My thoughts are random at best right now. As I was brushing my teeth tonight, my emotions accessed some distance portion of my brain that took me back to the day that my mother died. At the time I didn’t know the events of that Friday morning would result in her death. My thoughts danced on the border between utter chaotic sadness and simple recollection. What would we do or say if we knew that the very moments we were spending with someone were our last. Those last moments with mother shortly before her death seem as surreal as one can get. After they loaded her into the ambulance and we didn’t see her any more I knew in my heart that she hadn’t made it. Thinking something and seeing the actual thought materialized in front of you is a jolt of reality that always takes some getting used to. When my friend and coworker Dawn died at Sea World I went into an alternative reality for a few days. Everything was real in my life except for her death. After all, how could Dawn be dead. I had just seen her a few days prior. And death is just something that happens to other people and on the television. I remember keeping the front section of the paper with her picture on it, face down on my nightstand for days. I knew what it said. I knew it was her picture. But if I didn’t look at it, I had my friend for a few more days. I didn’t have to accept the awful truth. I didn’t want to face the reality of Dawn’s humanity, my own and that of those around me. I wanted, as I have most of my life, to live in that happy place where terse words are sometimes exchanged, but nothing bad ever happens. I remember the day that I walked over to the nightstand and flipped the paper over. There it was. The truth, I had known about, but had chosen to avoid for days on end, because to be quite honest, I couldn’t handle the truth.
After my mom’s death, I felt it was best to do something right away for my father. So I began to clean his house. My mother had everything bathed in swatches of purple and lavender. I went out and bought dad blue things and striped things and took all the purple away, because that is how I felt would best help him grieve. Out of sight, out of mind. My mom spent her last days in a recliner. My father asked that we removed the recliner. That is all he really asked, but I took it a step further. My mom had turned into a bit of hoarder, so I began to de-hoarde the house. In my exuberance, I got a little carried away. It seemed to my brother that I was embarking on an all out effort to erase mom’s memory from the face of the planet. To me it seemed logical to get rid of things that had been in boxes and storage for years. My brother wanted to keep all of mom’s stuff and not the letters she had written him. I wanted to save her letters and get rid of all the material stuff. I thought he was being ridiculous and rude. He thought I was being a heartless bastard. In the end, I had to open up my mind to the grieving process and how everyone copes very differently than I do. And that was okay.
The bible says that we shall know the truth and the truth will set us free. I think the reason that so many people don’t embrace the truth is because they believe the path they are on is the truth. It is easy to see how so many are deceived by the enemy. If their bondage has always been “their truth” and they have built their entire lives around “their truth”, then when someone comes along and offers them the actual truth, they can’t easily accept it right away. That was the case for me. I remember homosexual attractions as far back as age 6. But to make the quantum leap to say I was born gay is to rule out all the environmental stimuli that shaped my behavior from 0-6. Even if someone remembers a homosexual memory at age 4, there are still four years unaccounted for that could have shaped the sexuality of a sensitive, artistic and creative little boy.
My truth evolved over the years into the philosophy that I was gay. I built an entire mental kingdom around that one. So when the bible came along and said that the only way my brain had ever told me to respond was wrong, it wasn’t met with the greatest hospitality. In my heart, I believe I knew the truth, just like I knew my friend Dawn was gone. Just like in the situation with Dawn though, even though I knew the reality, as long as I didn’t turn the newspaper over, I could keep myself safe from the truth a little while longer. And so at the age of nine when God called me into the ministry and for all intents and purposes out of homosexuality, I took the bible and turned it over on the nightstand of my life and went back to sleep for years. I knew the reality of God. I knew the truth in those words figuratively laying face down “on the nightstand”, but as long as I ignored it I could live according to the truth I knew, the truth I understood. The truth that let me live my life and didn’t condemn me.
Years later my truth would eventually betray me and expose my heart to all manner of hurt, isolation and pain. That’s when I remembered the bible I had casually cast aside so many years before. On the morning when I sat on the edge of my bed and decided to reach for the newspaper confirming the news of my friend Dawn’s death, I willed myself to prepare for the harsh reality of the truth. It was this same act of will that I mustered the day I decided to stop living according to “the truth” that I was born gay. The truth I reached for that day wasn’t that there was a God out there that condemned me. The truth was that there was a God out there who had been pursuing me for years to help me exchange the lie of my existence with the Truth of His Word and the life giving truth of His Son, Jesus Christ.
The truth will set you free my friend, but first you must set free “the truth” that is daily destroying your life. Jesus Christ longs to have a relationship with you. He longs to replace your vices with peace and hope, just like he did with mine.