This morning I heard that small inner voice saying, “There is a heart lesson right in front of your eyes.” That’s where the photo in this post comes in.
While unpacking yet another of the endless boxes that seem to be multiplying since the move, I ran across the glass paperweight heart. It’s a heart-shaped paperweight that my former “ex-gay” mentor of 9 years (Joe Dallas) gave me. I had a twinge of pain when I saw it with all the memories of my relationship with him.
Last week I was moving it, and it slid off the table and fell on my big toe. Hurt like hell, and I still have a nasty bruise. I initially thought my toe might be broken. The other items are a book of love quotes Dan gave to me as part of my first Christmas with him and a personalized gift Bible I was given a long time ago when I left the ex-gay ministry I used to run to go to Florida and join the Exodus team.
The lesson I get from this menagerie of unplanned visuals is that they all represent messages from the heart; the heart of God, the heart of humanity and the hardened heart of ex-gay ideology:
The Glass Paperweight Heart: What my mentor did was help reinforce religious cultural conditioning that in our mind presented a pretty and practical “heart” message but in reality it is a cold, incredibly hard, symbolic (not genuinely substantive), and damaging. As practical as it might seem, as attractive as it once was to this hurting and confused gay man, ex-gay/conversion ministry is a contrived message to present to others as “reality” but not one based in genuine relationship, freedom and wisdom.
The Personalized Bible: Since leaving ex-gay ministry and living as an openly gay man, I have a stronger faith than I ever did before. Cultural Christians indoctrinated in religious stigma against LGBT+ people do not own the Bible and do not have the sole right to interpret it for everyone else. Jesus’ words bring life, and I love them/Him. When I left ex-gay/conversion ministry behind, it was because Christ led me out of it and into real and true love. He is the basis on which I stand and confidently say that part of how God created me to bring relational beauty into the world is as a gay man. I never “went back” to anything. I moved forward, matured, and grew in faith. The scriptures are still as much mine to learn and glean wisdom from as anyone else.
The “Love Is All You Need” Book: For me, the Bible contains the revelation of the source of Love which is our Creator incarnated in the Person of Jesus. From there, He has chosen to reveal love’s beauty and mystery through individual voices, relational intimacy, and community since the dawn of time. Love is still the most precious and transcendent gift we can receive and give. Not only do I have the treasure of Christ’s words to learn about love from; love has manifested through the voices of women and men throughout time.
And takes on a whole new world of meaning when Dan says, “I love you” to me with those beautiful blue eyes.
This has personally led me to a decision. It’s not a huge decision and may not seem like a big deal to others. But, I am going to throw that glass paperweight heart away. It is a symbolic gesture of stating that I am going to choose to rest in my faith and abide in genuine Love, alone.
May love be your dwelling place today, too.