“I’m calling it. It’s over. I’m sorry.”
I hang up the phone, looking out the window as the snow falls.
My heart shivers from more than the cold outside. It’s something deep inside me.
I exhale and close my eyes.
“This sucks God.”
I curl up on the couch and just want to pretend life isn’t happening, that I can just not exist for a while.
It’s only been a few seconds, and I already miss him.
It’s only been a few seconds, and I want to take back every word.
But you can’t take back words. They’ve been written into history, and now I have to live with them.
This is so hard.
Four weeks ago I was sideswiped by a man.
In the midst of confusion and intense loneliness, I had hooked up with 13 men, gotten out of 13 beds (or cars), leaving behind 13 nights, pretending each one didn’t happen.
It had low collateral damage.
Not emotions, satisfy my need to not be alone, move on and pretend it didn’t happen.
It was working great, and by great, I mean slowly destroying my heart, till a guy messaged me and said, “I don’t wanna hook up. You seem like a great guy, and I would love to take you on a date.”
My fingers paused, hovering over the screen.
A guy wanted to take me on a date?
My heart wanted to soar. But instead, it remained cautious. I anticipated it was all a ruse.
No guy just wants a date.
But I was proven wrong.
I ended up bailing on the date. I had “conveniently” remembered a Christmas party I RSVP’ed to. Besides, it was easier to run from this then to get my hopes up, only to have them come crashing down–my narrative thus far.
“I’m sorry! I just completely forgot about this party.”
“It’s okay. It just sucks cause I had reservations.”
He had reservations? He cared enough about me to legitimately plan a date and make reservations?
I didn’t know how to take this. It was so foreign to me—being pursued and wanted to this caliber. I know I shouldn’t want this, that it shouldn’t mean so much. But it did, and here I was running from it.
My heart sank.
However, by happenstance, we were able to reschedule for the next day, and I was so excited.
With butterflies in my stomach and questions in my head, I waited in anticipation, while sitting in my car waiting for him outside the local prayer house.
“What does it mean to go on a date with a guy? Does he pay for everything? Should I care about how I look or just dress like a bro? Do I get all romantic or act like friends? What do I do with my hands?!?!?”
But all the questions melted away, as one of the best nights of my life commenced and swept me away in its current.
Silly charades in a costume store, making fun of people at the ice rink, sitting down for a nice dinner, talking about life and our experiences with God, laughing over ice cream, sitting in a car as he held me and stared into my eyes till two in the morning.
Neither of us wanted it to end.
I was undone.
Desperately thirsty areas of my heart were drinking of a well I didn’t even know existed, and I had no idea what to do with it.
Someone was pursuing me; someone wanted to care for me; someone was being strong for me.
I drank fast and deeply, like a man out of a desert.
“Where have you been?” He said as he ran his fingers down my nose. I smiled and squirmed inside with the admiration. “I wanna take care of you.” I melted with peace and nearly started crying.
The moment will forever be carried in my heart as one of my most precious moments.
But just like a man out of the desert, I drank too fast, and my stomach began to ache.
I fucked it up.
The following night we met up again.
He burrowed into my arms, and I whispered into his ear to calm his nightmares. Then we held each other till the sun came up.
The evening was amazing, but I had reservations, processing what to make of this, as he stared into my eyes.
I couldn’t escape the question: Is God gonna take this from me?
Dancing back and forth from the well.
The next morning I got a text.
“What’s wrong? Something was up last night.”
He cared enough to notice? Ugh!
“Yeah… It’s called an existential crisis!!!!”
I didn’t say that. Instead, just like someone who drinks too much too fast, I began puking. But instead of bile it was words. Via text messaging, I began to externally process the mirky waters of my head and heart. And just like puke, it was messy.
I don’t remember all my rambling, but the jist was, “I love Jesus. He’ll always be first. If he says end this, I’m out.”
After lots of one word answers to my novels of text messages there was just silence.
My heart quaked in trepidation.
He was typing.
“Wow… that really tears me up inside.”
To read those words destroyed me. Because of my confusion, I was hurting someone I was falling for, and falling for really fast.
Turns out I wasn’t the first Christian to bail on him, due to this moral dilemma. I was adding to a narrative that was hurting him, and that killed me.
Over the course of a week, we were finally able to navigate our next step—friendship, which I was completely okay with. Maybe that was better. I could try and figure this out without risk of hurting him.
But apparently friends make out and sleep in bed together, because that’s the type friendship we had.
But we also went to the gym, so maybe that brought it to friendship status, even though I was swooning inside as weights clanged to the floor.
Side note: gyms are intimidating, especially for a guy like me.
I have no clue how to “perform” in that arena, and the insecurity has kept me out of many a gym.
But to have someone show me the way, to not be embarrassed when I had to take off weights, to encourage me when I was down on myself, meant the world.
I again drank from the foreign well, but it was being polluted with the fear that this was somehow forbidden.
But I was so confused. We’re “friends” but I feel so much when I’m with you. You say we’re friends, but then you pull me in close for a kiss. What is this? The confusion was driving me insane.
The next day we chatted on the phone.
He had canceled a date, and as my mind does, I blamed myself and began mind wrestling.
“Is he as into me as I’m into him? Am I taking this too fast? What is he thinking right now? Is this gonna break? Am I too much?”
The answer is yes; I am too much.
With any relationship with a guy, platonic or romantic, I’ve always been terrified that I would be just that—too much.
“I think we should take a break. You’re just too much, Brandon.” He said after text silence for what seemed like an eternity.
My heart sank. I was ruining this. I was fulfilling my fears.
The well began to crumble, as I danced around it like Jericho, dancing between fear and desire.
In the days that followed, my mind wandered to wrestlings, providing infinite hypotheticals that were making me physically nauseous.
In one moment I was glad it was potentially over, in the next I was terrified to lose him. In one moment I felt like I ruined everything, and in the next I felt like God broke this because He doesn’t want me dating a guy. In one moment I thought it would be best if I didn’t care as much, and in the next I’m scared I care too little.
Teeter totter, up and down, left then right. If my heart could blow chunks, it would.
My body tried. No luck.
Then, in a moment of trying to trust God, I ended it.
“I’m calling it. It’s over. I’m sorry.”
It’s only been a week since the break up, and it’s felt like a year, and the teetering and tottering has only continued.
One moment I’m daring to trust God, hoping it was Him that told me to end it and not my fears, the next I’m wanting to rewind time and fix everything with this guy.
Being attracted to guys while loving Jesus sucks.
After my first date with this guy, I went to coffee with my ex-girlfriend, where I shared about the amazing evening. With a smile on my face, it quickly retreated and turned into a grimace. My face disappeared into my hands, as I lost control.
“Even if I was the cruelest person on the planet, I would never wish same-gender attraction on anyone. It’s just too hard. This is too hard.”
It’s literally the worst.
As I drank from this well for the first time ever, it was polluted with guilt, and it ruined everything. My dancing had caused a crumbling. Now the well was gone, and here I am in a desert of soul.
How can something so sweet, so refreshing, be forbidden?
That’s been my biggest question through all of this. Why God? Why can’t I have this?
Ever since I was a little boy, I remember crying myself to sleep, praying for a best friend—someone to cherish and do life with, to have each other’s back, to fight for each other. Through everything, he would be the one I could count on, and he could count on me.
If this was Acts, I’d be set. Men choosing to not marry, running off into the world, talking about their Jesus, off on a world-wind adventure, us against the world.
But I don’t live in 40 A.D. Palestine. I live 20th century America, where male intimacy is feared and everyone simply gets married and has 2.3 children and a golden retriever.
I desperately want that intimacy, but it seems the only avenue was this well I just broke with my dancing.
While dating this guy, we could talk for hours on the phone, loving every second without guilt. I could hug him without counting the seconds, making sure people didn’t get the wrong idea. I could hold him when he was scared. He could joke with me when I was too serious. We had each other.
No boundaries. No limits. Freedom.
I want someone to do life with, and I’m so scared to trust God that a woman will be enough or that mere friendship will do.
While dating girls, I always felt like I had to be strong and had to chase her, when I so deeply wanted someone to be strong with me, for us to chase each after other.
That’s what I had with this guy.
Those desires of my heart were being deeply satisfied with promises, true or not. As he held me, he’d say, “I’m gonna take care of you.” “You’re everything I wanted in a guy… even the quirky, dorky parts.”
As he squirmed in fear at night, I whisper to him, “You’re okay. I got you.” His body stilled. “I’m not good with emotions.” He said. “Challenge accepted.” I said.
We were strong where the other was weak.
A partnership. A brotherhood.
Pursuing each other. Strong for each other.
Where else am I gonna find that?
If I trust God and marry a woman, will I have that? Or will a deep longing in my heart be forever unmet? Is that fair to her? Is that fair to me? Will she ever feel like she’s enough? What if I reach a breaking point in our marriage, having these desires unmet, and I’m unfaithful to my wife? By stepping away from this well, am I putting others at risk?
Maybe friendship will offer a level of satisfaction.
A dear friend told me, “You just desire that David and Jonathan relationship—more intimate than that of a woman.”
Which is true, but that doesn’t exist in today’s age. Eventually everyone just gets married and disappears into their island of marital bliss. Meanwhile, I’m left alone without someone to do life with. Like musical chairs, I waited too long and refused to sit on the seat that was open, declaring it dirty and off limits.
I want to trust God. I want to believe He told me “no” for a good reason, but I just don’t see it, and at times I wonder if I’m making all this up in my head.
Is this really not allowed? Am I hearing right? Why am I really not allowed to have this?
The prayers ensue.
“God, I don’t wanna be alone. Where do I go from here? Do I leave behind any attempt at dating men when this has felt so good? I don’t think I’ll find anything like I just had. He was great! Will I ever find a woman that can meet/satisfy my heart like he did? What’s gonna happen to me God? I’m scared. I don’t wanna be alone. What do I do with these desires? Help me, God. Help me make it through this, because every day I miss him. Every day I wanna rewind time, start over and make this right.”
But I can’t make this right. I broke it beyond repair, and that’s my deepest regret.
And it haunts me.
I wake up.
I start another day.
One moment, leaving all this behind me, and in the next the littlest thing reminds me of him, and with the memories come the infinite, unanswerable questions.
One day at a time.
Trying to move on.
Trying to trust.
I walk into the desert with trepidation, rubble behind me.
I wanna run back and dig up the well.
For those reading, I believe there will be two responses to this…
From the Christians: Thank God that’s over. Don’t ever do that again, Brandon. You knew better. Why would you even play with that? I hope you learned your lesson. I’m just glad it’s over.
From the Non-Christians: Why would you give up on something you desire so much? Why do you keep denying who you are? You’re a coward. You should have seen it through. You’re simply functioning out of how you were raised. You’re scared. Don’t give up. Try this again.
Walking the line of liking guys while liking Jesus is a lonely road.
To both parties…
Where were you when I cried myself to sleep every night in desperation for a friend? Where were you when I was in despair without purpose? Where were you when I was lost in an existential crisis? Where were you when I was hopping from boy to boy in the shadows?
Did you rescue me from myself? Did you give me a divine destiny? Did you love me when I was unloveable? Did you chase me when I ran from everyone?
He alone has been faithful to me. He alone is able to hold my heart like He does. He alone has stuck with me through the worst and best moments of my life. He alone has made life worth living.
Where were you?
There was an evening, while dating this guy, that God prompted me, “How was your night? How did it feel to be held by him?”
“Like heaven God. I felt so safe.”
I heard Him smile in the silence, like He knew a secret, and He was holding back for dramatic effect. Drama queen.
“No one will hold your heart like I do.”
I smiled with the thought, melting like I’d melt with this boy, but on a spiritual level.
He was right.
No one, not man nor woman, will ever be able to hold my heart like He does, and I can’t deny that.
It would be easier to deny His existence in order to live the life I want to live without hesitation. It would destroy the dance.
But to deny God would mean I’d have to deny myself. Who I am is a direct result of His intervention. No matter how desperately I’d like to pretend He doesn’t exist, so this moral dilemma can vanish, I can’t. I’m unable.
I feel like the disciples after everyone else abandoned Jesus, because He said, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood.” After his audacious statement, He turns to the twelve. The crowds were offended and left. Alone with the 12, Jesus asks, “You gonna leave too?”
“Never! We’d die before we’d leave you! We love you so much! You’re our everything! We’re not like them! We’ll never be offended!”
The disciples said none of that. Their only response was, “Where else can we go? You alone have the words of life.”
They were deeply offended. They were utterly confused. But they couldn’t deny that they had been touched by the very definition of life. So they stayed.
I’m offended by Jesus on the daily. I’m confused, reeling with questions on a minute by minute basis.
And the fear…
I’m scared. I’m terrified. The fear that I will be alone and that these thirsts in my heart will go unmet, rage consistently.
But where else can I go?
When I decided to follow Jesus at 17, He gave me a promise: “If you come with me, I promise you abundant life.”
When I reflect on my life and the moments that have mattered the most, the moments that have defined my life, He has always been at the center.
I can’t walk away from Him.
Does that mean I don’t have doubts? False! I have doubts. I’m scared I just fucked the best thing that has ever happened to me because of a moral dilemma. I analyze it to the ground. I wanna run back to this guy every day. It would be easier to say, “Screw it! I’m going to deny God’s existence, because then I don’t have to worry about what He thinks.”
But I can’t.
So despite my pain and doubt, I’m attempting to trust. Plagued with questions, I press on. But there is one question that overshadows them all, and it is the source of all the others.
“God, are you really for me?
I have found that it is often in the midst of pain where we all ask that very question. It is pain that causes us to doubt everything we hold dear.
“God, in the midst of this pain, do you even care? Are you there? If You do, why does this hurt so bad? Why is this happening to me?”
In the moments I take that leap and dare to believe He really is for me, I have rest despite all my other questions.
It is when I doubt that reality, in the thick of the pain, that my world melts to chaos and the questions define my existence.
But it is also in the pain that love can be shown the victor.
Father, be victorious over me.
Win my heart, and then heal it with your kisses. Restore me with Your affection.
Help me walk this line. This is our journey. Not theirs. Help me trust You.
And if I run, please run after me. I can’t do this alone.