Lifestories

Indescribable Joy from the YOB Retreat to Back Home
Indescribable Joy from the YOB Retreat to Back Home
I board my first plane with another YOBBER, North Carolina-bound from Houston. I know exactly where I’m going, yet it is a new adventure all the same. Perhaps I should say, "I know what to expect where I’m going." Memories of the previous year’s YOB camp retreat replay in my head -- more static around the details than there used to be, though the feelings surrounding them remain unchanged. Chaotic. Flabbergasted. Humbled. Healed. I have to pull myself back to the present and prepare my heart for what may be a whole new set of feelings this year. I have to prepare my heart for growth.
Planting Seeds of New Growth at this YOB Retreat
Planting Seeds of New Growth at this YOB Retreat
"New growth" was the theme of this, my first YOB retreat; slightly ironic as fall was slowly putting the world to sleep. The sun felt defiantly hot that first day, beating down on tall trees that simultaneously clung to summer green while shedding autumn red and gold. I was exhausted from a stressful week and travel delays. Now I faced a weekend of interacting with virtual strangers. Literally. Aside from a handful whom I had met in person, my fellow YOBBERS were tiny faces on a screen. I had discovered YOB some months prior. I was desperate, starving for some kind of connection with other men who understood my journey.
Why I Flew Across the Country for My First YOB Retreat
Why I Flew Across the Country for My First YOB Retreat
Leaving for the YOBBERS retreat late on a Thursday night was an escape. I wanted to get away from the chaos and stress that had defined my life. I wanted to find rest, but not the kind that satisfies in the moment. No, it was much more than that. I wanted to find the rest that God provides, such that defies all logic and understanding. If it took flying all the way across the country to seek where the Lord would teach me about that kind of rest, I would gladly do it again in a heartbeat.
Breaking Beyond My Comfort Zones at the YOB Retreat
Growth Beyond My Comfort Zones at the YOB Retreat
When you are 60, you'd think that you no longer experience growth spurts. It's more recognizing life's process of devolution and slow decay, at least on the outside. This year’s YOBBERS retreat was not about expecting profound change, or gaining insights into myself and God that I would carry home; rather, it was seizing an opportunity to meet a group of men with whom I had dialogued, listened to, and only seen in postage stamp-sized pictures on Zoom – men of faith who share a common struggle to live the sexual ethic of the Gospels as they understand it.
Finally, My First YOB Retreat
Finally, My First YOB Retreat
It was surreal meeting brothers who I know better than many of my closest friends. We went from Zoom calls and private messages to meeting and communicating in person for the first time. I've been on many Christian retreats, and I have to say this one was spent with the kindest men. We shared a common experience as gay/SSA men, along with a real sense that each of us wanted to give all the other men a respite from the daily trials of life, if even for two days.
The Most Stressed I've Been Leading Our Retreat
The Most Stressed I’ve Been Leading Our Retreat
I guess we're really doing this again, I thought, this whole retreat thing. Is this officially an annual event now? Can I handle that? Goodness, can I really put on a retreat every year for the rest of my life? Or need I only focus on this year's retreat, letting tomorrow's retreat worry for itself?
I Just Want to Understand the Other Boys
Although the teasing continued for the rest of the school year, I honestly learned to ignore it. I became a recluse at a very young age. This reclusiveness made the other kids – especially the other boys – a bit of a mystery to me. Particularly physically. Looking back, I realize I was in a bit of a paradox: I didn't want the other boys to see any of my body, but I also had somewhat of an interest in theirs.
Gay and Disabled – Just Like Me
Gay and Disabled – Just Like Me
We never really talked about sex in any capacity, as in which girls we liked, or how our disabilities intertwined with our sexuality. The topic was a moot one, sometimes uncomfortably so. Eventually, I had the dreaded conversation with my friend. You know the one: "I'm gay but acting on such feelings goes against what I believe as a follower of Jesus." My friend then came out to me as well! He also didn't want to act on such feelings.
One Day You'll Actually See Me, Mom
One Day You’ll Actually See Me, Mom
My mom didn't start saying she loved me until she became a Christian in the early 80's. Now she says it almost every day, and I feel like she's doing it to make up for all those lost years. As far as I'm concerned, those "I love you's" are empty because she's been saying it to the straight Michael she's always preferred instead of the Michael actually in front of her. And because of that, I've learned to tolerate her acknowledged denial of my life.
Euphoric Recall: My Sexual Fantasies Named
Euphoric Recall: My Sexual Fantasies Named
Here's one vocabulary term I've taken away from therapy: euphoric recall. I'd never heard that phrase until last year, and it gives language to this nebulous internal struggle I've faced since my first bout with pornography at 19.
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