God is trying to drive me insane. Let me explain. Have you ever had a train of thought take up residence in your head? I have. When I was younger it was homosexuality. That was a lifestyle that developed little by little in my heart and mind. The enemy set up traps and obstacles along my path. They were simple and unassuming at first. “Your Dad loves your brother more.” My brother was always angry and threatening. I was different than other guys, not because I was born gay, but because I was a young, sensitive kid raised by his mom. I learned how to be a human by watching mom. We were way too close when I was young. Mom was always the loudest voice at my house. For a kid who hated conflict, it was easier to say on her good side.
Gay advocacy groups denounce the “absent father/overbonded mother” factor when it comes to the development of homosexuality in a young man’s life. As someone who has talked to a lot of parents of gay kids, I can tell you this. The stories I hear about the family, the gay son and their home life, are almost always communicated by an extremely vocal mom, while the dad sits silent. When he tries to interject, it is often met with interruption and correction from her. Oftentimes these women have patterns of emasculating their husband and any other male in the household. My mom always had to have the last word; whether through depressive, teary sobs or manic enraged screaming. It was hell growing up in a house like that. When a father is not in charge of the home, everyone, including the wife is affected. I believe a lot of the problems in our home stemmed from a father that wouldn’t take leadership of the home. He said it was always easier to let mom have her way.
I don’t blame my dad. As they say in the south, my mom was a bearcat. I didn’t learn about women from my dad. I learned about them from watching mom. That didn’t leave me with the best impression of them. This learning curve was a daily occurrence for the better part of my 20+ years at home. Breaking free of a domineering mom is akin to the space shuttle trying to break free of the earth’s gravitational pull. It takes a lot of force, a lot of planning and when it’s all over, it pays to find a safe distance to orbit for awhile. To the dads I say STEP UP. To the mom’s I say STEP ASIDE. Let God realign your household according to his plan and purpose, not according to your woundings.
So how is God trying to drive me insane? By asking me to work on a new area of my life. He is targeting a new train of thought, as damaging and derailing to his plan for my life as homosexuality was. Bitterness, unforgiveness, wounding, hurt and pain have taken up residence in my heart. I found this verse today in Ephesians 4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
My response. “It’s not like I don’t want to.” It takes a lot of energy to be mad at people. I have tried. Eventually, I give up, they move or sometimes I move, but the offense remains. I had an ex-boyfriend at Oklahoma State that I used to meet up annually for a night of sin and debauchery. I would be lying if I said my move to Texas in the summer of 1993 wasn’t influenced by the idea of never seeing him again.
Getting offended was my mom’s hobby. I would almost say her profession. She taught me so many great things. How to cook fried chicken and real mashed potatoes. She taught me that making gravy, the right way, could potentially be grounds for divorce when Dad didn’t follow her instructions. She made every Christmas special. But there was a dark side to my mom that you experienced right along with the good. To say my mother was easily offended, would be like saying the ocean is large and deep. Her expectations were higher than any of us could ever have lived up to. She would go to McDonald’s and special order a “very, well done cheeseburger”. That’s like asking Hillary Clinton to tell you the truth. It ain’t gonna happen. Mom would take the cheeseburger back to the table, examine it and then march back up to the poor kid at the register and unleash hell. I learned quickly to shoot for perfection or face the wrath.
I also learned that holding grudges was a way of life. As a young man distanced from all males in my household and hopelessly tagging along behind mom, I perfected the art of unforgiveness and building walls. When people didn’t meet my mom’s expectations, she had disengaged from them. I watched my mother over the years, become an island with no close friends, a strained marriage and mental and physical ailments brought on by holding on to stifling and life altering bitterness.
I always judged my mother for this. I always wondered why she couldn’t just forgive. Forgiveness sounds simple enough on paper. Then there is that half ass forgiveness method of, “I can forgive, but I won’t forget.” That’s like being trapped inside a house on fire and telling the fire department, “I’ll come out, but I’m gonna stand on the roof.” I don’t judge my mother any more. The elements that sustain bitterness in a person’s mind are palpable. I’ve experienced it firsthand. I understand what she went through; the hurt and pain inherent in our every day life.
In this new phase of ministry, it seems offenses are programmed in. I have heard, “If you let people, they will walk all over you.” You have to stand up for yourself. I never learned to stick up for myself. I did learn that everyone is out to get you and you have to be on your guard. You can see how an attitude like that might stifle relationships. God has me on a journey that I didn’t want to take. He kinda bought the ticket and then pushed me onto the plane as they were closing the door. It’s a trip I need to take.
I learned better than anyone, how to keep yourself safe from the hurt and pain of relationships. The key was always to keep your relationships superficial and short. I lived that way for too long. I had to be in control of every relationship. If you let people get too close, you’ll just get hurt. Then I began to read “The Bait of Satan”, by John Bevere. Page after page paralleled the bitter life I had led. As I read the truth of where a life lived being constantly offended leads, I felt the bonds that held me fast began to shift.
I lived my life holding on to anger and bitterness day after day. I couldn’t bring myself to forgive people, because I felt if I held on to the hurt, I could one day force them to see how much they had hurt me. As I became more familiar with the bible and the story of Jesus’ last moment’s leading up to the cross, I grew more and more convicted by my growing bitterness. Isaiah 53 prophesies about Jesus trial and torture. 53:7 “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Movie scenes from “The Passion” depicting Jesus’ crucifixion were deemed too graphic, by some critics. Jesus suffered unimaginable torture even unto his death for me and for you on the road to the cross. I am convicted every time I get my panties in a bunch over silly little things, now. Yet the conflict rages daily in my mind between living a life of forgiveness and holding onto offenses.
For me, bitterness, anger and unforgiveness have became just as much of a sinful lifestyle as homosexuality. With Christ’s help, I will lay them down at his feet as well. Ephesians 4 provides an encouraging scripture. 22 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”