Three Heart Messages; Time To Ditch The Glass One

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.

The Life of A Duck

I am looking out my kitchen window at the pond over behind the mailbox. I love being able to see the water and catch glimpses of Delores, Delilah, and Desiree (the 3D’s) as they swim by from time to time.

The 3D’s are gorgeous solid white everpresent ducks.

They preen, a lot. They eat yet undiscovered Reese’s peanut butter cups. Well, that is what is happening in my mind because the bug eating thing is a gross part of nature I don’t care to think about. Plus, Reese’s Easter Eggs have to come from somewhere, right? They honk at other birds or animals moving in or around their pond. Other than that, they nap, and just float around in the beautiful sun while dreaming of exclusive pond domination and listening to the waterfall.

They don’t know what a Trump is. They don’t care about whether they are getting the correct amount of upload and download speed on their Internet connection. Zyrtec isn’t drying out their skin, and they are not wondering what the hell the neighbors are remodeling this time. They are not worried about their next car payment or if the duck’s in the next pond have the nuclear codes or not. The 3D’s seem quite content being with their crew, hanging out at the pond, saying hello to the turtles, and enjoying the Reese’s cup filled environment they exist in.

Don’t worry, I am not going to say something cliche like, “Here are 5 life-lessons from Delores, Delilah and Desiree.” They are *ducks* and we are humans for goodness sakes. But what they do remind me to do is to look outside of my ordinary and allow imagination to roam freely in the environment the universe has seen fit to place me in. And…

  • To be grateful for the sunshine.
  • To be grateful for provision.
  • To be grateful Divine Synchronicity.
  • That my upload and download speeds on my internet connection are SO much better than 20 years ago.
  • To be grateful that our Creator is magnificent and extravagant in everything beautiful.
  • That my faith and spirituality are thriving.
  • To be grateful for the ability to choose to be grateful.

In other words, looking out the window at the 3D’s reminded me to be grateful for the present, the now, the “what is,” and not be distracted by the fleeting cares/concerns of what was or unrealistic expectations of what could be.

And, … so what if I mythologized the origin story of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups? …. 😉

Intentional imagination and gratitude is always a good thing.

Being Free is Good,

Bullying Bullies & The Bullied Bullies Who Bully Them

Stephen Black and a bear…

It’s bizarre when Stephen Black, who has no problem stigmatizing and lying to gay people says he is the one being bullied (over and over again.) Mr. Black seems to think it’s ok to tell LGBT+ that they and their relationships are nasty, detestable, unhealthy, gross, demonized and that his version of god is weeping AND laughing at us as we allegedly race down the highway straight to hell. If that culturally driven (not Gospel love driven) religious stigma weren’t enough, he loves to try and brand our community and our fight for full equality as chaotic (really? “chaos”?). He minimizes our loving committed relationships as emotional idolatry, and apparently being LGBT+ will kill us.

That’s just for starters. Mr. Black doesn’t apparently know how to focus on anything other than stigmatizing LGBT+ people; well except when he is promoting how humble he is,

But he is the poor bullied one; poor bullied Stephen. Why on earth would anyone ever respond to him angrily? :::smh:::

Here’s a scripture for Mr. Black:

Galatians 6:7 – 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

When someone stigmatizes and bears false witness against God’s LGBT+ sons and daughters (like Stephen has), they are mocking the image of God within us and misrepresenting His love for us.  When you sow the seeds of stigma, hatred, fear, you will reap deep anger (at best) and the exact same thing you are putting out (at worst). In other words, if you see every LGBT+ person who responds angrily, forthrightly or thoroughly as a “bully,” it might be good to ask if you have brought that on yourself. If some of us respond to stigma with further stigma…why are you surprised? I don’t believe in stigmatizing Christians (or anyone) because I am one. But, considering how some culture warrior Christians treat us… I understand why they get the same thing they are dishing out.

I actually think it’s a part of Stephen’s approach to ministry to try to provoke wrath in those he apparently hates. The problem is not only the abuse he is personally dishing out, but that he is providing cover for others who believe the same to perpetuate the abuse.

Nutshell: stop bullying others, and you might not feel “bullied” by their honest (and sometimes angry) response.

 

Prayer: Blessing, Indoctrination, or Curse? What’s The Impact on Kids With LGBT+ Parents?

The other day I had my first mental argument with my partner’s ex-wife.

Dan and I have been together for almost 16 months. At first I just wholly avoided any talk about his ex-wife or what was happening with his daughter, The Magnificent Fairy Princess. It was not my right to do so. Now that we are further down the pike, I have become The Magnificent FP’s Fairy Godmother and love her so much. That said, I still tread very lightly. 99% of the time I keep quiet and only seek to support Dan as he processes what is happening with his ex and in raising The Magnificent FP.

That “I’m over here if you need me” approach was challenged when I learned that his ex-wife had two visiting “ex-lesbian” speakers at her church pray for The Magnificent FP after children’s church last Sunday.

I learned of this at work. It was driving home where I had my internal argument with Dan’s ex. But then I thought, why does this anger me so much? No doubt his ex, very conservative/legalistic Christian that stigmatizes LGBT+ people has prayed for Autumn regularly about us. I have no doubt others in that community have prayed for her along similar lines. I realized my anger came from the fact that she pulled in two women who have bought into the ex-gay/conversion ministry ideology, theology, and mythology. Words have power, and the analytical protector in me wanted to know exactly what was said so I could counter it. I was mid-way through my 14 point counter arguments when it hit me…

Wait up. Nope. Wrong response.

The Magnificent FP doesn’t need her Fairy Godmother’s past issues and assumptions transferred into the situation. What might be helpful is to stop, pray for wisdom and glean from what the Spirit brings to me and from my past experience.  From there, there might be tidbits that may help Dan.

Personally, this is what keeps tumbling through my head about The Magnificent FP situation:

  • Keep it simple. Let her know if she has questions to never hesitate to ask and never be made to feel she is being put in the middle of a fight between adults.
  • That we do not directly contradict her mother to her. Just offer her the truth as we see it. We love each other, we love her, and we all love Jesus.
  • Empower The Magnificent FP (as appropriate to her age and maturity) to decide for herself what to believe about the experience (and of course, the various issues represented). We can trust God, and our own witness to speak the truth of our reality to her. We can believe her, a very bright, loving and intelligent young girl to make up her mind. We will love her unconditionally regardless of her journey and beliefs.
  • Extend grace to Dan’s ex by not engaging in hurtful dialog or assuming the worst. Forgive and release her for the hurtful and hateful things she says about him and our relationship. Honor the forever truth that she loved and was with Dan for over two decades. They have a lot of powerful and important shared history.

On a different take, I have also seen prayer used for good and bad. I have been guilty of the bad so what is shared below is definitely learned from tumultuous experience.

Prayer as a catalyst for blessing – God wants us to pray for His will “on earth as it is in heaven.” So when we purely seek his guidance, influence, and intervention in our lives. God is love, peace, and a Good Shepherd…trusting that His will transcends our own and may not look like what we expect is crucial; He is His own Person with His own Will. Being open to seeing His Will not being dependent on our assumptions, or even strong beliefs…that’s genuinely praying for His blessings (not our assumptions or expectations) to come to us and others.

Prayer being used for indoctrination – sometimes prayer veers from honestly seeking God’s will outside of our own and is used as an eyes-closed verbal soapbox to repeat culturally conditioned talking points. It’s used to get someone on the same ideological page and not actually fulfilling the purpose of prayer; it becomes talking to oneself and others instead of talking to God.

Ironically, it was Leanne Payne’s book “Listening Prayer” that taught me this lesson (Leanne Payne was an ex-gay icon at one point in her life.) She explained how sneaky “neo-gnostic” prayer can be Neo-gnostic prayer is what she called listening to one’s own inner voice and mistaking it as God’s Spirit. In effect, it imposes personal will while masquerading as seeking God will. All the while watering the fields of delusion and steering the ones being prayed for toward a predetermined and assumed “answer to prayer.” It’s indoctrination disguised as an intimate spiritual conversation.

Curses disguised as prayers – If a conservative Christian is praying that Dan and my eyes would be opened to the selfishness and darkness of our relationship, that person is not praying for God’s love and will for us. They are assuming very nasty things based on cultural and religious stigma and not reality. That’s just one example. Another would be if someone is praying that The Magnificent FP is not “deluded” by us, they are not accepting the fact that God formed our family, that we are actually healthy and positive influences on her. They are in effect “cursing” us and our relationship with her and creating a sense of alienation. Instead of praying for the best, they are using their spiritual influence to bear false witness and undermine/alienate our family.

Again, Dan and I believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are just as “saved” as any other Christian. We are also “light in the darkness.” To call us anything other is to dishonor God’s image in us and His sovereignty in forming our family. To say we are spiritually blind, unhealthy, broken, selfish (or anything along those lines) are lies (curses) and untrue.

To conclude this post 😉

This whole Fairy Godmothering thing is … a trip! I am so grateful God has allowed me to be in our little family and to go through life with each other. Even though this situation was a bit unnerving, there is no other place I would rather be than in Dan’s loving embrace, enjoy watching The Magnificent FP’s Grand Adventure and living out God’s abundant blessings.

On that note, my conservative Christian siblings… if you are praying for us…  thanks for the blessing of seeking (not assuming) God’s will for our family and us.

Being Free is Good,

The Death of Billy Graham

Today, Billy Graham ended his long run on this earth at 99 years of age. I have seen a number of posts from beloved Christian conservative friends who idealize the man. I have seen posts from beloved LGBT+ friends (Christian and otherwise) villainizing the man.

Both groups have made some really good points.

When I heard the news of his passing, I got a little emotional but the overall sense of peace realizing Mr. Graham is home with the One he loves the most, Jesus. I spent too much time hating Mr. Graham the first time I was out in the ’80’s. However, while I was in the church closet from ’92 to ‘2015, I actually read a LOT about his life story and teachings. I fell in love with his heart for Christ. I forgave him his ignorance toward the gay community and God’s love for us but of course while in the closet I agreed with him about “sexual sin and brokenness.” Since I came back out in 2015 I forgave him the bad and hold on to the good I had learned about him. It’s what I hope people will do with me so it’s important to extend the same.

It is public record that Mr. Graham dishonored the image of God in LGBT+ people (saying we are disordered and sinful) and disrespected the deaths of our HIV+ friends as possible “punishment from God.” I can completely understand the broken hearts further tortured and stigmatized by those words wanting to dishonor his death with similar curses. I don’t agree with doing that unless it is for a beneficial end of getting to a point of releasing, forgiving, and working toward the greater good. Meaning, if a wound needs to be vented and cleaned, do it. I am here to help if you want.

I am a Christian. I am Gay. Today instead of dishonoring an imperfect man, I would rather visualize what I believe to be true. That today Mr. Graham met Jesus face to face and his tears were wiped away with peace and joy. I choose to believe that meeting is the most beautiful moment of Mr. Graham’s passing. I also choose to visualize LGBT+ saints who have passed from this earth before him are greeting Mr. Graham with open arms. That the ones who passed from AIDS are extending loving embraces of forgiveness to a man who was, on earth, seen as an enemy. I choose to believe that Billy Graham has experienced his first day of complete peace including the truth that we LGBT+ people are as much a part of God’s family as he is.

Now, if his children would get a clue… the world would be a little better place.

Being free is good,

The End Of A Nightmare Brought Life Instead of Tragedy

Initially, it looked like it was going to be the worst nightmare I ever had, but it wasn’t. I woke up thinking, “Man that was one crazy awesome dream!” and it took a minute to realize what my subconscious (the Universe?) was trying to convey.

In the dream, I was laying in a hospital bed in severe pain and immobile. It was terrifying, and I knew that something terrible had happened. I was in so much pain I couldn’t open my eyes or move. That said, I could hear everything the doctor and nurses said. The doctor in an authoritarian voice was giving rapid orders. I could feel pressure on and in my body where they were doing work. All of it was around my heart and where the aorta comes up through the torso.

The weird part was, even though it was all very alarming and strange to “feel” that work being done in my body at such sensitive points, I actually started being at peace with the whole experience.

Then I heard the doctor say, “I HAVE to go in now… hang on Randy, you are a fighter!” I felt the scalpel go in, there was incredible pressure, and everything in my mind’s eye went to black… …

But I was still in the dream.

I thought, “Is this it? Am I dead?” Then, my eyes opened to find I was in my childhood room in our old two-story townhome. It was very dilapidated and dark. No one had lived there for years. Startled, I slid off the dirty/grimy bed but caught myself before hitting the floor. I stood up, and a childlike spirit turned off the overhead light in the hallway over the staircase going down. That spooked me a little, but I was like…oh no… this is not how this ends.

I want to See.

I went and turned the light back on, even though I hate overhead lights, and walked around my first real childhood home. Looking around at the deplorable condition of my old room stirred a little bit of grief, but it was shortlived. This is the room I cried in almost every single day. Where I took refuge from abuse when I could, and suffered abuse when it followed me in there. The room where I realized I was gay and the place I read my children’s version of the Bible (with drawings in it and everything). It was in that room where a 40+ year identity and spiritual confusion began.

There wasn’t any life left in that room. I walked out of it and around my parent’s and brother’s old rooms. The velvety feeling wallpaper that was so cool as a kid was gone or peeling off. There were only random sticks of broken furniture left. All the carpet had been pulled up. Mold, stains, broken mirrors/windows… the place was haunted by memories, but nothing else.

Come to think of it, I didn’t even see myself reflected back in the mirrors.

I walked down the creaking stairs to the living room, dining area, kitchen; same old forgotten thing, different scene. I said in that weird dream way you talk to yourself, “There is nothing left here. The Good has been reclaimed, the bad has been forgiven and released. It’s time to let this place die.”

The childlike spirit reappeared as I moved to the front of the townhouse into the old living room. He was me as a tween. He hugged me tight with his face buried in my torso and then, also at peace, evaporated. The pressure left my body for the first time since the dream started.

I turned around, walked through the front (where the door used to be) and into the sunlight…smiling. Alive, free from constraints, free from abuse and confusion, free from the shackles of bitterness/unforgiveness/revenge, and free from fear. Stepping into the SunLight, I walked toward my Dan and our home; smiling at our forming family, friends … happy.

Being free is good,

P.S. This townhome has been a recurring nightmare over the course of my entire life. This is the first time I ever felt peace in a dream involving it and then walking away from it.