Most days I need to hear that there is, in fact, a point to my struggles with sexuality and emotion.
Most days it feels like there isn’t.
Here’s something that will shock my friends: I’m an emotional guy. I’ve always known this, but for a long time I didn’t understand what was happening when emotions would show up, unannounced and often unwelcomed, on my doorstep. I felt them as they assaulted me (or so it sometimes seems), but I wasn’t always sure from whence they came and whither they were going.
Lately, I’ve been much more able to allow myself to think through and allow myself to experience the pain of emotion. My counselor assures me that my ability to feel is a wonderful gift. Most days, however, I’d rather grab this gift and drop it off somewhere, like the white elephant gift I got at a Christmas party that I didn’t really want. Emotion on many days just seems like pain–who wants that sort of life?
And yet, here sits this gift. The more I’ve used the gift, the more able I am to empathize with people as they talk. I’m more able to listen, ask questions, and be fully present (undistracted, “all-there”) with people. It’s good to be able to do that as a (future) pastor, right? I’ve even had more than one person point that out to me lately, for which I’m grateful since I don’t always see my own progress in life (holiness or sanctification, even) very well.
Emotions only seem to get me so far; they are immensely helpful in helping others and in gauging my own well-being, but they are unhelpful in seeing myself in the correct light–namely, the light by which the Father sees me in Christ. There is often disconnection between my internal sense of worth and the worth I have according to God and other with whom I interact. I’m not sure I even really understand how much I’m worth to God or others. Can I fully understand? Can I better understand? Short answers: no and yes.
But, how to begin? I suppose I’ve already begun. But most days it doesn’t feel like it.
Don Hartness said:
Amen brother, including your sentiment about that meme!
It continues to amaze me how my path seems to run in parallel with yours on a number of issues. I continue to go through the purging of past memories and hurts, all while continuing to sort the Lord’s will for my life in the here and now. It’s a confusing topic, obscured even more through the lens of emotional pain.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the level of emotional pain seems to coincide with the time of day (afternoon is worst) and the job I have (which leaves me feeling exhausted by afternoon). You’ve mentioned the duress you’ve been under with the degree program recently. Maybe recognizing the stressors can help?
Yeah…and I recognize some of them–like putting things off. But sometimes it seems as if I can’t help it because of the accompanying feelings of depression. Sometimes all I *can* do is sit and do nothing important in the afternoon.
Don Hartness said:
A-YEP (with extra emphasis on the “P” at the end), hearing you loud and clear on that one. For me, it’s a 2 hour drive back to home base, without even the radio to help me (living in WY sometimes really sucks). On some of those drives, depression is like an artillery barrage (and that reminds me to work on looking for a new job today!).
On those days, I know the answer is to just be around someone, or do something else, or distract myself in some way. Introspective quiet time is important, but TOO MUCH quiet time focuses you on “you” (and you lose sight of Christ). I can’t fix the situation on those afternoons (not even in cell range to call someone!), but maybe that’s the answer for you when you find yourself there: change the environment?
I know you know these things, but reminders are sometimes helpful. 🙂
First comment I would like to add: We are ALL emotional beings. Some men may be better at masking their emotions, but it usually pays a price to their emotional health and their relationships.
In regards to your depression, you have to know that this is coming directly from your inability to accept yourself (exactly as you are) and you inability to reconcile your sexuality, need for love and companionship and the bible. I highly recommend you read John Shore.
“Even a sin as heinous as murder we do not judge without first taking into account the context in which it occurred. Self-defense, protection of the innocent, during a war—we recognize that there are times when taking the life of another is not only not a sin, but a morally justified and even heroic act.
Christians evaluate the degree of sin, or even whether or not a real sin has occurred, by looking at both the harm caused by the sin, and the intent of the sin’s perpetrator.
They do, that is, for all sins except homosexuality.
Virtually any degree of homosexual “transgression” gets treated by some Christians as an absolute sin deserving absolute punishment. Such Christians draw no moral distinction between the homosexual gang rape in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the orgies to which Paul refers in his letter to the Romans, the wild sexual abandon Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and consensual homosexual sex between loving and committed homosexual partners.”
No, actually I don’t know that, James…and I find it rather off-putting that you would presume on the reason for my depression and never once ask me. You judge me in the precise way that you resent the church for judging you. Ironic, no?
There’s actually a great deal of other things going on in my life right now. My grandma is very sick with cancer and I’m worrying about my grandpa. He’s 80 and likely won’t handle her death very well. They’ve been married for nearly 50 years now.
My post, interestingly enough, had very little to do with being gay. The first sentence was more to tie the post in with the title of blog site as a whole rather than be the main idea…and I don’t feel like you read (or at least interacted) with much else of what I’ve said. I appreciate voices that don’t agree with me on the condition that they have actually tried to understand me. I don’t get the sense that you have understood me at all.
I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother. I certainly hope that she recovers. I’ve lost all my grandparents. I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s last year. One of the biggest negatives of “growing up” is dealing with the mortality of our loved ones and friends.
I’ve read enough of your blog posts. I think I know you better than any straight “supporter” who comes on here to support your effort to continue this pointless “struggle”. As you even mentioned, the topic sentence of this blog sure makes the reader (at least this reader) tie your emotional struggles (depression) to your sexuality. I’ve been where you are. I know how much this struggle consumes you. I have many dozens of friends who have been consumed by the same struggle. We all have almost the exact same struggles….. with the exact same glorious victory.
We all have negative things in our lives that bring negative emotions, but to pretend that wearing that “albatross” around your neck for all these years is not the root cause of most of your emotional pain or depression is naïve. I find so many of your recent blogs talking around the periphery of emotions, relationships, etc. Yet, you refuse to embrace the path that can lead to healing and true happiness.
I’m sorry if these posts come off brusque or impersonal. It is difficult to talk around side issues while the elephant in the room gets ignored.
Even Exodus is in shambles.
BTW…I’m not affiliated with Exodus directly. I haven’t been to a support group in years. It escapes me why you bring Exodus up at all and how that directly relates to me.
The only reason I posted that article was because I had just read it after posting here. It is something that I would send to anyone who thinks god wants them to change…. or somehow endure a lonely, love free life. It is a tired concept. Millions have tried. I’ve tried. I’ve yet to find one person to find peace with that kind of thinking. While it may not directly relate to this particular blog post, its a signpost of the end of their kind of poisonous, deadly approach to dealing with homosexuals.
Well, James, I respect that. But I’m not trying to change my orientation, so please understand that. I’m not in denial about liking guys. I’m up front with friends about it and I’ve even spoken to a seminary class about what it’s like to be gay and Christian. We probably won’t ever agree on sexual ethics, but it needs to be acknowledged between us (in my opinion) that I’m respectful of your posts and that I disagree ultimately what God sees as acceptable sexual behavior, not because of any denial of “who I really am,” but because I see a very different ethic described in Scripture than you do.
I really appreciate that you read my blog and engage in the conversation. I hope nothing I said in this comment or earlier communicates otherwise.
I totally feel you on this man! So many emotions. I hate it when it is equated just to being/dealing with homosexuality.