Monday, September 10, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes, Part Three

Anytime we go through things in life, especially something challenging - we question it. And, believe me, I think that's perfectly natural. I do it. I think that we as humans are built to question and wonder. We want to know why natural disasters exist. We all want to know why loved ones' lives are cut too short. We want to know what happens after death. Is there an afterlife? Is there a God? Is there a real Heaven and will I go there? Changes, jobs, the economy, a zit, broken limbs, deaths in our family, the dog eating a shoe… all of these cause questions. All of these create moments for us to reflect on our lives, our anxiety, and our reactions. The basic and bottom line is that change can be a good thing. Even negative change can create a chance for us to react positively and grow.

I had too much to cover in one little blog. Changes are afoot. My life is under some real change. Change that excites me, and makes me anticipate next steps... and change that is scary, but for the ultimate best. (See previous blogs Changes and Changes, Part Two...)

That's what I want this to be - My New Life. New is the operative word here. I have been thinking about things - lots of things. And that means some good, some bad. Some changes, some fears, some old hurts, some needed closures. But the key word is new. And what changes and newness can do for those old, negative things. And what newness can do for the old good things. I've been thinking of ways to build on those, reconnect with those, and move forward with those.


Thinking back, I have to say that my life is so different than it was 10 years ago. I had never been lived outside of Mississippi. I was much younger and sheltered. I was in love and in a very odd and somewhat unhealthy relationship with a dear friend. I was reeling from a bad breakup and wondering exactly where my life was going, where would my career go, and what would I end up "being." Then I moved to North Carolina, got a promotion, and married my friend and lover off to someone else. I became a proud workaholic and hardened my heart. I began getting exposure to "big city life" in Research Triangle Park! I began getting exposure to real "big city life" in places like DC, Baltimore, and NYC! I lost loves. I made lifelong friends. I learned a little bit more about "whom" I was at my core. And I found a relationship with God through prayer, love, and research that haven't wavered to this day. I was hurt. I was healed. I went through some tough times and I went through some easy times.

My life is so different than it was only 5 years ago. I had moved back to Mississippi to be close to family that was ill. And rekindle some relationships both familial and friendly that were crumbling. I was making career advancement and change - in ways only God could have orchestrated. I was making new lifelong friends and enjoying my life in ways I couldn't have hoped for. And I was seeing age long friendships suffer and practically disintegrate before my eyes. I was seeing family struggle and change and go in directions that were detrimental. I would see my sister nearly die and my father become someone I didn't even know. I would meet loves and see them use me and leave me. I saw strength in friendships that would amaze me and to this day (this very day) help to save me. I would see me struggle with drinking problems to cope with loss and change and adversity instead of running to a faith that had seen me through so many times before, and I would see me not understand what was wrong. (Wrong with me, with others, with God.) I would see an eating disorder destroy parts of my health that I struggle with to this day and still seek medical attention for the damage done. I would see me try to be brave, put on a happy face and find new ways to make ends meet, to try a new career, to try out love again, to return to government work and forge a new and exciting path for myself.

My life is so different than last year - even up until last year. I would see my relationship fail. I would see friends move away and old friends return. I would experience some of the most horrific things in my life with family, with my aging parents and grandmother. I would grow closer to family in recent times than in years past due to differences of opinion, differences in religious beliefs and differences in civil issues. I would see just who was a friend in difficult circumstances, who was a friend in good times only, and just what the worst of people could do. I would also see love and compassion from friends and family that exceeded my wildest imagination. I would see a faithfulness from God, and true, real Christians that I can never hope to understand the source. I would come to understand, in hindsight, just HOW good God was to me, and how He had shaped my path - every pebble, every curve, and every person along that path for my own good. Forged a path specifically suited for my own need, and for my own purpose. He would show me how things I had done to others, to me, and needlessly avoiding His will and purpose for my life could be only partially beneficial, but not truly whole and healthy and happy.

I've said this a hundred times, and I'll say it until the day that I die:
I've led a charmed life.
God's been good to me. He's given me more than I ever deserved. More than I could have ever hoped for and more than I thought I would ever have. I've been placed in situations of opportunity and privilege that I took full advantage of at work, socially, and with loved ones (friends and family.) And I've ignored and tried to work my own will probably just as many times, to my own detriment. I've recently seen more mercy, and more grace from God to be alive, and to be able to sit and type this sentence, these paragraphs, this piece, and the work that He's set before me. I've still got purpose, which is a life necessity to me. I've still got gainful employment and even too much to do. God has bestowed me with an embarrassment of blessings. I've been packing. I've been cleaning out. I've been moving. I've been purging. Those are literal statements for recent facts in my life. But I am also packing, moving, cleaning out, and purging spiritually and internally.  I want this. I need this. I need to be rid of old memories that haunt me. I need forgiveness for some things. I need to forgive for others' things. I need this. I want this. I need to get rid of the things that hold people back: ideas that are outdated and possibly wrong, friends that are toxic or unresponsive - even apathetic, places that are unhealthy to you, bad for you, and bad to you. Some things just carry bad "ju ju" as a friend of mine would say. Why keep anything that has no happiness attached to it? We clean out our houses, we clean out our cars, and we clean out our closets. We do that physically. I am doing that emotionally.

With unabashed gratitude, and happily, I say that God is a huge part of my life. On the surface, and for all of the life memories I can recall (a not insignificant feat, I can assure you), I have always been a Church boy, with family always in some sort of ministry. And even I went to seminary, anticipating a life of service and ministry. I believe in living a Godly and Christian life. But I am ashamed that I tried to suppress God, God's call, and my own ministry for years. It's easier to maneuver through this life and society as a gay man, when you don't have to listen to a lot of negative commentary because you love God. The gays weren't quite sure what to do with me as someone that was as "Jesus-y" as I can be. And the Church had a stance that I was an abomination. There was such hurt on both sides and both sides caused such hurt. It took some serious research, writing, tears, prayer, some fundamentally amazing souls and Christians to show me God's plan, God's real love, and how to stand strong in that situation, when you just want to crumble into the fetal position and die. The bottom line is that God called me - who is anyone else to interfere? God accredited me - what are man's affirmations or defamations to that? God shared with me a treasure chest of blessings and talents that (as I continue and will continue to state) are an embarrassment of riches - who am I to let man dictate the rules that God set? God never ceases to amaze me with the right people at the right time, the right phone call, the right story, the right project, the right job, the right place - all at the right time. It may not always be comfortable. It may not always be in MY time. It may not always be what I want - but it's always what I need.


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