Even When I Don’t Know My Other Brothers

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I remember first meeting Tom Zuniga. He could barely have a conversation to save his life. This is not an exaggeration. He was so difficult to talk to; I almost considered killing him. I am thankful I did not. He is a great friend and brother.

I remember first meeting Sam Adams. He was blaring Taylor Swift in his car as he drove by me. This wasn’t to impress me; this was his everyday practice. I had no idea this guy would end up being one of my closer friends in life. I am thankful for him so much.

Honestly, I could go through and mention the other times I first met several of my “Other Brothers.” I love each and every one of the authors on this blog. I haven’t met all of them yet, and I probably wouldn’t recognize some of them on the street. I definitely don’t know them like I know my other friends.

I still consider them my brothers, though. We still fight alongside each other.

There isn’t a day that goes by where these guys don’t cross my mind in some way. As a community, we pray for each other, laugh with each other (and sometimes at each other), and cry with each other.

We also get angry with each other. There are miscommunications and misunderstandings. At times, we hold different beliefs that sometimes offend each other or seem impossible to each other. We even avoid talking to each other out of frustration on occasion.

Last year, I almost left the group entirely.

I share all this because I want you to know that we are not a perfect community. We are not the picture-perfect example of a group of brothers who hugs each other all day, every day, and shares our feelings while holding a “feelings stick.”

But we are a group of guys committed to doing life together. We are committed to serving Christ with all our hearts and honoring Him in all we do.

My brothers and I want to be there for each other because we know what it’s like to be alone.

I may not know all of my other brothers.

But that doesn’t change that they are my brothers.

And it does not change my love for them.

Do you partake in regular community, for better or worse, through thick and thin? If not, what kind of community do you hope to join one day? What traits would you want this community to personify?

* Photo courtesy kashifjohn, Creative Commons.

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  • Kevin Frye

    I feel you, man. Really true. We’re all humans more than we are guys with SSA, and humans don’t always get along so easily. Good relationships take time and mutual effort. Thanks for sharing this, Dean. I hope I can meet you face-to-face one day.

    • Dean Samuels

      I hope to meet you too, Kevin. I appreciate you so much, brother- more than I probably can ever tell you.

  • For a while the only sense of community I felt was in our Bible study group. It is mostly falling apart as most of the men are old and infirmed. Bue even as this door closes, anoither door has ppened as I go to Celebrate Recovery and I have a sense of community with my brothers there. Still, I know of no side B Christians. I suspect there are many, but this is such a taboo subject in this part of Texas, that they seem to be in hiding. The only ones who are willing to talk about homosexuality openly are side A Christians, and I fear their influence. There is a gay bar here, but for me this is not an option as it only for hookups. So I greatly appreciate this community that only came about through technology and the need saw by Tom. I need you guys, which is why I became a Yobber. Thank you.

  • For a while the only sense of community I felt was in our Bible study group. It is mostly falling apart as most of the men are old and infirmed. Bue even as this door closes, anoither door has ppened as I go to Celebrate Recovery and I have a sense of community with my brothers there. Still, I know of no side B Christians. I suspect there are many, but this is such a taboo subject in this part of Texas, that they seem to be in hiding. The only ones who are willing to talk about homosexuality openly are side A Christians, and I fear their influence. There is a gay bar here, but for me this is not an option as it only for hookups. So I greatly appreciate this community that only came about through technology and the need saw by Tom. I need you guys, which is why I became a Yobber. Thank you.

    • Dean Samuels

      And we’re thankful to have you with us, Bradley. You’re always welcome here.

    • Artista

      I think you said you were in what’s considered the ‘deep South’ of Texas? What are the Side A Christians like? I live in the Gulf area, so homosexuality is less taboo around here.

      • The side As here are not militant at all, but are insistant that if you any homosexual desire, then it is from God and you should act on it. I grew up in a time (and this was only thirty years ago) when any talk of homosexuality involved Sodom and Gomorrah, the wrath of God, and all gays burning in hell; and there is still some of that. But now Christians seem mostly embarrased of the whole thing. They will begrudingly witness to someone who is gay, and then quikly change the subject. I serioulsly knew of no others who were gay and celibate till January. Before then I though I was alone. There is no support here for someone like me. There is one ‘gay’ church here, but only side A Christians go there, and I see it as an unwanted influence, because they don’t promote celibacy, but encourage the gay life. The thing is (and few people understand this) I did live the gay life and it was not only a living hell, but it was very empty, as hollow as one of those chocolate flavored rabbits you get for Easter.

        • Brad

          I love the hollow Easter bunny analogy – nice. What part of Texas? I visit the Dallas area every once in a while.

  • Ashley Lavergne

    I think we should all partake in community in some way or another. I was born in a big family and when I moved out I went straight to YWAM where everyone lives in community. Even after we got married we still lived with everyone. So naturally being by myself here in the States has been a transition, but I adapt. What has helped me even though I do not live with a community at the moment is my online side B community. And yes, online communities definitely have their limitations, I’ve been able to find support in it and make some good friends. And like in all communities as you said, we’ve laughed and we’ve fought – it’s part of life and absolutely part of community living, but I always find that for me it’s worth it

  • Same! Grateful to know you, Dean. Thank you for not murdering me once upon a time.

    • Dean Samuels

      I’m thankful I didn’t murder you either, Tom. I’m also thankful you didn’t run from me and my extroverted explosion of conversation.

  • Fred

    I have no idea why but if I’m ever in a really crowded place like a theme park I’ll seriously look for the people I’ve seen pictures of on this site in the crowd, hoping to recognize someone. Of course, I’ve yet to see anyone (what are the chances?) but it’s kind-of fun (and very crazy). No idea why I shared this.

    • Dean Samuels

      I definitely do the same, Fred. I’ll look for people I know in crowded environments- even not so crowded environments. I agree that it’s fun though. 🙂

  • Dean Samuels

    I can’t wait to see you again either!! 😀

  • Tristan Foster

    I’m part of an organization called North Star International (northstarlds.org, ldsvoicesofhope.org) where I’ve been able to make incredible progress with my relationship with Christ and with myself. I was miserable before I had people to talk to who shared similar experiences as I have had. There’s a learning curve to finding community, however, and I’ve met people on my path who are more than happy to take advantage of naivete. Fortunately the group I’m in now has proven to be safe.

    • mistaken identity

      I’m grateful you have found that group.

  • Alan Gingery

    I am a member of many different communities: church, Joel 2:25 (Christian men’s support group for men with SSA), JIM Alumni (alumni group for men who have gone to Journey Into Manhood — Brothers Road experiential weekend), Celebrate Recovery (Christian 12-step group), Other Facebook support groups, etc.

    Mostly I want the group to be supportive of me and I want to support others in the group. I want vulnerability and honest as we walk this road together.

    As Tim Timmerman wrote in his book, “A Bigger World Yet”, “Over the years, outsiders have observed the profound effect the group has had on its members… A cocaine addict for two decades kicks his habit. A man on the verge of suicide, heavily medicated by his psychotherapist, stops the medication, fires his therapist and is filled with hope. A son, defeated by shame because he could never live up to the expectations of his powerful father, stands tall and creates a business that fulfills his own dream. A husband who is reduced to jelly by his wife’s anger stands his ground and learns the art of loving combat…”

    When asked the secret of the changes of the men in the group, Keen says,

    “The superficial answer is that we don’t do anything except talk about the things that matter most to us, and listen to each other. We laugh a lot. We challenge each other. But a more profound answer is that almost by accident we discovered the missing ingredient that is necessary to the health of the male psyche as vitamin C is to the health of body — the virtue of community. Medicine. What I found was that men in our culture share a common experience of growing up male and as a result I no longer feel left alone in my struggle.”

    Timmerman makes this conclusion:
    “…all men desire to have brothers who know them and walk with them in this life. Any man who would say he doesn’t is either asleep or dead.”

    • Dean Samuels

      I love Timmerman’s book- thank you for sharing! Such great words!

  • This seems like a great place to express my growing appreciation for YOB. I’m still a newbee to the group, but I feel such a connection to so many of you already, both through the postings, and through some of the responses I’ve read.

    Speaking for myself, I can’t have a sence of “community” unless there is a deeper sense of belonging first. And the first thing I noticed here in YOB is how well some of you brothers express sentiments out of deep places in your own hearts, that put into words so well the very same things I’m feeling, or that I have felt before. That is true connection! And I don’t believe that people can find true “community” without it.

    And if I may single a few of you out, I want to thank each of you personally for the ways in which your posts have already affirmed me as if to say, “You are welcome here. You are safe here, and you belong.”

    Eugene Heffron, especially for “Discovering the Heart of My Nudist Desires”

    Kevin Frye, especially for “Let’s Talk about Erections,” and “How My Friends Helped Me Desexualize Men,” and for “I Want to Masturbate with Other Guys”

    Tom Zuniga, especially for “He Doesn’t Want to be My Friend Anymore”

    and Marshall R, for your kind and thoughtful response back to me, after reading one of my very first postings in comments.

    I’ve belonged to several community groups over the years, most recently to a group called “People Can Change.” But I hadn’t found the “community” there at PCC in three years that I’ve already sensed here in just three days.

    And though it may be premature, Tom, Church today felt better to me than it has in such a very long time, after finding the opportunity to share about my lost friendship with Oscar, in the comments under your post that I mentioned above. I’d needed to share that for a long time, and this “community” inspired me to do so.

    Thank you, one and all! I look forward to interacting with each of you, and getting to know each of you better in the days, months and years that lie ahead of us.

    Your Other Brother in Christ,
    Dean Bailey

    http://www.beyondtheshadesofgray.org

    • So great to have you with us, Dean! I’m encouraged that you’ve found connection and belonging here in such a short time.

  • Joseph Tanel

    I’m new to the group and let me just say, this is such a good place for me because I feel like myself. You guys are practically the only ones who know what I go through and I’m so grateful that I get to read all your stories and wisdom about living a life through faith while dealing with day to day struggles with SSA. YOB is definitely the type of community I like because I don’t feel judged, I feel accepted.

    • So glad to have you here with us, Joseph! Make yourself at home among brothers. We’re here to navigate this journey with you.

      • Joseph Tanel

        Thanks! I’m glad to be here and blessed to have such wonderful brothers!

    • We welcome you Joseph! This group chaged my life! If you can I suggest supporting them. It will grant you access to the Yobbers group on Facebook where you will meet more of us.

      • Joseph Tanel

        Thanks for the idea! And for the welcome

    • Dean Samuels

      Welcome, Jospeh! So glad you are here. This is definitely an incredible community, one that welcomes you as you are and loves for how God made you. I look forward to journeying with you!

      • Joseph Tanel

        Thank you Dean! I look forward journeying with you as well!