Sunday, December 25, 2005

It Felt Like Family, It Felt Like Church

I have got to say - that I am having an amazing time on this journey. All of the assumptions that I used to have about gay Christians are all thrown out the window. I'm experiencing such freedom in being the person that I am - gay and Christian.

I don't feel like I have to overcompensate and be some kind of super Christian to justify how I can be both. I've seen that actually. Some gay Christians can be pretty legalistic about expressing oneself as MORE Christian than gay and they end up just coming across religious. As for me, I'm learning what it looks like to express (and even accept) myself as a gay man without feeling the need to demonstrate my Churchianity. I'm not trying to prove myself to anyone. I don't feel like I have to prove my gayness. I don't feel like I have to prove my Christlikeness. I just am. And that's what feels so free . . . .

The refreshing thing about this is how it's enabled me to come out of my shell. Many people have commented to me over the past several months that I'm this big social butterfly. I think they say that because I seem to be connecting with numerous people of a variety of backgrounds in a variety of contexts. Last weekend, I went to six Christmas parties/gatherings over a three day period. I went to a Christmas eve party tonight (where I had a blast!). During the week, I've been a part of several work meetings with different kinds of people. I've connected with people one on one, on the phone or in person, as well as in groups. I've engaged with people about their passions, their interests, Jesus, the Church, politics, family, and sex. I've connected with people of different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, opinions, and worldviews. I've had alot of small talk and i've had alot of deep conversations. I've even flirted (which I think is mutual and I'm excited to report may perhaps go in the direction of a first date ever)!

I don't think I'm a social butterfly. I just think I'm becoming more secure with myself to where I can stop focussing on myself and I am free to invest my attention in other people. I feel like I can be comfortable not being perfect. I can be comfortable having not figured it all out. I can be comfortable with the risk of being hurt while having the hope of being loved. Keep in mind, i'm still a shy guy by nature and i've got an introverted personality. But it's a choice for me to be comfortable - to exist outside of my comfort zone - because I value connection, relationships. And so, the end result is that I'm meeting alot of great, awesome, and interesting people.

I'm finding that some of the more interesting people are the ones who are not yet believers in Jesus. There used to be a time when the practice of my Churchianity involved my exclusive interaction with other "believers" in a sterile environment. Boy, was that boring! I say boring because I value the Great Commission and I believe that at the very core of the DNA of the new creation that we received in Christ is the inherent call not 'in', but rather 'out' - the call to go out - so that where ever we are, there the King is. And so, it's refreshing to me to be around people who aren't Christians. Frankly, sometimes, Churchians can be pretty weird. And the more I hang out with the people Jesus loves who are not yet part of His Church, the more I realize how ineffective Churchians are because of their isolated and out-of-touch-with-the-outside-world church culture.

I had such a wonderful Christmas eve tonight. I was honored to be invited into the home of one particular relational community. It was a party with probably 98% people not currently part of the Church (yep, the interesting ones I was just now talking about). In the entire party, there were probably only three of us who were actually following the Way of Jesus. And I had so much fun. I did my whole social butterfly thing. I mingled, worked the room, made the rounds, and got to know people. Something very interesting was seeing how some of the people that appeared hostile to those "Jesus freak" Churchians weren't hostile to me. And as some of them eventually learned about my faith through casual normal conversation (as opposed to the weird agenda-driven proselytizing that is so completely obvious that it turns people away), I found that I was invited deeper into the inner social circles.

Here I am, perfectly comfortable being gay, perfectly comfortable being Christian, humble enough to know that I don't know it all, being told by new friends that I just met that I have alot to offer. Whoa! This is why I trust Jesus out here where the Churchians don't want to go. He can connect with people in ways that they can't.

So anyway, the Christmas eve party was so much fun. I met new people. I got to reconnect with new friends that I met at a previous party, and thus continued to nurture an ongoing friendship. We had some really interesting conversation - in particular, about the sub-cultures within the GLBT community and how there's even a sense of division in it and that there are even groups considered outcasts by gays and lesbians. We also talked about the lack of young emerging gay leaders in our local community. During the evening, we naturally gravitated to the piano where two people, half-drunk, beautifully and hilariously played almost undiscernible Christmas carols, broadway songs, and pop hits as all of us in the room tried our best to sing along to the noise (oops, i mean music). (Side note: It was actually awesome hearing these new friends sing the lyrics of Christmas carols. For me, it was worship!) The home was beautifully decorated, with a gorgeous Christmas tree, and a nice fire in the chimney. It felt like family. It felt like Church.

Who says I "should" be going to a Christmas eve service when my time was better spent being the Church among genuine and new friends? Like I said, I had a blast!

Tomorrow, I'm off to see my blood family on Christmas day. I intend to plant some seeds to see how comfortable they'd be if I were to get a boyfriend. (They know I'm gay, but last they heard, I told them in the context of being Side X. Bringing a boyfriend to the next family gathering may prove to be a little more complex for them to handle, so i'm going to feel it out - and perhaps prep them for things to *hopefully* come). =)

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

8 comments:

Ian said...

It seems like your two worlds are moving from collision to cohesion. Perhaps a blog name-change will soon be the order of the day. Although I have read most, if not all, of what you have written here, it still is a bit murky to me as what has brought about this change. Perhaps, if time exists, you could clarify where you are at in your journey and explain what has brought about this seemingly new-found end to internal conflict.

Happy Boxing Day!

Ian

Matt said...

Eric, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the Christmas festivities, meeting so many new people. I truly envy you.
Reading this and your other thoughts here is quite inspirational.

Anonymous said...

Eric--I am so glad that you had a great Christmas:) Thanks for the post. Again it allows me to get into your heart more.

Love

Becky O

Anonymous said...

Hey Eric...

GCN's been down all day (wouldn't it figure - my day off!) and so I thought I'd pop by your blog to see what all has been happening in your world. It's really refreshing to read your thoughts and compare them to my own... we mirror each other's sentiments on alot of levels. Keep praying, believing, and being open to what Christ has for you in your journey. Look forward to rooming with you at the conference! *Only a little over a week from now!!! :) *
Your bud,
Nick (aka Vizionary from GCN)

Angel said...

Eric I am so happy for you :*) If anyone deserved a great Christmas, it is you!

And SQUEE! a date? How awesome ;)

Eric said...

thanks everyone!

it really was an awesome Christmas for me. for the past five years, november and december has been so hard for me. extremely lonely times. but this year, i've never felt more connected with God, myself, and other people. it's so amazing how the seasons of life give you all it has to give - the good and the struggle!

Here's an UPDATE:

So on Christmas day, i planned on feeling things out with my family - to see how they'd respond if i brought someone home. i didn't want it to be a shock.

back in Thanksgiving 2001, i told them i was gay but in the context of side X - that i was "struggling". that's easier to accept rather than a plain old "i'm gay". so Christmas day, this past sunday, i spoke to each family member individually (two sisters, brother in law, brother, mom - not dad, i think he already knows but i'll talk to him later) that i have been wrestling with this for the past several months and that i am now ready to date - essentially telling them that i am kinda side A (for now, this moment in time on my journey).

they were all very supportive! i'm going to be letting them read this blog but i'm asking them to go through the archives first to see how things have evolved for me so that they can understand me a bit better. my brother has some adjusting to do but that's because he literally doesn't know anyone else in his life that is gay. nevertheless, he was supportive. all of them said that they'd be okay with me bringing someone home for a holiday family gathering.

wow! i feel blessed.

Ian: yes, i'll take some time to articulate where I am at along this journey and how I got here. it really has shifted to more of a sense of cohesion hasn't it?

Matt and Becky: it's been awesome getting to know you both! and yes, Matt, you are a cutie!

Nick: we're gonna have a blast at the conference!

Angel: i hope we can work something out to where we can connect while i'm in florida for the conference. i'd love to meet your family! Squee!

and yes, as I subtly mentioned.... a date. we've hung out with a group of friends but tomorrow we'll be going out just the two of us. he knows about this blog so i'll have to talk to him first before i can give specifics about him. (gosh, i love the feeling of liking someone!) =)

Blessings everyone! Let's pray for a fun New Years celebration and a wonderful 2006!

If anyone is having a tough time, email me or IM me or Skype me so i can pray for you!

Eric

Angel said...

OH how awesome that your family is being supportive!

I have seen such a change in your "voice" on your blog, and I'm happy to see your confidence and inner peace growing :)

Carlos said...

WOW,

It seems that no matter if a person is gay or straight we all have two worlds that are always in collision. For me there is what I want and what I think God wants for me. There is my church/ seminary life vs my personal life. So it is always a struggle to make both sides of my life come join.

I have noticed, like you have just mentioned about yourself, that once I became comfortable with myself I became a more sociable and "attractive" person. I find it so easy to socialize now. It is amazing what a little Grace and confidence can do for a person.

God Bless