"I never thought that one day I would ask my best friend to hold a urinal steady so I could pee, or wipe my backside because I could no longer hold toilet paper or reach. But this is now my reality. The first time I asked Patrick to help me use the bathroom, I hated it. I felt like I was a burden. Part of me was back on my front porch, wresting God. But Patrick, just like Kristin, has never thought twice. He has always been happy to do whatever needs to be done. Just knowing that he can make my life a little easier brings him joy-the same joy I see on the faces of these people who are now carrying me up this incredibly steep mountain trial…..”When you deny someone the opportunity to help you, you deny them joy in life.” I've had to embrace a lot of help over the past several years, and I have seen this truth play out in the lives of others time and time again. There is so much joy in giving, in helping others. A joy God intended for all of us to experience." - Justin
The 4TS and the Church are about meeting the needs of those struggling with homosexuality within the Church so they can live the New Kingdom lives full of love, care, and trials Jesus foretold. What better way to experience the 4TS than in friendship.
Three months ago I was doing my weekly routine of researching about male friendships, specifically, male best friendships. I stumbled across these two best friends. Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck.
These two best friends have known each other for their entire lives. They were born two days apart from each other. Grew up in a small town and were able to experience childhood friendship and keep that friendship alive and well. They have many funny, and heartwarming stories of how great their friendship is.
And what I think is most cool about their friendship is they simply love each other, care for each other, pursue each other.
They are Best Friends.
They recently wrote a book about their 500-mile pilgrimage in the Camino De Santiago (which I plan on doing next spring now).
The Book is called, “I'll push you.
But there was a unique pilgrimage about these two, one is disabled and lives in a wheelchair and has no muscle movement, that is Justin.
Justin’s portion in the book talks about his experience losing his muscle movement that will eventually take his life according to his doctors.
As I read his experiences, I couldn’t help but parallel his life with those that struggle with homosexuality.
Justin is totally dependent on the people around him to care for him and meet his minute by minute needs. He had to learn how to depend on his community, his wife, children, best friend, church, and many others.
That is the same thing that men and women who struggle with homosexuality have to deal with. They have to trust their brothers and sisters in the Church will care for them. Give them touch, give them time, give them transparency, and give them teamwork, in this case, really deep lifelong friendship.
Patrick, on the other hand, had a harder time dealing with his best friend’s life situation. Patrick experienced times of anger towards God concerning Justin. He had a longer pilgrimage to understand what it means to let go of the things you can’t control in life. God definitely heard a mouthful of bitter anger words from Patrick concerning his best friends lack of ability to love on his wife, children, and other life’s many blessings that require muscle movement.
As I was reading this book I started to mourn the falling out I had with of my best friend. I started thinking about all the Christians that struggle with homosexuality that live in the darkness that don’t have friendships like Justing and Patrick.
I started to ask God questions like Patrick was sort of asking, "Why these men and women?" "Why do they have to struggle with homosexuality?" "Why can’t men and women be in same-sex relationships and have a spouse, children, etc." "Why can’t they experience the many blessings of eros love?"
Even though I believe that same-sex romantic relationships are sinful, I still desire to have one. I get jealous seeing other men who are gay enjoying their marriage. Kissing, laying down together, experiencing a very caring loving relationship.
On the other hand, because of the complexity of this topic, I see something that Justin talked about and that Patrick overheard.
Justin was asked, “If you could receive physical healing right now, would you choose it?”
Think about that question for a second. If he were to receive healing, he could play with his children, hug his wife, play the sports he loved playing. He would be able to do a lot more than he could now.
I wonder how many of us ask those questions in our lives? “God, if you could just heal me in this area of my life I will be good. “
“Can you just take away this attraction towards men?”
But Patrick was shocked to hear Justin’s response to the question.
Justin responded with a, “no”.
And this is where Teamwork comes in.
As Justin realized his life wasn’t going to change, he was able to understand the joy, blessing, and responsibility of needing the help of others.
And Patrick learned that he was so focused on praying and asking God for a miracle, that he was missing Justin’s real needs, someone to step in for him and fight the real battle. Justin needed Patrick's hands. He needed Patrick's feet.
He needed someone to shower him on this pilgrimage, change him, hold a urinal, carry him.
“The miracle had already happened,” according to Patrick.
“That's when I realized that, more often than not, the miracle isn’t the absence of struggle, disease, or pain; it is the presence of grace and certainty, the ability to face strife, the unknown, or a slow death, without fear. My obsession with divine intervention had distracted me from the truth that God had already intervened.
We desperately want provision to make sense on our terms-…..but simply waiting on God and being angry when he doesn’t show up the way want him to is a perverted sense of provision….”
For those of us who struggle with homosexuality, I hope you can see Justin and Patrick as an example of how we can handle pain.
As Justin learned, this was his life.
How can we make the best of it and love God and other’s along the way and be okay with being a needy person attracted to the same sex? I know for those of us that struggle with homosexuality we are needy. We need touch from the Church, We need Time with our brothers and sisters in the Church, We need to experience very deep moments of transparency, and we need the Church.
We should stop asking God to take away our same-sex attractions and let others love us in the unique way we need to be loved. Let’s accept our neediness because it will bless the Church with Joy!
As Patrick learned, this was life. He needed to stop praying for a miracle and experience the miracle that God had already done using him.
If you are a Christian that knows of a Christian brother or sister who struggles with homosexuality, don't pass them by. You are missing out on being the miracle that God wants to accomplish. But this will be a sacrifice for you. It won't be easy. It will interrupt your life, your dreams, your goals, your family.
I know for those of us that struggle with homosexuality we want a miracle. But we miss the point of being in the Church.
Let others join our battle. Let’s join the battles that others are facing. Let’s sacrifice and go against the life society says we are to live. Society says we are allowed to be in romantic relationships. That God approves of it and blesses it. But we know that isn’t true. We know friendship and other relationships are ways we can have our very deep needs met. Let's trust the miracle of the Church is the way God is moving in our lives.
And most importantly, let's make friendships a thing in the Church!
Let's pursue each other in very deep ways!
May we get to know each other in ways that make us feel vulnerable and dependent on each other.
May we establish Best Friendships! and I am not talking about Marriage.
One thing I love about this specific best friendship was they reserved that term for each other, not their wives.
Friendship needs it’s place in church now.
May we let the Holy Spirit grow those relationships that have traditionally been valuable in the Church at one time in its history.
“If I’m going to embrace a life of faith, I must embrace the gifts of provision that God gives to me. I must embrace the help of my wife, my neighbors, my friends-and even complete strangers. I must welcome the helping hands of people I’ve only just met,…., the crew of pilgrims who hauled us up the mountain today,….To live a life of faith, I must no longer trust solely in my own strength; I must let go of safety and learn to trust the strength of the people God surrounds me with.
I walk up to Justin as he continues to look out from atop this beautiful mountain landscape. Hearing my approach, he looks up at me, and a smile spreads across his face.
“Can you believe we made it?” He asks.
“Yea, I can.” - Justin