Life has both calmed down and sped up considerably recently, which can explain the lack of blogging around here. On the one hand, I feel that I've calmed down recently, at least emotionally. Okay, I did have one pretty epic outburst (which I'll get to later) but for the most part my days pass by without much incident. I have a few depressing hours every now and again, and I might even be in one while writing this, but I've become quite amazed by the world's unflinching ability to keep going, whether I feel happy or not. I think God has given me the resolve to keep going along with it, and I thank him for that. On the other hand, I have been really busy recently. I work almost every day, I have a lot of things to read for class and I'm already starting to develop ideas for my thesis. I just signed up for summer courses, I have to write two more short stories to complete my coursework this semester, I wish to revise and edit the two that I've already written, I am applying for teaching jobs in Baltimore and I also have a strong desire to go through my old blog and edit each post for grammar, punctuation and precision. I know, my perfectionism knows no bounds, right? Yesterday I looked at the journal that I've been keeping since college. A large part of me wanted to buy a new blank volume and re-transcribe everything I had written in it, word for word, since I deemed my handwriting in freshman year to be too sloppy.
Perhaps that last anecdote is indicative of my emotional state for the last few weeks. Aside from all the busyness, there has been an undercurrent of fear. Oh, sure, I've had great times in the midst of everything. I visited a good friend in West Virginia, and had a great weekend. I walked around Baltimore on a spectacularly sunny day and took pictures with another friend of mine. I've gone to dinner with friends, read great books, had great conversations on the phone with my mother and have basically carried on the routines of a normal, healthy life. However, I can't fully let go of the past. I still have a lot of emotional anxieties related to that horrible month of July, a full seven months ago. In many ways, I still feel like I'm living in the postlude of that month, since the relationships that were lost then still reverberate very heavily in my heart. Even though I know that my mental health has improved greatly, and my life seems to be on track to any outside observer, I still have so many fears and anxieties related to what happened then. I know, I haven't really blogged extensively about that time period in my life. There are a lot of issues involved there, the greatest of which is the desire to protect the privacy of myself and others, and I just haven't had the time to begin the delicate process of examining this past summer in a public way that would be both fruitful and respectful to all parties involved.
To make a long story short, though, I still fear the same things I feared then. Namely, I fear losing the people in my life. When friends who you love and trust, and who say they love you in return, abandon you, it's extraordinarily difficult, for me, at least, to recover. I still haven't. Every relationship that I've made since, I feel that I've only put half of my heart into it. I'm afraid of people getting to know the real me, because I'm afraid that once they do, they'll want to pull away, just like a good friend did in July. Worse, people who I haven't talked to in awhile... I feel that they are avoiding me purposefully. Even though I know that folks drift apart naturally over time, ever since this summer I've been paranoid about my personal relationships. If someone doesn't talk to me, even if they say they're busy, I fear that it's due to an indictment against my personality. I assume they don't like me. This is especially true with regards to anyone who I had conflict with, or who was connected to the issues and broken relationships I had over the summer. Trust me, this isn't a really pleasant way to feel. Cognitively, I know that it's not rational and that it's not even true. Emotionally, however, it's intensely sad and almost crippling at times. I've learned to cope with it and continue living, but I would really like it to be gone, to be perfectly frank.
I suppose in order to clarify what I consider abandonment, I guess I should define what I consider to be personal closeness. That's difficult to do, however. In truth, I've had a difficult time recently trying to bring clarity and precision to my own definitions and premises. I know what I believe when it comes to God, Christianity, the Bible, politics, etc. However, I know that my fear of losing people often keeps me from saying those beliefs boldly and clearly. I'll easily hem and haw about a subject if I fear that the person will no longer want to spend time with me should they ever learn what I truly think. There's no other term for this attribute of myself than sheer cowardice. Similarly, I can keep my emotions repressed for awhile, in order to simply enjoy the artifice of someone's company. However, neither of these repressions can last for long. One example should serve as a model for any. A friend of mine, a fellow struggling guy, recently started dating a guy. Although he had been trending towards this position for awhile, I told him that I would support him and be his friend no matter what. On the surface, those words are still true. I do still consider myself his friend, and I do support him. Naturally, though, I want to support the decisions that will ultimately lead him towards Christ, not away from Christ. That wasn't clearly implied in our earlier conversations, and in fact, I willfully kept it hidden because I feared coming on too strong about the dangers of approaching gay-affirming theology would cause me to lose the friendship.
Ultimately, when I learned that he did indeed have a boyfriend, both my emotions and opinions burst forth, and they weren't tempered in any way. I'll be the first to admit that I made an awful show of it. I was harsh and abrasive, condescending and rude, and even though I do think that heaven and hell are absolute, literal realities and that unrepentant sin is a sign that a believer, well, isn't a believer at all, I think I was more "fire and brimstone" than I ever had been. That's saying a lot. The conversation was heated and I haven't talked to him for the past two weeks. I hope we can reconcile, and of course I have an absolutely crippling fear that we won't. I just realize that a lot of this would have been avoided if I was more consistent and honest with what I believe from the start, rather than letting it burst forth when, really, it was too late to change his mind. Not only that, but I fear for him. I remember a post that was posted on Revelife recently, where the author reviewed the fascinating Lisa Ling documentary about the ex-gay and gay Christian movements. He mentioned something about one of the struggling men interviewed for the show: "After seeing his tear-rimmed eyes, I could never be convinced there's not something Special rooted deep inside him, beckoning him to abandon himself for something far greater."
I have met many men and women who have cried, who were passionate about their commitment to God and the denial of their feelings, who seemed beckoned to abandon themselves for Christ... Many of them have helped me on my own path, and have kept me fighting when I didn't feel like fighting anymore. The friend who broke ties with me in July, and the friend who I recently shouted at for having a boyfriend, they're both very significant to me for that reason. The first, though I know next to nothing of what he's up to, is still fighting, I hope. The second, I fear, is giving up. And if he has, I fear that that love of Christ I sensed in him might not have been there at all. I know I shouldn't judge. I really know nothing about the state of one's eternal soul on this side of eternity. However, I can't pretend that that's not what is at stake, here. God didn't call us out of homosexual behavior simply because celibacy or heterosexual marriage are so much nicer. He called us out because our sins bring his wrath. If we love him, we are to keep his commandments. Sure, we'll stumble. We'll hem and haw about our convictions, we'll sometimes lose our battles with the flesh, we'll have moments of pride, anger, doubt, lust, jealousy... But we'll be committed to winning the war, despite all of that, won't we? To succumb to the flesh in a moment of weakness is one thing. To rationalize and justify sinful behavior, and even claim that it is a gift from God, is quite another, and is a sign that one might not be truly saved, despite how much they tugged at our heartstrings while they were still fighting.
That's why I fear for friends when they begin slipping away from this struggle. There are many things I may admire about them. I have nothing but respect for those who stand in the face of public opposition, and who are willing to be who they are despite the fact that they may lose friends. I know many ex-ex-gays, as they're called, have lost a lot, and they have my fullest sympathy in that regard. And I know that simply having a boyfriend doesn't mean you're bound for hellfire. I think it's pretty established that our stories are complex and tumultuous. I've had a boyfriend once, and I've stumbled more times than I'm usually willing to admit. However, I think there's a genuine cause for concern, isn't there? When someone is driving towards a bridge that you know is going to collapse, you want to hold up warning signs, don't you? You fear for their safety, and you'd rather that they stop far away from the bridge, rather than have a near-miss, right? That's how I feel about this. I fear for those drivers. I don't want to see them plunge into the cold waters beneath the bridge.
The only difference is, by saying this sort of thing, I'm holding up the warning sign. Even if my methods of holding it up are abrasive and rude, and I wouldn't disagree with anyone who said that those are dominant personality traits of mine, I'm still holding it up and doing something that, I think, is ultimately loving. But the drivers who hear it might not see it that way. They might hate me for it, and abandon me as a friend. I fear that, too. I fear it so much.