The year was 1997. I had just started “dating” the second to the last guy I would ever date. I was working as an animal trainer in Gulfport, Mississippi. The guy’s name was Matt. I had been seeing him only a few weeks, but had already given away my heart and my body. I wanted desperately for him to come to see me perform in a dolphin show. He always refused the invite. I felt rejected. I persisted in asking. When I stopped begging, he finally showed up, but he attended each show with a calm disinterest. It was this behavior that drew me further into his world, seeking his approval. It was one of many mind games he would play. I had plenty of chances to leave him, but as horrible as he was, he was all I had. I look back now and wonder What The Helicopter was I thinking?
The truth is, I was set up to fall prey to guys like Matt way back in my childhood. I was born a sensitive boy, with a distant dad, an abusive brother and a growing “natural” dislike for other guys. The chasm between myself and other boys further widened, because history would show me that men interactions with men were harsh and hurtful. As much as I “hated” men, I grew up with a deep longing to be one of them; a regular guy connecting with other guys on a deeper level. It was a simple, non-sexual desire to be with guys at first. That deep need to belong went unmet for years. Then a guy named Jamie took me to my first gay club.
Just like Alice, I stumbled hard and fast down the rabbit hole into a fabulous, new world. For the first time in my life I was meeting men I could identify with; men like me. My desperate need to be a part of the world of men veered off course that night. These new guys, looked and acted like regular guys, but they were a new breed of men altogether; showing interest in me, paying me compliments, listening and giving me the attention I desperately desired.
I grew up wandering around as an uninvited guest in the world of men, but these new guys welcomed me wholeheartedly. I found the attention enticing; gripping. During those first intoxicating moments I was enveloped by the social quicksand of the gay culture wouldn’t see the light of day for 10 years. That night I was introduced to the savior I would serve religiously for the next ten years; the god of approval. Whoever listened, whoever stopped for more than a second look was rewarded with a piece of my soul. My deep seeded emotional need was met and it deafened me to the cacophonous cry of my wounded heart screaming over and over: “TURN BACK! TURN AROUND! DON’T DO THIS!” It was a track that would play repeatedly in the background of my life for the next ten years, but I became as adept at tuning it out as I did the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Years later, the Matt mentioned above, would come along and find me desperate again. I had worked tirelessly to suppress all things gay for months. I even dated a girl. The landscape of my life was devoid of even one connected male peer. The hungry false god of approval I had pledged my heart to so many years before cried out for a sacrifice. I was starved for attention. I was living my dream, but had no one to share it with. There was no one to come home to at a day’s end and worse yet, no one to simply say “good job”. I was terminally in desperate need of someone to convince me of my value, pay attention to me and give me worth. The trouble was that I rarely searched for these things in the presence of God, but instead mined endlessly in the exhausted quarries of the human genome.
I would later identify why guys like Matt had such a mesmerizing hold on me. My fractured relationships with my father and other men had forced me to wander the desert with other fractured men who had suffered the same fate. I was desperately searching for a man to affirm my masculinity; to approve of me as a man, but I was doing it in a world of broken men. I never received real affirmation of my masculinity from my real father and it left a deep, desperate longing in my heart to simply be loved and cherished by a man, a “father” if you will. I submitted myself to an endless parade of men over the years, hoping that just one might quell the torturous ache in my heart. No one ever did.
This entire blog came about, because of the following question I felt I heard from the Holy Spirit. “Do you share your testimony to lead people to worship and adore you?” or “Do you share your story of rapture from “no man’s” land to lead people to worship Jesus; in whose arms your search for value and affirmation ended?” Let the daily quest for all of our answers begin.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness…
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.