February 27, 2009

pull up a chair

This is probably going to be a rather long post. Okay, okay. Stop jumping up and down, Pete. You're going to spill your drink on your keyboard.

I really don't know how to begin this. I could just listen to Fraulein Maria and sing, "Let's just start from the very beginning; a very good place to start." Unfortunately, there is more than one thread to this story, so there I'm not sure which line to follow first.

As most of you (all five of you, anyway), I have been looking struggling for quite some time with depression and anxiety attacks. I forget the fancy words the doctor typed into the computer at this point, but that's the gist of it.

I came to the conclusion, or rather, finally admitted to myself that I knew I would not and could not make any progress towards a healthy life until I started working on my relationship with God.

I know some of you may be groaning, but bear with me here.

I wish I was able to link to some of my old posts in order to explain some of this without having to type it all out. Chalk that one up to another one of my downhill slides. I usually don't regret taking down all those posts, but sometimes it would be so handy to have them available.

At any rate, as some of you may recall, I've posted about my struggle with all these issues. They're still very much a part of my life, and still affecting me and those around me. Cody has brought up counseling pretty much once a month since I stopped last year. He's not really pushing meds, but he really wants me to start seeing someone. I apparently scare the crap out of him when I'm on the downswing. Go figure.

So I've slowly been starting to realize that there is more to the story than I've been admitting to myself. Some of you know that I was raised in a Christian home, and I myself am a Christian. I grew up loving God and thought there were several years I didn't attend church at all, by the time I had graduated high school I was attending at least Sunday evening services regularly.

Oh good grief, if I go through this like an autobiographical time line, I'll never get to the point.

For about the past seven years, I haven't attended church more than a handful of times. As you can imagine, growing up gay in a Southern Baptist Church was no picnic. I went through a lot of internal warfare growing up trying to reconcile what I was taught with what I felt in my heart.

God hates boys who like boys "that" way.

I'm surely going to hell.

Those are just a couple of thoughts I struggled with. I assure you; there are plenty more.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that I hold my parents or the church at fault for my depression. I won't lie and say that they hasn't contributed vast amounts of fuel to the fire over the years either. We can discuss all that more in depth at more appropriate times.

The point I want to get to is to basically say this: I grew up with a close relationship to God. I struggled for years with what we now call my homosexuality because I was taught that it was wrong. I had actually started to come out of the closet an inch at a time when I was 21. Then I re-dedicated my life to Christ (it's church lingo for turning your back on your wickedness and seeking the path of righteousness you were previously on, and it's very real) and I ran back in the closet and buried everything. I severed ties with a few people at the time, and actually did some lasting damage it took a lot of years to repair.

Then, shortly after I turned 23, I hit probably one of my deepest "episodes" yet. At that point, my relationship with my parents became very strained, and I started pulling away from the church as well. It was a pretty rough patch, and I'm confident that nothing short of the grace of God could have pulled me through that.

I eventually ended up on better footing with my parents, and the other relationships that were being affected at the time were also beginning to mend. I never really got back a good, solid footing at church though. I felt like a fraud and a failure. Here I was, going to church 2-3 times a week, doing everything I could to fight off my demons, and they just wouldn't go away. I still knew I was gay. I was checking out guys at church, for cryin' out loud! And I was still depressed.

So I started skipping services more and more. Unfortunately I also stopped seeking God's face. The only one who mattered and could have helped the whole time, and I was ashamed to go to His feet.

Several months later, I met Cody. Little known fact: Cody and I have been together every weekend except two since we met almost seven years ago. Considering we lived 90 miles apart for the first three years, that's something I'm proud of. We've had some rough spots, but we did what couldn't be done. Provided I don't kill him or vice versa, we'll be going strong till were old and wrinkly.

Unfortunately, I still haven't been able to reconnect with God in a quality way. Until now.

See, I've been looking for a new church "home" for the past 6-7 years. I've found some that were friendly, to be sure. They just weren't right where it really mattered though. I so don't want to get into a theological debate or anything, so let me throw in a disclaimer here:

These are my beliefs, and I take ownership of them. I'm not trying to shove anything down your throat, and I hope you don't feel that way. But these are my beliefs and convictions, so I won't apologize for them.

I'm what's called an "Evangelical Christian". At least that's what the term du jour was last time I checked. (I so can't spell in French...) I believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, and therefore born free from sin, which enabled Him to take the sin of the world, be punished for it by death, go to hell, and then rise again victorious over sin and death. I believe He did that for me and for you. He did that for everyone for all time.

I also believe that knowing that isn't enough. Even satan knows all that. The salvation Jesus brought about on the cross is a gift. A gift can be given freely, but it does no good without receiving it. I believe you actually have to consciously accept the gift Christ has given in order to be free from sin and go to heaven. I'm so blowing through this faster than I should, but that's the gist of it.

So here's the problem. Some of you may be aware that in recent times, more and more churches have become what's called "Open and Affirming" congregations. I won't try to drop a percentage on you as though I'm an authority on this matter, but from my own personal experience, the churches I have found in my search that are open and affirming have thus far fallen short of that basic requirement of mine. I don't want to settle for a church that doesn't believe you must be "born again" (it's written in red, folks) just so I can participate in a congregation and feel welcome. Don't get me wrong, I've been to a couple of nice churches that are very welcoming and show a lot of love. But that's not enough for me, and I don't apologize for it.

So, as I said (typed, if you wanna' get technical on me), I've been looking for a church I can call home off and on for many years without much luck. I've been disappointed so many times that it gets harder and harder to even try any more. I think there's another post there, but I'm not going to chase that rabbit right now.

Let me take a moment to say something else. If you work for a company with a web presence, and there is an e-mail link for people to contact you, it damn well better work. And you need to check it and respond.

Where was I? Oh, right.

So I've talked about some of this before. I actually wrote Bethany a big ole' letter once explaining a lot of this and some more as well. She's been so super supportive that it never ceases to amaze me. Considering the roots of our relationship, I'm astonished at how healthy it is! Sorry, I love her to pieces and I gotta brag on her now and then.

Well, since Bethany and I started to reconnect a couple of years ago, we've both been blogging. She's much more faithful about it than I am, and she's so gifted... I think God has already been using her in big ways (not just in my life), I can't wait to see what He's got in store...

So Bethany's blog has a link to another "little" blog called "Stuff Christians Like." This site rocks. Seriously. This post is already huge, so if you want to know what it's all about, go here first.

I've been reading SCL (as it's affectionately called by it's faithful readers) for quite some time. I've gotten through the majority of the archives, though not all, and I've been reading it daily for the past few months.

The wicked awesome author of this blog, Jon Acuff, writes a couple of other blogs that I'm rather fond of as well. I highly recommend 97 Seconds with God. Talk about a gifted writer! And he knows where his gift comes from, and isn't afraid to admit it.

Being a busy man with a lot on his plate and a family as well, Jon occasionally has guest authors post on his site. I've read some pretty awesome posts, as he's not willing to let just anyone post. Stacy, one of his first guests, gained her notoriety through some awesome sarcasm that I find can only be responded to with "OH SNAP!" Sarcasm is a love language on SCL, so it's all in fun.

No more rabbit holes, I swear! (Yeah. As if.)

So another guest on SCL, who also gained this honor through some incredibly insightful yet hilarious comments, is Nick the Geek. I'm not calling him names. That's what he named himself. Nick is a youth pastor, and man did God call the right guy. He's insightful, hilarious, and just as high energy as any of his "kids". That's a nice way of saying I think he might have a touch of ADHD. Not really, but he's definitely intentse, though in a good way.

As you may have guessed, Nick has a blog (or four) of his own. The site is My Experience as Youth Pastor, and it is listed in my "dailies" in Google reader. Yeah, it's that good.

Yes, for those of you following along, my addiction to blogs is severe enough that I have a seperate category for the blogs I read every day so I can filter out all the other stuff and just get to what matters until I get more time.

At any rate (Is it just me, or do I say that a lot?), I bookmarked Nick's blog a few months ago when he wrote a guest post for SCL. I like the post well enough to check out his blog, and loved the few that I read there. Nick is always very gracious about responding to everyone's comments, too - which is just awesome.

So, now I'm up to the point where I'm looking for a church home off and on, building a closer-than-I-could-have-imagined friendship with Ms. Bethany, reading SCL and 97Seconds every day, and I have Nick bookmarked.

Hey, I told you it would be a long post. Go to the bathroom and stretch your legs a bit. I'll wait.

Better? Good.

A few months ago, I also stumbled upon another site, called Straight-Friendly. It's tagline is "A daily devotional for GLBT and other alienated Christians -- with occasional personal observations." I read a couple of posts and thought it was pretty awesome, so I bookmarked it to come back to later (thus defeating the purpose of the "daily" part, I know).

As an aside, the author of this site, Tim, is also a very gracious host and, much like Nick, tends to respond to every comment personally. I love that.

Believe it or not, I think you're all up to speed enough that I can get on with the damn story already...

At the beginning of this month, I went back and started reading through Nick the Geek's archives from the beginning. He really is a talented writer, and a gifted teacher as well.

I came across a post from August of last year in which was writing about his feelings concerning how Christians, and the church as a whole, tend to treat homosexuals. I felt inclined to leave a comment (Big surprise, right?) explaining my biggest bitch about the way Christians treat gays and lesbians.

True to form, Nick responded to my comment. I didn't get even a hint of condemnation from him, which I didn't really expect, but I just want to throw that out there before anyones hackles go up.

Nick's response to my comment ended up being so long, he felt it deserved to be a post in and of itself. In his own words, "I'm reposting my comment because it ended up being super long and it bears saying often."

Nick and I don't agree on some things. Unlike a lot of Christians, Nick is a standard bearer for the love of Christ. The man actually gets it.

He doesn't agree with me, but he doesn't care. He's not looking at me in judgement trying to keep my from anything. He's showing the love of Christ as Christ Himself taught we should.

Not only is that awesome, that takes balls! I don't know what denomination, if any, Nick works for. I do know that his viewpoint is considered radical by some though. But the more Nick's we have in this world the better off we will be.

Nick wrote a follow-up post to the original that I first mentioned. In it, he explained that the main reason he brought the subject up is because there are two teens he feels are likely wrestling with their sexual identity in his group. I have to say, I gotta' give credit to Nick and anyone else who voluntarily work with kids and young adults. That's a lot of responsibility (and a lot of noise!).

This is what's important to me, and why I thank God for men like Nick:

The kids in his class will grow into adulthood without a skewed and dangerous view of homosexuals. They will love them as Christ calls them to. None of that "Love the sinner, hate the sin" bullshit that so many people hide their hate behind (not so successfully).

More importantly, the young people that come through his doors who are questioning their sexuality don't have to grow up like I did.

That, to me, is so deep and important that I can't put it into words.

It brings tears to my eyes to know that even on child will be spared the anguish of growing up gay in church because Nick is obedient and loving enough to obey his Lord and love these kids.

Thanks, Nick. Not only for what you have written to me. But thanks for doing what you're doing. It matters. Thank you.

Crap. How do you follow that up?

Honestly I've been putting off responding to the last of Nick's comments and his post until I could say what was in my heart.

Oddly enough, in these short few weeks, Nick has been a big part of some changes that are happening in me.

As I mentioned, Nick isn't just funny; he's a good teacher too. So I've been reading a lot of his posts lately. I've also been reading a lot of Bethany's incredible insights and Jon's learn-through-humor as well as his more serious stuff.

In addition to that, I've also come to the realization that I really need to strive to rebuild my relationship with God. I know enough to know that I will not know real, lasting peace and peace of mind without Him.

So I've also been reading Tim's posts every morning, and using them as the daily devotional they're intended to be.

Oddly enough, I followed a couple of links from Tim's site this morning and stumbled upon something that rocked my world and brought tears to my weary eyes.

I think I have found a church, my friends.

I'm trying to temper my excitement for the time being, while I try to get more information and wait to attend an actual service. It's also hard to not be jaded as I've been burned so many times before.

Either way, I'm getting closer to Him, and He to me.

February 23, 2009


  Not only have I been on the puter way too long already. I've also commented myself to death.  Since I started using a feed reader, it's saving me time keeping up with reading everything I "have" to read, but it's keeping me from commenting as much.

  I had planned on at least one post this morning.  But I'm spent.  I do have the day off, but I need to get some things done around the house. 

  I really have to be more disciplined with my time.  I'm bad and getting worse (thanks to a frickin' Facebook invite that sucked up even more of my time). 

  I'll get it figured out eventually.  For now, I'm just going to have to say I'll try to get that post done later.  I've got one swirling in my head to post here, and at least one more for AD.  I just know they're going to drain me even more.

  So for now, turn up the heat, open the curtains and pretend it's summer!  Quick, before the snow starts flying again!

February 14, 2009


I totally stole this from him, but it's funny!

Hawthy - Killer Cupid- Love really does hurt

happy valentines day

Okay, you know I'm getting old when I copy and paste "Dear Abby" on my blog.  *sigh*  That's okay; it's worth it today.  I thought this was a beautifully written letter, and I wanted to share it with you.

Dear Abby:I clearly remember my first Valentine's Day.
I was in first grade. A few days before, my mom asked how many kids
were in my class, and we went to a store and bought large packages of
valentines -- one for every child in the class. The cards were all the
same size and said, basically, the same thing.

When I arrived at school, each classmate had a small box on his or her
desk. At some point during the day, I went around the room and gave
each child a valentine. There was one for the quiet one in the back,
the most popular girl in class, the prettiest and even the boys. This
was long before society taught me that such a show of affection had to
exclude people of the same gender as me. By the end of the day,
everyone had a full box of valentines to take home.

One desk, one box ... the love of a child.

As I grew older, society taught me to narrow my offering of affection,
picking only those I chose to be special or worthy. Eventually, I was
taught to limit my valentines to only one person. More time went on,
and then a card was not enough. To show that really special person what
she meant to you, you needed to send flowers, candy and jewelry.

Apparently, as we grew older it took more and more to fill those boxes.
Now we absolutely could not give to more than one person. People hire
detectives to make sure that the person isn't filling anyone else's.
And if you had no one to send you anything, you were saddened by your
big, empty box filled only with sadness and despair.

Today, I am taking back from society what it has taken from me. I'm
counting how many people play a role in my life, and I am buying
"virtual" packages of cards. I have one for every single one of you --
man or woman, young or old, straight or gay, married or single. Each
card is the same size, they all say the same thing -- that I appreciate
who you are and what you have to contribute to each other.

I invite each and every one to do the same, so that no box is empty and
the shy ones, the pretty ones, the popular ones and those who are less
so go home tonight with a full box of valentines.

One virtual desk, one virtual box, and the love of a child at heart. I wish you all a happy Valentine's Day. -- ERIC IN LOS ALAMITOS, CALIF.

DEAR ERIC: Your letter touched me -- and I am sure that everyone who reads it wishes the same for you.


February 12, 2009

jul-z tagged my sorry ass

  Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a blog with
25 random things about you. At the end, choose people to be tagged. You
have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I
want to know more about you.

1. I'm doing this cause Lord knows I've tagged jules too many times to have any right of refusal.

2. I shouldn't have eaten those last couple of Reese's.

3. The dog is downstairs whining, so I need to type quickly or she'll shit on the floor.

4. My mind is going to fast with my "to do" list for me to pick out 21 more random things.

5. I need to get this damn house clean.  I could write that 20 more times, and mean it for each and every one, but someone will cry "foul".

6. I hope last nights leftovers taste as good the second time.

7. I need to shave and take a shower.

8. Shit.  I forget to throw the towels in the dryer.

9. If it wasn't for a select few people, I'd cancel my myspace account.  I'm over it.

10. By the time I get done reading all the blogs I follow, I rarely have time and energy to write my own.

11. I wish I had saved some of my older posts, but not having to re-read some of the other ones makes it worth while.

12. I can't make the dog wait any longer.  Plus I want a cigarette.

Argh! Little bitch didn't even have to go!

13. Oh! This one is easy. Tomorrow is Friday the 13th!  Okay, so it's not technically about me, but I'll be alive and breathing so it sorta is. For me anyway.

14. I really need to respond to one of the bloggers I follow. He has been remarkably kind, and I owe him a reply.

15. Speaking of, I still haven't sent that b-day card I mentioned, much less actually written anything in it.

16. Ten more?!  I'm so counting this as a "real" post, no matter what Pete says.

17. I'm still waiting for the follow-up to "Teaser Post" from the beginning of December, Ms. Katy.

18. I wish I could meet Katy.

19. I wish Beth didn't live so damn far away.

20. Ditto Pete and Jul-Z.

You should all move here.  Or we can split the cost of a mountain in North Carolina, but we won't go there...

21. I got to have dinner with Mr. Warren and Ms. Clara on Sunday, and it made me very, very happy. 

22. I feel so blessed and fortunate every time I hear about someone else getting "let go" at work.

23. I had a couple of really crappy days this week. I even told Cody this time. Didn't help any, but it felt nice to know I was able to keep my promise this time.

24. I just remembered something else I have to do tonight.  Argh!  I guess that means I won't be watching American Idol on the DVR...

25. Finally!!! Holy cow that took forever! I'm just bustin' your balls. Y'all know I can't resist these stupid things.

  Now who should I tag?

  How about, everyone that reads all the way to the bottom and misses me enough to give me a morsel of their time to help me miss them a little less.

February 6, 2009

...there's been a run of crazy dreams...

That's a line from one of my favorite musicals, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Oh, that life were just a funny little musical with a happy resolution to all problems in the span of a few hours!

It's not so strange for me to have a night filled with crazy dreams. Happens all the time. Sometimes they're just run-of-the-mill crazy, and don't bother me a whole lot. Other times they're so emotionally intense that my mind and body are as active, if not more, than if I were awake. I can get a full nights sleep, but dream through a good portion of it and wake up as tired as if I had only slept a few hours. It can be quite irritating. I've told Cody countless times at bedtime, "I just want to sleep! No dreams! Not even the good kind!"

As you may have guessed by now, last night was one of those restless crazy dream nights. The first "set" wasn't so bad. I dreamed about my ex-girlfriend, current friend (though I unfortunately don't see or talk to her very often) Alaina. It was actually fun at first. We were hanging out downtown for some reason or another, and she wanted to go for a walk. Problem is, she wanted to go for a walk over the Detroit-Superior bridge. This particular bridge has two levels. The top level for cars, and the bottom level for passenger trains. It was built back when Cleveland had the intention of using these train/trolley cars as public transportation, but is now unused. -They do open it up a few times a year for tours if you're ever interested-

So Alaina wants to walk over the Cuyahoga river on the underside of this bridge on steel grating. I'm SO not into it, seeing as I'm afraid of heights. Next thing I know, were under the bridge and standing in the employee area of this train station (which is completely made up, as I've never seen it before in my life). She works there now, and is introducing me to all her co-workers. Weird. Also mental agitation #1, due to the fear of heights.

Then, for some reason, I'm vaccuming all the furniture in my trailer because I don't want the movers to see all the dog hair. Very strange.

Now, I'm walking down the street, though I couldn't tell you where or why. I think I was with my brother, but I don't remember. This sweet old black lady comes out of a big house and invites us in. Apparently a local congregation owns the house, and they're cleaning it out either to sell it of fix it up, I don't remember.

So we're basically rummaging through this house full of stuff, allowed to take whatever we want. I remember my cousin in here at some point, and some minor agitation, but its lost on me at this point. I do remember pulling a big pile of shirts out of a closet and stacking them up on the floor to go through them while talking to the lady who invited us in. We were laughing about my inability to pass up a good deal and my propensity to grab every button down in sight.

Then, I was at work. I don't know how the rest of the world dreams, but for me personally, I can be in a total unfamiliar place, and still know where I am. The same goes for people. They don't necessarily have to look like their real-life selves for me to know who they are. I guess it's my minds representation of them more than anything else. So I was at Lincoln, but it wasn't the same Lincoln I go to every day. There were some big differences.

The long and the short of it, and the reason my thoughts and emotions are agitated enough to plop my ass in my chair to start writing before I'm even done with my coffee is this: I dreamt of Andy again.

I won't say I dream about him a lot, but it's often enough to keep him on my mind usually. This time, I'm pretty sure it was the other way around though. I don't remember the date, but I know his birthday is in February, so I've been thinking about him a lot, and I have been wanting to get him a birthday card to send him. To wish him a happy birthday, to let him know I think about him a lot and to let him know I still want to try.

I don't usually regret removing all my blog posts, but this morning I kinda do. I wrote a big long post about being reunited with Andy at Belinda's band geek reunion party about a year and a half ago, and it would be so much easier if I could just link to it.

I guess the easiest way to get those who are out of the loop up to speed is to just say that Andy and I met my senior year when we were both working at Wendy's. We were just kind of casual acquaintances for a long time, but then I went through a pretty rough spot, and of all people, Andy was my rock. We became fairly close through all of it, and I credit him for saving my life.

He ended up living with us at my mom and dads the following summer after he graduated, and then a few years later he lived with me for a short time while I was living in the trailer. Our relationship became more and more distant, a lot of details I need to skip for the sake of time, and then we finally saw each other again at Belinda's in Aug. or Sept. of '07. We had a long, long talk in her driveway, and the long and the short of it is, even though we promised to stay in touch, we haven't. I gave him my number. Put it in his phone for him, actually. I never got his though. I've tried looking him up on the internet and the only number I ever got goes un-answered and has no answering machine or voicemail. So I'm not even sure if that's the right number.

At any rate, as I said, it's not strange at all for me to dream about Andy. I'll go through periods where I dream about him at least once a week or more, and consequently think about him a lot in my waking hours too. In these dreams, we're the way we always were. Him being so busy living life to it's fullest, and I'm grateful for anytime I get to spend with my closest friend and most trusted confidant.

This time was different.

I was walking through the plant, and I saw him. When our eyes met, I knew something was different. I gave him a small smile, but we just nodded at each other and went our own ways. I then saw him later, in the restroom of all places. I was at the urinal taking care of business and trying to sneak a cigarette break, and he was leaning against the far wall with someone I don't know smoking a cigarette. (FYI- Way weird part of the dream. There are people stupid enough to smoke in the stalls at Lincoln, you can smell it on occasion when you go into the locker room. They have a STRICT no smoking on the property rule though. I can say with all honesty I have never smoked on the property, so standing out in the open at the urinal with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth was just weird.)

As I finished up, Andy stepped to the urinal to take care of his own business, and I just simply said, "Call me when you get home." Either the dream ended there, or that's all I remember of it.

I woke up absolutely crushed. In the past, my dreams are the one place Andy and I are still friends. Not so much last night. Last night, in that dream, reality and crept over into the land of Nod, and we were estranged even there.

Oddly enough, I still consider Andy my best friend. I haven't acted like it in the past, and I have apologized profusely for it. I promised to make amends, and I looked forward to the opportunity. I have yet to have the chance to do that, but I'm still hopeful. I need to buy that birthday card. I've got to give it one more shot.