Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Belonging

I think one of the most persistent, consuming themes of my life is an overall desire to belong somewhere. It's certainly been one of the most dominant themes of the past few months. While my old blog was focused more on my struggles with homosexuality, and my opinions about gay rights and the ex-gay movement, I think I've finally discovered what I want this blog to be about: The struggle to belong. It's something that I've been thinking about quite a lot recently, and I think it's something that many people who struggle with same-sex attractions, and many Christians in general, struggle with and can relate to.

I've always belonged to several things. I've belonged to my family, I've belonged to the small and somewhat insular community that is my hometown, I've belonged to several organizations and groups in my college days. Most recently, and perhaps most importantly at the moment, I've belonged to this strange but simultaneously wonderful community of online Christians, brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attractions. I don't think it's a stretch to say that I've put more effort into belonging in this online community than I have in my real life communities. I suppose there is a reason for that, which I wish to discuss here.

I've always considered myself a writer, first and foremost. Am I a good writer? I don't know. I don't think I'll ever get published. The competition for publication is extreme. But that's a little beside the point. The fact is, I express myself better through writing than I ever could in person. When asked to describe myself, I'll often say that I'm loud, obnoxious, opinionated and outspoken. Real life friends would look at that and think, "What? You're one of the most mild-mannered people I know." I think online friends could nod along in agreement. That's because my writing style is pretty blunt. I don't dress things up and I don't hem and haw. I usually say what I think without many qualifiers.

This creates a certain level of tension. I see myself in the same way I see my writing. When I was in high school, I wrote fantasy novels and short stories. They were horrible by conventional standards, but they gave me worlds I could live in and worlds I enjoyed. They gave me worlds where I belonged. Similarly, I think my journals, blog posts, Facebook chats and comments from the past few years have been, in my head, the world where I felt I most belonged. But that kind of thing can only last for so long... At least, that's what I've been discovering recently.

One of the biggest struggles of the past few months, which have been among the most painful and harrowing months of my life, has been feeling like every place where I once belonged is being ripped out from under me. A friend raised the hypothetical question of whether or not God is ripping everything out of my life in order to get me to rely more fully on him. We'll see about that. Hopefully as I make the discoveries, I can get some good feedback from my friends on here. Thank you all for your support and wisdom.

3 comments:

  1. Change is one of the rules of earthly existence. It can be for the better; it can be for the worse. When it is change to something we have loved or been comfortable with, even change for the better can bring the sadness of loss. And these changes probably happen at a greater rate in our lives in the period from high school graduation to beginning a career. Perhaps your losses have been uncommonly painful.

    I think that it is possible that you will find situations where you belong and people with whom you belong as you go along in this new stage of your life. Of course, further change awaits you when you finish grad school. But you can look forward to a point at which you will have a settled career, and associations in your work life, in community life, in church life, and friendships; and you will be able once more to feel the sense of belonging — assuming you don't withdraw from such things, but seek them out.

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  3. Like you, I have often found writing to be a preferable means of communicating rather than by having face to face conversations. When talking in person, I often feel too self-conscious, shy, or reserved. And, in general, I am just much more of a listener by nature. When I write, however, I feel more free to speak (there's a way of putting it) and am able to think things through a bit more coherently.

    As for losses in life, allow me to offer another possibility. I am sure God wants you (and most all people) to rely more on him, but maybe, in addition to that, the reason why you are experiencing certain losses is because in order for God to get you where he wants you in life, you have to experience those losses. Here's an example. The last few years I've experienced the loss of friends, my job, my church, a girlfriend, and to an extent the support of my parents. Each loss was a very real hurt. However, in experiencing these losses, I was able to mature more, to make new friends, to go back to school so that I can get a better job than my old one ever could be, and became closer to my brother. The other things are still being worked out. But the point is that, for myself, I see how God is working in my life to lead me to something better. I can see where I had to lose certain things in order to get to where I am now and where I'm continuing to go (which is a far better place than I used to be in life). So, maybe that's the same thing with you right now. Maybe God is getting rid of the stumbling blocks, so to speak.

    Take comfort, and know that you do belong in a lot of ways. You are valued as a friend, a teacher, a student, a son, a brother, an uncle, and definitely as a member of the body of Christ (and I'm sure I'm leaving out many things). Even if you feel on the edge of these things, you are still very much a part. I'd dare say you are more important to a great deal more people than you could ever imagine. Have hope and let go of all worries! :)

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