Just completed the fourth (of five) week of training at the new job. It’s been fun and a little nerve-wracking learning to do internet/phone technical support for a *very* large cable company. I have never, ever, worked for a company this large. The salary, benefits, and perks are simply amazing for an entry-level position. Plus, the opportunities for advancement radiate in a myriad of different directions. I am very blessed.
Since closing down Exodus it has been difficult to find and develop a long-term career. I have been doing freelance work with regard to building basic websites and social media management/content creation. However, it has been a constant struggle. It’s great for needed supplemental income but as hard as it is to admit, I am not great at trying to make the self-employment thing a truly viable single source of income.
Not only have I had to come to terms with who I am as a gay man (my second “coming out” was three years ago yesterday), I have had to discover my true professional self. It has become abundantly clear this past year that the false reality Exodus created also completely permeated my sense of self in the workplace. A small example, applying and interviewing for a job in the current age was a completely foreign concept. I hadn’t had to do it in 25 years! Some of the peripheral character strengths were drawn out during my time at Exodus (management, people, communication skills…etc). But, Exodus facilitated a very distorted view of what that actually means in the real world. Let’s just say it did not, does not, translate at all.
Facts and reality can be hard and humbling task-masters sometimes. It hurts to have all that false construct/armor pulled off.
When I realized that I was about to turn 50 and the career I built and had invested in during my time in the church closet meant absolutely nothing to the world, I felt humiliated and embarrassed. It is what it is but the consequences really … suck. For over two decades I thought I was “called” to ministry, that I am a Pastor and that I would be providing pastoral counseling, speaking and teaching for the rest of my life. That whole frame of reference is gone but in a much different and honest way, maybe the true underlying motivation and skills will live on.
I have always been a tech geek and actually started in IT in the early ’90’s. Technology and especially the Internet has always fascinated me. I pick it up quick. I genuinely do love helping people. I am the tech guy on the other line that actually, genuinely, wants to fix your issues as soon as possible. I love interacting with people, learning, and teaching. ALL of that comes into play at the new job.
It was obvious that I was in the right place the other day when an elderly woman called needing help. I could tell she was sad and very frustrated. She gave me an earful when I first picked up the call but something in our exchange let her know I was sincere and would take care of her issue. She started weeping and said that her husband had just passed and that he had always taken care of these types of things. She confessed to feeling very overwhelmed. My “calling” manifested and while I remained professional and within my scope of support, I gave her my condolences and told her that my heart and good thoughts were going out to her. That I would resolve the issue by the end of the call and that we will help, in our small way, to lift the feeling of being overwhelmed. I also spent as much time necessary giving her the information needed to make the process as easy as possible going forward. We worked as a team to fix her problems and it did my heart very good to know that a grieving widow went from being overwhelmed to laughing and relieved within the span of our phone call.
I am not sharing that as what the kids call a “Humblebrag.” I am thinking of all my friends in mid-life who have had to completely reassess who they are in the workplace as well. I wonder how many ex-gay leaders stay trapped in that world because they literally don’t know who they would be in any other context (personally, relationally and professionally)?
My critics say I gave up and chose the easy way; that I have rejected my faith and chosen to coast through life indulging in selfishness. If anything my faith is stronger than ever and nothing about the past five or so years has been “easy.” The truth in my “calling” is still manifesting in a number of ways and the destruction of the false prison of an ex-gay worldview opened the door to a present and future that is life-giving and genuinely fulfilling.
Will it work out at the new gig? I certainly hope so. It not only makes sense and I am “getting it.” It *feels* right and fulfilling. I just want to encourage anyone else leaving a similar background I did, or simply having to reassess their career to not give up! Do what you have to do to make it but keep trusting in our Creator and the genuine gifts within you to manifest in surprising and remarkable day-to-day kind of ways.
I obviously don’t have it all figured out and it has been incredibly difficult. But the thing that comes to mind is to encourage you to allow yourself to imagine yourself outside of what you have always believed. It’s in that place you might awaken, or reawaken, stirrings within that will lead to the next right step to take.