I sit cross-legged on my bed in the dark, my hands clinging to my chest. Tears pour down my face and onto the comforter below. My entire body tenses as I struggle to take the next breath. I intentionally muffle my own cries to not be heard, but faint, pain-filled whispers still flow from my mouth:

I can’t do this.

You’re asking too much.

This hurts so badly.

I don’t want to feel anymore.

Please just kill me . . .

As much as I’d like to say this “dark night of the soul” has only happened once after some uniquely intense tragedy, that simply isn’t true.

I’ve reached the end of myself many times, and even just admitting that is incredibly difficult.

Heartbreak, betrayal, loneliness, and fear — all related to my sexuality — have shaken me to my very core and brought me to the end of myself. Continued existence feels unbearably painful. In these moments, I’ve reached the brink of giving up hope and letting despair take full control.

More often than not, this pain has been prompted by relational struggles and difficulties.

A couple years ago, after my current roommate moved in with me, I found myself journaling this while hot tears streamed down my face:

I am so keenly aware of my own brokenness and selfishness. I’m holding on so tightly, and all that’s left is jealousy, bitterness, and pain. I ruin everything in my guy friendships. My desire to get close only makes them feel uncomfortable. What he really wants is someone with whom he can talk about women, marriage, dating, and how to be a good husband and father. Someone who doesn’t always bring up singleness or struggle or the desire to get married without the ability. All I bring is a dark cloud into his life. I bring disgust. I bring confusion and unnecessary carefulness on his part. He doesn’t want me. He wants a real man and not some stupid faggot who whines about not being able to date or talk about guys the way he talks about girls. I’m too much work. I’m not worth the effort. He’ll leave and feel relieved. Maybe he’ll even find another guy he’d rather live with. Someone he doesn’t have to worry about falling in love with him. He’d be glad to find me gone. I’m lost and alone and ready to die.

I’ve wrestled with passionate romantic desires that seem to have no hope of being fulfilled, utterly wasted. I’ve cried myself to sleep because I fear I will never find someone to match my relational intensity.

Or even worse, I fear I might find this zeal with another same-sex attracted man. But rather than that relationship bringing joy and inspiring closeness, it only causes pain, suspicion, and temptation.

In the midst of heaving sobs, I’ve attempted to claw my heart out of my chest and throw it across the room.

But there has been one constant in all these “end of myself” instances. One glorious reality that permeates all of these agonizing evenings.

Jesus was with me.

He was there sitting next to me with his hand on my back. He was there willing my continued existence and holding me together by the word of his power.

He was there giving me the strength to take the next breath. He was there showing empathy in the midst of heartbreak, betrayal, and loneliness.

He was there reminding me that every millisecond of my agony in the path of obedience is producing an eternal weight of glory. He was there telling me that my redemption has been securely purchased by his death and resurrection.

He was there promising me that my capacity for love is not a waste. He was there kissing my head and telling me how fervently he loves me.

Coming to the end of myself is where I most often encounter my Savior.

Does that mean my pain is instantly alleviated or all my questions get immediately answered?

No.

But the unshakable promise of his constant presence provides me with hope in the moment and the ability to survive even the darkest of nights.

What has it meant for you to reach the end of yourself? Who or what did you find at the end of yourself? What promises of Scripture do you hold onto most tightly in the midst of relational hardship?

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    51 Comments
    • Reply Bradley S

      16 February 2018, 2:04 am

      “Coming to the end of myself is where I most often encounter my Savior.”
      So much yes to this. This post is a beautiful and very real insight into the ever-present conflict I feel between faith and feelings.
      I couldn’t help but think of the Hymn “In Christ Alone” as I read your words. How grateful I am that He is there with me through it all, from the beginning (Jeremiah 1:5) to the end (Revelation 21:4, 7) of myself . Thanks for sharing Jacob.

    • Reply Robert Fleming

      16 February 2018, 6:46 am

      Wow, Jacob great job! Definitely got my attention. Yup. Been there. And your right, I’ve found that Jesus meets me in those moments. These days I’m also leaning towards finding a friend I can go bother as I sense those moments approaching. That way I’m not so clingy. I think you’d like this book I’ve been listening to recently. It’s called No More Mr. Nice Guy. Sounds like we have a bit in common. 😉

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        6 March 2018, 5:10 pm

        Thank you, Robert. I truly appreciate that. I wholeheartedly believe that a personal relationship with Jesus as well as a connection to authentic Christian communication are essential for our flourishing. We certainly can’t do this alone. I’ll have to check that book out. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Reply kirkdaniel74

      16 February 2018, 8:30 am

      Jacob, brother! I have been there, been, there, been there. The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath us are the everlasting arms.

    • Reply Alex L

      16 February 2018, 10:50 am

      Thank you, Jacob, for your heartfelt/heart wrenching post. I too find that I find Him when I am at the end of myself. I wish I could “force” that to happen more often.
      I may sound like one of those “devil’s advocates,” but I don’t mean to be. I often wonder if our journey is just going to be a life or pain or if there is real joy to be had. Loving each other in ways that are still in the commandments, yet loving in ways we were wired to love. Some people talk about the peace and joy of the gospel like it’s some ethereal idea that will only be present after this life. Yet others talk about it as if we can experience joy and happiness and peace in this life. Even right now. I sometimes gets stuck in between these two lines of thought.
      I don’t mean going out and having sex with guys or being in a sexual relationship is the avenue we need for happiness, but I sometimes wonder (and shake my fist at God) as to where this happiness is!
      Love,
      Alex

      • Reply kirkdaniel74

        16 February 2018, 12:17 pm

        Yes, there is true peace and joy to be had, Alex. I’ve experienced it, and pray you will, too. God bless you. Don’t give up.

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        6 March 2018, 5:29 pm

        Thank you for sharing those thoughts, Alex. I greatly appreciate your honestly.
        In Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians he says, “We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” The Christian life is full of these seemingly paradoxical realities. So to respond to your pondering if “our journey is just going to be a life of pain of if there is real joy to be had” I would say that the answer is yes to both. We live as sorrowful yet always rejoicing. We live as those who have the first fruits of the Spirit and yet we groan for the full redemption that will one day be ours. We live as not surprised by the fiery trials we have to face while knowing that the hope they produce will not put us to shame. There will most definitely be pain and heartbreak and struggle but there is also real and authentic joy and peace to be found.
        Something that I find comforting is that while our struggle is unique in many ways, every believer who seeks to follow Jesus wholeheartedly will experience a life marked by “sorrowful yet always rejoicing”.

    • Reply Dean Samuels

      16 February 2018, 12:06 pm

      An incredible vulnerable post, Jacob. Proud of you for opening up so much. Those painful moments are difficult- but when we allow God to shine His light into them, we find the beginning of the healing process. Like you said- it’s not immediate. But it moves you in the right direction. Continue to open up and be vulnerable to God and to your brothers.

      • Reply kirkdaniel74

        16 February 2018, 12:29 pm

        Good counsel, Dean. Very good. Vulnerability is hard. There aren’t words, or they get stuck and become that lump in your throat. One day I was thinking about what things help me during the dark nights of my soul, and I came up with five rules I have been following. They help me through my emotional crises:
        1. Do nothing rash.
        2. Hold tightly to what you know is true.
        3. Remember things are not really as complicated as they seem to you right now.
        4. Do something for someone else.
        5. Confide in the brethren.
        These things have helped me tremendously. Above, all else, remember that tears are a language that He really does understand.

        • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

          18 February 2018, 12:06 pm

          I especially like point #4. As someone particularly prone to wrapping myself up in myself, extending a hand toward someone else feels like the perfect (and obvious) antidote.

          • Reply kirkdaniel74

            18 February 2018, 12:21 pm

            Thanks! I am honored that the great TMZ liked them, or at least # 4. These are what have helped me. Much can be said about each of them, but none of them are easy to put into practice in the moment.
            But, yes, # 4 is VERY helpful in taking the focus off of me. And helping someone else is very rewarding. Gives you renewed pupose in life and a sense of redemption for all that you are going through.
            If we can see past our own hurt to that of others, or see our own hurt in theirs, and move toward helping, we are on our way toward hope and healing.
            Not easy, Tom, but God matches every step we make in the right direction by taking a step closer to us.
            Blessings, brother.

        • Reply Jacob Baranowski

          6 March 2018, 5:31 pm

          These are fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing them.

    • Reply JoshT

      16 February 2018, 12:17 pm

      I really resonate with your journal entry as I go through this time of my life. It also ties into your first post about being fully known and fully loved. Longing for deep, meaningful, intimate friendships yet feeling invaluable, unwanted, and a burden to others though we were simply handed this tension and would never choose it ourselves. I feel like a leper, unclean in others eyes, unable to share my needs and have them be fulfilled. Thank you for sharing your story!

      • Reply kirkdaniel74

        16 February 2018, 12:45 pm

        “I feel like a leper.” Isolation is a horrible feeling, Josh. Been there.

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        6 March 2018, 5:35 pm

        Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability, Josh. I know the pain and the challenges you are walking through but I can say that you are not a leper nor unclean. You are worthy of love, affection, and belonging. I earnestly pray you are able to find those friendships. Hold on, my friend.

      • Reply WaveDave

        29 March 2018, 1:46 pm

        Josh…I am right there with you both in the longing for meaningful friendships and feeling like a leper. As I type this, I am praying quietly for God to meet your needs…can I go out on a limb and say you are a precious person according to Psalm 139.

    • Reply Bradley Joel Morton

      16 February 2018, 9:35 am

      At the end of myself, I always find myself at David Wells grave. This was the turning point of my life, the crux if you will. His death was the start of my homosexual desires; and oddly enough, the end of them. His death marked a turning point in my life, descending in hell. The Lord showing me where his grave was brought me back from that hell. I want to vomit now every time I want to be with a man.
      I have peace in my life for the first time in thirty three years. I learned to say ‘I love you’ to God back in June of last year. It is still a hard thing to say, even though He loves me. I don’t say it all the time, because when I do say it, I mean it. My love for God is hard fought; I had to decide who I loved more: God or David. This should be an easy answer, but it is not, I could feel David’s warmth; he was not afraid to touch me. It was hard to feel God’s love when David was so violently taken away from me. It was hard to feel God’s love when I was homeless; just surviving on tips from being a male stripper and eating ramen noodles.
      I had to come to the end of myself, nearly dying in the ER from a stroke, before I could feel God’s love. He showed me that love time and time again after the stroke; supporting me and my family when I couldn’t. His greatest act of love was showing me David’s grave, so I could accept his death and replace my loss with the love of God. Still at times…

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        6 March 2018, 5:16 pm

        Thank you for sharing those parts of your story, Bradley. You have gone through pain and hardship that I can scarcely imagine and I thank God for continuing to pursue your heart through it all. I very much appreciate your thoughts on saying “I love you” to God only when it’s real and authentic. That’s something I definitely want to think on more carefully in my own life so that it doesn’t become mechanical.

    • Reply Chris B

      16 February 2018, 10:33 pm

      ” Heartbreak, betrayal,loneliness and fear- all related to my sexuality.” Jacob, my heart was broken for you and I cried for myself as I read your post. Your clarity and insight is so spot on i had to respond! I reached the end of myself 2 years ago about this time, that night I discovered YOB. That night I began a new journey, one that will probably last the rest of my life. My no. 1 go to scripture is 1Cor 12:9-11, ” My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness”. I still not able to boast about it or delight in it , but I do accept it. May God bless you for your faithfulness to Him. I look forward to more great posts.

    • Reply Paul Miller

      16 February 2018, 11:03 pm

      The heart-ripping pain I felt along with you as I read your blog entry is one reason why my heart has brought me here: to encourage those who need to hear three powerful words–“I love you.” Not…”I am in love with you”, or “I want to make love to you”…but “I cherish, value, esteem, treasure…love…you.” From my sickbed today, from my world of ice and snow, from the path of being well in my 60s, I wrap my yearnings in a prayer for you. Indeed, the presence of Jesus is the only presence that fully embraces, accepts, and yearns for us. May the Lord step into your life with a friend who will give you the desires of your heart, as that most excellent Scripture declares. From here to there, I am so very glad I can be a part of your “cloud of witnesses” to encourage you to run and not be weary, to walk, and not faint, to rise up with eagles…and fly, fly, fly.

      • Reply kirkdaniel74

        17 February 2018, 8:21 am

        Paul, this is beautiful. Your words arefor Jacob, but they are warm balm to even me. Thanks for encouraging others, brother! God bless you on your sick bed.
        There is an old hymn we used to sing:
        Friendship with Jesus
        Fellowship divine
        Oh, what blissful, sweet communion
        Jesus is a friend of mine.
        It is so very true. But even then, I believe the Lord has flesh and blood friends for us. He has given me several that love me unconditionally and who walk the road of life with me. God bless all the men here with the same.

        • Reply Paul Miller

          19 February 2018, 12:21 am

          Your words, too, are beautiful. Forgive me for the delay in responding. So much going on in my world, but the genuine gladness of your words and the words of that hymn (and the melody I hear in my head) were treasures. How I long for heaven, but how I also take joy in the pleasures here for us. May they also give to you what your blessing has given me.

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        6 March 2018, 5:37 pm

        I appreciate that with all of my heart, Paul. Thank you for sharing those words and for coming alongside us here. You are known and you are loved.

      • Reply WaveDave

        29 March 2018, 1:40 pm

        Wow Paul…I am trying to catch up on things, and read your heartfelt post. It meant a lot of me to read it. I trust you are much better now and thanks again for your kindness here.

    • Reply Marshall R

      17 February 2018, 7:50 am

      I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a similar place of reaching the end of my rope. Like you it is usually because some guy has disappointed me. I also crave deep friendships with other men and it deeply hurts when they reject me, drift away emotionally, or dismiss my issues as insignificant.
      Also like you I have always found Jesus Christ in the middle of that pain. He is the one who has what I really want. His love is better than the love of any guy!
      When Jesus Christ is the center of my friendship with another guy, I endure these disappointments a lot better! It still hurts but I see the pain and sacrifice as the path to great joy in God.

    • Reply Fred

      17 February 2018, 8:14 pm

      Don’t have much to say except wow, this is awesome!

    • Reply Ez

      19 February 2018, 9:14 am

      Can very much relate to the feelings of loneliness, despair, fear, sadness, etc all wrapped up together into a crushing tidal wave that overwealms me. I’ve had so many times where it’ll just hit me, and I’ll be left crying and wondering where it’s all going. Wondering if it’s all worth the pain and agony. For me, I usually first allow myself to feel all those emotions, to let myself air out all the self doubts. Then I’m more able to think through all the good things, and attributes I have. To reach out to G-d for His support and guidance in my life.

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        6 March 2018, 5:42 pm

        I’m thankful this resonated with you and my prayer is that it was able to provide you with some hope as well. I can promise for both of us that it’s worth the pain and the agony even though it may not feel like it in the moment. Keep holding on, brother.

    • Reply mistaken identity

      21 February 2018, 7:42 pm

      “He was there sitting next to me with his hand on my back. He was there willing my continued existence and holding me together by the word of his power.” So true and so well-stated, Jacob, as is the entire piece. Your pain, our pain, as well as your trust in God’s goodness (however shaky or tentative at times) will somehow advance the kingdom of light. Thanks for your costly transparency! I had a good roommate when I was your age; he is now my son’s godfather. I would have counted it a privilege for you to share the place with us (yes, I understand the time-bending aspects of that assertion).

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        6 March 2018, 5:44 pm

        Thank you so much for those incredibly encouraging words. God has been so good to me in providing exactly what I need and he’s proven himself over and over again to be worthy of my trust and any costly sacrifice he may ask of me. I’m glad you’re here with us.

    • Reply WaveDave

      26 March 2018, 8:09 pm

      Thank you Jacob for such a great post. be encouraged that God uses you to bless many lives here…I’m short of anything to add, but will that be enough…God has His hand of blessing on you and He is so using you faithfully.

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        28 March 2018, 4:27 pm

        Thank you so much for saying that. I really appreciate the encouragement.

        • Reply WaveDave

          28 March 2018, 10:29 pm

          you are most welcome…won’t it be wonderful to have a reunion in heaven with all the brothers here…where we will be fully known and fully loved by each other and we will see our Savior face to face…but until then we have work to do here. Now about that cheesecake…!

    • Reply Henry Wasonga Abuto

      10 April 2018, 5:56 pm

      Jacob, You are an incredibly gifted writer. As I consumed your words, I had flashes to the many times I too have been at the “end of myself”. The agony and utter despair that come can often feel so unbearable. I know what it feels like to just wish that the flood of emotions, thoughts, and longings,would stop. For the sting of the unmet expectations to lessen. For the disappointments to not derail so strongly. You can’t heal what you don’t reveal. I applaud your bravery and I am praying for you right now. So thankful that we serve a God who isn’t afraid of our struggles, who runs towards us in those moments, and who cares so profoundly for us that it gives us a new hope. If you don’t know the song, check out “find you here” by Ellie Holcomb. Powerful. Also, i appreciate the nod in your post to John Pipers words found in the middle of the acoustic version of “Though you Slay Me” by Shane & Shane.
      Lastly, I want to remind you that your capacity for love is NOT a waste. I wrestle with that thought a lot, especially as friendships change and seasons of life come and go. It is worth it and God will use it to bless people. Hold Fast.

      • Reply Jacob Baranowski

        12 April 2018, 5:01 pm

        Thank you so much for those incredibly kind and encouraging words, Henry. I am indeed filled with hope for the future and I know that God is worthy of my unwavering trust.
        I’m thoroughly impressed that you caught my Piper quote!! He’s one of my favorite human beings and that song by Shane & Shane is incredible as well. I’ll definitely look up that Ellie Holcomb song and give it a listen. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Reply Drew

      26 April 2018, 6:20 pm

      This was pretty close to my own experience. I was faced with a hard decision of whether to follow Jesus or follow my sexuality. I chose Jesus, but it was hard. That particular time in my life was my “dark year.” Were it not for my close female friend, I would not be here now. Thanks for your honesty!

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