Joy and sorrow share a tenuous connection. We explore the presence of joy in our YOB community and why it wasn’t one of our original values. We bask in the joy of retreats past and explore the joy to be found in our lives and sexualities, looking to Jesus’ example as he took the cup from his Father, following the joy set before him. Join Tom, Ryan, and Will for their first joyful episode together!
When I’m not wandering, I live in Asheville, North Carolina – the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. I’m YOB’s cofounder and editor, and I also host our two podcasts. I’ve written a couple books as Thomas Mark Zuniga, including a 2013 memoir in which I first came out. Once upon another universe I anonymously blogged about my faith and sexuality under the Xanga username, twoBeckonings. I’m an INFJ, Enneagram 4w5, and my spirit animal is the buffalo. I love to travel, and my favorite place in the world is the one where coffee and vulnerability meet.
Greetings from the friendly country of Canada. While writing this bio I am drinking a French press coffee and listening to Arcade Fire on vinyl with my prayer journal, a pile of books, a piano, and a typewriter beside me. Some may say I am a hipster, but I do not really like culturally constructed identities in an attempt to place my personality in a box. I read a lot of theology and philosophy, and I do much research in that area (it’s kind of my job). When I’m feeling particularly adventurous and motivated, I will watch a hockey game and drink a beer with my friends – like every good Canadian.
Reporting LIVE from the tension between hope and reality, between longing and obedience: inveterate single, complete cheeseball, total nerd, bewildered homeowner, serial relaxer, and long-time Jesus-needer. I live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I am a software developer by trade. My passion is helping non-straight followers of Jesus discover their place in the body of Christ. All my “comfort music” is about being far from home and/or returning home. I’m an Enneagram 9 if you’re into that sort of thing. I have recently started reading poetry for fun; please send me your recommendations!
Thank you for this amazing discussion about joy, guys. The concept of being joyful about my sexuality remains in many ways enigmatic and elusive to me. Shame? Absolutely. Fear? You bet. Conflicted, frustrated, and hopeless? Check, check, check. But joy? For most of my journey (and still a lot of times today), not so much.
However, very recently and in many ways through the kind and spacious guidance of my therapist, I have begun to catch a glimpse of what Tom, Ryan, and Will so beautifully and candidly discussed, that I can actually experience joy in my sexuality as a married man with a predominantly gay orientation. This has shown up in my life most powerfully through a series of encounters with Jesus where I experienced him (key word, not more knowledge or ideas, but something experiential, felt in my whole being) as loving the gay part of me. Not merely tolerating, not accepting with the goal of changing, but actually loving that part, loving my “gayness,” as I heard Sam D refer to it.
This has felt like nothing short of a miracle. If you’d asked me during most of my life, I’d have laughed at you and told you that you were crazy if you thought I’d ever like, let alone love, the gay part of my identity. And yet, the seed has taken root and is starting to grow.
One more moment of joy that comes to mind related to my sexuality. An extra, deeper facet to the shame I have experienced around my homosexuality arrived and grew when I became a father. For most of my parenting journey, I have carried in the background a deep, abject fear – creeping like a faceless specter on the outskirts of my mind – that one or both of my sons would be gay. When it has hit at certain times, it hits with such a force of guilt and shame (thoughts like it would be my fault, fear that my wife will hate and blame me for it) that I have wished and even prayed for death in some of those moments.
However, as I have continued this work of coming to receive Jesus’s love for every part of me, I recently noticed that the thought came up about my sons and I did not shudder or recoil. There was no fear. I could actually, honestly say that it would be okay. Not that it wouldn’t be tough in some aspects (mostly my heart for them and the challenges they would face), but there was no fear or self-hatred. I actually felt warmth and kindness. And the feeling has persisted. Something has shifted permanently. The joy of this experience is like few I’ve had. Words can’t do it justice.
Thanks for this space to share and process joy at a richer, deeper level. I’m so grateful.
Thanks for listening and responding, Drew! Especially loved reading about your joy of fatherhood. What an awesome dad you must be, no doubt formed in part by your sexuality.