So, there’s this guy I know called Garth. He wants to be called Bob on this blog, but that’s not happening; my apologies, Garth. You’ve already heard me mention him. He is my new coworker whom I shared with my SSA struggle and who then encouraged me to go to my current pastor. He’s a great guy.
Garth and I first met as I interviewed for the job I now have. I was visiting for the weekend doing my final interview, and he and I had scheduled a breakfast meeting. I had already “met” him via phone calls and FaceTime and Facebook, but I had yet to meet him in person.
Honestly, my first thought was that he was kinda cool. I wasn’t sure how we would get along, but I knew it would be important for he and I to have good chemistry.
The night before our breakfast meeting, we somehow got to messaging each other. What began as confirming meeting times turned into sending each other hilarious pictures of ourselves dressed up for church events. I dared him to wear his CHiPs uniform while he requested my creepy sunglasses.
At this point, I knew we would get along great.
Our breakfast the next morning could not have been more awesome. My wife was with me, so she got to meet him too. Another of my potential coworkers joined us as well. Between jokes about waffles and church, I left with a great feeling about Garth.
Fast forward a few months to when he and I were sitting down to lunch together. We had a natural flow to our conversation when it turned serious and we began discussing homosexuality.
Now, I had not yet mentioned my struggle to anyone up here. I’d strongly considered it, as I knew it would most likely come up some time in the future anyway. And — as I’ve now discovered — people don’t necessarily like being surprised by giant secrets from your past.
So, when Garth began asking a question or two about how to reach out to those who are wrestling with same-sex attractions, I was faced with a decision: I could play ignorant — my secret would be safe and none would be the wiser — but I also wouldn’t be able to help my coworker / new friend at all.
I don’t know what made me say what I said; I can only assume it was God. But I began gradually.
I first directed Garth to my friend’s blog and book — he’s a Christian who struggles with SSA and has chronicled his journey. I then mentioned that this same friend might even be putting together a blog with other Christian men walking similar journeys. I told Garth to be on the lookout as this blog would be launching soon (spoiler: it now has).
And then I stopped. I didn’t want to say anymore. I didn’t feel that I should have to. I had helped, Garth was on a good path, and my part was done.
Yet I felt this twinge inside of me; it said I wasn’t done. I was reminded of something a pastor said many years ago in a sermon that helped change my life: “God sometimes uses your greatest weakness for His greatest works.”
I wanted to keep this whole SSA part of my life hidden, but I knew that, in doing so, I would be refusing to let God work through me.
So, as Garth and I got in the car to head back to work, I quickly released the information. I’m pretty sure it sounded something like: “I’m attracted to men and used to identify as gay, but now I don’t, but I don’t identify as anything, but I’m married to a woman who knows all this and still loves me” — all said within about one second.
Since I was driving, I didn’t see Garth’s facial reaction. I’d like to think he didn’t grimace. Knowing him, he probably just nodded his head a few times like he does almost every time I begin talking to him these days. I think it’s his way of silently asking me to be quiet so he can say something better.
Either way, he was encouraging after my word-vomit. And I felt slightly more at ease.
Since then, Garth has taken time to hang out with me for lunch every so often to see how I’m doing in this process. I’m involved with so many new friendships now, having just moved hundreds of miles away from home for a job, so it’s refreshing having one that seems to be going well.
Garth also keeps up with this blog. So, hey, Garth — this one’s for you! And sorry again for not calling you Bob.
Have you ever “word-vomited” on someone about your struggles? How did they react, and how did you feel afterward? Have you ever felt convicted about holding back and not letting God work through you and your struggles?
* Photo courtesy Andreas Klont, Creative Commons.