There’s a weird scene from the John Travolta movie Phenomenon that has stuck with me for years. In a moment of anxiety, George Malley, the Travolta character, furiously digs in his garden in a moment of frustration and rage. A wind picks up and he looks up into the trees. The wind is heavy, but the trees flex and sway against the wind. So does George, and in a few moments the last traces of his anxiety seem to disappear.
I am trying to remember this, to be flexible, to bend gently against the onslaught. But the wind has picked up and I’m beginning to splinter. I have no problem with picking up my own cross, but it seems that unlike so many, I’m called to call it all loss, all failure. Everything. No job, no purpose, no heart to share and to receive another. So much has been lost, yet the call seems to be everything. I feel my heart dying. Love is being replaced by rage and loss and pain. To this point, I have been a proverbial camel when it comes to hope. A drop of hope, a sign from God, a scripture that applies, and I’ll work that hope for another hundred miles of bad road.
And here’s where the sadness and loss moves into depression and the depression moves into some honesty:
I am angry. For what possible purpose does God want my heart to die? Part of me suspects that my own pride, arrogance and self-righteousness in this area have gotten me to this point. I know more acutely now what gay men feel when they attend church and their struggles, desires and loss are put down to a few conservative talking points or, worse, when it’s met with hatred and derision. I think back to my time at Mars Hill and I burn with rage and shame against the jokes made at the expense of those who sat in the seats, quietly dealing with their struggles, yearning for a word, a touch, ANYTHING from God, only to be met with scorn. I get that now. I get the difference between a straight single person who has the someday hope of a sanctified relationship and gay men and women who are asked to find their peace and joy in something other than what their heart says is right. Look, but don’t touch. Smile, but don’t be so gay. The church has thrown out the proverbial gayby with the bathwater — your acts are offensive and sinful and in order to fit in, you must completely change and find an understanding woman to marry. And if celibacy isn’t your bag, you selfish sinner, well then you don’t belong here. Good luck at the monastery.
Is that the calling? Is this the reason for the pain? Is this the next battle for me? Is this my stand?
All I know is God needs to bring some rain soon. A tree can bend only so far before it breaks.