“Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” – Walter Anderson
I was having a casual conversation with an acquaintance last weekend when he mentioned (seemingly out of the blue) that he had read a post on this blog (“Why Didn’t These Feelings and Desires Go Away When I Became A Christian?”).
He began to explain how he had been grappling with how the messages of this particular post applied to him. The change in topic caught me off guard because the occasion of our meeting wasn’t to discuss sexuality. But I try to be open and available to others regardless of the situation. So we found a more private setting to talk.
“Then the other day at a ball game”, he continued, “I felt threatened by a comment a guy made to me. He’s a nice guy and what he said was perfectly innocent. Looking back now – it wasn’t important, just small talk. But I was getting upset. I didn’t let on to how I was reacting on the inside but I was becoming nervous and even a little angry. Then it hit me.”
“What happened?” I asked. What he said next was revealing.
“I was getting in God’s way and I couldn’t get out of my own way.”
“What do you mean?” I leaned in and invited him to tell me more.
“I sabotaged the interaction, the conversation in my mind. Like turning on a switch, I felt less than him and I got defensive.” His eyes grew large for a second and then a hint of confusion came upon his face. As he started speaking again, he increasingly became more relaxed and contemplative. As if he was understanding and agreeing with his words as they came out of his mouth.
“I realized that I often jumped to conclusions and explanations – not based on facts but on a self-centered need to expect or see the negative. I constantly feel slighted and offended. I’m always complaining. I’m always the victim. When I protect myself and feel sorry for myself, I feel more left out. Does that make sense?”
I nodded in agreement. “I still react that way sometimes. Did you suspect he was trying to provoke or embarrass you?”
“I did”, he replied with a faint smile. “That’s exactly what I was feeling. But of course, he wasn’t.”
And then after a short pause.
“Why is my thinking so screwed up? Why do I use self-pity to deal with everyday life?”
I got an inkling he was asking a rhetorical question. But from his non-verbal cues, I got a much stronger sense that he wanted me to respond and engage his questions.
Acknowledging my hesitation, he reassured me that he didn’t expect and knew I did not want to analyze or lecture him. Remembering my own doubts and questions, I gently linked my gaze with his and chose my tone and words carefully.
I responded (in part) with a few observations (including the following).
- “I don’t know or understand all this myself . . .”
- “Communication with others can be a big issue for guys with SSA . . .”
- “We can habitually undermine and underestimate our ability to cope and relate to others . . .”
- “At times we are selfish and too self-oriented – even irrational to some extent . . .”
- “It’s common for us to have a tendency to overvalue or undervalue other men . . .”
- “If we get too sensitive, we expect the other person to change. We need to challenge and change our perception . . .”
- “I have often felt like I have never been taken seriously when relating to people. Have you ever felt the same? Like you’re not being heard or understood . . .?”
- “We tend to be passive, non-assertive and unable to feel or express our feelings. As if our lives are out of control and we are powerless . . .”
Not wanting to speak above the level of my knowledge, I interspersed my short comments throughout the natural back and forth of our conversation. I was determined to keep my remarks gracious and tactful while allowing him the space to express himself and to come to his own conclusions.
Surprisingly, we continued talking for over two hours. Serious at times, lighthearted at others. Mutual listening, sharing, and prayer. I believe our authentic connectedness and relating was empowering for us both. Before we said our goodbyes, he asked if I could use a small part of our conversation in a future blog post.
“Today I wanted to be able to talk out loud and toss around my thoughts with someone who would understand where I was coming from.”
Before I could answer, he added, “And I think we are obligated to share our insights and experiences with others when appropriate and when they can encourage others.”
Consider it done, my friend.
And thank you.
A couple of days ago, I forwarded the 10-minute segment you just read to him for his review. Because he is a fellow Christian, I also sent him an article entitled “Why Me?”. It was a gesture of my heartfelt affirmation of him and my appreciation of the time we spent together. The devotional is from “Buggin’ Out!”, one of my favorite same-sex ministry resources.
For those who wish to check out the Christian perspective and encouragement of the meditation, here’s the link: “Why Me?” (PDF file)
Note: Some may consider “Why Me?” a over spiritualization of the topic because of the presumptive and ambiguous meaning of “coming out of homosexuality”. However, I do believe the overall sentiment is applicable to a Christian’s walk. We need to seek our core identity in Christ, not our sexuality. And God’s care and love for us is greater than our sexuality. I discuss my reasoning briefly in the following posts:
The next time you start to have a pity party, what can you do instead (something practical and beneficial)?
What are your antidotes to the negative thinking patterns that are holding you back?
Your comments are welcomed below.
© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2012.
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