Some of us authors recently got together for a retreat. We hung out, refreshed our hearts and minds, and enjoyed each other’s presence. I didn’t make it to last year’s first-ever retreat due to unfortunate circumstances, but this year I made it.

Before the retreat and since the start of this blog, I’d not met most of the other authors in real life — though we’ve contacted each other through social media. So this year, I was pretty excited to see all of them! Some couldn’t make it, but I was still happy to see most of the authors and finally put voices and faces to their writing.

Throughout the whole retreat, it was amazing to have fellowship with the other guys and just be myself among them — for all of us to be open with what we’re struggling with, collaborate on ideas for potential posts, poke fun at each other, and mostly just be ourselves without judgment.

One of the things I like to do is observe. So while I was at the retreat, I was observing the other guys: how they acted, how they perceived themselves, and how they treated each other. Though all of us are different and have different ideologies, one thing was constant: LOVE.

Then, boom! This Scripture (John 13:34-35) popped into my head:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Yes, all of us were at this retreat because we struggle with SSA to some capacity and fellowship with each other through this common struggle.

But at the end of the day, the central focus was Jesus. Jesus is love, and through Him all of this was possible. If it weren’t for Jesus, it would just be some hangout weekend with a bunch of gay guys.

I think of the term #SquadGoals for our group. Go back to the Scripture, and the command or goal is there!

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another….By this all will know that you are My disciples…”

The disciples back in Jesus’ time — though they had a hard time practicing this — did evidently love one another to some capacity. I mean they didn’t kill each other when Jesus was around! But once Jesus left this earth, and the Holy Spirit came, love was amplified even more.

They could fully practice loving one another.

Throughout our retreat weekend, I realized how different we all were. Some of us were introverted, others extroverted, intellectual, sensitive, etc. Yet, we were all there for the same thing: to encourage each other despite our struggle with our sexuality and level of maturity in our faith.

In the future, we may have problems with one another. We might not see eye-to-eye, or have different perspectives for handling stuff, or a joke may go too far, but in the end it comes back to this central thing that unites us:

Loving Jesus and loving each other.

Just like Jesus had #SquadGoals with His disciples, we were His #SquadGoals too.

Is love the central theme with your group of friends? Do you desire this with a friend or your group of friends? How do you specifically love others?

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  • Is love the central theme? Hmmm. If you were ask my group of friends I think the answer would be: “We’d like to think so.” However, if you asked me it seems the central theme is simply fellowship whether it’s all male or co-ed. Yeah, there’s love but there are also boundaries. You can only be so open and honest, yet be aware we have limits. I would like to have a more loving relationship with a friend or friends particularly one that I can be open and honest. I tend to have a more loving transparency with online friends like you guys and gals than with real-life ones. While at the same time the in-person relations do have their own share of emotional investment and being fully vulnerable runs the risk of rejection. If rejected, we have to start all over again creating new relationships elsewhere with new people whom we’re not entirely sure we can be completely authentic with either.
    I would say I specifically love others and they reciprocate in kind with just “quality time.” I also love others through gift giving, but only during special occasions (paying for a meal, giving a gift card, etc.). On the other side of the coin, I prefer receiving words of affirmation, physical touch (yes, I’m a hugger), and quality time as my top three love languages.

  • Yeah, I hope you guys know that what y’all have and what y’all have done here is so rare and so special. Like in the other community where one of our main goals is to provide community for each other I think what a lot have in mind or what love to have is what you guys have right here

  • Most of my friends are activity based- bible studies, church groups, sports. It’s hard to go from that “activity layer” to the deeper connection, where love lives. I desire friends who love earnestly like this, like the disciples, like Jesus. It’s hard to find, and it’s hard to let yourself be loved.

    • I’ve been there before. It takes time to get to that level. Eventually your group will get there, but it’s good to start preparing yourself to be vulnerable with a small group, even if it means you’re the only one being vulnerable for awhile.
      Also, challenge or ask them if it would be weird if we knew each other on a personal level.

      • I love that question- “Would it be weird if we knew each other on a personal level?”
        I’ve been thinking about that in context of my family. We are friendly towards each other, but not personal- I spent most of my teenage years feeling isolated and rejected because I was harboring this secret about being gay, while my parents and everyone else talked about how bad these gay people are. Then in my college age years, I came out, and my parents told me about adam & eve, how it’s not God’s plan, etc. And when I confronted my dad later, in frustration he said, “I don’t want you to ever talk about this with me again”. So I spent several years after that not talking to my parents about anything of substance. About five years ago, we went from being chilly around each other to more relaxed, but still it’s all on the surface.
        I would say that my relationship with them is one of my regrets- that they didn’t see me, that I didn’t open up to them earlier, that we pretend that there are no problems on the surface. I mean, I wouldn’t want to share the gory details of my struggle with them, but part of me longs for them to acknowledge that they know how much I struggle on a day to day basis- with myself, with God, with culture, with this idea of a “perfect christian life”, that I’m not taking it lightly, and that I’ve had to overcome so many things to get where I am. I want them to be proud of me.
        But it’s hard to get past the negative moral and political stuff. That’s all they see- that gay people are making a choice and not what they actually are- hurt, broken people who need compassion and love. They don’t see that “gay” is not a sin, but instead, a result of sin, our broken world. I fear that if I try to open up the issue again, they won’t see me- that I didn’t choose to be gay. That I’m not sinning by admitting my reality. That no, getting married didn’t make me straight. And that no, I am not cheating on my wife.
        I think my biggest fear about opening up is that the person across from me won’t see me- and what I’m saying. That instead, they will judge me and reject me, and throw me away.
        I’ve had so many experiences of rejection, I have learned to fear vulnerability. I’m not sure what I will do. The stakes are higher with my parents- I want them to know who I actually am- not just the shell of the kid they raised. And I want to model to my son what it means to be honest, to do things that are hard, to be authentic.
        I guess I should start with my church, that’s a little easier. Ha. Thanks you for responding earlier, and sifting through all this with me. 🙂

  • Matthew, I echo what others have already said but this group is different and indeed special. Your retreat sounds AMAZING and like a very special time. I agree with you that the end of the day it’s about loving Jesus and each other. If we get the first one (loving Jesus) then the second one (loving each other) comes standard. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more at home in an online family of other brothers whose common struggle is ssa but whose common focus is loving Jesus. Thanks for writing!

  • Matthew,
    I was at the YOB retreat both last year and this year. I so appreciate the genuine Christian love you guys show me even though I am old enough to be your father.
    That would never have happened if it had been just a hangout weekend for gay guys. The typical youth-obsessed gay culture would have treated me like an outcast. Instead, you guys hugged me, shared openly with me, and even asked my advice.
    That is the love of Jesus Christ!

  • My #SquadGoals include longboarding with you and your friends one day! And having you stylize my look. But you already know this.
    Grateful for this post and your presence at this year’s retreat, Matt! We missed you last year. So glad it all worked out this year. You are one incredible brother.

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