“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.
Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.” - Henry Nouwen
The 4TS and the Church are something I have been writing, talking about, and sharing with others in order for them to help anyone that will come into their life that struggles with homosexuality. Often times I write because I am inspired by events that are literally taking place in my life at that time.
And this summer has been a summer of sorrow and sadness.
Last year two of my closest guy friends got married and I was able to experience so much fun, love, and acceptance through their weddings and marriages.
I actually wrote a blog about it.
Throughout this past year, I have become closer to another friend and his family. He has an amazing sharing and caring wife and 3 fun kids!
Three couples have been giving me hope marriage can bless others and include others.
They have given me hope Christians can actually open up their home, their lives, their dinner times, their family time, their family vacations and extend these moments to those outside their immediate family so that others can be known.
Jeremy and Lindsey offered me a chance to move in with them their first year of marriage, which most responses I heard from other Christians were, “I would never do that.”
Kolby and Bethany have continuously reached out to me, called me, let me visit them over and over, let me take them to my favorite place in the world, Zion! They have heard me vent and get mad at whatever I get mad at.
And Matthew and Sheela have allowed me to visit their house about 3 times a week, eat dinner with them, hang out with them, talk to them late at night, I can go on.
When it comes to these 3 men, Jeremy, Kolby, and Matthew, I have been extremely blessed by their friendship.
Jeremy was there when my life became shit for a couple of years. Jeremy literally became friends with one of the neediest, emotionally unstable, angry, bitter person that was attracted to him. For a good two years, I was a mess and Jeremy stood beside me and helped me up. He would let me come over super late at night crying in pain. At times he would hold my hand when I just needed a hand to hold. He would give me lots of hugs and affectionate touch. He would make me dinner (because he knows I eat out a lot) and drink some wine with me (but he would make fun of me if I put ice cubes in my wine glass). He introduced me to soccer which has been such a fun sport to play. He has lived life with me. We had some ups and downs in our friendship, but most of the time they were ups filled with laughter. I can honestly write a lot about all the great things Jeremy has done in my life, especially when it came to the 4TS. Jeremy walked alongside me as we both navigated what it meant that I was attracted to him. That attraction has turned into a great friendship. One of my closest friends in my life.
Kolby has been a friend of mine for years. He was there when life got super heavy. He was put in the middle of a very complex situation in my life and throughout this time he has shown me love, care, and dignity. He listens to me, debates me, we can get mad at each other. I learn from him concerning theology and philosophy, but I also know I get to push against his fun conservative views a little. I have been blessed to have a friend who really wants me to be a Christian that is following Christ with all my heart. We both care for the Kingdom of Jesus and we have lots of talks about that. Our friendship has been difficult at times because we were both learning what it meant for Christians to struggle with homosexuality, specifically me, at the same time navigating college break ups, friendship break ups, and our passionate beliefs. Kolby has given me his full attention when it comes to understanding what it means to struggle with homosexuality and hearing my views on how great friendship is. Kolby is also another friend I am excited to have for life!
Matthew Hooper was a surprise in my life. We met because I wanted to hear the pain him and his family went through as their church split up over the topics of homosexuality. We met up every couple of months the first year I met him, which has now turned into a phone call every other day and a visit to his house 3 times a week. He and his wife gave me an open door policy to their home. One I wish I actually took more advantage of.
These 3 men and their wives have impacted me in big ways.
They have each given me the 4TS.
They have given me TOUCH(long hugs, even when I pull away).
They have given me TIME (Probably the most important of the 4TS in my life right now).
They have given me TRANSPARENCY.
They have given me TEAMWORK, belonging, a home.
But this summer I have been experiencing some pain over these friendships.
I got to hang out with Kolby and Bethany for about 2 weeks and we had a great time, but when they left back for Chicago, my heart was reminded we don’t live by each other. I can’t grab a coffee, beer, or dinner with Kolby and Bethany whenever we feel like it. I can’t play spades with them on a weekly or monthly basis. I can’t live in community with them.
And this past month I had to deal with Matthew and his family moving up to Nor Cal,
and I also had to deal with Jeremy and Linsey moving to Oregon.
I am experiencing loss, pain, sadness, and what Henry Nowen calls, love.
My heart starting hurting today.
I realized I have lost 3 families today that have loved me well.
3 families that have known me well and let me know them.
I get to see them still. I will get to visit them and get to see another part of this country and have fun doing that, but it doesn’t take away the fact that I can’t go over their house anymore and watch a movie.
I can’t go to their house anymore and cry about my pain in my life.
I can’t go to their house anymore and eat dinner with them.
I can’t go to their house anymore and get a hug from them.
I can't prank Jeremy.
I won’t get to live around them as they have kids and experience that new journey.
I won't get to know them as much and they won't get to know me.
I will be missing out on a lot.
Struggling with homosexuality sucks, especially when the church still doesn’t know how to love, care, know, and include us in their life.
But losing the families that know how to love, care, know, and include you is just as painful as struggling with homosexuality.
There exist an emptiness in my heart right now.
Not a dark emptiness, but more of a house you call home and one day you come home and all your furniture is gone.
I think C.S Lewis says it well when it comes to grief in one’s life, ““And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn't seem worth starting anything. I can't settle down. I yawn, fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
It is still your home, but your furniture is gone and so you need to get some new furniture.
I still have friends around me that know me and will let me know them.
Some friends still have a hard time caring for me because they are not willing or haven’t learned how to open their heart to allow someone like me to be accepted fully in their lives.
and that is okay.
I pray God helps them and shows them I can love and know them and be a part of their family the way my 3 dudes and their families have allowed me to be.
But at the end of the day, I am in a season of hurting as my friends move away.
I have been trying to embrace this pain. This pain that demonstrates the love I am experiencing. The love I have been blessed with.
I love my friends and making that choice to love them means embracing the pain that comes along with that.
I have friends today that cause me pain, yet their love barely touches the love these couples have shown me.
This shows God has given me new friends to experience love and pain as my old friends move away.
Part of the 4TS is teamwork. Teams change every once in awhile.
We need to adapt, trust the management.
Trust that God meets the needs we have through the Church just like he is meeting the needs of Christians all throughout the world that are being killed for the love they have towards God.
I love my friends. I know I will get to see them throughout my life.
I hope Christians that struggle with homosexuality get to experience friendships like I have. I hope they get to experience the 4TS by married folks.
I hope married Christians remember their marriage isn't about them and they can love and give others the chance of being known just like God gave humans the chance to be known.
But when you lose the people in your life that don’t just love you, but know you and want to keep on knowing you, life can get scary. I have friends that seem like they don’t want to know me.
Tim Keller says, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
To some extent, I am losing that now.
I don't feel as known by people right now.
but I have to trust if God is real and loves me, cares for me, he is going to meet the deep needs in my life,
so what do I do now?
Well, as C.S. Lewis wrote during the time he was mourning the loss of his wife and was processing his grief....
“I know the two great commandments, and I'd better get on with them.” - C.S. Lewis