Feeling accepted and accepting forgiveness are two of the hardest things that I think we all struggle with. Each day, God gives us a new chance to start fresh. His forgiveness is a free gift. So why is it so hard for us just to accept that he has forgiven us and just move on? I, just as you probably have, have struggled with these two issues for way too long. Everyone’s path to the acceptance of being forgiven by God is different. This is the story of how God worked His truth, His word, His grace and His love to me.
This last weekend with much trepidation, I took part in a Men’s Retreat with 15 men from church. I was afraid that as a Gay man, as many times in the past, I would be or would feel left out. Nothing could have been 100% further from the truth. Real men cry, cry out to each other for help, show their vulnerability, ask for help from their brothers, and aren’t afraid of embracing another man who is truly hurting. This is what each of us received from the other this weekend. It was genuine. I have never felt love like this before. So real and so not expected that I have found myself breaking down in tears now and then for the last 24 hours. From Joy, from relief. Set free from all my shame and all my fears of being around, and not accepted by heterosexual men.
My first and foremost reason for going all in and joining the group, was of course to reconnect in some fashion with God the Father. To take all the anger, angst and non joy I have with God these last few months and to find forgiveness. To be set free. Secondly, was to show the men in the group that I was just like them. Just a guy. I was very much afraid that I would somehow come off as effeminate to them, which I am not, so not sure why that was such an issue with me.. I had a bunch of stupid issues about going in. What I learned as well, was that all the men in the group had effeminate qualities as well.. we are all one in the same.
Our theme, activities & discussions centered around Luke 15:11-32 The Parable of the Prodigal Son. I have heard this story & discussed it many times, and thought to myself, this parable is getting old & tired. But we were taken into a wonderful new direction that words just can’t wholly explain.
I intentionally arose early on Saturday morning at the crack of dawn. Before any of the guys woke up and I headed to both crosses at the camp. One at the top of the hill near our cabin and later one at the bottom. I spent a good 45 minutes at the top and 20 at the bottom. Crying tears of sadness, and also of joy, to God, that I am truly sorry for my mistakes and thankful to him for paying that debt in full for us. I told Him I wanted to surrender and give my will up to Him. I asked, could He please make this weekend count for something. To speak clearly to me and let me know that I truly am his son, and as a gay man that I am just as forgiven as everyone else. That He does truly forgive and save those of us who are Gay. This has been hard for me to accept as my whole life I have heard from Christians and still do from some, that you can’t be Gay and Christian. You can’t be saved. Ludicrous Bullshit if you ask me.
After breakfast this same morning, we all headed up the hill, and our first activity of the day began. We were asked to focus on those things that we need forgiveness for. Not only from God, but from others. To take in the beauty of our surroundings, and if anything caught our eye or meant something, to pick it up. We each headed up the hill, giving and keeping a very large space between each of us, as this was supposed to be a silent hike for each of us, yet all walking the same path.
As I started my walk, before I focused on the questions given to us to ponder, I thought of my neighbor who had just recently passed away. I was feeling a lot of regret that I didn’t visit her while she was in the hospital for two months. She didn’t want visitors, but I had intentions to visit her anyway. I really thought she would be back. Stupid life just got in the way of me following through. Anyhow, she was really into rocks and butterflies. So I picked up a rock that I thought she would like and said I was sorry. As I kept walking, I found rocks that I thought she would like better, so I laid the old rock on the path. Along the way I also found a piece of wood that had been eaten way with holes thru it. (pictured on far right just below) To me this represented the holes and sorrow I felt with all the stupid choices I made that not only hurt me, but my relationship with God, and most of all, how I had hurt others. Continue reading