Saturday, October 01, 2005

Being Happy With The Man In The Mirror

Five or six months ago, I wasn't happy. It's amazing for me to think that. Sure on the outside I put on the plastic smile and endured the surface conversations - "how are you?" "good, how are you?" "oh i'm good." - type stuff. I kept myself busy by working beaucoup hours (that's french for working lots and lots and lots of overtime). That was always easier for me - I had an excuse why I couldn't connect with other people..."I have to work." I didn't want to connect with people because I wasn't really connected to myself. I didn't like the person I saw in the mirror. I wasn't happy.

Jesus met me there at that place of personal and profound loneliness and said, "Remember Me." And He wooed me back . . . .

Our relationship was rekindled and He began to show me the transforming affect of relationship. Connection. Four months ago, when I began to challenge my previously held beliefs, it wasn't that I was questioning Him. It was He who was questioning the way in which I worshipped Him. It was like that praise and worship song by Matt Redman called "The Heart of Worship" that has a verse that says:

"I'm coming back to the heart of worship, it's all about You, it's all about You Jesus
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it, when it's all about You, it's all about You Jesus"

He brought me to a place of trust. I had to learn to trust His love for me even when I looked in that mirror and didn't love who I saw. I began to realize that it's not about the person I see in the mirror. It's about Him. It's also about the person He sees in the mirror. This gave me the courage to confront the man He created - me. I had to face the part of myself that I learned to hate out of fear and public stigma. The Church taught me to hate myself for being gay. Jesus was teaching me to love myself regardless.

Last night, a buddy and I were a part of two different environments - both with very unhappy people. The first was a charity fundraiser for a hospital's new cancer center. It was a $150 per plate dinner for a bunch of suits and gowns at an auction. We were just decoration - we were dressed up in costumes to blend with the evening's theme and entertainment. As we looked around the room, we could see through the beauty and observed disconnected couples, distracted husbands, and superficial wives. Of course, this is a general statement (since we can't see a person's true heart) but there was definitely a sense of emptiness. Afterwards, we went to West Hollywood because I've never been and we happened to be close by. My buddy took me to a well frequented bar, we mingled a bit, then walked up and down the "gay strip". The street was full of people going from bar to bar to club to club - guys flirting and strutting and salivating and such, beautiful women dancing and flaunting awesome bodies.

Both my buddy and I saw the emptiness and loneliness of unhappy people in both these venues. Wealthy mucky-mucks and gay party-goers - both unable to connect and (I assume) having difficulty looking in the mirror. It's not a lifestyle I'm familiar with and so, forgive me, it's easy for me to judge. What I do know is that it helped me to realize the distinction between my journey and theirs. I'm not looking to live a "gay lifestyle" in the context of hooking up with guys for something meaningless.

The past four months, I've been connecting with real people - gay people, who have substance. These are people who have hopes and dreams and passions and interests. These are people who want something more, something real, and something lasting. Many of these people are Christian. Many of them are not. But they are becoming (and are) my friends. Connecting with Jesus allowed me to connect with myself. This in turn has allowed me to connect with others. Four months later, I can honestly say that I'm happy.


JJ said...

I am so glad for your happiness.

It's amazing how simply being honest with yourself can release so much tension, eh?

Anonymous said...

Eric, I'm glad you're happy :)

Peterson Toscano said...

I enjoy your writing and honesty with which you share your struggles and triumphs. Sounds like it has been a long road.

You provide some great links. (I especially enjoy the headings above the links)


Jean-Marc said...

Thanks, Eric, for this testimony. I'm a French episcopalian and I love the way you articulate the real life with spirituality !