A few weeks back, I finally met with my Pastor, as we had mentioned one day that we needed to meet for coffee and just get to know each other and talk about a few questions that I had. He surprised me by popping the question, "Would you like to share your story in church?" My heart jumped out of my throat & I started shaking just thinking about it, but I was honored & up for the challenge. It was kind of my little way to get it all out there, and touch a few people; maybe change some minds or open some hearts.
I knew that this issue generally came up in Tough Questions every other year, and about 8 months ago, I had a feeling that I should start writing down my thoughts and I did just that. As soon as I got home from meeting with my Pastor, I opened it up again and started editing right away. Over the course of the next few weeks, it was changed at least 100 times up until the morning of my talk. So below is the video as well as some final thoughts I was unable to share due to time issues, and some wonderful experiences I have had from this most joyous experience.
I forgot a lot of things that I wanted to include, but if you have read my blog, you know those experiences.
If you are out there and struggling with an addiction or struggling with God not accepting you. My prayer is that this will change your mind, that you will seek God and know that EVERYONE is forgiven and EVERYONE is invited to sit at the table with Jesus. You are his child and he wants a relationship with YOU.
There are millions of people suffering tremendously and all should be able to come to Jesus without condemnation and then given a chance to accept his love or not. But when being told that they are not worthy before given a chance to know different; what a terrible loss. Salvation is a serious issue. And I sadden at the loss of anyone.
To those struggling with trying to fit being gay with being Christian and following Jesus all into the same place. It is possible and although I have and do still struggle. I never thought that I could have a freedom and joy that I now have.
God’s love is unconditional, and no matter who you are, what you are addicted to, struggling with or going thru. Forget the Past.. You Can’t change it. Don’t let it, or anyone else for that matter disqualify you from God's Love. Come to God and Focus forward. God is for you and He wants nothing but the best for you. He is not wrathful or full of hatred & despite what you have heard; that God Hates you for being a Fag, that you are worthless or that your sin is unforgivable and your sin is the worst sin there is... NOTHING is farther from the truth!!!
Don’t give up on God. He has not and will never give up on you. He loves you and wants nothing more then a relationship with you. Join a church that fits you and get to know the real Jesus. He will stand by you wherever you are at in life. And even if you backslide into your old ways. He will still be there to stand with you to hold out his hand and help you back up. His love will never fail you.
My favorite way to say it is this, “Just as that shower you take every day gets rid of the dirt and grime from yesterday.. Dip your foot into the water, get a feel for the temperature and how warm it feels. Jesus will start to clean your brokenness and your hurting. Soon you will find yourself immersed deep in the water, being fully enveloped, fully cleansed and fully washed with the grace, mercy, & forgiveness that is the blood of Jesus.
I need to give a resounding, “Thank You” to everyone within my church community whom have prayed for me, spent personal time with me, or just touched me thru a smile, a warm embrace, a weekly hello, the support and just the general good feel that I and my partner have felt in this church from day one. This is what it is all about. To accept every individual for who they are and wherever they may be in their process. With love and Jesus all things truly are possible. The first 50 years of my life have been troubled, but I look forward to the best 50 years of my life and to see what God has in store for me.
I end with this final verse:
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 The Message Version
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.
While taking communion; a fellow church member leaned over to me, introduced herself & said, "Jef my name is.... and I am so honored to share communion with you.
A college student said that he could relate to my story & thankful for me sharing.
Another church member stated his sister whom is in high school was lesbian, and his mother a devout catholic, which made it strained for his sister to gain acceptance. He said that he can't wait to share the video with his sister.
A good friend of mine was told by her pastor 10 years ago not to speak to a young man because he was Gay. Being young she did what the pastor said. She later found out that her gay friend got into drugs and alcohol and has been trying to find him thru facebook or anywhere, having no luck. During my talk, she all of a sudden remembered his phone number and gave him a call. They are meeting again for lunch this week.
Another fellow member posted on facebook a huge thanks for me and my pastor for touching on this issue and hoping that this video would go viral.
Another fellow member messaged me thru facebook. Thanked me for sharing. That it was great to have an actual human face-a personal connection to the issue, that he has much to learn and process, but I helped to move him forward in his thinking.