Hey there! I’m Kevin, a 30-something musician, writer, history buff, Enneagram Six, and cat lover. One of my favorite things is enjoying a deep coffee shop conversation with a good friend (but no coffee for me, thanks; I’ll stick with a chai latte). I’m also a Christian who is navigating the complex yet beautiful struggle of what it means to have same-sex desires and still follow Jesus.
Rest and joy are two things I have a difficult time embracing. Anxiety and overthinking — both for the present and the future — can often make relaxing a chore, distracting from the joy to be found in everyday life. It can also make dealing with major life changes a particular challenge.
Six months ago, I took a giant leap and moved across the country for work. Though the decision was definitely not within my comfort zone, to my surprise, this new life stage has brought many amazing things: new connections, an enjoyable job, the fun of experiencing a new city, and a renewed engagement with God’s goodness.
However, this move has also presented some tougher moments. Pangs of loneliness, homesickness, and a growing desire for deeper connections and community in my new environment — particularly for people I can open up to about my same-sex attraction — lingered in the weeks leading up to this year’s YOBBERS retreat.
Anticipation was running high. This would be my first retreat since joining the YOB community last year. A poorly timed illness prevented me from attending previously, so my heart was more than ready for a weekend away with my other brothers.
And God provided.
After a slightly later arrival at the camp on Friday evening, what a welcome sight it was to see dining hall tables filled with so many familiar faces — brothers who knew me, knew my story. Even to be sitting amongst those I didn’t know very well yet, it felt like home.
The walls could come down.
During our block of solo time on Saturday morning, I found a quiet spot by the creek. It was a gorgeous fall morning. Just to sit, be still, and be present with God — something I don’t do as often as I’d like — brought some tears to my eyes. The opening of Psalm 42 came to mind:
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
For reasons that were unclear at first, jotting down an answer to our “Why are you here?” reflection spurred words of calm and stillness (all starting with “re-“):
Refresh … reflect … refocus … refuge … restore … rejuvenate … relax … rest …
Ah, there it was.
A small, nagging part of me wanted to write that connection and community were my primary reasons for being at this retreat in the Georgia wilderness. But God seemed to be gently nudging me in the other direction, saying, “Yes, those things are good, and I will give you that. But also, this: slow down. Don’t worry. Rest. Enjoy being with me right now.”
Thank you, Lord.
Thank you for the patient reminder that I (and we) can find rest in you.
Perhaps what struck me most about the rest of the weekend — besides the ample hugs, worship, prayers, and times of connection — was how much I laughed. I have not laughed that much in goodness knows how long. Certainly not since relocating across the country.
Something I’ve deeply appreciated about YOB — and “Side B” spaces in general — is how we’re not throwing ourselves a “pity party.” Yes, we can absolutely mourn over our broken sexualities. Yes, we can cry and lament and tear our clothes over the reality that we may never get to experience the full scope of God’s design for human sexuality in the context of a biblically ordained male-female relationship.
But we do not have to stay in this place.
In fact, God does not want us to stay in this place! God desires for us to enjoy the life he has so graciously blessed us with. He desires for us to savor the relationships around us and foster community with other Christ followers. He desires for us to celebrate the truth that he has redeemed us through his son’s death and resurrection.
And he desires for us to anticipate the day when our minds and bodies will be made new, when the brokenness of this life will be a distant memory, and we will get to worship in his presence with other believers for all eternity.
How incredible is that?!
I’ve always been a glass-half-empty person and sometimes have trouble embracing truths like this (perhaps a facet of my Enneagram Six-ness). Too often, my mourning does not turn into dancing. I hear the wonderful music inside but would rather sulk outside.
But being part of YOB, going on this retreat, and partaking in the presence of 49 other brothers who are on this same journey of figuring out what it means to love and follow Jesus despite the unique challenges, questions, and temptations we face, has given me the most beautiful, encouraging, and soul-filling picture of what joy — true joy — looks like on this side of eternity.
And for that, I will be forever grateful.
Where do you find true joy despite the glass’s feeling half-empty? Where have you seen your mourning turn to dancing?