One way the shackles of fear fell off my heart so I could find congruence between who I am as a gay man and a man of faith was to meditate on the Fruit of the Spirit:
Eventually, it became crystal clear that the longer one stays in the ex-gay/conversion ministry world the fruits of the spirit are hard to find. I’ve seen so many who have stayed in that systemic oppression become more fearful, desperate, combative, impatient, unkind, disloyal, abrasive and flippant over time. It breaks my heart.
On my journey toward coming back out in 2015, my eyes were opening to the evidence of all that toxic religion happening all around me (and in me). I began looking for the genuine fruit of the Spirit. While I saw it in the church in various spots… I also saw the fruit of the Spirit…everywhere. The Spirit is not limited to the Church or even one particular faith. The Spirit is not contextualized by fear at all. Indeed, many “liberal”, people of other faiths or no faith, and LGBT+ people displayed the fruit of the Spirit in amazing ways! Their “witness” revealed a God who is so much bigger, more loving, and gracious than I had ever experienced before.
To be clear, I am also saying that the Spirit led me out of the ex-gay/conversion ministry world and into genuine freedom. Instead of being bound by the echo chamber of fear-based religion, I am now experiencing the freedom to simply be who I am in Him.
I can, and do, embrace who He made me to be. I can, do, and will, experience the fruit of the Spirit as I live out my sense of being and relationships. This is true regardless of what anyone else might say.
As long as I keep my eyes open to finding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… fear cannot and will not live in my heart. This, to me, is the peace of God that “surpasses all understanding.”
When I pray for wisdom and the ability to honestly engage those Spiritual gifts, I believe this is the way to empower the fulfillment of Christ’s teachings and “Golden Rule.” It’s then we become a genuine source of love and light to those in fear and pain around us.
Don’t be distracted by fear and curses from the closet. Look for, follow, and engage the fruit of the Spirit and then watch your own shackles of fear melt away.
Being free is good…