Friday, March 31, 2006

Going Into Labor

It's been roughly nine months (about two weeks shy) of when I started this blog recording my journey of figuring out what it means to be gay and Christian.

Five years ago, I would have bucked the idea of such blasphemy. Four years ago, God led me to confronting the conflict within me. Two years ago, God began to break my heart for "the" gay community. One year ago, God began to break my heart for "my" gay community. Nine months ago, God conceived in me a vision - a realization that He was working amidst this gay community and that I was a part of it.

This week, it seems i've begun that labor process of birthing a new vision. In a season of transitions, I'm about to enter a new chapter of my life. Today, March 31st, is the official last day of being employed by my public ministry - that non-profit organization that I co-founded (my first baby). Tomorrow, April 1st, is the official incorporation day of Catalyst - my new public and "out" non-profit organization (my second baby) that I am founding to specifically work within our gay community here in Long Beach.

My week-long labor has included a number of contractions . . . .

For starters, there's the submission of an application for an apartment for my buddy and I. I am currently paying $1,330 rent for a one bedroom/one bathroom apartment. We found a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment with washer/dryer included, balcony, and gated garage parking for only $1,100 rent. Between the two of us, that will cut this expense in half for me. Two days ago, our application was approved! We can start the move-in in about two weeks. Tomorrow, i'll be submitting my 30-day notice to terminate my rental lease early.

Since i'll be leaving my job, I really don't know when i'll have health insurance again. This week, I wrote the letter to our insurance to terminate my health plan at the end of March. I never really used my benefits while I had it (except for my vision plan so that i could get new glasses last year). I suppose I took it for granted. I figured that I should at least get a medical check up before I leave. So last week, I saw a doctor and had some blood work done. My main concern was my blood sugar. For the past five years, i noticed that every once in a while (usually when hungry) i would get sweaty palms, dizziness, slight tremors in my right hand, and sometimes get close to blacking out. It wouldn't happen all the time. Just when I was hungry. Usually eating something sweet seems to stabilize me so I kinda figured that maybe it was an issue with my blood sugar. Yesterday, I saw the doctor again and my lab results showed no problems. It seems that i'm pretty healthy actually. It's no big surprise - I've been working out regularly and eating better over the past year, i've lost 25-30 pounds since January 2005 and have maintained it since, my blood pressure is great, and it appears that my blood sugar is normal. Another no big surprise - i'm HIV negative. (I wasn't worried about that, it's just good to get another baseline).

So why the tremors in my hand? He thinks that maybe it's anxiety. Ya think?

Yesterday, I also went to the last meeting of the planning team for that group that hosted that conference this last January. That was a significant season for me because we went through some fire together - conflicts with each other, conflicts that the Church is dealing with. There were times that were personally challenging for me. There was that time that I was "profoundly offended". There was that time that I wanted to vomit. Then there was the actual conference event. After the event, none of us on the planning team wanted to talk about any of it again. We were too exhausted and it took so much out of all of us. Now, two months after the event, we got together again to debrief and close the door on that whole thing. We resolved yesterday that while we may or may not do the same kind of event again in that same way, we will, however, continue to work for the good of the Kingdom in each of our own ways - in the ways that God has called us - and will maintain connections with each other. Needless to say, it was good to have closure on all of that.

Another huge contraction was beginning the process of incorporating Catalyst. I went to the county clerk's office to file for my fictitious business name statement. It seems that "Catalyst" is a business name that's already taken so our official name is actually "Catalyst Long Beach". It's okay - "Catalyst" for short will do just fine. So I filed the paperwork and got it published in a local newspaper for the next four weeks as required. Now that I have the official name set, I could then file to get a tax-id number for non-profit status. This is important so that I can accept donations and grants for funding. I got the number and am continuing that process to secure our 501(c)(3) status. I also worked on the Articles of Incorporation. I drafted it and sent it off to the Secretary of State in California. As I wrote it, it kinda felt like writing the Declaration of Independence. I was officially saying "here we are" to the world! I dated the Articles for April 1, 2006 and signed my John Hancock. Tomorrow's the day!

I've also been talking with my brother about creating a temporary logo for Catalyst. While I am pretty capable of writing code and scripts in building dynamic Web sites, I have zero talent with graphic design. I can build a Web site that can do alot, it'll just look like crap! So i usually work with a graphic artist to do all the pretty stuff. I've got a good eye for things (I think) so i can give good direction. I just don't have the skill to work that freaking Photoshop! I swear that application was built for a totally different brain! There are coders and there are graphic designers and they both use different parts of the brain. I'm a coder. Kudos to those who can do both! Anyway, my brother just recently learned Photoshop in a couple classes so he's going to come up with something temporary. I need it too because there were lots of opportunities this week where I wish I had a business card to give and a Web site to refer people to. Anyway, he says he'll hopefully have something to show me tonight.

Another major contraction - this afternoon, i'm planning on writing out my strategic business plan and case statement for Catalyst. I've written down some preliminary ideas and now i'll be articulating the meat of what we'll be doing. With these two documents, i'll be able to produce all other things - Web site content, brochures, grants, and information for donors.

So there have definitely been some labor contractions this week - significant milestones leading up to this new season of serving God and my community here in Long Beach. God and I - we're having another baby tomorrow - the birthing of a new vision that will (hopefully) catalyze this city towards trust, leadership, and life!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Changing "My" World

I haven't said much lately about what's been going on in my world so I figured I'd fill in some blanks.

I've definitely had my share of connecting with people. In the past three months, I've had 59 one-on-one meetings (over coffee, dinner, individual connecting, networking, whatever...) and 83 meetings with a group of three or more people (for social connecting, study, networking, community building, workshops, etc...). I've also been to three conferences in the last three months which includes all the connecting with numerous folks that happen at those kinds of things. Oh yeah, i've also depleted my Cingular rollover minutes a few times because of some good and long phone conversations.

Yes, I am an introvert! For alone time (regenerating time), I've also been in prayer, Scripture, vegging on tv shows (thanks to Tivo), and i've been working out at the gym regularly 4-8 times per week.


Yeah, I've done my share of connecting. This has all been part of this transition season that God has me in . . . .

I don't think i'm going overboard with my schedule. When you merely look at the numbers, it looks like I don't get much time to myself. Actually, i keep things pretty balanced between connecting with others, connecting with God, and just me time.

Why have I been so intentional about connecting? I think it's because I am called to be a "catalyst" - to catalyze the relationships around me. In doing so, I affect the world around me. I change the world around me. I was talking with my buddy and we talked about how sometimes it feels so overwhelming to conceive of changing the entire world. We concluded that we can't. We can only change "our" world.

That's what I want to do. I want to change "my" world. I don't know how much longer I'll be around. I only recently started verbalizing this - but for the past decade, I've had that feeling... not a feeling of a doomsday or that I'm going to die tomorrow or anything. It's just a feeling that tomorrow is not guaranteed to me. And so, for the past decade, I've been living like I know that there is a "date" for me - a time when I will be recalled to be with the Lord. I don't know when - it could be 50 years from now for all I know. It's just that I feel compelled to affect this world now - while I am here.

Sometimes, I talk to my brother or my dad and they worry about me. They know i've got potential to get a really great job and stuff. I've always done well at everything I attempt. I graduated Summa Cum Laude as the Valedictorian of my university last year. They know I could do well at anything. My brother and my dad - they don't understand why I do the things I do - the decisions I make. Why do I opt for non-profit work and struggle financially when I could be working some kick-butt job in the tech industry?

It's because I feel compelled to affect my world. I would rather pursue the vision that God has placed in the fabric of who I am than to climb the corporate ladder of another man's dream. That's just me. I sacrifice financial security so that I can live out my passions because I don't know how long I'm going to be around. The draw back is that it is incredibly humbling to have to lean on family for financial support. But I love them for believing in me!

Last night, I went to dinner with that guy I've been casually seeing occassionally and he's a bit worried that i'll end up homeless. It was kinda funny (but not really funny) because I said i'd be okay if I was homeless. It's not that i want to try to be homeless. There are plenty of options before that ever occurs. I'm just saying that if I were homeless, i'd still be okay because that wouldn't stop me from being able to live out my passions.

So this transition season . . . .

I've been articulating my thoughts for this new non-profit that i'm starting. I'll be starting a blog to chronicle this process - so stay tuned for it! The organization will be called "Catalyst" and our focus will be on building a culture of trust, leadership, and life among the diverse communities of Long Beach - specifically the GLBT community here. I've got alot of good ideas for how I want to approach this. I've spoken to numerous people and have received great response and feedback. I'm excited about it! Two World Collision will just be one program of the broader organization. (This is an evolution from what I said in Sankofa Part Four). I've started working on the web site and I'm looking for a graphic artist who can help me out for free. I've got $0 budget right now. I'll soon be raising funds once I get a tax-id number for the organization. I'm starting the process of incorporating the organization but it will cost almost $600 in application fees alone. I will trust that the needed $$ will come in.

So in the mean time, I've also been transitioning out of the current non-profit that I'm in - what i referred to in the past as my public ministry. (The kewl thing is that now, with "Catalyst", I won't have to hide what my public ministry is.) I've talked a bit about how hard it's been transitioning out. It's still partly my baby. My friend (ministry partner) and I co-founded it. We're going to be intentional about regularly connecting with each other so that we can still catalyze each other's ideas. So as for work, i've been documenting some procedures that I typically do so that someone else can carry them out when I'm gone. I've also been doing some work on the web site so that a few things will be in place before I leave. There's also been alot of administrative work that I've been taking care of to keep things running before I leave. With the job that I was doing, I was spread way thin. With me gone, there will be three people taking over what I was doing. It's a smart move - I shouldn't have been doing all those things anyway. The good thing that we're discovering is that with me leaving, there are many other people who are stepping up to support my ministry partner so that the organization continues pressing forward.

The lesson I've learned from the first non-profit that i'll be carrying with me in starting this new one is not to try to do this alone. I can't do this alone. I'm going to try to surround myself with people who know way more than I do. I'm going to try to establish a team of people who share the vision with me and are willing to be a part of it. I trust that the Lord will send them to me.

The stress for me now is that I will no longer receive a paycheck (my current and sole source of income) after March is over. So i've used half of March's paycheck to cover my March expenses, and i'm going to try to stretch the second half of March's paycheck to cover my April expenses. The thing is - it won't be enough. I'm breaking my lease with my apartment so that I can move to a more inexpensive apartment and I'll be rooming with my buddy (hopefully!) to cut expenses. The fee for the lease break is one month's rent ($1330 - i know, crazy for a single bedroom apartment!).

What I'm discerning from the Lord right now is whether or not He wants me to get a job part-time or full-time and work "Catalyst" on my spare time, or if He wants me to pursue the formation of "Catalyst" full time and trust that we'll raise the needed funds so that I can have some kind of financial compensation while I invest my time in the community. With leftover March money, I calculated that I'm still short about $3500 to cover April plus moving expenses assuming that "Catalyst" will be able to cover me for May. Hopefully, i'll get a few hundred dollars from my tax return - i'll find out Friday.

Anyway, I hate that $$ gets in the way of doing what I really want to do - both personally and organizationally. Nevertheless, I trust Him. Historically, He's always provided for me financially. In the mean time, I will continue to cast the vision that God is birthing in me for "Catalyst" and hope that there are people in the community who will believe in it - in me - enough to be a part of supporting it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Tantrums of Life

Sometimes I hope for something so much that, when I don't get it, I crash - hard.

Not getting that job . . . the promotion goes to someone else . . . romantic interest is not reciprocated . . . bombing on an exam . . . missing that weight goal . . . the business doesn't take off . . . . approval for the new car, house, or apartment fell through . . . coming in 4th place . . . not being healed. Sometimes, life sucks. We pray hard, God says 'No' (or 'Not Yet'), and we throw a tantrum.

It's a convenient excuse to do something that I know I probably shouldn't be doing. I guess it's an outlet. I know I can convince myself that self-medicating is easier to deal with the disappointment of lost hope. It might be masturbation. It might be over-eating. It might be drinking alcohol. It might be unrestrained flirtation. It might be shopping. For others, it might even be sex, engaging in an unhealthy relationship, provoking someone in anger, or falling back on some sort of chemical dependency.

For me, it's been Premium "Light" Cookies-N-Cream Ice Cream . . . .

. . . . except I'll eat the entire half gallon container within a single day. Two days later, I'll go out and get another.

I'm such an impulse buyer.

Of course, I always regret it later. Even while I'm doing it - whatever "it" is - I recognize that I'm acting out. I'm being a brat. And I can almost hear the Spirit saying, "Um . . . so . . . whatcha doin' that for?" And I'm like, "Well, such and such didn't happen so I get to do this. Humph!" or maybe something like, "Well, if I don't get to have that then I'm taking this!"

What am I eleven years old?

I know I can't justify sin. Even when doing a thing in itself may not be a sin (ie. eating ice cream), I can make it a sin if I'm doing it with a sinful heart. And of course, there are those other tantrums that are clearly sinful. Regardless, I can't justify acting out simply because I didn't get what I had hoped for.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from YOUR desires that battle within you? YOU want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but YOU cannot have what YOU want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because YOU ask with wrong motives, that YOU may spend what YOU get on YOUR pleasures." (James 4:1-3)

It's not like every unanswered prayer is done with wrong motives. How can asking for healing be bad or selfish? But it's how I respond to not being healed (or not getting that job, or not having so and so love me back, or not hitting my goal, etc.) that is worth examining.

God is not my genie. He's my God.

I find myself growing closer to Him when I learn to accept His will, the circumstances of life, freaks of nature, or even my own mistakes without throwing a tantrum. I'm finding a peace in aligning my will with His. It's an amazing feeling to come to that place of moving on.

Life goes on.

"Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)

There's kind of a freedom in going with the flow of life without getting tripped up on what's happening during the ride. It's like I'm learning to trust Him more and more during this journey of mine and I get to ask Him, "What's next, Lord?". In hindsight, I can always see God's wisdom in why certain bends in the road were necessary. He does things (or allows things) for my own good, for the good of others, or even for the good of His plan.

I'm learning that God is absolutely for me. Who can be against me?

I'll try to be for God the next time I don't get what I hope for. I may not always understand the "why's" of my life. But I'll try to appreciate the blessings He does give me and I'll find my peace in knowing that He's on my side and I'm on His.

Thank You, Lord, for being ever so patient with me and my tantrums!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Awkwardness Between Us

It's hard feeling less loved by those I love and care about.

There are several special ladies in the city that I consider my spiritual mothers. These are the ladies who express such awesome love and affection for me, perhaps because I am young and single, and they hug me every time they see me and sometimes even pinch my cheeks. Yeah, i'll admit, I play into it alot of the times. I love it! These are my spiritual moms and grandmas from several churches throughout the city. They encourage me for the work I'm doing to bring unity in the Church throughout the city and to call people to prayer - regardless of denomination.

Making the transition from a Side X perspective ('thou shalt be straight') to a Side A perspective ('thou shalt love properly' - at least, that's the way I see it) regarding faith and homosexuality has been difficult. It's been especially challenging emotionally since I made the decision to step away from the non-profit that I co-founded (which built bridges within the majority Side X community), then afterwards felt led to start another non-profit (which will be focussing on building bridges within the minority inclusive community).

A fear of mine has always been of being disowned by my spiritual mothers because of this change in perspective that I have. Am I disappointing them? Am I breaking their hearts? Am I causing them to worry for me? Has their love for me diminished? I love them. I really do. But I feel compelled in my spirit to continue following Jesus even if they don't understand that it's Him that I'm following . . . .

After my parents' divorce, my biological family became emotionally distant and I eventually turned to the Church as my surrogate family. I felt like my real family divorced me and so I stayed in the closet about my sexuality with my church family because I didn't want to lose them too. Now that I'm no longer in the closet, it feels like many members of my Side X church family are beginning to divorce me as well. It's kind of like - we're still a family but we're emotionally distant. (The irony is that my biological family completely supports me now).

I ran into one of my spiritual mothers twice last week. Two Sundays ago, I was with a large group of friends from one of the inclusive churches that I've been building relationships with. We were all at a restaurant for lunch after a service. I saw her sitting with a group of her friends at a nearby table. My first thought was, "oh no!" Usually I'd be super excited to see her. But she's very involved with the administration of the church who's pastor was also one of the highly vocal and condescending ones on the Advisory Board that I mentioned in "One Thing I Am Sure Of". Naturally my assumption is that she would share her pastor's view regarding the decisions that I've made.

So after seeing her, I looked down our table of 15 people (I was on the end) and wondered how she might be viewing us. Do we all look gay? Are we having too much fun? Do we all look like heathens? Are we all acting like we're going to hell? Are we proud of our own deception and compromise? Has she seen me?

First thing we did when our meals arrived was hold hands in prayer and thanksgiving.

No, I wasn't going to disown my friends. But I also wasn't going to jump up and approach my spiritual mom either. I was having a good time but the kill-joy was wondering to what degree of condemnation she was thinking towards me. Yes, I realize that all of my thoughts are simply my own assumptions of her thoughts. I don't know how she feels until I talk to her about it. But why in the world would I intentionally want to enter into a situation where both our hearts could break? Sure it's fear. But I'm not exactly looking forward to hearing disapproval from a spiritual mom of mine. I love her.

She spotted me.

We made eye contact and I knew she saw me. She had a look of joy on her face and so I knew that I had to get up and say hello. I gave her a hug and greeted her friends. We spoke with affection and generalities about me leaving the non-profit and about her helping my ministry partner to help out in the transition. I returned to my seat.

It was weird. I know she knows I'm gay. I know she knows I've switched "Sides". I know she loves me. I don't doubt that. But it's feeling like I've disappointed her that makes it so difficult.

I saw her again last Friday night. My buddy and I went to see "Sweeney Todd" (a musical) at a college campus and my spiritual mom was there. I was surprised to see her and it was again pretty uncomfortable. Of course, it was good to see her. It's just that there's this awkwardness between us through the smiles and hugs and 'good-to-see-you's'.

I think the awkward thing is feeling less loved just because of the decisions I've made and the shift in beliefs that I have. Did she love me before because of what I believed? Did she love me before because I was Side X? Is it possible to love a person the same way even though you disapprove of the decisions they've made? I should hope so. But the "I still love you" words that I hear are betrayed by the "I'm so disappointed in you" eyes that I see.

I'm more likely to believe the eyes. No wonder "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" has always seemed like a bunch of bunk to me.

I'm not ashamed of the decisions I've made. I've honestly wrestled through all of this and I have a peace in my heart that I am indeed acceptable before the Lord. I think the fruit speaks for itself - the Lord is with me. My spiritual moms and all of my Side X friends will have to wrestle with the Lord too to figure out how they ought to interact with me. I know that the Lord loves me. They will have to figure out if they do too - and further, how that looks.

Either way, it's still tough to feel judged for something that I have a peace about. It's tough feeling pity from others when I don't feel like I need it. I'm not lost. I'm not confused. I'm not deceived. I'm not defective. But it's not as simple as just saying that I don't care what people think about me. That's not true. I do care about what people think because I love them. I know that they have the right to disagree and even be disappointed in me - and still love me. It's just that living through the awkwardness is heavy on the heart - for all of us.

P.S. Be sure to check in! Thx!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Roll Call

Friends, romans, countrymen, visitors, regular Two World Collision readers, anonymous lurkers, and fellow bloggers . . . .

I've added a feature to the site just for fun (found it thanks to Drew) - it's a kewl little map thing that show's your location. Make your mark and give a shout out - you can either click the "Check In" link at the top of the left column of this blog or see the map at the bottom of the right column of this blog.

Let's see how much none of us are alone in this journey!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Community of Profound Loneliness

The local church can sometimes be one of the loneliest places on Earth for me.

Churchianity tells us that people are lonely in this world because they are without Christ in their lives. If they would only accept Christ, then they would never be lonely again. So then why is it that for 13 years of being a Bible-believing Jesus-loving church-attending Christian, I always felt the loneliest during the post Sunday service "how-are-you-it's-good-to-see-you-how-was-your-week" coffee and donuts fellowship time?

Perhaps it was the simple surface salutations and greetings. Perhaps it was the lack of connection from these people during the other six days of the week. Perhaps it was the internal heart ache of seeing couples holding hands and being able to share physical affection while I sat alone during the service for yet another week - every "single" week. Perhaps it was the frustration of never feeling completely known by anyone and being tired of wearing the fake "i'm-fine-it's-good-to-see-you-too-how-are-you" plastic smiles. Perhaps it was because I hated the fact that I could get away with that kind of smile and lack of depth because I knew that no one was going to probe deeper.

Before I started this journey of mine last year, I lost count of the number of times I drove home crying after a church service . . . .

Many would say that I created this kind of church experience for myself. I was the one who failed to reach out. I was the one who didn't take the initiative in participating in the "fellowship time". I was the one who was so self-focussed on my own needs that I missed the opportunity of serving other people's needs. I was the one who chose to stay disconnected despite other people's attempts to "connect" with me.

That's what they'd often say when ever I tried to verbalize the disconnectedness that I was feeling within the church. It's my fault, they'd say.

Do I really need to hear that? This tough-love "stop being a victim" approach to addressing my cries for help by simply redirecting my frustrations - away from them and resting on me. It's my fault, not theirs.

They'd say that it's my fault that I'm lonely but they are unwilling to consider that they could possibly make some adjustments as well in order to contribute to a better community.

I can acknowledge that there are things that I can do to stimulate my own sense of community within the church. But the thing that always pissed me off about how some of these people responded was that they never tried to understand why I was feeling so lonely. They never tried to grieve with me. It was the "shake it off, it doesn't hurt that bad" kind of response.

Sure there are things that I could have done to not live in the loneliness, but it was their lack of compassion for my loneliness that fueled my loneliness. Bitterness, even. So then why would I want to share my heart and open up to these kinds of people? They don't get to hear the real reasons why I am so sad.

They don't get to hear that it's often difficult to be in a crowded room being burdened with the thought, "i'm the only one". Is there anyone else in this church that is like me? What will they think of me if they knew who I really am? Why does it seem like everyone else is coupled? Why am I not allowed to embrace someone that I care about? Why doesn't this seem fair? Why are my affections never reciprocated? Why can't I talk about any of this with any of them? Why doesn't anyone want to understand me?

Why won't anyone walk with me?

There is a community within the Church that simply wants to be understood - to be known. We are a community of profound loneliness. All we want is the connection promised to us when we were told that Christ would comfort us.

I am thankful to God that my journey over these past several months has released me from much of this kind of disconnectedness and loneliness. Even though I do not feel this kind of profound loneliness anymore, some of those feelings still linger - it's still tough sometimes to sit through a service as a single person amidst a crowd of people. But the Lord taught me alot about connection during these times of disconnection.

#1: I'm not alone.

Even when it seemed like no one else understood me, no one else was walking with me, no one else stood up for me - there was always Jesus. The One thing that I learned that I could truly count on - Christ, my Friend. It was during the lonely car rides home after church service that I knew that He was there with me. It was in the dark room laying on my bed crying at 3 a.m. that I knew that He was there with me. It was in the shower when I ran the hot water over my head with both my hands covering my face paralyzed to move by the thoughts racing through my mind that I knew that He was there with me. It was on the university campus promenade walking alone with my head down as fellow students passed by laughing with their friends and me wondering if my friends would ever accept me for who I was that I knew that He was there with me. It was at work sitting at my desk listening to co-workers telling tales of times with their girlfriends and me longing to have such stories that I knew that He was there with me. In the midst of loneliness, there He was.

#2: There are blessings around me.

Sometimes, I'd focus my attention so much on receiving the affection of a single person that i'd miss out on the blessing of appreciating the many other people in my life that actually were present. These were the people that God placed in my life - people for me to connect with. I would sometimes fixate on the one while ignoring the many. As a result, I would connect with no one. It's at these moments when He showed me that I had set up an idol in my heart. The relational idolatry was bound to make me feel perpetually lonely and disconnected because it was an illusion that I was seeking - a fantasy of perfect connection with what is in reality imperfect. I had many friends around me that I could have invested the time to develop depth so that I could be known if only I would acknowledge the fact that they are indeed there.

#3: Be the kind of friend that I want.

I can't change other people. I can't make them be what I want them to be. Doing this is simply manipulation. I realized that I had to be willing to take the initiative of being the friend to others that I wanted for myself. I realized that I don't simply find "true friends" as if stumbling upon them by accident. We develop "true friends" by investing the time to create history of memories and trust.

I'm learning to apply these three things that Christ taught me during my loneliness so that I can experience freedom from it. I discovered choice. I didn't want to be lonely anymore. He showed me that I didn't have to be.

Now, eight months or so into this new season of my life long journey, I don't feel as profoundly lonely as I used to. I have friends that I feel safe enough to be real with. I have friends who are still friends even after knowing about me. I have family that support me. I am now trying to be more intentional about developing depth in my relationships. I'm extending the invitations for lunch or to go out for coffee or tea. I'm extending the invitations to join me for a movie. I'm extending the invitations for others to tell me more about themselves. I'm extending the invitations for small dinner parties where friends from different circles can come together and make new friends.

Sometimes I think how ironic it is that God uses me to be a bridge builder within His Church and in the community. It's not like i've perfected those three lessons - i'm still trying to figure it all out, trying to live it out when i'm lonely (and I am still lonely many times). I figure I've got to be the wrong man for this type of work because what do I know about connection with people?

I suppose it's His sense of humor.

Leave it to God to use a socially awkward introverted gay lonely man to stimulate connection and unity in His Kingdom.