Technically, I should be sleeping. No one told my brain. A few days ago, I did the typical end of the year cleaning which fostered a mess of emotional excavation. Ricky Lee. The name of a person you have never met. He wasn’t a rock star, or a politician or anyone particularly important. He was, however, one of my best friends.
Ricky’s mom and my mom were best friends. My mom didn’t have a lot of friends in our small town, but she and Linda were close. Ricky was born a few months before me. We were atypical boys. Ricky’s mom dabbled in hair dressing and as a result, Ricky dabbled as well. More at home playing with “girly” things than “boy” things, Ricky was teased by the other boys. I hung out with Ricky when our mom’s would get together. I didn’t mind the stuff that Ricky liked, because I wasn’t really into the stuff other boys liked either.
Our father’s couldn’t have been more different. Mine was uber religious and Ricky’s was bit more worldly; rough and tumbled. It didn’t matter. Neither one of us were particularly close to our fathers. We skied through our early lives, using our mother’s apron strings to propel us along. Our brothers hung out as well. Buddy was my brother and Billy was Ricky’s. There was 5-6 years between us and brothers. They didn’t share our delicate nature and normal everyday guys. If either of our mom’s ever agreed to let our brother’s babysit us, the result was often catastrophic. A black eye here, multiple bruises there and on one occasion, I had to remove a dart from the soft tissue of my wrist.
I am not sure what would have come of our friendship if Ricky had made it past the age of seven. Ultimately, it was contemplation I would not have to give any oxygen. On Halloween of 1978, my friend Ricky was struck and killed by a car while trick or treating. Our small town was paralyzed with the news. You see, in a town of around 1500, everyone knows everyone. So everyone knew Ricky, his mom, brother and dad. Everyone knew his family and his relatives. No matter how many rules and regulations could be enacted after that night about Halloween, it wouldn’t bring Ricky back. Something in everyone’s spirit was broken that day. It was my first introduction to death. A concept I wouldn’t fully understand again, until my cousin’s mom died of cancer many years later.
At the age of 7 myself, I remember feeling sad for a few days, but as with any seven-year-old mind, life goes on. On the stage of my life nothing seemed to change. However, it was craziness going on behind the scenes that would change my life forever. My brother would be sexually molested by a man in our town, a story I wouldn’t hear until well into my 30’s. And another little boy, in another city named Aaron went missing and my mother went into panic mode. From that moment on, my life was on lock down. I know that my mother and father were doing everything they could to protect me the harsh realities of the world, but in the process, I was secreted away and locked in a glass coffin as the world went on around me.
There would be other events in my life that no amount of parental supervision would protect me from. I was exposed to pornography at age 6. I was sexually molested by boys closest to me in age. I was teased mercilessly, by those who didn’t have a window into my past, but only a view of the wretched canvas, satan’s tricks had painted in my life.
I have spent the last 18 years sorting through the rubble of a wrecked life. Emotional Time Traveler has been the longest running accomplishment on my life’s, ever changing resume. I’ve dealt with bullies on either side of the gay issue: gay and straight. I have been attacked by those in the church and those in the gay community. It seems that no matter how God calls me to live my life, someone is always in disagreement with me. In some respects, at the age of 45, having gone over every aspect of my life with a microscope, I have to say I am numb to the banter of idiots who haven’t lived my life, telling me what is good for me. Some say I was “born this way”. Some say there is no hope of redemption. Some say nothing. Most hurtful, are those who know the truth of the bible on homosexuality and my story of redemption from it, and decide that being gay is just simply a part of God’s design. God will never sign off on sexual lives contradictory to His Word and design for marriage.
More than ever before, it’s time I stop listening to the cacophony of voices shouting all manner of lies. Cowards whose strength and courage emanate from the far side of a keyboard, rather than in face to face conversation.
Despite all the horrendous things that happened to me. I needn’t delve further into the raw hand I have been dealt in this life, because at the end of each and every trial that I survived, it wasn’t because of anything I could have handled on my own. I didn’t rise up from the ashes, as many in our world do, each time shouting a new meaningless verbal diatribe that will get me through to my next endeavor. I made it through the hard times, because as sure as there is a satan that brought on the attacks, there is a God in the sky who brings about the victory. Jesus Christ was the only reason I survived the teasing, the bullying and the constant emotional and physical bombardment of my mom’s bi-polar rants from my birth to her death.
Well meaning Christians can tell you all manner of things when you worry or have fear. And they do. Anyone can stand at a safe distance and throw a thimble of watered down scripture on life consumed by the raging fires of fear and worry and feel accomplished, while doing absolutely no good. It takes real people who have experienced the redeeming power and friendship of Jesus Christ to walk with a brother in the throws of devastation.
Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As I contemplated the last year; really the last few months, I stand firm on my faith that no matter how hard life gets, Jesus always had it harder. Jesus didn’t cause my pain and suffering. Jesus did use it to shape the man I am today. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only reason I left my gay life so many years ago and the only reason I stay away to this day. Jesus is the friend with the answers when I’m staring endlessly at the cell phone wondering who will think I am the least craziest. I haven’t been as faithful as I should have these last few months. Maybe you haven’t either, but I was reminded by a small voice tonight that God’s grace has no expiration date.