Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bad Few Days

It has been a very long few days since my last post. Situations themselves haven't really shown themselves to be any more difficult than normal, it's just that I'm finding myself in a perpetual state of anxiety. It's happened before, and it usually lasts a week or so and then goes away (at the expense of me having been a total jerk during the aforementioned week--to the dismay of family and friends who don't really know what's going on).

I don't know exactly what causes the anxiety, but it really puts me in a bad place emotionally. I start thinking about a lot of things that I assume many Christians dealing with SSA think about. There are a lot of many random thoughts, but they can usually be summed up into two words: Why me?

There isn't any self-loathing attached to this. It's all outwardly expressed. I get angry at God, at the world, other people. I mean, I suppose it's just a feeling that I've been unfairly treated, expressed in thoughts like: "How come I have to go through this?" "Why is God making it so much harder for me to be a Christian?" "Why is God driving a wedge between me and people I want to be my friends?" "Why is he making it harder for me to connect with Christian men?" For love them though I do, I don't feel comfortable sharing my struggle with the guys in my Bible study. I'm afraid of how they'll react. I don't want them to treat me like anything other than one of the guys, and yet I'm afraid that's exactly what they'll do. I'm especially afraid that their response will be a form of pity.

There's more. When I start feeling this anxiety/mini-depression, I start projecting my internal feelings on others, resulting in me unjustly resenting them, and my thoughts are something like this: "Why is it fair for the Christian guys to have girlfriends? Of course they're not having sex, but at least they get to cuddle and kiss and hold hands. Why can't I have that?" And of course I start worrying about the future, and worse, my future happiness. I know, it's something so abstract and pointless that it doesn't deserve to come into my mind, but it does. I mainly worry about being alone. (Shudders) "That's just such a terrible word--alone. But I know that it's going to be a part of my life. Even if I do start feeling attraction change, I doubt it will be within the next ten years, when I'm sure many of my friends will be getting married and starting families of their own. And what will I be? Probably alone."

You can imagine how someone with thoughts like that running through his head will act towards others. I become bitter and out-and-out tired--mentally and physically. I don't feel like writing in my novel, being with friends, eating, working, going to class, anything. I just want to lay in my bed and wallow in self-pity. No, it's not exactly pity. Nor is it depression. It's just...fear, maybe? I'm just so afraid that I won't be happy. That I'll never have someone. So I just lay down and let the world roll by. If I'm not out there, I can't be hurt.

I've been talking to Christians about this, of course. But, unfortunately, the Christian girls here think that a monogamous homosexual marriage is not a sin, so that kills a lot of my arguments right there. My friend Tanya (a.k.a. Sister Mary Francis, the Catholic) is probably one of the best people to talk to, even though she's of the same opinion as the rest. I've just never met a person so devoted to their faith (if you don't remember, she's the girl who's seriously considering becoming a nun--and therefore very easy to talk to when my fears of celibacy start rolling in). She's invited me to a rosary this week. I'm not Catholic, so I've never been to one, but I think I'll go. And again, I've yet to bring up the courage to tell the Christian guys. Though everyone on my floor knows I'm gay, and they all know I'm a Christian, most of them think I'm a gay Christian...they don't know about my desire to not live a homosexual lifestyle. I think that would "weird them out" more than anything else, to be honest.

I did talk to Tom last night--the first floor gay guy. He's a neurology major and way smarter than me, but overall he seems to be a sweet guy. No, I didn't break the ice with a Loni Anderson book (wink at Kurt), but we did end up talking about faith and sexuality. He's definitely not a Christian, having had little if any experience in the church. I guess you could say he's one of those "spiritual, not religious" people. He said that he thinks everyone has their own God. That thinking worries me, as it would worry any Christian. I want to witness to him, but I'm not sure how (never done it before). I'm definitely not in a state to do it now, but I do want to talk to Tom more, because he's a very intriguing guy.

Well, that's enough rambling. I'm still feeling pretty down. I try praying, but I don't even have the strength for that. Writing it down here has helped, though. And I would appreciate comments or advice, if anyone has anything to give. (Good Bible verses would be really appreciated. I'm a Bible newbie and I don't know where to look).

Sometimes I hear Christians ministering to homosexuals by saying that leaving the lifestyle will lead them to true happiness. That's true, but I think it needs to be rephrased, somewhat to the extent of "but you'll have to put yourself through some periods of mental torment first." God be with you all, Jay.


kurt_t said...

I'm puzzled by this: "When I start feeling this anxiety/mini-depression, I start projecting my internal feelings on others, usually resulting in an unjustified resentment."

Why is the resentment unjustified?

Jay said...

Oh, sorry. I meant to say that I resent them, and that this resentment is unjustified, for they haven't done anything wrong.

em said...

Hey Jay:

It was interesting to read this post. One thing kept running through my mind, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Jn 16:33

I used to think that the Christian faith would make life easier. I think it took me about ten or more years to finally begin to understand that I had that all backwards. The Church, unfortunately, has adopted a gospel that says if you are a Christian, things get easier. I don't think that is the true Gospel.

The truth is that things get more challenging. I am now free to go AGAINST the sinful flow of this world. Previously, I had no choice other than to just go along with it. But now, I can resist; I can fight.

This is the same with any aspect of our life... sexuality, business, loving our neighbors, giving, dealing with frustrating situations, etc.

It can feel depressing, but much of that is just what it means to follow Christ. Knowing Him is the supreme treasure, but we lose a lot of other stuff that we still value here on earth. I'm going to post a passage that I'd love for you to read and take some time to re-read and consider. How does this apply to your daily life? Hope you forgive my long-winded post. :-)

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Phil 3:7-11

Jay said...

Thanks Em. I't 12:30 and I'm working the late shift here at the front desk, and I have tears in my eyes. That's exactly what I needed right now (and that verse is going in my top ten).

lakelady said...

I am so sorry you are struggling so. God loves you and created you. He created us all differently. He created us black, white, brown, short, tall, straight or gay. Being gay is a struggle right now, but society is becoming more educated and it will, some day, be much easier. All of Gods children have their struggles. Some are much harder than others. We don’t know why, but how we choose to deal with our struggles is what is important.

My son, who is gay and Christian, did not come out until after college. He did not come out to some of the family until several weeks before his commitment ceremony. I think part of what God’s plan for him is to show those of us who are not gay that living in a loving relationship is not something that is just a straight right. Most of the guests at the ceremony were strait and some were raised to think that being gay is against God’s will. I think that this ceremony changed those views.

The ceremony was beautiful. Many of their friends, both gay and strait, spoke and the message was that both men were loved and that the union of the two was good. One attendee explained to the guests how much harder a relationship is when you can’t share it with family and friends who do not know you are gay. The message was good. Their vows to each other were heartfelt and beautiful. It was a moving ceremony,

I am happy that my son has embraced who he is and is no longer unhappy. Don’t get me wrong, there will still be struggles from society for them, but I am proud of them and know that God will help them deal with those who do not understand. And best of all, they are happy, well adjusted, contributing members of God’s good earth.

I pray that you will soon be out of your funk. College is a time when you figure out who you are without your parent’s watchful eye. Whatever you decide to do, God is with you. I pray that you find what you are looking for and you will be happy.

This sort of rambled on, and I apologize.
Have a great day,
THe Lake Lady

Norm! said...

Hey Jay,

I'm sorry you're going through a difficult time. I don't have much advice or verses to give you, but just wanted to let you know that others' have been there too.

Ten years ago, I confessed my 'struggle with sexuality' (I couldn't even say "gay") at a combined meeting of all my university's conservative Christian ministries. I wouldn't recommend that method. It seemed like every Christian on campus was there and days later complete strangers would come up and thank me for my courage. I felt like a freak.

I was in a Bible study group at my dorm that was led by anti-gay Republicans, so I wisely chose not to discuss my struggle there. However, I did become an accountability partner with a straight Christian friend at another dorm who struggled with pornography. Although I'm sure he was sincere and really tried to sympathize, our struggles were obviously different. Conservative Christians argue that homosexuality is just another sin like premarital sex, but it really is a much different struggle. Spiritual and sexual identities are also part of the struggle.

I'm in a much better place now. My only advice is easier said than done, but don't let the struggle consume your life. It's great that you've befriended a Catholic woman who was considering celibacy. The ex-gay struggle should be described to celibacy -- not a path to heterosexuality. Like most ex-gays, you'll probably always have same-sex attractions. However, you've decided to devote your sexuality to your spiritual life. If opposite-sex attractions develop, great. Until then you'll need to learn how to suppress your attractions just as Catholic clergy learn to suppress and sacrafice their desires.

Jay said...

LAKE LADY: Congrats to your son! And thanks for the encouragement. We obviously disagree about whether or not homosexuality is a part of God's plan, but I hope that won't stop you from commenting here. Your thoughts mean a lot.

NORM: I agree that I shouldn't let the struggle consume my life. I think the reason I've been in such a lull is because that's what I've been doing. There's a lot more to me than that, and I need to start realizing it.

And yes, Tanya's great. She is considering becoming a nun, not was, so talking to her is wonderful. I mean, she's a pretty straight girl who's willing to devote her entire life to Christ. She's willing to give up sex, not because she doesn't have another alternative (like me), but because she loves Christ that much. Every time I think about celibacy, it's with a sense of bitterness ("If I was straight I could..."). Here's someone who would be doing it gladly.

kurt_t said...

Well sounds like you're making lots of new friends anyway. Tom is a neurology major? I'm not sure how I feel about neurology. How can you use your brain to think about your brain? Seems like you'd just keep going around in circles.

Jay, here's something I don't think you've addressed yet. How did you come to the conclusion that being gay is not "part of God's plan"? Sounds like that is a minority view among your peers.

Jay said...

Hm, Tom's a character. He thinks about his brain a lot, or at least about his mind. He has a tendency to go on philosophical rants. It's especially endearing because half the time I can't figure out what he's trying to say :-)

I take a rather literal view of the Bible. Not so much that I believe God made the world in seven literal days and Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church...but, enough that I think the Bible's restrictions on homosexual behavior are valid (Leviticus 18:22--I know a lot of people discount that because of the book it's in, but it still makes a point, Romans 1, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11--the last verse being the most important.)

Of course I'm sure you know of those verses, and I would truly like to hear your arguments as to why you think homosexuality can be part of God's plan (if that is what you think).

Brady said...

Hey Jay,

I'm so sorry to hear you are down.

The first thing that came to mind when I read your post was how similar it was to all of the things I used to deal with in high school and college. You've written almost the exact same thoughts I've gone over in my head millions of times probably.

The very next thing that came to mind was that if your feelings were so similar to mine, then you aren't as alone as you may feel. If we both dealt with it, surely there are tons of others. I know it's rough, but trust me when I say that there are so many people out there (gay and ex-gay) that are dealing with the same stuff, and even used to deal with the same stuff.

It'll be harder than being straight, but as you understand how to deal with all those questions and thoughts, it'll get easier, and the perspective of the world that you will no doubt gain will be a rewarding and unique gift. Ok, that sounds a bit too rosey, but I hope you see where I am going with that--what's a struggle now will change (at least in part) to positive traits for you in the future.

So, basically what I am saying is, "chin up, buddy, and hang in there"

Norm! said...

Sorry, thanks for clarifying that Tanya is considering becoming a nun. I mis-read your original post.

Let us know what the rosary was like. As a life-long protestant, Catholicism has always been mysterious and intriguing to me.

I know celibacy is not ideal, but you shouldn't view it as an unfair burden or with bitterness. There much worse afflictions than same-sex attractions. Certainly Paul didn't view celibacy as something negative:

1 Corinthians 7:35: "I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord." NRSV(c)*

That's not to say celibacy is easy especially in our sex-centered culture.


Inheritor of Heaven said...

Ask the Lord to be the light inside your situation. Both as a light to guide you but also as the light of truth. Ask him if there are any lies that you have believed at any time in your life that he needs to bring truth to, any hurts that have occurred that need healing, any judgements that you have made which have borne bad fruit. Tell the evil one who condemns and lies to be gone. Read the psalms. I have not struggled with a sin of the same name as you may struggle with but I have struggled plenty with various sexual sins and thought patterns throughout my life. The Lord has delivered me from that though I have plenty of other stuff to be delivered of in other areas of thoughts and deeds. I agree with Norm in that sexual sins are especially difficult to deal with in our culture. They are rarely talked about and you are in the minority among men in actually putting your struggles out there for others to read. I am praying that the Lord will give you the desires of your (and His) heart in a much more timely manner than he did mine. 1Thess5:23,24.

Jay said...

BRADY: Thanks. I was just thinking about that today. I'm not alone in this. That's the wonderful thing about being human--we're never alone in anything. We're all on the same road, we just drive slightly different cars (OK, it's late and that will probably sound cheezy in the morning, but it seems to work now!)

NORM: I'm really looking forward to the rosary. It sounds like a time that I can just focus on praying for others--something I don't do enough. And you're right, SSA is not the worst thing to be going through. And celibacy isn't ideal, but I'm still willing to do it for God despite the difficulty (but I'm also keeping my options open--I seriously do pray for attraction change).

INHERITOR: Thanks for the advice. I think I'll pray just that. And thanks for the verse, too. God be with you and your struggles as well.

kurt_t said...

Sorry, Jay. Missed my cue.

How do I think homosexuality can be part of God's plan? Well, I don't really think of God as having a plan. God, to me, is more the God of Einstein and Benjamin Franklin than the God of orthodox Christianity.

Here's a pretty famous quotation from Einstein about God: "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony in what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."

So I feel like God makes Him/Her/Itself known to me through the whole universe, all of Creation, all the plants and animals and the planets and oceans and stars and dragonflies and bats and buffaloes and every twig and leaf and grain of sand, everything outside of me and everything inside of me, including my sexuality.

So, anyway, I don't really see a plan in there, but I see a lot of opportunities for me to make choices about how I'm going to live my life and how I'm going to make my life fit in with the world around me, and one of the choices I've made is to accept my sexuality, and glad I made that choice. I've never regretted it, not for one moment.

Jay said...

Well, we obviously have some theological differences (not that that's a bad thing, I love this kind of stuff!)

But I think the God of Einstein and Benjamin Franklin is the God of orthodox Christianity--the God of all the parts of nature that you listed, and the God that revealed Himself to humanity through the Old and New Testaments.

I admit that I never asked to believe in this God. He's been taught to me since my childhood through my parents, church, and community. Indeed, the fact that everyone doesn't have the same background as me is one of the big questions I ask about God. "How is it fair for people who weren't raised in the church to be judged the same way? I feel I have an unfair advantage." But that question has not diminished my faith, only made me more determined to meet God in Heaven so I can ask Him myself.

I don't fully understand why homosexuality is a sin. But far be it from me to make my own demands to the Creator of all that is and was and ever shall be. My choice is to serve Him. Even if that means I won't get everything I want in this life, how can I complain? It is but a small price to pay to the One who gave me the stars, the sea, the wonders of this world--the One who gave me my life. And though my choice has led to physical and emotional struggle, I haven't regretted it for one moment either.

God be with you, Kurt

Norm! said...

Jay: "I admit that I never asked to believe in this God. He's been taught to me since my childhood through my parents, church, and community. . . ."

I'm thankful that my family shared their faith with me and gave me religious traditions (evangelical/Calvinist Christianity) to start my spiritual/philosphical life. I now wonder if I would have maintained these beliefs had I not become so disillusioned with the ex-gay struggle. When I left the ex-gay lifestyle, I felt I needed to re-assess the beliefs I was raised into and accepted. I was amazed to discover the American Christianity and the fundamentals are relatively new doctrines. The 2000-year history of Christianity has been an ever-changing faith and the understanding of God and Jesus' message have hardly been consistent or unmanipulated.

". . . But that question has not diminished my faith, only made me more determined to meet God in Heaven so I can ask Him myself."

Yikes! I know you did not intend your statement to sound morbid, but I hope you are more determined to experience God's presence during your lifetime than in your afterlife.

Jay said...

Wow...it does sound morbid :/ But you know what I meant. There are some things that I just won't know in this lifetime (i.e. the true nature of salvation, the way the universe came to be, etc.) It's not that I won't think about them anymore, but I do know that one day all my questions will be answered.

And I am determined to experience God's presence in the here and now. Truth be told, I have a severe dislike for churches that talk too much about Heaven/Hell rather than the struggle for truth and justice here on this earth. I want to experience God's presence, but that doesn't mean having my questions answered. It means having the knowledge and the strength to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.

Tin Man said...

I am praying for. I am so sorry you have been down. You are not alone. I know that none of this is easy. I have found that most things in life worth doing are not easy. If it means anything at all, just know that a brother in Christ is down here in Texas praying for you on a daily basis. You are doing just fine.

Jesus quoted this one from the cross - Psalm 22

TRiG said...

But I think the God of Einstein and Benjamin Franklin is the God of orthodox Christianity--the God of all the parts of nature that you listed, and the God that revealed Himself to humanity through the Old and New Testaments.


It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954, The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press)

A. Friend said...

Jay, how have you changed since this?

Jay said...

Oh, goodness, let me count the ways...

Honestly, I just read through this and it feels like a different person. Two years of college and way more experiences than I could count have taken place between then and now. I still struggle with the same things, obviously. I'm still single and many of my friends are starting to pair off into long-term romantic relationships.

I do get bitter and lonely sometimes, but with less frequency. I've become much more knowledgeable of the world and people, and I know that being in a relationship doesn't make one happy, nor does being single make one sad. It's up to us to rely on Christ and make the most out of whatever situation we find ourselves in.

I still miss physical affection sometimes and I get jealous of those who have it, but at the same time, I realize that I've been blessed in so many other, different ways. I still have my fears of loneliness, too, but doesn't everyone?

In other words, I'm just focused on living my life as a Christian day by day. That's how I've changed much. I try not to think of the future--it comes soon enough. :)

A. Friend said...

You know I just think it's remarkable how you have chosen to take a path (by yourself) that you didn't have to take and given your background (with supportive parents who don't see things the same way) you might have so easily decided against.

I hope I got that correctly.

I think that God is using you in a miraculous way--particularly as you're young like me. (It seems as if many, many young people don't have much time for God at all and I often wonder what will attract them to the Gospel.)

But that is a whole other issue altogether.

I am going to be praying for you tonight.

Jay said...

No, you got that right. I can't take credit for it, though. I think all praise needs to go to Christ.

And it's very kind of you to say that God's using me in a miraculous way, but He's using you too! I think to deal with this issue requires a lot of bravery and courage, so God has blessed you as well!

And you have my prayers, too. :)