This past week I have had some of the sweetest experiences in my life. I was given the opportunity to attend an addiction recovery meeting that I used to attend without fail, but lately missed due to work demands. I entered saying hello to many familiar faces. Some not so familiar. Having attended for close to four years of meetings almost daily, having facilitated and served as a sponsor for close to three years, I could tell who was new to the group.
One kid who was fairly new had that look of, “Please don’t see me, I am here, but I don’t want to be”. When I entered and said hi, the look he gave me was, “How dare you be happy”. I could tell later by the look of disbelief on his face when I shared my Experience, Faith, and Hope that, “I am blessed with addiction… and I am blessed with Same-sex Attraction.”
This is a common experience in these groups for me to see the new comers go through such a response. For me the real recovery happens in the after meeting meetings, or parking lot meetings. This day was no exception. A group I tend to hang with offered to go catch a bite to eat. for some reason, I declined. I saw a good friend under the street light having an impromptu meeting worth his sponsee. I briefly interrupted to say goodbye on my way to my car. My friend, the sponsor, asked me to stop and share my story with this new guy. So I did. While sharing my story the sponsor excused himself and let me alone with this new kid the one who had given me the strange loss previously during the meeting.
This kid opened up to me and shared some of his deepest wounds things he had never shared with anyone else. Things that prevented him from feeling worthy. Things that were so dark, that he felt he could not yet share with his bishop or even family. As he sobbed, I asked if I could put my arm around him. He reached over and clung to me and said, “Please tell me I can make it through this. Please tell me I can be OK.” I stepped back and took his face in my hands and looked him in the eyes and said, “The fact that you shared such a vulnerable moment with me, makes me love you. I know that God loves you, not because you are perfect, but because He is perfect.” He shared a similar body shame story with me. So I told him, “You are not your body. Not every temple is the same, that does not make them any better or less than the other. Just different and beautiful.”
I told this man he was one of the most beautiful men I had ever met, which was true. His vulnerability made him even more beautiful. The arrogance I had initially interpreted from him had changed. He became a friend someone worthy in my eyes. Someone who stepped out of the shadows of shame hoping to find acceptance and love. I shared that when I felt acceptance and love from others, I could start to believe that God accepted and loved me and that I could accept and love myself. Then my worthiness or healing started to begin.
I called this young man the next day. I could not see him, but I could hear that he was beaming. He said that he was starting to let the light back into his soul. He said that it had been a long time since he felt truly seen and loved by someone else. My heart jumped for joy. To me this is why I say my SSA is a blessing. This curse or weakness as I called it for years was exposed and used by by God to further His Work and His Glory.
Now tomorrow I get the opportunity to baptize a person. This will be my first live ordinance baptism which I will have the privilege to perform. I am happy and joyful to be an instrument in the Lords hands to bring this saving ordinance to another soul on earth. Yet, I felt even more joy from the opportunity of reaching out to this young man to give him hope and a sense of love.
To me this young man needed to know that it gets better. He wasn’t Gay, and yet, he needed that message too. I testify that when we humble ourselves and have Faith, God will turn this weakness into a gift of Strength. A gift of strength for us, and a gift of strength for others. I do know that life does get better as we turn to God for the strength. I tried other paths that lead me away from God and like this young man it only brought me fleeting pleasure, a sense of overwhelming pain, and disappointment, but not joy. I pray that each of us will find the Joy of God’s Love in this journey and can turn outward to lift another’s burdens that they may be light. That we can each through this blessing of SSA can inspire even others without SSA to know that a life lived in integrity with the gospel is possible and Gets Better.