It was fall of 1993. I was loading up my shiny, red S-15 pickup truck and moving to Galveston. It was Phase 2 of my plan to become a world famous killer whale trainer. Phase 1 consisted of a 3-week tropical marine biology class in The Bahamas and a separate overnight stay in Paris…Texas that is. I was leaving my home in Barnsdall, Oklahoma and finally pursuing a Marine Bio degree. When that truck drove out of my parent’s driveway for the last time, it was packed with a comfy, college dorm chair, sentimental, knick-knack crap and equal parts bitterness and rebellion. In the driver’s seat was an angry, hurting 22-year old boy. That boy, was me. There were many reasons I was headed to Texas: college, a psycho ex-boyfriend, Shamu and to run away from who I had been for the last 16 years. I also hoped that God wouldn’t pursue me that far south of the bible belt.
The night before I left, I packed every, last, damn thing I owned into that little, red truck. I resented my parents so much that I slept on a comforter in the middle of the living room floor, as one last act of defiance.
My mom wasn’t ready for me to move that far from home. Her pain was palpable. I sensed it before one tear dared to stain her cheek. She came to me that night to wish me good night. I had already begun to close my heart off to her emotionally. After years of torturing emotional incest by my mother, this cold, callous reaction was simply a defense mechanism. That night, however, she came to me broken, wounded and sincere. It was that night I think her “mother’s” heart, shattered into a thousand icy shards. It was a turning point for both of us.
Her words were simple and true. “You don’t have to go,” she said. “I don’t care if you are sick,” she continued, “I don’t care if you are dying. I don’t care if you are gay. You don’t have to go.” “I don’t care if you are gay”. The words are still just as haunting today.
She knew? SHE KNEW! She knew.
Paralyzed by fear, I just stood there. I looked away. I couldn’t let her see further inside. Besides, my eyes were as cold and dead as my heart. I said nothing, but left her alone to face the echoes of her pain in silence. Nothing was going to change my mind. I was tired of hurting, tired of not fitting in and tired of all the lies. Texas was my answer. Texas was going to “fix” me. At some point in life, I drew comfort from her confessions. Yet, there was nothing she could have said to reach me that day. My feet were firmly planted in Oklahoma, but my heart was already in Texas.
My mom knew that many of the reasons I was leaving would fall under the heading, ‘Escape’. I had mistakenly filed them all under “Freedom’. It didn’t matter. At 9 that next morning, I would be fully committed to whatever brand of heaven or hell lay before me.
That self proclaimed journey into ‘Freedom’ led me down the road to periodic HIV tests, many a drunken stupor and blackout and eventually a heart so broken and deceived that it led to a night of prostitution. The most incredible thing wasn’t that I Survived my self-prescribed journey into freedom. The most incredible thing was The Reason that I survived it.
Jesus Christ was with me the entire time.
From the moment I set foot in Galveston, God was with me. The first guy I dated was a Baptist minister’s son. What did we discuss on our first date? Christianity and homosexuality. This is what happens when God has a call on your life. He won’t frickin’ leave you alone. God was there. Even when I thought He wasn’t. Even when I hoped He wasn’t. Even after I told him to ‘F’ off, because I was going to be gay no matter what. Even then, He never left me, never abandoned me. Years later, I would read the following passage in the Bible, “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7-10. The author was expressing the realization that there is literally nowhere we can go to be to away from God.
While I wasn’t so keen on God seeing everything I had done, I couldn’t deny that life with God was like one great, big, spiritual “Where’s Waldo” adventure.
My story of redemption through Jesus Christ was one of wooing and chasing, doting and pursuing. I rejected Jesus for so many years. Yet He pursued me. I blamed Him for all my pain. Yet He continuously forgave me. I built a wall around my heart. I pushed people away. I lived in the rancid isolation of sexual brokenness that so many in today’s gay community call “Freedom”. I can’t remember many days when I called out to God, but He never stopped calling to me.
I have every reason to daily hang my head in shame, for the porn that I have seen, the sex I have had and the life that I lived. However, the word of God says in
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus). I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. What a reason to hold my head high and celebrate. It’s not my any act or effort of my, but by the power of Jesus Christ to save me, cleanse me and forgive me.
I am no longer defined by the sins of my past. You can choose to no longer be defined by your brokenness, but instead by the One who fixes the broken. It took me more than ten years to surrender most of my broken pieces to Jesus. Yet it took Him less than a millisecond to say “Welcome Home”. As a boy who had always looked for a place to belong, those words fell like rain in the desert of my isolation. Jesus is still performing rescue missions little brothers. It matters not what you’ve done or are doing. What matters most, is saying Yes to Jesus. The bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. It’s time; to end one journey and start another. The same Jesus Christ, who took those first steps with you into sexual sin and brokenness, is waiting at the next exit with cheers and celebration.
“Let the children come to me…for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14