Several weeks ago I made a decision: that I would drastically reduce my time on social media. It was an attempt to drain the shallows from my life – reducing the meaningless, easy-to-replicate tasks to give more time and space to the activities that create meaning and fulfillment in my life.
Last week I wrote about my sexual compulsion which flourished in grief, despair, and self-loathing. Most of all, the sex addiction was watered by the unwillingness to allow myself to love and be loved in a distinctly erotic way.
In 2013, I was sick with heartbreak. My boyfriend, on a sunny January day in Baltimore, broke up with me.
He was a conservative Christian, and so was I. We both believed that homosexuality was not God’s best for humanity, and that it would be a sin to act on it. And yet, here we were: deeply in love, and now deeply heartbroken. We had lived in a horrible in-between place, unable to change our beliefs and unable to stop loving each other. The dissonance drove us mad, and it ended in him breaking up with me. I’d never known such rending emotional pain.
In her book Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L’Engle writes,
When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening. I will never understand the silent dying of the green pie-apple tree if I do not slow down and listen to what the Spirit is telling me, telling me of the death of trees, the death of planets, of people, and what all these deaths mean in the light of love of the Creator who brought them all into being; who brought me into being; and you.
This questioning of the meaning of being, and dying, and being, is behind the telling of stories around the tribal fires at night; behind the drawing of animals on the walls of caves; the singing of melodies of love in spring, and of the death of green in autumn. It is part of the deepest longing of the human psyche, a recurrent ache in the hearts of all of God’s creatures.
Our world is suffocated by addicting, irrelevant, glittering images: a perpetual cascade of memes, buzzfeed articles, emails, tweets, and status updates from friends. This is, as Cal Newport describes it in his book Deep Work, The Shallows.
Wendy VanderWal-Gritter – a Christian thinker, ministry leader, and straight ally – has long struggled with the dynamic tensions of being a person of faith who also embraces the gay community.
Nearly every gay person raised in the Christian world has heard it at least once in their lives: “You know deep within your heart that what you are doing is wrong. You know in your heart that homosexuality is not God’s best for you, and you are just unwilling to admit it, running away from the truth.”
Far too often, we hear this from the people we love the most: old friends, pastors, parents and siblings – the people who raised us, nurtured us, taught us how to understand the world. They are concerned, well intentioned, unaware of just how damaging, belittling, dehumanizing those 9 little words are: “you know the truth deep down in your heart.”
Several years ago, as I was journeying out of the traditional theological view of gay marriage, I read an extraordinary book by Dr. James Brownson titled Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing The Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships.
Bible, Gender, Sexuality is a thing of theological beauty: elegant, persuasive, and deeply compassionate. It was the book that allowed me to finally pack my bags and walk with confidence into affirming gay marriage and my own gay orientation.
Every so often, a book appears that changes everything: the way you see God, yourself, and the world. The past two years have been my Season of Reading Consciousness Changing Books, but none have had such dramatic effect on me as Meditations on the Tarot by Anonymous.
Years ago, a therapist once said to me, “Stephen, you are so open, and honest. You expose so much of yourself to the world, and that is wonderful. But I want to challenge you to do something: keep secrets. Keep something away from the world, just for yourself. I don’t care what it is – it could be your favorite drink at Starbucks – but just keep something secret.”