Reneging on My Six… Maybe

A while back, I wrote I was a counter-phobic, sexual six. If you’re not an enneagram nerd like myself, no, I’m not having sex with six people.

In short, a sexual six is scared and presents courageous to prove to themself and others they’re able to beat anything.

I promise I’m getting to sappy, personal stuff like I normally do in a moment. But first I need a witty lead-in to reveal myself.

When I first heard of the enneagram, it was in passing by my friend, Taylor, like five years ago, before it was actually cool. He shared how a friend told him about it, and how it’s all about your deepest fears and wounds.

That got my attention, for reasons that’ll make more sense if you’re ARE an enneagram nerd like myself.

He shared how he was a two and how he loved to get love in return. He then shared how the test was a big deal for his friend because it revealed a deep secret: he believed he was inherently flawed and wanted to be rescued.

I was halfway paying attention, mainly because I can be selfish, and I didn’t really see how this was about me (sorry, Taylor). But when he talked about his friend, I remember thinking, “Other people feel like that too?”

His friend is a four.

Ever since I could remember, I’ve wanted to be rescued.

I’d run away to the end of the street when I was spanked, wishing someone would drive by and take me away. I’d walk the fence at school, hoping someone would see me and come to me. In middle school, we’d craft foam swords and fight each other. I was always the captured prince needing to be rescued. One time my friends even put me in a dog kennel as my prison. It felt oddly safe and right, as fucked up as that sounds.

By high school, I learned that wanting to be rescued as a guy wasn’t cool or manly, at least, that’s what Eldridge said. “Every man desires a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”

… uh… question: what if we want to be rescued? Never mind. I’m gonna sit back down.

Over the years, I stuffed down my desire to be rescued. I acted strong and independent. I’d sit on the side of the school, looking out at the other boys, hoping one would come talk to me and rescue me from my pain and loneliness. But if anyone asked if I was okay, I’d get angry and say I was fine. After all, boys don’t need to be rescued. I’m supposed to be doing the teaching. I’m supposed to be tough and strong, not needing anyone or caring about anything. An emotionless rock.

Or so I thought.

I’m not sure when I made the promise to myself or at what point I decided to go about this all differently, but somewhere along the way, I started moving towards things I feared to look like I could do more than handle myself. I could take on anything.

I signed up to do a missionary training program where you get kidnapped and have to kill a goat and get fake murdered. But that school got shut down (I wonder why), so I went to the next best thing: a Christian leadership academy built around the methodology of the military, equipped with its own hell week. We prided ourselves in “beating our body and making it our slave,” (yes, that’s a Bible verse) and “doing all things through Christ who strengthens me” (especially the hard stuff). After that, I ran a ministry by myself for three years, not having any clue what I was doing, but I was capable and the Lord would provide. Right? I flew across the world to Haiti and Germany and India with no friends or family, to show I could do the hard things. When that was done, I hitchhiked through Europe just because the idea terrified me.

Anything I could do to prove to myself that I didn’t need anyone to rescue me, I could save myself, I did.

But lying here with a fever, unable to sleep, feeling helpless, that yearning to be rescued crawls to the surface.

In spite of all my endeavors to look strong and independent and prove I didn’t need anyone, this thing in my chest, this thing latched to my bones, this thing to be saved by someone else screams to be heard.

Through all the years, the thing I wanted more than anything in the world was for someone to not be fooled by all the bullshit I hide behind, all the fake courage, and to see the scared little boy that just wanted to be rescued. The boy who believes he’s irreparably broken and unworthy of anything except standing in the mud as it rains, alone. And yet, in spite of the belief that they’re not good enough, a yearning for someone to see me, take me in, and keep me warm.

I know this doesn’t sound manly. I know this looks weak. And that’s what probably scares me the most: I don’t want to show this piece of me because it feels so scary, so vulnerable. So much so that even as I’m typing these words, I’m thinking of people reaching out to me or calling me on it, and me pretending like it was just some emotional, midnight blog post. They shouldn’t think anything of it. Because if they do, I’ll feel infinitely exposed, and in the past, when I’ve been exposed, I’ve been hurt. I’ve been called too much or too sensitive, and eventually pushed away.

Lying here with a fever, unable to sleep, feeling my helplessness and wanting someone to rescue me, I feel guilty. Guilty that I don’t turn to God and say, “You know what? You’ve saved me! You’ve rescued me from all my fears! Hallelujah!” (Insert hand wave and stopping foot.)

But lying here with a fever, unable to sleep, feeling my helplessness and wanting someone to rescue me, I hear God prompting me when I push down these truths. “Nope. Don’t hide that. Not from me. I see it. Say it. Say all of it. Every word that you’d rather me not know, every emotion that feels like betrayal, g it to me. Let me hear it.”

The fact is: He did save me. But that doesn’t change how I feel. That doesn’t change how much I’d rather a human rescue me, than Him. It doesn’t change the fact that it meant the world when I walked outside to “be alone” and a man came outside looking for me. It felt like a long-withheld inhale. It doesn’t change the fact that when I was in pain and reeling last week and yelling at a friend in a bar, trying to defend myself and stand my ground, that what I really wanted was someone to step between us and defend me.

That means so much. That matters so much.

When my friends know something was likely hard or they call me on my bullshit, I feel seen and known and like I matter. When my family says, “Oh! That makes sense!” in relation to my sexuality and the struggle I have as a gay Christian man, I feel known.

And that’s what I ultimately want: to be known, past my façade.

I try to be authentic, but I put it out there with this, “Yeah that’s me! Deal with it!” (as most fours do). I don’t present myself with a naked heart, laid bare and exposed to the world because that is risky. That’s scary as hell. Because what if someone attacks you and your vulnerability? Or worse, they don’t even see it and acknowledge it?

But how is someone supposed to be rescued if no one knows they need help?

I think what I’m learning, again and again, is that, in spite of me not feeling it, it’s in my vulnerability that God can prove Himself rescuer, and in doing so, make me genuinely strong.

That doesn’t change the fact that I desperately want a partner that can see past my bullshit, who can actually see me, who can be strong for me when I desperately yearn to be weak.

But even writing that here is vulnerability, and I’ve learned that that’s where God can work.

Final thing, and then I’ll shut up. I am CONVINCED that things would have been different if Adam and Eve would have stepped forward from their hiding when God called for them. But they hid. They covered their nakedness, their vulnerability.

God is the “I Am.” How is He supposed to step into communion, to show up as the “I Am” when we’re hiding.

He yearns for us to say, “Here I Am,” when He asks, “Where are you?”

Right here. In the wake of the consequences of my decisions. In the wake of me not trusting Your word. In the place where I believed a lie over Truth. This is where I am. Right here. Here I am.

It’s a millennia later, and He’s still asking the same question, and He’s looking for people who will remember we are made in His likeness.

The Great I Am asks us to align with who He is and say, “Here I Am.”

Here I am, God. All of me. Especially the icky, fucked up parts. The scared parts. The irreparably broken parts. The parts begging to be rescued.

Here I am. Save me.

Purpose and the Politician

I spent a few days in Texas. For those of you who don’t know, I went to a Christian leadership school called Teen Mania’s Honor Academy. Acquire the Fire and all that Jazz. In spite of the trauma that was our education, or rather because of it, I came out of there with some amazing friends and memories—one of whom was getting married. Thus the trip to Dallas, Texas.

But as I’m sitting there, watching my beautiful friend get married, surrounded by our old friends from school, I wonder, “Who will be at my wedding? Would any of these people come?”

The thought sent me to the car where I pounded back two hard ciders where a crazy man was walking the center of the street yelling at passerby’s, and I pretended to be talking to someone on my phone because the anxiety of friendless weddings was overshadowed the the anxiety of the stranger man coming at me for not giving him a cider. **Reads back over previous sentence, wondering if that’s actually a complete sentence, and pats back for one long-ass sentence.**

No one really talks about the cost of being gay these days. Which is great! Because there are happier things. There’s gay prom and lesbian marriages and trans-visibility day and surrogate mothers and adopted children.

We’ve come a long way… but it’s still hard.

It’s ended friendships; it’s parentless weddings; it’s no babies that you and your partner create; it’s reaching for your partner’s hand in public and wondering if people care, and it’s getting kicked out of churches and evangelical spaces, spaces you found a lot of purpose and belonging and passion…

I watched the Politician tonight. If you haven’t watched it, do it. It’s a stroke of genius. But as I’m watching, the main character, Payton Hobart, is depressed and hopeless while playing the piano in a local bar and it’s because he lost access to his passion. To deal with the loss, he killed any hope of returning to the very thing that gave him life: politics.

I’m not political. At least not like Payton. I’m not sure if anyone is as political as Payton. But to steal one of those annoying pages from those middle school grammar books: Payton is to politics as Brandon is to ministry.

Stressing to sell out an event. Staying up till four to set up a stadium. Kneeling in the snow as a fake Jesus in a skit you’ve done for the 200th time. Praying with a stranger. Holding a dying woman’s hand. Laughing and spooning friends you met three months ago, but you’d call them family. Talking with a kid over coffee about Jesus. Leading a congregation in worship.

All of it. I miss it.

When I came out, I felt as though I was disqualified from all of it. It was as though I was sacrificing all of these things related to ministry and family and friends for the sake of love, which is why I felt like my relationship needed to be perfect. If it wasn’t, why was I giving all of this up?

Watching Payton Hobart come alive while debating politics made me miss the things that make me come alive, the things I feel so disqualified from.

“My people perish for lack of vision.” It’s a verse… somewhere in the Bible. I could go look it up, but I’d rather keep writing.

I feel that. I feel a perishing or squandering in myself that yearns to wake up and feel and know it’s worth living, to know it’s doing something only it can do, a sense of purpose and destiny. I miss destiny. I miss believing every word and movement had intention, a kiss of the eternal, and not something passing and wasteful. I miss that.

I yearn for a kiss of destiny, to burn again.

How does one get fire back when life has thrown snow and rain on not only the embers but the wood and coal? How do we rekindle the flame?

I miss that Brandon. I want him back.

No Man’s Land

In Lady Montague’a “Turkish Embassy Letters” she describes a people group in South Eastern Europe, during the Ottoman Empire. They existed between Islamic nations and Christian nations. Out of fear, they kept both holy days, refusing to work on both Friday’s and Sunday’s.

I resonate with that—binding yourself to fear so intimately you live in two worlds instead of one, two realities instead of one, caught at a crossroad, committed to nothing, becoming a citizen to this space between countries: no man’s land.

———————

I’ve been depressed lately. About four weeks to be exact.

I’m not positive of the catalyst. What I do know is that I’ve been paralyzed by fear, watching as much Netflix as possible, so I can just not feel for the next x amount of episodes. (I’ve nearly watched all of Grace and Frankie, and finding a new show is really hard!)

The amount of nights committed to ice cream and television is abhorrent. I need to get homework done.

But it’s hard to live. If I’m being honest. It’s hard to live when it feels like an elephant is stepping on your chest. Makes it hard to breathe.

I came out 3.5 years ago, and if I’m honest, it hasn’t “gotten easier.” It’s gotten harder.

Being gay isn’t easy. There are some days I wish I never came out. Not because I want to hide the truth but because it doesn’t feel true most days.

Most days I deal with imposter syndrome, like someone gave me a script I’m not familiar with and I’m fumbling through the lines. I don’t get being gay. It doesn’t fit, like an oversized, hand-me-down sweater.

I can’t do the drag shows or the hyper sexuality or the open relationships or the club scene or the death after thirty or the gym-ing or the kinks or the sex on the first date or the need to be fashionable and interesting.

I don’t like any of it. It doesn’t fit.

But then I attend an old church and they feel like clothes that shrunk in the wash.

The with-every-head-bowed-and-every-eye-closed faith that doesn’t amount to anything, the come-Lord-Jesus-come’s when He said He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, the mini-money sermon before the plate passes, the every-one-is-welcome-but-not-really, the bless-you’s and shake-the-hand-of-the-person-next-to-you. I can’t take any more of it.

It’s like when I came out of the closet I looked behind the curtain of church and all the churches feel fake, the Bible feels like a weapon, and Christians feel like vacuum salesmen who are selling a product they don’t believe in but they’re terrified of not making their quota.

But I get it.

I’m terrified of Hell. I’m terrified of wasting my life. I’m terrified of being gay. I’m terrified of marrying a woman. I’m terrified of marrying a man. I’m terrified of being a father. I’m terrified of doing anything or believing anything.

I’m paralyzed.

So what do I do? I honor both days. I don’t do anything on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

I’m exhausted. Like feel-it-in-my-bones exhausted. Like God-please-take-me-home exhausted.

In my cult school down in Texas, we did an activity where staff members pretended to be a hostile government while we students were persecuted Christians. The role-playing led to my friends being thrown in jail (a camp shower house). I was supposed to rush the door, but a man with an automatic paint-ball gun stood between me and the door. Instead of rushing him, smacking his gun away, and freeing my friends like some Christian McGiver, I slunk away.

That moment haunts me. It haunts me because it reminds me of what’s happening again and again: I’m to scared to throw myself at either country: gay or Christian, and you best believe people will tell you can’t have dual citizenship. Both countries are separated by a big Trump wall and missiles pointed at each other, just waiting for any excuse to jump on the other.

The two identities i carry within me are at war with each other, not just externally in the world around me, but inside me as well, and I don’t fit into either of them anymore, and I’m scared as hell in this no-man’s land.

I just want to be comfortable in my own skin, to know and believe who I am, who God is, and be unapologetic about it. But I can’t find a mirror or God, so I’m a bit fucked at the moment. So I’ll watch this really cool movie where a nerd falls in love with Arya with cancer, because I would rather feel that than feel this unresolved mess of confusion that is my life.

Netflix: your next episode starts in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Ugly Crying: A Story of Dogs with Chicken Bones in Their Throats

You know when you hold back tears and hold back tears and hold back tears, and then you begin to forget the last time you cried because you’ve been kept it all in for so long in the name of nobility or fear or reputation; but then that dumb puppy post pushes you over the edge, and what’s been held back for maybe years begins breaching to the surface and the next thing you know you’re crying everywhere, unable to stop? That’s what this post feels like, but in those moments, there are two types of people: you’re either the person that cries so poetically you move an entire room to tears or you’re that ugly crier with snot in their eye that everyone is awkwardly wondering what the hell they can do to make you stop crying because they want to stop feeling guilty for witnessing this awkwardness…

This feels like the second kind.

I know I’ve pent up all these emotions for so long that it’s no longer succinct. Everything muddles together. Regardless, I know I need to let it out, just like a good cry. I only hope everyone isn’t awkwardly staring by the end of it, praying to God that someone would just make it stop.

So, without further ado, let the tears commence.

***

It’s been a year and a half since my relationship with my ex-boyfriend ended; it’s been four years since I left my community house; and it’s been six years since I came back from Europe, vowing to never step back into ministry.

Why the hell did I just include all those dates that seem to have nothing in common? Because they tell a story, a story of me believing I alone had to fight for the desires in my heart because God abandoned me, and for the first time in six years, I am daring to trust God with those desires because I can’t do this on my own anymore. I keep fucking it up. But before I can explain where I’m at now, I need to explain how I got here, and to do that, I need to go back to a lonely and confusing plane ride home from Europe.

I had just finished a whole year of being a missionary with YWAM. I had preached on the streets of Berlin, written a multicultural show, scored original music, toured throughout Europe, comforted the dying in India, ran after-school theatre workshops, and prayed with countless people, some who heard the voice of God and still others who received healing. Then, on the weekends, my friends and I would get lost in Berlin, exploring its many flavors and scenes. We had a beautiful talented community of diverse countries and backgrounds. There were so many beautiful moments, but some of my favorite being so personal and intimate with Jesus.

During my time in Berlin, I used to go on these walks with God. I’d pray and share my heart with Him. He’d speak beautiful truths to my heart. There would also be times where I’d hear directions, telling me to go left or right. Multiple times I found hidden coffee shops. They were perfect, some like out of a movie, including a coffee shop built into the side of a canal, overlooking a rose garden. It was magical. I felt like I was being wooed and loved very personally by God with these special gifts. But one day, those directions led me to the middle of nowhere. No coffee shops. No cute overlook. Just a gross part of town with nothing but closed dive bars.

And then the thought came, “Maybe this is all just a voice in my head. Maybe I’ve been making this whole thing up.”

The moment seems so stupid and insignificant, after all I was just walking around Berlin looking for a coffee shop! But to me it was momentous, but it’s because this moment didn’t stand alone. There were so many hard moments leading up to it.

Manipulation and lies from leadership. Exhaustion from being forced to create over and over again but never once mentored. A lame woman in India crying in my arms, asking why God wouldn’t give her leg back.

It was piling up.

Shortly following that moment on the streets of Berlin, my friend Josh and I started hitchhiking through Europe. When I first planned this trip, it was meant to be a “Journey of Faith.” I had read the stories of Jesus sending out his disciples with only a cloak. During their time traveling, they never wanted for anything and saw signs and wonders. This time of being sent with nothing would be critical to their future, believing that God comes through.

I thought that’s what this hitchhiking trip was supposed to be—a critical moment. But after all the letdowns in YWAM, I was no longer eager to grow in my faith. In truth, I was scared, scared I would go hungry and thirsty, that I would be cold and alone on the streets of Europe.

I couldn’t trust God with this trip. He had failed me so many times during my time in YWAM. I had to figure it out alone.

Over the next six weeks, I would scheme and plan, finding houses to stay in on Facebook and cars to share on carpooling.com. I would not leave it up to fate. I was too skeptical, and the moments Josh and I had while hitchhiking did not help my skepticism.

While on the road, I found out the leader of our school had been having an affair with one of the younger missionaries, the same young missionary who would watch his kids while he and his wife went out together.

While on the road, I found out my brother was in a severe car accident. His engine had smashed into his leg, sending a piece of his tibia into the street. My family was praying for a miracle, but the tibia didn’t grow back, and the piece lying in the street was thrown in a biowaste bag.

While on the road, I intentionally didn’t plan out our time in Geneva. I viewed it as a test. Would God actually come through on the one piece of the trip I didn’t have planned out? We had no place to stay, so, with cynicism, I said to Josh, “Let’s go ask a local church if we can sleep on their pews. After all, Jesus commanded them to take in the foreigner. Let’s see if they’ll actually do it.” They didn’t. We slept under a willow tree.

While on the road, my old friend from Bible school offered us her flat. She had since de-converted from Christianity, and when we went out bar hopping, she began to tell me all the reasons why my faith was absurd, telling me of this study and that study.

By the time I was on the plane home, returning to a family that was broken, I was crushed. Literally, everyone in my family was in crisis, including me. But I couldn’t afford a crisis. I was the oldest. It was my duty to keep it together. It’s my responsibility.

I used to think that this need to keep our family held together was something I put on myself. You know, oldest sibling syndrome. But my family actually put it on me. They literally told me, “Brandon, you’re the only one that can save our family. Please save it.” So, I declined my acceptance into Boulder’s Journalism program and hunkered down with my shattered family, a family that was praying for a miracle, but never received one. And it was in this space, this space of cynicism towards God and needing to not only take care of myself but everyone around me, that I had my first encounter with a guy.

For years I had this urge to be with a man. For years I denied it, terrified that I would become another Ted Haggard. But now I didn’t care. I was no longer trying to make God happy, after all, my life was a shit show. If I wasn’t going to look after myself, who would? I alone could be depended on. I couldn’t trust God with this desire that had been growing for over a decade now. I had to take matters into my own hands.

So I did. I had my first sexual encounter with a man… and I was terrified.

On the drive home, I called an older friend, asking him what to do. He gave me lots of love and asked lots of questions. But then he said something that made me mad. “Brandon, I think this is a divine moment. I can give you answers and ask you meaningful questions, but I think this is an opportunity to talk to God.”

Not what I wanted to hear. I hadn’t talked to God in over a year, and I was not about to start now in this moment of terror.

Resentfully, I hung up and tried to start my car. If I was going to talk to God, I needed all the help I could get, sitting trashy parking lot was not helping. I needed some grand overlook or to be surrounded by beautiful nature. But when I turned the key, it wouldn’t start. I tried to open my door. It wouldn’t open.

In a fit of rage, I slammed my hands on the horn and screamed, “Why do you keep trapping me?!”

Because I refuse to let you go.

It was the first time I heard something from God in a long time, and I knew it was him. It was like declining a call from an unknown number, but when you listen to the voicemail, it’s an ex that you have so much history with, telling you how they were thinking of you. In spite of the negative history, you’ll never forget that voice. You’ll never forget what that slight quiver actually means, and how so much more is being said that what was being said. In spite of our history, I knew this was God’s voice.

In the hour that followed, I felt that God was telling me to root, and that meant staying in Colorado Springs. I was planning on moving to Greeley, but instead, I turned down yet another college acceptance letter. I was also planning on producing a show but canceled it. I truly felt like I was supposed to strip my life down. But I had two demands of God in exchange: a better job and a new living situation.

He delivered on the job, but every housing situation I found and fought for fell through. We’re talking at least five opportunities, and I was pissed.

“This was part of the deal! I gave up all this to still be trapped at home with my family?”

But God had a better and more fulfilling plan. None of the opportunities would compare to what God had in store, and instead of fighting for it, I was given it.

A friend and I were exchanging stories at the Wild Goose. We wanted more coffee, so we went back up to the bar. There was a guy there with a cross tattoo. Being the cynical and sarcastic human that I had become, I said, “Nice cross tattoo, you some sorta Christian or something.” I sipped the coffee, loudly, looking over the rim of my mug with disdainful eyes.

“I mean. You could call me Christian, I guess. But I consider myself more spiritual.”

Sounded like some crap I would have said before I had metaphorically flipped off God and walked away from my faith.

The guy’s name was Chris. Chris went on to share why he was in Colorado. “The only thing I know is that I’m supposed to be a part of this community house. I’m not sure about anything else. But I know I’m supposed to be there.”

Chris went on to explain this “community house” very poorly. I thought it was some halfway home for delinquent youths, while my friend, Matt, thought it was some Christian frat house. We decided to investigate.

Chris told us the house was nearby, so Matt and I walked to it, continuing to talk about God and being gay (classic Brandon). When we came up to the house, we were surrounded by gorgeous, Victorian homes, including the one before us. It had an iron fence, a gorgeous front yard full of vegetation, a vibrant red door. It was beautiful.

As we stared at the house from the street, a married couple came out, asking, “Can we help you?”

Matt shouted back. “My friend Brandon is interested in your Christian frat house!”

The man became angry. “This is not a frat house! Why are you guys here?”

“Sorry for my friend. We were told by Chris that you’re running a community house, and we were curious, so we came by. That’s all. Thank you for your time. We’ll go ahead and leave now.”

I began to usher my friend away to avoid conflict with the angry husband, but his demeanor changed as he called out to us. “You wanna come take a look.”

Long story short, the angry man was Aaron Short (see what I did there), and the woman next to him was his wife Ela. They had moved into this gorgeous Victorian, a Victorian they couldn’t afford because they felt God had told them to create a community house. I was bewildered and excited as Aaron shared their vision for this place. By the end of our conversation, we had decided I would move in, and thus began one of the most beautiful years of my life. A year full of love and God and community and peace and renewed vision. My heard, cynical hear was beginning to become soft again. It was like a greenhouse where God was renewing me, causing me to grow, accomplishing the instruction He gave me—root.

To this day, I will forever be grateful for 1211 N. Tejon Street. There was so much in my heart that I desperately wanted, and that house met all of my yearnings, even the ones I didn’t know I had. God took care of me far better than I could have taken care of myself. He came through. For the first time in what seemed like forever, He came through. I was beginning to thrive in life again. I was dreaming. I had peace. I had community. I had a girlfriend. But all good things must come to an end.

As our lease came to a close, my friend Dallas decided to keep the house going. But everyone else was leaving, including me. I felt like I needed to stand on my own two feet now and start to leaning on my girlfriend for support. After all, if this relationship was meant to endure, I needed to start trusting her rather than this community house.

So, with a broken heart, I left 1211. Everything in me wanted to stay, but I felt like I needed to do the hard thing (story of my life). Little did I know this was too hard.

In less than six months of leaving, I had broken up with my girlfriend, lost my virginity, slept with over 20 random guys, and started dating my first boyfriend. And do you know what my attitude was while in that space? I can’t trust God with my heart. I can’t trust him to take care of my desires. I have to do this alone.

I had reverted back to what I was like before the community house, and if I were honest, I’m still in that place. That’s why I’ve continued to hook up with random strangers following my breakup. That’s why I’m on all the dating apps, going on dates with guys and girls, hoping to find what my heart is looking for. The problem is, my heart yearns for things in opposition to each other.

One of my closest friends, Brie, told me something that will echo with me for a long time. “The hardest moments in life are not choosing between what’s good and bad. The hardest moments in life are choosing between two things that are equally true.”

Here’s the deal, growing up, I always imagined marrying a woman. I dreamt of the guest list. I dreamt of my groomsmen. I even dreamt of what song she’d walk down the aisle to. It would obviously be “Come What May,” and we obviously would sing it to each other, rather than have a track or band play it. Do I have a flair for the dramatic? Have you met me? I was so convinced that this was how it was supposed to go that any time I was attracted to a girl that didn’t have a decent voice I didn’t even give her the time of day! She obviously wasn’t “the one.”

But here is also the deal, I’m insanely attracted to men. I have been for as long as I could remember. In contrast, I have never felt aroused by a woman. There was one time that my girlfriend and I were lying side by side in bed, watching a movie, and nothing in me wanted to feel her up or kiss her or cuddle with her. In fact, I have never done a double-take of a woman jogging past me in a sports bra, as if I were on some RomCom. A shirtless man, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

Yes, I’ve dreamed of marrying a woman, and yes, I’m aroused by men. How in the world do those two things integrate? They’re both equally true, and yet in opposition to each other, and those are not the only two.

I want to marry a woman. I want to love a man. I want to make my own babies. I want to travel the world. I want to live in community. I want to get back with my ex. I want to be independent. I want to have the support of those I love.

There are so many things I want and so many of them don’t naturally integrate into each other. So I’m left chasing one desire, but then I become frustrated and start chasing a different one. I think this was one of the reasons (there were many) my ex and I broke up.

After he broke up with me and wanted to get back together, the desire to be with a woman and make my own babies and have a marriage that everyone supported was so loud, I had to try for it. But then the desire to be loved by a man grew even louder a few months later, so then I started hooking up with strangers. And thus the rollercoaster continues.

Depending on the day, depending on the hour, a yearning climbs to the surface, I move towards it, and then another screams for attention. The result, a life that I’m scared of, a life that doesn’t have anything that I want, a life that I’m not happy with, a life of exhaustion.

“Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest. For my burden is easy and my yoke is light.”

“If you knew who I was, you’d ask me for living water, and I would give it to you.”

Here’s the deal, I have reached a breaking point. I’m over it. I’m over trying to figure out how all these shattered pieces of me fit together. It doesn’t make sense. But then again, there were a ton of dinguses in the Bible that didn’t make sense either.

Put a timid kid in charge of an army; that’s a good idea. Have a virgin girl to give birth to a savior; that should work. Liberate the world through death. Have an old infertile couple give birth to a nation. It’s literally full of impossible circumstances that shouldn’t work, but they do.

Let’s talk about that last one for a minute, and then I’ll wrap up my blubbering mess.

I resonate a lot with Abraham. The guy was given two promise, “You’re gonna have a kid with Sarah and you’re gonna inherit this specific land,” and yet, he tried to accomplish these things on his own or gave up on them altogether.

A famine comes through the land. The dude leaves the land of promise for safety and offers up his wife as a sex object. Then God has to slap Abraham in the face, metaphorically of course, and he returns to Canaan.

It’s been a few decades of having sex, and there’s still no kid. Abraham sleeps with his very fertile slave girl to bring about the promise, and what do you know, he has a kid! A boy no less. But then he has to send the child and his mother into the desert. Why? Because God wants to use an old guy and an old woman. No exceptions.

Another famine comes along, and he does the same exact shit with the Canaan ruler. Again, God has to scare him into trusting him.

Abraham’s trust was broken at best. He tried to accomplish all that was in his heart and felt incapable of bringing it about. The result was a life of mistakes and regrets.

I feel the same way. My trust is so broken. I’ve tried to answer the cries of my heart on my own, but now I’m just exhausted and have nothing to show for it. Could I take a deep breath, muster up my strength, jump back on the bull, and try again? Sure! I could, and most of my atheist or agnostic or even Christian friends would say I should. After all, the things you want are not going to magically show up; you have to work for them. But that’s just the thing when I look at the moments in my life that mattered the most—when I felt the most alive and fulfilled and myself—I didn’t work for it. My time at 1211 was one of the most important years of my life, and I had nothing to do with orchestrating it. I was trying to knock up a bunch of hoes (again, metaphorically speaking), trying to get a child (also metaphorically speaking), when God had something better the entire time. Something worthy to be written about.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Am I scared God will not come through? Absolutely. Shit! I’m also scared if He does come through too. Will I trust Him completely now that I’ve put a post up for all to see? Probably not. My trust is very fragile and broken, like Abraham’s. I need God to scare me into trusting him again, just like Abraham. But again, the stories of the Bible, my story, humanity’s story, is not a story of our faithfulness to God, it’s a story of His faithfulness to us.

“For if we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot go against his nature.”

I want to trust His faithfulness again. I want to delight myself in Him again. I want to come alive again, and I don’t think it’s going to come from me running after one shiny thing, only to realize I want this other shiny thing, only to realize… you get the point.

I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I honestly don’t know what I really want anymore or what’s best for me. I’ve reached a breaking point. All I know is that there was a time when I was happier, and it was a time that I wasn’t taking care of myself. He was.

I give up trying to know what is best for me and what my heart really wants. People will argue, saying, “But the heart wants what the heart wants.” But so does a dog, and then it’s got a chicken bone stuck in its throat, choking to death. My heart wants a lot of things, so many things that I get nauseous trying to catalog them all, and just like a dog, I go chasing after the next thing that smells good in this moment, which could very well be throwup if a dog is hungry enough. But the dog yields to someone greater than itself who cares for it, and I to yield to someone greater than myself who cares for me. I want to learn to bend the knee once again, to bend the knee to a good King, a good Dad, a Dad that sees my heart and doesn’t scoff at it. He smiles. He smiles because of all the little secrets and surprises the Dad has in store for His little boy. Cafes in a canal wall, overlooking a rose garden. Lanterns soaring into Chaing Mai sky, on an unplanned vacation. But most importantly, all those intricate things that don’t make sense, that don’t go together, and yet somehow, they will. Somehow they will. And He smiles.

How Can I be Gay and Christian — A Look into My Methodology

In recent news, there’s been a convergence of two major groups: Christians and the LGBTQ+ population, two groups that are normally at odds with one another. These animosities are beginning to reach a boiling point as more and more entities are choosing to create space for both identities, challenging the conception that they are incongruent.

An openly gay Christian man is hoping to become the Democratic party’s presidential candidate for 2020; a gay Christian dating app is hitting the market this year; and some Methodist churches are fighting against a recent vote within their denomination, a vote which labels homosexuality as a sin.

As I share these stories, I know there are individuals and communities alike who are angry. The reason I know this is because I’ve experienced it. As I came out as a gay Christian, friends threatened hell, parents left the room, and strangers blasted me about how I’m not actually a Christian. Even with the launch of this post, comments have soared on social media with people arguing vehemently their point and how they’re right.

When Mayor Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay Christian man, announced his intention to run for president, crowds screamed “Sodom and Gomorrah,” and major Christian figures like Franklin Graham demanded his repentance. Side note: why hasn’t Graham demanded repentance from other presidential candidates for fraud, embezzlement, infidelity, lying, or pride? I digress.

It’s as if the words “queer” and “Christian” are combustible, but instead of a chemical reaction, there’s an explosion of emotion and opinion.

But why? Why the knee-jerk anger, especially from a people whom Jesus said are supposed to be known by their love? Why is it that I’ve seen multiple YouTube videos of Christian parents throwing out their gay children, while I’ve never seen a Christian parent throw a coming out party for their child? Why is it that, according to San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project, highly religious homes are far more likely to kick their kid out for being gay than non-religious parents?

One reason: the Bible, more specifically, how Christians relate to the Bible.

I was defined by being an Evangelical Christian. That identity permeated every moment of my life. At a very young age, I remember coloring in the pews as my dad played the drums and my mom led the Children’s Ministry.  As I grew up, I started volunteering with children and youth at a very early age. I was at church at least three times a week. But I was just getting warmed up. Following my high school graduation, I attended a Christian leadership academy, became a youth pastor, served as a missionary in Europe, and led worship at multiple churches. All of my immediate friends and family were and are Christian. But when those closest to me were confronted with my existence as a gay, Christian man, the majority felt torn, torn between obeying a book or loving me.

“Brandon, I’m trying to love you and your brother,” my mother said through tears, months after my younger brother came out, “but I’m caught between obeying the Bible or loving my son. It’s so hard!”

Without this book, my mom would have no problem loving her sons. Without this book, my friends would not be apprehensive about standing with me on my wedding day. Without this book, people wouldn’t feel pulled in two directions, unable to decide, and scared to form an opinion.

What does this mean? Is the Bible a bunch of garbage written by European men to manipulate and control the populace? Some would argue this opinion. But that is not what I am arguing.

As I said above, I’m a gay Christian man, and many would challenge my existence, claiming those two identities cannot cohabitate one body. But my argument is that they can. My argument is that Christians have been relating to the Bible poorly and that there is a relationship we can have to scripture that allows mothers to love their kids and sanctions peers to stand by their gay friend’s side as they declare their vows. And just as many of my opponents would start with scripture, asking me, “But what about Sodom and Gomorrah? What about the two verses in Leviticus? What about Romans one?” (As if they are the first person to introduce me to these scriptures, which I’ve been aware of for the majority of my life because they directly affect me.) That’s where I would like to start — scripture.

There are six verses in the Bible concerning homosexuality. Six. For comparison, according to Blue Letter Bible, there are 16 passages on divorce, 62 verses about pride, and 111 verses concerning money.

For those of us who are gay and Christian, we call these six passages, the “clobber” passages because most Christians use these verses to clobber us. Regarding these verses, many publications and organizations, such as The Reformation Project, QCF, Unclobbered, God and the Gay Christian, Torn, Bible Gender Sexuality, Changing Our Minds (to list a few), all talk about how these verses are contextual and are actually not talking about homosexuality how we think of it today. They are either talking about idol worship that included using boys for prostitution, pedophilia, or a lack of hospitality to the foreigner. They were not talking about loving, committed gay relationships.

But people would argue, “You can’t read into this. You have to take the Bible for face value. It says what it says.” If that is the case, women should be silent in church (I Corinthians 14:34). If that is the case, we should not allow divorce on any grounds but infidelity (Matthew 19:9). If that is the case, we shouldn’t have tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), we shouldn’t eat meat with blood in it (Acts 15:20), we should yield to corrupt government (Romans 13:1-7), and we should cut off body parts when they cause us to sin (Matthew 5:29).

My list could continue for far more than a paragraph, but I think you get it. What’s my point? My point is that we contextualize all the time.

How is it fair to contextualize certain parts of the Bible and then not others? We have to look at what was applicable for ancient Israel or the early church and translate it for those of us who live in a modern world. Scripture cannot stay locked in a cultural vacuum, and I’m not just saying this because it benefits me. I’m saying it because it’s exactly what the early church did in Acts.

In Acts 15, there’s massive dissension concerning Gentiles (non-Jews) who are being baptized. Many are saying that they should be circumcised and follow the Jewish law in its entirety, a list of over 600 commandments, including two of our “clobber” verses about homosexuality.

In the end, it is determined by the 12 apostles that the Gentiles shouldn’t be forced to obey the law. They scrap it altogether. Instead, they gave them four rules: don’t eat meat offered to idols, don’t consume blood, abstain from sexual immorality, and don’t eat meat that was strangled.

In one meeting, the whole law is ruled inappropriate to a different culture and new instructions are given to non-Jews. Why? Who gave the apostles the right to change the rules?

Jesus.

“Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,” Matthew 16:19.

So where’s the law? Should we just scrap all forms of morality under the grace of Jesus Christ?

No. Instead, Jesus gave us a new law. Well, two, actually.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” John 13:34.

Not some of the law. All of it.

The apostles gave instructions that would help the Gentile believers serve God, to help them obey the first law. They did this from a place of love, obeying the second law. They were obeying the teachings of Christ.

In spite of the six verses in the Bible about homosexuality, Jesus doesn’t mention homosexuality once during his time on Earth. Instead, he talks about love — about loving your God, about loving your neighbor, and about people knowing you’re one of his disciples because of your love.

Can we say that this is true? Do people call Christians “the most loving people”? Are we known by this today? No, instead we’re known as judgmental and ignorant and hypocritical, picketing queer political candidates and abortion clinics.

Is this love? Or have we done what early enemies of the church did — reimplementing the law out of fear?

As a gay Christian, I know I can exist and hold to my faith because, one, there are contexts to the verses we use to batter LGBTQ+ people that need to be considered, and two, Jesus’s commandment to me was not to be straight. His commandment to me was to love my God and to love people, that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Bubbling Anxieties

Heads up: this post is gonna be a ton of rambling about my anxieties and what I do with them as a Six. Yup. I said it. Six. I’ve begrudgingly identified as a Four in the infamous Enneagram for about a six months, but I’ve never felt settled on it. Then a friend who loves the Enneagram said, “If you’re still not settled, you’re probably a Six.”

I think he’s right.

A Six is identified by their anxieties. They are always scheming what could go wrong. They are literally creating and emotionally living out endless possible outcomes, so they can prepare for the worst. I one time created a map of my brain to a friend she felt anxiety just looking at it. Yeah! Try living it! But the absolute worst part about being a Six is that a Six believes their anxieties are necessary. They hold them closely, refusing to let go because they believe they keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Fear actually keeps them holding their fears.

The fear bubbles up as a result of not trusting their inner guidance. At some point, a Six began to believe that they don’t have the internal resources to make it in life. The result? They believe failure is around every corner. To compensate, they look for support outside of themselves. But here’s the punch line: fears keep them from fully trusting those they look to for support. They both long and are skeptical of support, creating a push-pull relationship with their close friends, mentors, and confidants.

Anxious yet? I am! But that’s typical, since I’m a Six.

This whole mindset has recently shown it’s flagrant colors, specifically in that lovely thing we call “higher education”.

I’ve been doing school since 2008. It’s been a decade, and I still don’t have my degree. Why? Because:

  1. Life. I’d end up doing ministry or living abroad and put school on the backburner. The fact that I’m this old and I still don’t have a degree, and the one I’m pursuing will take another two years weighs really heavy on me.
  2. Choice. I am terrified that I’ll choose the wrong major, and my life trajectory will be forever off course. This has caused me to switch majors like twelve times. I’m so unsure, lacking confidence in any choice I make, determined that if I choose wrong, I’ll ruin my life.

Choice. It’s not just in school that this concept overwhelms me. Choice has a way of paralyzing me in every arena.

What if it’s the wrong choice? What if this hurts people? What if it hurts me? What if I’m screwed? How can I know this is the best choice to make? What if I ruin my life? What if I waste away my life?

The overwhelming amount of question marks that assault me on a daily basis make me want to turn on Netflix and bing another season of The Originals. While watching television shows I don’t have to make choices. Choices are made for me. I just get to enjoy the ride.

Life would be a whole lot easier if choice was just removed and some magical board of wisdom gurus made those choices for me. Why can’t I just have a Gandalf that tells me exactly what to do? Sounds great! The idea of arranged marriages and work assignments based upon test results sounds pretty fantastic to me!

As a Christian, don’t I have Someone I can trust to help me decide? Isn’t there this thing called the Holy Spirit that is called “The Counselor”, “The Prince of Peace”? Sure. In theory. Until you try to listen to that “still small voice” and those anxieties we talked about earlier whisper louder (and by whisper louder, I mean scream), “Are you sure that’s the Holy Spirit? What if that’s you? Could it be mmmm Satan!?”

To be very frank, my still-small-voice confidence has taken a beating over the years.

I used to trust that voice even in the clothing I’d wear (like I said, I hate choice). What happened?

Life.

I hitchhiked through Europe and felt so lost when all I did was pray for God to lead me.

I came home to a wrecked family and had no idea what to do or where God was amidst the chaos.

I dated a man and shut off anything I was hearing because I was scared God was going to ruin the one thing that I felt like I loved in life.

I don’t know how to trust that still small voice anymore because sometimes, it feels like it’s out to destroy me. And I would love to trust my own inner guidance, but I haven’t worked with that muscle in a hot second. From 2006 to 2013, I’ve disregarded my own will and obeyed this tug in my chest. I have no clue what I actually want, or I’m too afraid of what I want, or I believe what I want is wrong.

Why would I believe what I want is wrong? It’s kinda hard not to when a core longing inside of you has been told to be depraved since you were little. At a young age, I remember hearing my dad blow up at a movie for having two men kiss each other, yelling, “Why did they have to put that shit in there? It’s a mockery to God!” I’d agree when inside I think, “I feel the same way. Don’t let them see. Hide it. Kill your desires.”

If you can’t even trust your attractions, believing they’re broken and cursed, how are you supposed to trust anything else you want?

Distrust has crept into everything I love. I wander between desires or sabotage the very thing I want.

I can’t go for a degree in writing or performing arts! It’s called “starving artist” for a reason.

I can’t write a novel! I don’t have enough information or experience to write anything of value.

I can’t produce my own show! I have no clue how to go about doing it, school is too expensive, and I’m too old.

I can’t date this man! I will lose everyone; I won’t know how to raise a girl since we’ll both be guys; I’ll have a panic attack every time we move towards sexual intimacy, and I’ll live in terror of going to Hell every day.

Every desire is a bad choice.

In response, I get jobs I don’t care about; I have hookups instead of relationships; I get a degree that I believe is safe; dreaming becomes impossible; authoring my own life becomes so taxing that I just end up doing what I don’t want to do. Why not? If God doesn’t want me to date a man, and that’s a core longing in my being, He must want me to do the very thing I hate.

This thought process has actually led me to move away from the very thing I want on multiple occasions. It’s even defined key elements of my life and has caused me to resent God.

Leaving a community house.

Not going on tour with Aquire the Fire.

Abandoning an enrollment at UNC in theatre.

It all was loaded with a belief that I shouldn’t go after that which I love, and now I’m left unsure what I actually want.

Does what I want even matter? If the things I desperately want are corrupt, where is the line to trust what I want? We say go after what you love, but where is that in the Bible? In fact, I see the opposite. I see God demanding we take what we love and burn it. Abraham. Hannah. David. Jesus. Paul. While Jesus promised to give us life and life abundant, they’re lives just seem impossibly hard, and then we’re told to “Follow me.”

How do we rectify this with our cliche maxim of “follow your heart”? Is it truly Biblical?

I feel desperately torn, torn between obligation and want, between wanting to want and wanting to be obliged. Drawn and quartered.

Being a Six sucks. Being gay also sucks. Being a Christian sucks the most.

And yet I can’t shake any of them. I’ve tried. For years of my life, I’ve tried. And yet here I am, panicking about my future and completely unsure what to do about it. I feel completely lacking in support or support I can trust. Everyone seems to want me to be gay or Christian, and very few honor both, making trust incredibly hard.

But deep down I want to trust. I want to breathe the fresh air of comradery and belief. Belief in myself. Belief in my support. Belief in humanity. Belief in God. But it all feels like sand in my hands—I can old grab hold of it for a fleeting moment, but never forever.

I normally get all Psalmy, like David, and say something like, “But I will trust blah, blah, blah…” I don’t want to today. I just want what I say to exist and be out there. Not pretty. Not fixed. Just exist. So there you go, my bubbling Six mess. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading.

Gluten and Genocide

Fact: gluten sensitivity has been on the rise in recent years.

Fact: scientists still are unsure of the cause of this.

Fact: bacterial DNA has been injected into the majority of our plants. This genetic modification creates pores, resulting in the stomach exploding.

Fact: one of the number one issues related to gluten sensitivity is “leaky gut” or porous intestines, allowing food to leave the digestive tract and enter the bloodstream.

Coincidence? I think not! But what do I know? I’m just a 28-year old who is incredibly paranoid. I don’t know science, but I can definitely create the worst case scenario. I’m that person who interprets the period in a text message as, “This person is angry with me!” I’m also the guy that gets a sore throat, pulls out their phone, checks WebMD and concludes I have some rare lymphatic cancer. It’s rare people. Not impossible. Meaning, I could have it!

So if your brain works even a little bit like mine, you’re probably thinking, “Huh! I should probably buy more organic food.” But it’s in organic vegetables too. So good luck not getting leaky gut! You’re better off with thinking like me and deciding you should just stop eating altogether. Better to starve until I move to another country where GMO’s are illegal.

The facts above came up in a conversation with a number of my hippy friends that grow their own vegetables, have their own chickens, and milk their own goats. They are phenomenal in every way and way better at being true to their values than I am.

They went on to talk about large corporations that sue smaller farms because their patented seed started growing in their field (because they also modify the seed to spread everywhere). As the seeds spread, they sue smaller farmers, knocking out competition.

Why am I talking about farms and GMO’s and massive corporations on a blog devoted to sexuality, spirituality, and the personal life of a guy who likes guys and this guy named Jesus? Well, one, because it’s my blog and I want to. But two, because a simple conversation of leaky gut led me to existential questions (typical of my brain).

How can large corporations get away with this? How could someone make a decision to make more money that is potentially affecting an entire nation? How could people like this sleep at night?

From there my brain spiraled out into blood diamonds, battery harvesting, child starvation, and the Holocaust. GMO’s to genocide. Yay brain! But the real reason I ended up at human depravity is because I always ask the question “why?”

Why genocide? Why starving children? Why exploding guts?

That then leads to the biggest question: Why would God let this happen?

Pain and destruction have a way of pulling out the most potent question that every human will eventually come into contact with: where is God in all of this?

I’m going to expose my theology here a bit. I don’t think God allows it. I’m not a believer in the divine orchestration of everything. I don’t understand how people can believe in that and believe that God is loving. If God orchestrates horrific things like children in Africa dying of AIDS, then God is cruel and not worthy of any type of worship.

And here’s the part where all the evangelical Christians pumped the breaks, thinking they should stop reading. But I think my thoughts actually have more than logic, but biblical evidence.

In truth, I see God releasing control to man way more often than not in the Bible.

God yielding to Israel and giving them a king.

God yielding to Moses and not massacring all of Israel.

God yielding to Abraham and saving Lot.

The Bible is full of stories of God bending a knee to man, not because He’s weak. Not because He’s a people pleaser and needs our favor. But because love yields.

The Trinity is this gorgeous depiction of God yielding to God in a cyclical union that He invites us into.

God literally gave dominion of the earth to us. It’s like He created this gorgeous car and gave us the keys. Then we get mad when we drive recklessly and crash the thing. And I’m not talking about just man on man violence. Yes, our reckless decisions directly affect those around us. But the act of raising our own will above other’s literally curses the planet. It caused plants and animals to riot against us and each other. It commissioned death and pain into the world. Sickness, pain, disease. It all bleeds from the same wound that we inflicted.

When we look around the world at all the destruction, it’s not God orchestrating it. It’s a world that is in the hands of an adrenaline-junky, hormonal teenager.

So as I sat in my car with a mind that spun out from leaky guts to the depravity of man, my heart broke. I literally started crying in my car because of GMO’s. And as I cried, there was a prayer that rose above it all: “Come, Lord Jesus, come. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Come reign. Come make the wrong things right. Come redeem the pain and the suffering. Come. Come, Lord Jesus, come… and start with me.”

It’s really easy to look at the world on a macro level and say, “God, please come rule. We screwed this up. Time after time we mess this up. Your hands are stronger. Your hands are wiser. Come reign. Bring Your peace. Bring Your life.”

And yet, when we bring it to a micro level, we squirm. Especially me. It’s like I can trust Him with the world but I can’t trust Him with myself.

If I let God rule in my life, will He look out for me? Will He satisfy the yearnings of my heart? Will He hold me close like a lover when I feel desperately alone and lost? Will He show up? Is He actually good? Does He even care? Does He truly love me?”

When we choose to say, “I’ve got this,” in our hearts, we are calling God a liar. We are like our ancestors in that garden millennia ago, and we believe the same lie of the serpent.

“Did God really say that? He’s holding out on you. He doesn’t have your best interest in mind. You decide what’s right. You decide what’s wrong. You don’t need Him. You decide what’s right. You decide what’s wrong. Eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

We eat the fruit. Every day. And we wonder why the world is spinning out of control.

We expect God to “come on the clouds with fire”. We expect Him to smite the faithless, establish dominion, and “rule with a mighty hand”. We expect him to “put all His enemies under His feet.”

So did the Jews.

They expected the Messiah to ride in on a white horse and free Israel from the might of Rome with a mighty hand. But He came in on a donkey and His hands were pierced to a tree. He physically couldn’t lift a finger to help anyone as His body was wrenched from Him.

The more and more I look at Jesus, the more and more I think we may have it all wrong.

Jesus doesn’t establish dominion on land or sea. His kingdom is in hearts. Jesus doesn’t win by rising up and destroying the oppressor. He rules through dying by their hands.

He yields… to man… to His Father. And by yielding, He brings about life for the world.

In one garden, the first Adam said, “I don’t trust you.” In another garden, the second Adam wept, praying, “Not my will but yours.” By yielding, Jesus brought about life for us all, and that promise is extended to us.

“The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I come to bring life, and life abundant.”

Do we believe Him? I know I don’t a lot. I know that I think, “God if I yield to you, you will steal from me, you will kill me, you will destroy me.”

What am I saying about God? I’m calling Jesus Satan and Satan my Messiah. That sounds strong, but can you see it any other way? I perpetuate the very pain I hate in the world. God isn’t going to win by smiting all in His path. He’s going to win the earth one heart at a time as each heart chooses to yield. It’s an invitation. Not a conquest. And it starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with the smallest and most precious world of all–our own. And as we choose to trust Him, one moment at a time, He will be faithful to fulfill His promise–”I will bring about abundant life. Not just to you, but to everyone around you.”

He wants to plant the tree of life in us all, producing a fruit that will rescue everyone that tastes its nectar.

Will we soften our hearts to Him to plant that seed? Will we yield? He yields to us every day. Can we till the soil of our hearts and open up to His faithfulness? Can we trust Him?

A quick aside before I depart. It’s easy to see that living in the knowledge of evil produces death. But it wasn’t called the tree of the knowledge of evil. It was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

I have seen so many Christians focus on what is right and what is wrong, that they kill the hearts of everyone they meet. We all want to know we’re in the right so badly, we’ll go to any length to ensure we’re safe.

We’ll cross the road on the way to church as a bloodied man asks for help. After all, we have to be there on time and we don’t want to get our robes dirty.

But it’s not just the evangelical Christian that does this. Every single human is guilty.

“Well, at least I don’t kill people.” “It’s not like I go around raping children.” “I’m not that bad.”

We justify ourselves rather than Christ justifying us and in doing so eat of the fruit of our ancestors, perpetuating the pain.

Probably one of the biggest vindications I’ve seen lately is in the gay Christian community. And I get it. We’ve been told we’re wrong for so long; we’re desperate to prove that we’re right. We invest hours to studying scripture; we analyze the culture and the language; we exegesis the shit out of context and in doing so vindicate ourselves. We are right. They are wrong.

If you dig deep enough, anyone can find scripture to support their cause. Even slaveholders found justification in scripture prior to the Civil War.

Am I saying that having a same-sex marriage is wrong? I’m not, actually. What I am saying is that if we simply dig into the Bible, declaring this is right, we’re no better than the people that clobber us with the same passages. We cannot keep living in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It’s time to turn to the tree of life.

Is there life in your life (yes I just wrote that…) as a result of the choices you make? Are you yielding to Jesus?

A while back, when trying to vindicate myself and give myself permission to have a gay relationship, I reached out to a married gay couple who write a blog called Modern Kinship. They inspire me with their trust and love of Jesus. Yes, believe it or not, there are homos out there that love Jesus and do a better job than a lot of straight people.

When I emailed them, sharing my story and asking questions about marrying a man or a woman, He gave me an answer I didn’t expect.

“I don’t believe there’s a single God-honoring path to take. Maybe God has a woman in mind for you; maybe He doesn’t.” He went on to say that the number one evidence that he knows that God has called him and his spouse to this marriage is the life they see as a result of it. “My marriage serves to strengthen my faith. We serve God together and help to deepen each other’s understanding of God. Our relationship has had outward benefits in the way it has prompted people to think about God and his love in a larger, more radical way. People ruined on the church are giving God a second look. All of that, for me, has been the best evidence.”

“You will judge a tree by their fruit.”

What fruit do you have that shows you’re producing life? Not right or wrong. This isn’t about vindication. The world has had plenty of that and we’re all still bleeding. Being right doesn’t heal. It still kills. Where is life blossoming? Not only yourself but for those around you? Is there healing in your open hands? Is there a simple childlike trust breathing hope into the people around you? Are we agreeing with our Messiah’s prayer, “Not my will, but Yours”?

I want to start praying that prayer again.

Thanks for reading.