Monday, September 12, 2005

18. Psalm 13

How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts  and every day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"  and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.
                                       Psalm 13

This is my favourite Psalm, and I had actually forgotten about it until yesterday, when my pastor read it in church.  As he was reading I felt myself get very excited, thinking “The Psalms!  That’s right, I forgot about the Psalms… David, a man after God’s own heart, felt like this at times too.  I might not be totally lost.”

And then last night, I pulled out my Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (I mentioned this book before), and this is a section of the prayer that I read last night (I’m just reading through it page by page):

We wait,
     not clear about our waiting
But filled with a restlessness,
     daring to imagine
     that you are not finished yet –
     so we wait,
     patiently, impatiently,
     restlessly, confidently
     quaking and fearful
     boldly and daring…

     …we wait for you to ache and hurt and care over us
     and with us
     and beyond us…
               (pg. 7)

This waiting… “How long, O Lord?”   I feel like I’ve been waiting forever… I’ve been waiting so long I’m beginning to question whether or not I’ve ever not been waiting… if waiting for God is like waiting for Arthur to return from Avalon – a nice idea, a pleasant but pretend hope, a great and grand story we tell that is probably not true...  

But I am not alone in this.  Others have gone before me and felt the same thing, like David; whose sins include adultery and murder, and whom God still loved and sought after by sending the prophet Nathan to speak truth into his life.  I say that because I know that there is at least one person who reads this blog who will say that the reason God is distant from me is because I am sinning by being gay – not by doing anything, simply by being gay… that I am dishonouring God… And while I disagree with this person, I believe that if he is right, then I want God to tell me, am I sinning by calling myself gay?  I honestly don’t think that’s possible, but I have felt so alone for so long that I am willing to accept that possibility.  And if so, what do I do about it?  Do I simply change my label?  The label isn’t that important anyway, my sexuality is not the only part of me, in fact it isn’t even the most important part of me, but denying it means lying to myself, to others… even to God… so… hmmm… even as I write this out, that doesn’t make sense.  I don’t think that can be right.   So what is it?  How do I fix this?  Is this something I can fix?  Do I just continue waiting… do I spend my life waiting?  How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?

20 Comments:

CK said...

Nice blog. I was once Christian, Gay and Confused myself, but now am Unitarian, Gay and Searching. I write at Gay Spirituality and Culture (gayspirituality.typepad.com) and my own blog, arbitrarymarks.blogspot.com

You might appreciate some of the short long-form essay I wrote a while ago...
http://caramiagirl.blogspot.com/

Thanks for sharing on your blog. I look forward to watching and sharing (virtually) your journey.

Peace.

Travis Johnson said...

My thoughts?? Drop the label. I've never had an issue with the sin you struggle with. But, I have and do have struggles with other temptations. They do not define me.

In fact, I only distance myself from those defining struggles by identifying myself with Christ. The closer I get to Him, the farther I get from those struggles.

Looking back on life and especially my walk with Christ, I see that some of the largest hurdles in life (at that specific moment) are no longer even worries. Through Christ, I have obliterated some monumental challenges.

We have that power through Him...the ability to conquer anything..."all things through Christ who strengthens me!"

Travis Johnson

Eric said...

Hi JJ,

By now, you and I both know where each other is at regarding this whole journey thing. As we wait on Him, it's good to know that I can call you sister and friend.

Bless you!
Eric

Nick said...

Hey JJ,
I've just been catching up on your blog after a hectic couple of weeks at work. Glad to see you're still hanging in there.
I've been trying to think of ways to express my thoughts on your 'labelling' problem, but it's a pretty in-depth issue. In brief, though - labelling is indeed a silly thing, but it helps people make it through the day, and you will never get away from it.
Oh, and if God was the kind of deity who would judge people for the labels they give themselves rather than their actions in that regard, I don't think he'd be worthy of worship, eg.


Pot Pot at the gates of heaven: Hey God, I've decided I'm not going to call myself a mass murderer anymore. I think I'll call myself a good Christian instead.
God: *ticks the 'Saved' box* Welcome to heaven, pick up your wings and harp on the way in. NEXT!


Anyway, I don't believe 'gays' as a class are actually mentioned in the Bible, only people who commit homosexual acts, so I don't think you should worry too much about being damned by God for a label. Just worry about real people who will hate you for it ^_-

Travis Johnson said...

People can be little and very petty. No matter what you do there will always be someone to find fault with you.

God, on the other hand, is someone who se opinion you should concern yourself. I believe that life ought to be about finding out who He is. After 3.2 decades on the planet, I have come to realize that he is not a great cosmic killjoy waiting for you to screw up so He can rain down lightning bolts on your head.

Rather, He is like a "good" father, who wants to see you do well. Like a good father, He does make judgments about us...never for our harm, always for us to be built as His children.

The funny thing is that eventhemass murderer is His child,He may be seperated from relationship with Him, nonetheless, he would bea child, created in the very image of the God he hates.

I thank God that I am not judged n my sin. I am judged on the basis of the Christ living inside of me.

Nathan Sheets said...

You need to not only remove the label, but also the association of being gay. When I was at this point, I realized that the Lord referred to ex-gays in the church in Corinth as exactly that--"that is what some of you were."

By calling yourself gay, you are identifying with sin. You are saying, "This is wrong, but I am going to continue to live under it." I know it may seem confusing, and at first I didn't see what the big deal was either--but when I stopped identifying myself as gay I received much healing.

JJ said...

nathan I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you on that one... identifying as gay was one of the most healing things I ever did. Not to mention the fact that I don't think being gay is a sin. I'm still working out whether or not being in a gay relationship is sin, but there is a clear distinction in my mind.

I know my sexuality is not the most important part of who I am, but I think sexuality (which goes far beyond sex) is more central than most people realize, just like most people don't think about or realize how important the sense of touch is -- because most people have it. It is only when things are different that we notice them. To use another example, most white people do not think of their race as being a part of their core identity -- and they probably don't see how it affects their life that much, but I can tell you that as a black woman I do think of my race as important, and I am able to see how it affects my life (and I also see how being white affects the lives of my white friends).

The frustrating thing is that the nature of this blog, and the nature of the search I am on right now make it seem as if this is the only thing in my life, and that is far from the truth.

I left my blog entry as it was because it was stream of thought, but I pretty much came to the conclusion that identifying as gay was not what was keeping me distant from God even as I wrote it out. If God chooses to make me straight (which I pursued and prayed for for years) then I will stop calling myself gay, but I will not lie to myself or others. I did that for far too long and it was a horrible feeling.

Anonymous said...

JJ,

I've been reading your posts and I am...speechless.
So, I try to comment and haven't been able to.
I hope to try now...
Your pain and confusion is so raw.
I know many men and women who are gay and Christians. I also know there are so many who struggle with this concept, as if they have to choose.
You write so intelligently on your blog about the different interpretations on the Bible. I know that you're aware of how many Christians believe vastly different things when it concerns God and the Bible. Otherwise, why wouldn't it be one church all believing the same exact thing? That troubles me, b/c all Christians believe that their version is the correct one.
My thought--if you believe in a true God the way that you write that you do--then you have more love and compassion in your 'gay' self than so many so-called Christians out there spewing hate.
The God that I know is a loving God. I have no problem with being Gay and being a good person. I love. I am devoted to my love for life. How can love be a bad thing?
If you choose to remain celibate in order to remain a Christian, well, just remember...if all sins are equal then everyone should be having the same struggles with their divorces, drinking, drug abuse, etc.
As far as having a family, you need not worry so much on that either. You still have the option of adopting a child or being a foster parent.
Please don't shut down life's possibilities.
Life is beautiful and sweet and much too short to carry that much pain.
I wish you happiness and peace.

Anonymous said...

I just found this blog. I will be doing some reading.

Please know that God loves you always. No matter WHAT. He loves you just the way you are but far too much to leave you as you are.

You and I have a lot in common. Neither of us are currently having sex with men. Both of us, truth be told, would like to, but there is no way either of us can in a way that honors God because a) you're a guy and you know what God's word says and b) I am a single female, and I know what God's word says about keeping the marriage bed pure.

I have a dear friend whose struggle is much like yours. I keep reminding him that I am here for him, no matter what. And God is here for you no matter what. He doesn't promise to make your pain go away instantly. He only promises the grace to endure and be victorious.

Blessings,

Di

JJ said...

hey anonymous, Well, for one thing, we have more in common than you realize... I am a single woman as well. :)

But there is a difference between being a single heterosexual and a celibate gay person... you have hope still for a relationship. If I choose celibacy (and it should be noted that I haven't decided for sure) then there is no hope for a relationship in my future. The difference between having that hope and not having it cannot really be understated.

Eugene said...

Just discovered your blog (as many others apparently have), and I have to say it's really cool to find someone who's asking the same questions and raising the same objections to both sides. Everyone claims to have all the answers, but their answers never quite add up.

As far as the whole labeling thing goes, if identifying as gay makes the most sense to you, then go for it. God looks on the heart, not on the petty externals that seem to get so many of His people's panties in a wad.

Personally I avoid labels as much as possible, but being called gay no longer bothers me - and it feels a lot less dishonest than the word games that ex-gays get themselves sucked into. God's made it quite clear to me that if He ever chooses to perform the miracle of changing my orientation, it will be just that, a miracle, and not the result of my chanting my way through the right series of "name it and claim it" exercises.

Anyway, just wanted to encourage you to continue pursuing truth.

Brady said...

Nathan- if you can find any biblical evidence that says JJ is sinning for simply admitting she is attracted to the same sex, I'd like to see that. Most protestant and catholic churches I know of encourage just what JJ is doing- celibacy.

JJ- good posts and responses to these comments, especially (again) about the difference between gay and straight celibacy. You're doing a great job.

Alli said...

ok I've been reading through your blog...just got told about it and so I've only read a few so far but I will definitely read more. I really wanted to do this...to make a blog about my struggle with this...I made one but then only told a couple of people about it...afraid who might find it and read it. I've been struggling with this for a year and I just realised the other day that maybe I'm 'gay'...I went through the whole giving it up and getting demons ordered away from me, and giving it up and christians saying 'it's ok, god will take it from you' and 'you only have it to help other people'...which I think is partly true...but I've only just Thought about myself as being 'gay' and it freaks me out so much. it freaks me out even more when I read that people like yourself have been struggling with it for 5 years and are still confused. I mean it makes me feel good that other people also don't have it all figured out, but it also scares me.
Thankyou so much for having the guts to write this blog.

Willie Hewes said...

JJ, thank you for starting this blog, I have only read a few entries yet but already I see it is moving, honest and meaningful. I will come back to read more, and wish you all the best in your struggle, whichever way you choose to resolve it.

Nathan Sheets, I think your understanding of what 'gay' means is different to that which JJ, and some of the other commentators on here, mean by it.

The words "I am gay", by themselves, do not describe a state of sin. To be gay means you are attraced in a romantic and or sexual way to people of the same sex. It describes the attraction, or, if you wish, temptation, and is a statement of fact.

JJ could decide to no longer call herself gay, but that would not change her being gay, and therefore could not have any effect on the state of her soul, if you ask me. If it has any effect it would be detrimental, as she is not being truthful.

I'm not a Christian scholar, and my understanding of your strain of Christianity is imperfect, so please do not interpret these words as saying you are wrong. I just think there is a logic deficiency.

Anonymous said...

Hey JJ . . . Just so you know, I AM a blogger but am very new to this place and don't have mine up and running . . . and I'm having trouble with my password. Meanwhile, please call me Di! I haven't had a chance to look around on your blog very much, so sorry I mis-read your gender. My bad!

A hope of a relationship? Well, that would be nice to think. Unfortunately, I am 36 years old and it hasn't happened yet, and though I do hope some day it will, I don't spend much time obsessing over it because hope deferred makes the heart sick, and I have too much else to do to walk around with a sick heart!

As others have said, the feelings are not sin. Acting on them is, but the feelings . . . just a temptation you deal with. Just as I deal with the temptation for cookies and hot fudge sundaes. And just as giving in to my temptations would be bad for me, so would it be for you, though you may not realize it.

Deliverance from this is not a name it, claim it thing. It is not a miraculous transformation, as much as many ex-gays would like it to be. (Newly Saved Friend wants his deliverance the same way he used to want his men . . . cheap and easy!) But it's not cheap, because it came at a high price. And it's not easy . . . because these feelings didn't form in a vaccum. Some experience in your life brought these feelings to the surface, though I don't know you and I would not even attempt to guess.

For years, I thought I knew the root cause of NSF's homosexuality. I would have been wrong. Neither he nor I were aware of the depth of painful memories he had buried deep in his subconcious.

Please, get in touch with a local ministry. Get the support you need, from like-minded people.

I am praying for you.

Nathan Sheets said...

Hey everyone that responded to me:)

I know what you guys mean. I think I explained a little more clearly what I mean in my most recent post here.

JJ-- I know exactly what you are saying, but you have to remember that when we come to Messiah we are made new by him. It seems to me that you are too concerned with splitting the hairs of "I'm gay, but I don't act on it, so being gay is not a sin." While I agree with it, I don't really see the point of spending time on it. If one wants healing, they cannot keep telling themselves and God, "I am gay, and that's just how it is." They can tell him, "I am gay, but I don't want to be." But they need to drop the label, otherwise, as God starts to heal them, they continually push back His work with "I'm gay, and that's just how it is."

Brady--I am not saying that having sexual orientation toward the same sex is a sin in of itself. My point is what is the point of having the label at all? Read what I said above as well as the post I linked to. I am well aware that most churches encourage celibacy for homosexuals--and I think that is very sad. I don't think that the spiritual gift of celibacy should have anything to do with sexual orientation, but rather a calling of God. I am "radical", I guess, in encouraging the healing of God to do whatever He has for you to do.

Willie Hewes--I totally understand what you mean, and I used to think the same way. It doesn't logically make sense, because "gay" has two meanings. If you read the link I posted to above, I think I can explain it better:)

JJ said...

nathan,

Just read your post. And before I respond, let me say "Welcome!". I do not want the fact that it seems I just disagree with you to make you feel like I don't want you commenting, please, feel free. Anyway, my response:

I think the difference is that with something like adultery, if you are no longer committing adultery, then you are no longer an adulterer. But whether or not I'm having sex or dating a woman has no bearing on my sexual orientation... just like for any straight person... a person who is straight is straight whether or not they are sexually active or not.

And I don't know how to say this without the automatic association being that I'm equating homosexuality with sickness, so I'm just going to make that disclaimer... I do not associate homosexuality with sickness. Nonetheless, I think insisting that I don't call myself gay is like when Christians will tell a person who is sick with a disease like cancer to say that they are not sick -- to 'claim their healing' by saying that they are no longer sick. It's a lie. Jesus never told anyone he healed to pretend that they weren't blind, or deaf, or whatever. If He healed them, then they claimed their healing, not before.

And as far as being not letting myself be burdened by a yoke of slavery, I guess I can only tell you my experience, but I felt more burdened and enslaved when I was in the closet than I do now. When I finally knew the truth, it set me free. I was more controlled by my desires when I was pretending that they weren't there.

I agree that we are made new creatures in Christ, but... well, how do I say this... I have been a Christian my entire life, this is not something I have brought into my Christianity as sort of leftover from a life of sin. It just always has been. And I'm going to repeat something here that I wrote as a comment on someone else's blog. If Christ chooses to make me straight, then I will be straight with joy, but if (as it seems that the case may be) He does not see fit to do that, then what I am looking for is some hope for joy in the life that I will have.

Nathan Sheets said...

JJ,

I see what you are saying--and I can see why you would have felt more depressed "in the closet." I was the same way.

I guess you have to simply think about what you mean by being "gay". If acting on gay feelings is a sin, I don't understand how it gives glory to God by saying that you are gay. If we look at "gay" as acting on the lifestyle, then what I am saying makes sense. If you look at "gay" as an orientation, as I believe you are, then what you are saying makes sense.

People will always struggle. Again, using the I Corinthians as a guide, one can easily say, "I used to be an adulterer, but I'm not anymore--though sometimes I am tempted." I ask you then--is that person an adulterer merely for being tempted? The same is true (or should be true) with those who reject homosexuality in their lives. "I used to be gay--but then I left the life style. Though I am tempted every once in a while."

When you give yourself the label "gay", you are associating yourself with it--no matter if you view it as the act or the orientation. Personally, I think we should flee all things evil and, while still being real, resist the devil.

JJ said...

nathan, the difference (in my mind) is that to say you 'used to be an adulterer' implies an action, whereas to say "I'm gay" merely states a fact of who I am. One is an action, one is a state of being.

clint said...

Your instincts at the end of this post are exactly right. Label yourself, don't label yourself -- but whatever you do don't lie to yourself about how you feel.

I'm just in awe of the courage and honesty apparent in your postings. In my own experience wrestling with all of this, I spent far too long lying to myself in one way or another. It never helped.