“What?!” all of them replied.
I’d just told them about my consideration for suicide. Josh sat next to me on my left, and he looked at me with pure sadness.
“Dude, why didn’t you tell us this?”
I shot back, “I’ve been telling you guys basically all of my sob stories for the past few months, and it’s not getting any better! It’s like I’m repeating myself in different ways, and it seems like it’s getting annoying!”
“Matt, you know we all love you and we don’t want anything bad to happen to you. There is a reason why you keep coming to this group, and I don’t want anything horrible to happen to you! I already lost one cousin to suicide this week; we don’t need to lose another brother like that. If you need help, you have our numbers!”
Josh had this stern, but loving concern for me as he gave me a huge hug – which, of course, I’m never a fan of. But this Thursday was different. I felt different. So, I just gave in. Just this once.
Every Thursday, I have a men’s Bible study called “He-bros” (they named it; I just entered it). It’s led by two guys, Josh and Taylor. Both are straight, and the whole group is straight – with the exception of myself. The guys have known each other and been best friends since elementary school. Whenever you enter the group, it feels like you’re part of “the guys.”
Before we get into our Bible study each week, we do this thing called “thorns and roses” – what’s been a good thing for you this week, and what’s been a bad thing? Usually, we take 45 minutes of thorns and roses for everybody, then an hour of Bible study.
Trust me, it’s so good for your soul to have a time spot and place to vent all your troubles and triumphs with other men.
Oh! In case you’re wondering, this group of guys does act like your typical “bros.” But in a joyful way.
I came into this group a few years back. Josh, our faithful leader, preached at a ministry night, and I could tell this person was genuine and very down to earth. When that first ministry night ended, I went up to him and thanked him for his preaching; on the spot, he invited me to his men’s Bible study.
Since then, I’ve stayed and never left.
Flash-forward years later to my announcing my suicidal considerations and all of these guys’ appreciations that I was in the group. If I weren’t part of the group, they would have never learned what someone who is gay/SSA (same-sex attracted) experiences and most likely remain ignorant of it.
I was almost done with my turn of thorns and roses, and I remembered wanting to tell them I liked a girl. I just blurted it out: “So, I like this girl, and I think she’s pretty awesome!”
All of the guys were a bit shocked and surprised to hear that come out of my mouth.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” Taylor said with your typical, straight, bro-like affirmation. “When did you start liking this girl?”
I told them the story from a few years ago, and Josh said, “Man! This is definitely a surprise! I mean, I think we shouldn’t conclude anything yet, but I think God is giving you some freedom from your past!”
In some way, that was comforting to hear. So, I asked, “What do I do? Should I tell her that I like her or just keep it to myself?”
All of them blurted out, “You gotta tell her!”
One of the guys said, “You won’t know if she likes you back if you don’t ask her! You’ll be kicking yourself and looking back on this situation, asking why you didn’t ask her that question. Even if she doesn’t like you back, at least you’ll know, and you can move on.”
They were right!
I knew I had to get this off my chest! I wouldn’t feel right keeping it to myself, being one of those creepers who kept playing make-believe in my head with different scenarios of how it could have gone down. I couldn’t do that to myself.
“All right, the next time I see her I’ll just be honest with her,” I said. I took a deep breath and exhaled the anxiety out of me, at least for now. Then we went into our Bible study.
The next time I’d see Annie, it would be one of the hardest conversations in my life!
Have you found a community of men with whom you can be vulnerable? Have you ever liked someone of the opposite sex and told that person? How did that reaction go?