the same sex. Specifically it reminded me that singles and those attracted to the same sex can be leaders in the church. Primary players in the Church.
I have gone to the last three games of the soccer season my friend is in. I stand in the crowd watch the game and the team's bench. I'm a pretty observant person, and including the fact I find men attractive makes me observe men more then the usual man.
As I'm watching the game, seeing who is starting and who is subbing, I see this one dude who hasn't played any of the games that I have attended passing out waters, encouraging his teammates, and being on alert to be called in. He has his jersey on, cleats on, he is yelling his cheers for his team, and he is getting whatever the teammates need to continue on with the game. When someones comes out of the game he is ready waiting to hand them a water bottle. He helps with their stretching, he is putting away the equipment, he is doing the dirty unnoticed work. I have seen him the last couple of games doing the same routine. But he still doesn't get playing time. Now others do the same to support the team, but they get playing time. But this guy doesn't. He is what you call "benched."
Now maybe this guy isn't good when it comes to his soccer skills. Maybe he has a bad attitude with the coach. There can be many reasons he isn't getting playing time. But he is still on the team. And the point of being on the team is to play soccer with the team. I applaud this guy for being there for his teammates. He is supporting them and loving them in very big unnoticed ways.
But today towards the end of the game, the coach told him to go in for someone. This guy took off his yellow jersey (which players on the bench need to wear) and ran on the field with his teammates, waited for the whistle, and started playing soccer. This dude played for about 3 minutes. The game ended. After the team huddled, stretched, and was packing to go home, this dude walked to my good friend, said a word or two, and starting crying in my friends arms. He was crying for about 2 minutes. He was in my friend's, sweaty, strong, affectionate, warm and loving arms and shoulders, for 2 minutes crying.
I was Jealous.
Now, why did he cry in my friends, sweaty, strong, warm and loving arms for a minute or 2? Because this dude got to play soccer with the team, for 3 minutes, and he was filled with joy and affirmation. And he got to feel more affirmation as he hugged and cried in my friends arms.
It was beautiful.
Don't we all want to be affirmed by the team we are on? And then celebrate our wins and losses with a hug that is filled with hard work and perseverance.
If you were to talk with the soccer team after the game, the guys wouldn't care they are all sweaty smelly hugging each other. When they hit the showers they don't care they are naked. They just fought a battle as a team and they will now recover and love each other as a team. They are vulnerable with each other. And care deeply for each other.
This guy experienced the fullness of playing soccer with the team for 3 minutes, and he cried in my friends arms because of it.
For those that are struggling with same sex attraction (or have a deep longing for same sex intimacy) or single, we want to play on the team of those that are married with families, maybe I should say we want to be apart of the CHURCH! Even if it is 3 minutes. We are on the benches, wanting to help, called to lead and be senior pastors (even though we are not married). We have gifts that we can offer the church. We have gifts that we can offer families. We have gifts that we can offer friends.
Please give us some playing time.
On top of the gifts we can offer the church, we are also in a big battle. We have a strong temptation to pursue a romantic relationship with the same sex, but we believe that goes against God's plan for sex. So we need to offer our affection in holy ways to those in the church. Please help us learn how to do that in godly ways and please give us the chance to have Christian intimacy with you. This battle is really heavy in our lives, sometimes it causes us to not want to live. So having this heaviness in our life and then always feeling like we are on the bench doesn't help the situation.
Where this analogy fails is the coach decided when this dude can play soccer with the team, but God has already decided all people are allowed to play on the CHURCH'S team and its mission. There are NO SUBS!
Please include us in your lives! Make us get groceries for you! Have us watch your kids, make us have dinner with you and your family, take us on dates with you and your spouse and have us third wheel it. Make us responsible to meet the daily needs in your lives. Look at us in our eyes and tell us that we are meaningful. Have face to face intimacy with us, we need it. That is called accountability. God has already called us to have playing time with you.
Please don't get overwhelmed when we want to cry in your arms because of the joy or pain of living life with you and playing on the same team.
Please don't think we are obsessed with your lives and are making idols of wanting to be included in your family.
We just want to cry in your arms because we are in pain and in joy. We want to cry in your arms because we are playing some soccer with you.
We want to cry in your sweaty, strong, loving and warm arms because we are on the same TEAM.
My friend affirmed this dude and created a safe place in his arms, chest, and shoulder to cry in, and feel the affirmation, love, strength, and brotherhood that this dude belongs too. He was rejoicing. My friend was meeting a need. A very beautiful need.
How awesome is it that we can meet each others needs like this!
That is called a blessing.