Have you ever seen an entire world you thought you knew evaporate? I have.
Six or Seven years ago, I was in Executive Management for an international ministry (Exodus International) and thought I had achieved success in “my calling.” I believed and worked toward that “calling” for over twenty years. I was traveling all around North America, doing regular interviews for media outlets around the world, and had many friends and acquaintances. I was never at a loss for emails to answer, phone calls to return, and “ministry opportunities.” I had nice clothes, nice condo, nice stuff, and nice friends. I wouldn’t say I was “high-profile” or the “go to” guy, but I worked directly with/for the people who were.
Now, all of that has been stripped away.
That whole world of friends (except for a steadfast few), acquaintances, opportunities, stuff … gone. It all started being stripped away when we began being honest with ourselves and others about how change in sexual orientation was not happening. We also could no longer deny that Exodus had been used as a weapon against LGBTQ people. Not only that, we began sharing our views that true life-giving Grace manifests through the finished work of Christ and is available to everyone; that Gay Christians were yes… “saved.” Because of those realizations and the civil war that occurred in our networks as a result (among other things), we shut down Exodus. We shut it down instead of handing it off to someone to continue the harm and hurt. During that process, the loud legalistic voices of a few became a tidal wave of accusations and rejection from many. I moved from the publicly contentious arguments into a personal wilderness of questioning. All of that plus losing a friend to suicide ripped my legalistic blinders off and I would finally find peace in Christ as a gay man.
All the lies, self-deception, inauthentic affirmation, distracting and encumbering “stuff”… gone.
The only things that weren’t stripped away is my love for, and being loved by, Christ as well as a handful of steadfast friends.
Lately, I have realized that some of my continuing life goals were developed during that inauthentic reality. Meaning, they were goals that were fashioned while I was living out an inauthentic sense of self; goals based on an idealized projection and not true to who I really am. These goals were recontextualized when I embraced my relational state of being as a gay man, but I have realized that even with a different set of beliefs driving them, that doesn’t make them goals I should keep or hold onto. Especially when they become unnecessary burdens that drain energy instead of invest in life.
So with those also falling to the wayside, I look to the heavens and pray, “Oh God! This mid-life reboot sucks! What’s the plan now?” <–I know… a little overly dramatic but still true ;).
And all I am hearing lately is that the plan is to engage and enjoy what the day brings, love God and others, and being mindful to live in the present. It’s ok to enjoy simplicity and my “new normal.” It’s a blessing to enjoy the new sea of friendships I have the honor of swimming around in and to watch doors open and relationships blossom.
As I typed the above, an inner voice reminded me of one life-goal that will never change; that being the decision to be content regardless of circumstance; a contentment fueled by intentional gratitude and love. Life is vastly different today and I don’t have all the answers. I wouldn’t change a thing and am glad to be free.
Being free is good.
[callout]If you enjoy these posts and want to support my efforts to affirm and encourage others through writing and other creative projects, I’m on Patreon! Check out my page. Thank you![/callout]