Let it break your heart

I already miss the world. The world as it was, and the ways it won’t go back after this is all over. But mostly the world as it will be again, eventually, hopefully. I miss sitting in Panera on Saturday mornings, listening to the table of older Catholic folks who I always made a point to sit near. I miss dinner with students.

I miss being able to invite everyone. I miss being able to invite anyone. I miss feeling normal at the grocery store. I miss game nights and laying a hand on a friend’s shoulder to stable myself during a deep belly laugh and I miss when there are more people than seats and no matter, he really doesn’t mind sitting on the floor and of course we can squeeze her in on the couch.

I miss worship. I miss losing my voice in a sea of other voices. I miss that guy who sings off-key, but with more joy (and volume) than anyone else. I miss the creaking of the pews. I miss the shuffling of papers as we all open our Bibles and our liturgies, I miss the sound of firm whispers from mothers to children, stern reminders to be quiet, as the preacher eases into his sermon. I miss old people whose names I don’t even know. I miss handshakes and hugs and how they made me feel the peace of Christ physically. I miss passing the bread to the person behind me, and getting to bless them with the words, “This is Christ’s body, broken for you,” even as I had just been blessed. I wonder what it will be like to cry on Easter.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” So does social distance. And we should let it. We should want all these things more, not less. We have to let this break our hearts. The Lord says He wants to give us hearts of flesh, and hearts of flesh feel. Hearts of flesh hurt. Hearts of stone don’t. A broken heart is a testimony to the goodness at the center of creation that, in the end, is restored. But not yet. A broken heart is not a despairing heart, for despair knows no such goodness, or beauty. Only broken hearts bear witness to the beauty that was, and will be again. And so only broken hearts can hope.

Is it any wonder that God cursed that serpent back in the beginning? For He saw more clearly than anyone what had just been unleashed on the world. War, famine. And plague. His love for the world moved Him to wrath on that snake and a promise of salvation for the man and the woman, and for the whole world. 

The news in the coming days will get worse before it gets better. When we get the daily count of those who’ve died, let it break your heart. If we hear of doctors and nurses collapsing from exhaustion, let it break our hearts. When we haven’t seen our friends, haven’t hosted a dinner, haven’t gathered for worship in months, let it break our hearts. If you see an overrun hospital, and people dying, gasping for air, let it break your heart. 

Remember that what ultimately kills a victim of crucifixion is suffocation. Let it break your heart when you remember another Person, hanging on a cross, gasping for air, and asking why it feels like God has left us all alone in this dark, dark world.

Let it all break your heart, because it breaks God’s. It’s not the world that He intended, at all. And then let your heart be led back toward hope, in that suffocated Man who finally stopped breathing completely, but then caught His breath again three days later, never to lose it again. And rejoice in the sure hope that He intends to breathe life back into this whole world one day soon.

Psalm 34.18: The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit

Matthew 5.3-4: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Freedom from Hiding: A Reflection on National Coming Out Day, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a reflection on National Coming Out Day. Read Part 1 here.

Today is National Coming Out Day. The Church right now is facing the question of how best to respond to the mainstream acceptance and celebration of LGBT culture. People far smarter and wiser than I are coming to different conclusions on that big question. But if I may be so bold, I will offer one small bit of hard-earned insight that I have: however we feel about the realities that have led to our culture getting to where it is, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we have a day in which people are encouraged to be honest about their experience as sexual minorities. Clearly, we’re doing something wrong if most churched kids don’t feel like they can tell anyone that they are gay until they’re over halfway through college. Christians, of all people, know that true healing can only come when the truth about ourselves is revealed in the presence of God, a fact to which our stories attest. Jesus draws the truth out of the Samaritan woman at the well before He reveals Himself to be the Living Water she needs. God, before He does anything else in Genesis 3, draws the newly-fallen Adam and Eve out from their hiding.

There is a hard word for Adam and Eve when they do step back into the presence of God, of course. Life will now be extraordinarily difficult. The curse has come through their sin, and it will touch every part of creation, and every part of them. There’s no glossing over that part of the story.

But this hard word comes beautifully placed between a promise of the Gospel and a picture of it. Before God explains the curse, He gives the first promise of the Gospel, and after He explains the curse, He shows Adam and Eve a glimpse of what the Gospel will look like. God slaughters a lamb, and with its skin, He gives them a better covering for their nakedness than their fig leaves. If there is anything worth emphasizing in this story, surely it is God’s redemptive promise and action on their behalf. And it’s worth noting that God does this in the midst of their swirling storm of sin and shame, apparently with disregard to anything they’ve done to warrant such grace. Indeed, if it were warranted at all, it wouldn’t be grace.

Which brings me back to coming out. In church contexts, it is a unique challenge for gay people to step out of hiding, so it’s unsurprising that most of us don’t until we’re nearly a decade into our closet, all the while struggling with that same swirling storm of sin and shame alone. It’s not only unsurprising, it’s also sad, and not the way the Church is supposed to be. 

I don’t know how to change a whole church culture, but I know it needs to change. It should not be easier for a Christian kid to come out to his non-Christian friends than to his parents and pastors. National Coming Out Day reminds me that this is still a reality. It reminds me that when someone in our life takes the brave step out of hiding, we should model our response on God in the Garden. Like God, we lead with grace by drawing people out and giving them the space to tell their story, even if they do it imperfectly like Adam and Eve did. Whenever it’s our turn to speak (only after much listening, because we are, after all, not God), we speak the whole truth: that all of us, straight and non-straight, have sexualities twisted by the Fall, and that the solution to that problem is the promise of Christ who covers us, and the provision of His Church who will be our family, whether we get married or pursue lifelong celibacy. 

A church like that, that takes its calling to be a family seriously, is a church that invites all sinners, gay or straight, out of darkness and into His marvelous light. On a day when I am convicted that the culture is doing a better job of inviting people to be seen than we are, it is my prayer that we could become such a church. 

I said in yesterday’s post that the evidence in my life adds up to one fact: that God has been nothing but good to me. That can be a Christian truism, but I mean it. My prayer for relational intimacy and a deep sense of being seen, known, and loved, in a way that can only be described by the word family, has already been answered. Don’t get me wrong: my whole point with today and yesterday’s post is that we have a long way to go. But I’m nothing if not an eternal optimist, and because I’ve been blessed, I want to offer a picture of what someone like me can hope for, what such a church has looked like and what we, by the leading of the Spirit, can become more fully.

In Psalm 68, David writes, “God sets the lonely in families.” It’s rendered in another translation, “He settles the solitary in a home.” In Mark 10, Jesus promises that those who give up certain earthly goods, like family ties, will receive so much more than they gave up: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

I don’t know what the rest of my life will be like; God may have a wilderness (or several) for me to wander yet. But here is what I can say with confidence: He has already kept those promises to me.

He kept those promises by giving me parents that never even considered kicking me out, and always loved me, even when I was wrong.

He kept those promises when He gave me a close friend group in high school, including the first person I ever came out to, who helped me come out to my parents.

He kept those promises when I got rejected from my first choice for college, and He thus ensured that I would find the future best friend that would encourage me to go to RUF.

He kept those promises when He placed me in the family of RUF, which accepted me into their fellowship without condition, and invited me to share my story without fear of judgement.

He kept those promises when He gave me a campus minister who sat with me in my deepest doubts about celibacy, instead of condemning me for those doubts.

He kept those promises when He gave me a lifelong friend group that made graduating college one of the hardest things I’ve done yet.

He is keeping those promises now, by giving me a calling to love and serve students who have loved and served me more than they can even know, and who allow me to be myself.

He is keeping those promises to me now by giving me coworkers who are so much more than coworkers, but share their lives and families with me.

He is keeping those promises now by giving me a local church in which I am safe and valued. A church in which, when I came out recently to my community group, I was immediately interrupted—by someone saying, “I just want you to know you’re safe here.”

He is keeping those promises to me now by giving me friends in St. Louis, gay and straight, married and single, who have been faithfully submitting to Christ longer than I have, and move me to deeper faith. 

I could go on, but I hope you see the point: God has been faithful to me at every turn by providing people. He is giving me the hundredfold He promised, and not because of my faithfulness (or more accurately, my lack of it: sexual sin is a daily struggle), but simply because that’s who He is. The solution to loneliness has been His Church. If I am doing okay, better than I should be facing down lifelong singleness, I can assure you that it’s not because I have been gifted with some sort of superhuman faith; it’s because of the communities God has provided me that have been places characterized by openness, honesty, and safety. But on National Coming Out Day, I’m reminded that not everyone, indeed very few in my position, share my experience. But that doesn’t have to be true! Here is my conclusion, my exhortation on National Coming Out Day: become the kind of church in which it is safe to struggle and safe to be honest. A church in which it is safe to come out. And then, watch God work wonders in the lives of gay people.

From Isaiah 43:

Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
 who brings forth chariot and horse,
    army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
    they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
“Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
 The wild beasts will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
    the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

Freedom from Hiding: A Reflection on National Coming Out Day, Part 1

Hiding, as it turns out, is a sure way to keep yourself from the healing that can only be found in the presence of God. In Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God, their first impulse was to hide, and this has been our human impulse ever since when any of us sin, or when we realize that sin has touched us and left a mark.

God had made abundantly clear what would happen to them if they ate the forbidden fruit: they would surely die. It would have been perfectly good and just for God to make good on that promise immediately, to be done with humanity then and there. But the all-knowing, inescapable God of the universe, knowing they were hiding, does an unexpected thing. Into this dark situation, the first thing God does is ask a question:

“Where are you?”

In what must have been a terrifying moment for Adam and Eve, at some point they hold their breath and step out from behind the trees, their fig-leaf clothing barely holding together. I wonder if what they (reasonably) expected was to be struck down and ended right there. But God, ever gracious even in this most tragic of Bible stories, opts for a different first word to Adam and Eve: He gives the first promise of the Gospel, the proto-evangelion: an offspring of the woman would one day be born, a Son of Man, and He would crush the head of the serpent. 

And I come back to that question: Where are you? God already knows what has happened. He already knows where they are. By asking this question, He invites them to step out of the darkness and back into His presence, from which they were hiding (Genesis 3:8). It seems that He doesn’t want them to “get caught” so much as He wants them to come forward. To confess. He invites them back into being seen, for they still bear His image, even if it’s been marred. They are now, like all of us, a mixture of brokenness and beauty, dignity and depravity. 

I learned a statistic this summer that has stuck with me ever since I heard it. It surprised me and has stuck with me because it unsettles me. 

The average age of first disclosure for Christians who are gay/same-sex attracted is 21. That is, most Christians who are gay don’t tell anyone—not a single person—until they are 21. They have an initial awareness in their early teenage years, usually by 14. This means that, on average, people like me spend 7 years hiding. Seven of the most formative, emotionally-confusing years are spent hiding from their parents, their youth pastors and campus ministers, and their friends. Given how averages work, my own experience unsettles me more. I came out for the first time when I was 15. That means that for every person like me, there’s likely someone who doesn’t come out until well into their 20s. 

This is a heartbreaking tragedy.

I wish I didn’t have to come out ever again. If I could change one thing about being gay, I would take away the necessity of coming out. As another school year starts and I’m once again meeting so many new people, I’m confronted with the reality that I’ll never get to stop coming out.

This may sound a little melodramatic—and maybe it is—but the truth is that for the rest of my life, anytime I meet someone new, there is a reasonable expectation that this conversation is going to happen at some point if I’m going to have any kind of ongoing relationship with this person. I’m a generally calm and collected person; anxiety, thankfully, has not been a defining struggle in my life. But this conversation makes me downright neurotic. 

When do I bring it up? It would be quite odd to lead with this. This isn’t my whole identity, and it’s far from the most important fact about me. But it’s not unimportant…. If I wait too long, how will this person feel? Will they feel lied to? Will they think I was keeping this from them on purpose? Have I already waited too long?

How do I bring it up? Do I wait for someone to ask if I’m dating (or as it was phrased to me at church recently, if I’m “married yet”)? Should I be the one to proactively bring it up? If I do, do I lead with something like, “Hey, I need to tell you something”? Doesn’t that make it sound heavier and more significant than it is? I don’t want to be too casual, either….

How do I make sure that this person isn’t uncomfortable? Use these words, not those words. Is it clear that I still hold to traditional beliefs about marriage and sex, and also clear that I don’t hate myself or other gay people? Is that what this person was even thinking? Oh no, are they thinking it now just because I suggested it? 

This line of questioning assumes I have time to think about it. There are situations when I don’t have time to think about it, like when the general topic of homosexuality comes up in a small group, another thing that happened in the last year. Half the people in the room know, the other half don’t. It’s now tense because this is a controversial issue. I am an embodiment of a controversial issue. I don’t like being a source of tension. It feels like the half who know are waiting for me to say something. The half who don’t know are wondering why it got quiet, and why glances are now darting my way. Do I say something? I don’t want to do this right now. This isn’t the point of this Bible study. This will get us even more off-track. But do I have a responsibility to say something here? It feels like I might, but it’s not like I’m the authority on this issue. It’s still tense and silent. Please, someone just say something so we can move on. Please. 

I wonder for the rest of the night if I should have said something. I can’t fully shake the tension from my body until the next day. Like I said: neurotic.

Most of these questions and their attendant anxiety charge through my mind and body anytime I have to come out in a Christian context. There’s one question behind all the other ones: Is this person, or are these people, about to reject me? Even when I have well-founded reasons for assuming that someone is a safe person, that question is still there. 

Here is the point: coming out is really, really hard. Especially the first time and especially to people who are important to you. 

When I tell my story to people who haven’t heard it before, I usually tell people how I came out to my parents via email. I take that chance to lighten the mood, to joke about how I’m conflict-avoidant, and how I was an overdramatic fifteen-year-old. But I’m going to stop doing that. I am conflict-avoidant, but that’s not why I came out to my parents through an email. Even by then, I’d had plenty of arguments with them, and to this day my relationship with them is one of the few in which I feel secure enough to actually have an argument without the fear that the relationship is threatened.

The reason I came out to my parents via email is because I couldn’t bear to see the look on their faces when they found out that their son was gay. Like Adam and Eve, I didn’t want to be seen.

I don’t share this to make you feel sorry for me. I’ve said it a hundred times, and I’ll say it again: the evidence in my life clearly points to the fact that God has been nothing but good—always good—to me. I’m sharing this now because tomorrow is National Coming Out Day, and I think this is a chance to reflect on what coming out means and especially how Christians can make sense of it. I have a second part to this post that I’ll share tomorrow in which I share some thoughts about how we can respond. But today, going into National Coming Out Day tomorrow, consider the unique difficulties facing gay and same-sex attracted people in our churches. Consider the difficulty of even speaking out loud these things that are true about our experience. Consider, then pray.

Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Read part 2 of this post here.

There’s No Winning the Language Debate, but It’s Still Worth Asking the Question

“I felt ashamed.”

“But of what? Psyche, they hadn’t stripped you naked or anything?”

“No, no, Maia. Ashamed of looking like a mortal — of being a mortal.”

“But how could you help that?”

“Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can’t help?”

-C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces


For as long as I’ve been aware of myself as a sexual being, I’ve been aware that my sexual and romantic desires have only ever been for other guys.

In the world I grew up in, there was a cultural script that I was aware of enough to know what was happening. The pervasiveness of this script had somehow even penetrated my conservative world. There was a single word that captured the complex set of feelings and attractions that I was trying to come to terms with, and that word was gay. I don’t know where I first learned it, but I finally and defeatedly admitted to myself that it was a word that applied to me. It was a word I was going to have to use when I finally told someone. I have this vague memory of lying on my bed, just staring straight up, and whispering it out loud for the first time, as if to confess to myself: “I’m gay.” It was a word that I resisted out of shame because in my community, it was only ever used to describe bad people, people who should be ashamed.

But all it meant was that I was romantically and sexually attracted to other guys. That’s why I intuitively knew that it applied to me even before I considered how I was supposed to respond to it. I wasn’t making any kind of moral judgement or ontological claim about my soul (as if I could have even understood the ontological/phenomenological distinction as a thirteen-year-old). It was a statement of fact about on ongoing set of feelings that were not likely to stop anytime soon. 

And that’s all I’ve ever meant by it since.


I understand the anxiety around language when Christians like me share our stories. We live in a culture that has wholeheartedly and uncritically embraced the claims of the sexual revolution, and we have embraced them very quickly over the last twenty years and especially the last ten. We show no signs as a people of rethinking this anytime soon. That many otherwise-orthodox believers are also embracing these claims is alarming. In this cultural (and ecclesial) landscape, even the tiniest hint that one might be compromising what the Church has always taught about sexuality and marriage sets off alarms in people’s heads. I understand when someone hears me refer to myself as gay and has questions. 

And yet, at the same time, the solution isn’t as simple as embracing different language, going from “I’m gay” to “I struggle with same-sex attraction,” or “I’m same-sex attracted.” All of this language has baggage, and all of it is imperfect. Yes, gay might accidentally communicate something I don’t want communicated, but the same is true for same-sex attracted. There is no winning the language debate. But I do think it’s important for those of us who do experience same-sex attraction to think about why we use the words we use. At least, it’s been helpful for me to think through this recently.

I’ll pause, and say that the best version of this discussion is found in a series of blog posts here. Rachel Gilson and Greg Coles are friends with each other, who both share my experience of being same-sex attracted/gay and come down on different sides of this question. If it isn’t clear, I resonate deeply with Greg’s viewpoints: both about language and also his deep respect for Rachel. If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to this, skip the rest of my blog post and go read theirs. I have little to add to the actual, more abstract defense Greg gives for why some believers like me use the word gay to talk about ourselves. 

But I’ll return to my point, that there is no clear answer here, but it’s still worth asking the question. Both Rachel and Greg appeal to their stories first when they explain why they landed where they did on language, and I think this approach is exactly right. Words do have power and meaning in shaping how we think about ourselves, but they only have that meaning in the context of stories

With that in mind, I’ve been reflecting on why I use the language I do, why I tell my story the way that I do, and I want to offer those thoughts here. My official “position” on the language debate is, again, that there is no winning it. I think it is an area of Christian liberty, which is not to say that it’s a free-for-all, but rather that it is something each of us who experience same-sex attraction must work through and think about, seeking wisdom in prayer and counsel from friends who know us best. What I ask for in return is charity from other Christians who haven’t always been charitable when it comes to this topic. Here’s the story of how I personally have worked the question of language so far.


As I said above, by the time I realized what was happening as I started to go through puberty, I already had a word for it, and that word was gay. So of course this is the word I used when I told my best friend at fifteen, and then my parents a few months later. The only context in which I had ever heard the phrase “same-sex attraction” and its many variations was in the context of ex-gay ministries (still active, though folding quickly when I was a young teenager. I came out to my parents in 2010, and Exodus International closed by 2013). It was clear that the only people who used this strange Christianese to name the exact same experience that the rest of the world called “being gay” were people who also thought that it was possible, through prayer and counseling, to become heterosexual. That was an idea that I did not entertain very long, because the evidence was so obvious that such change hardly ever actually happened, and that these kinds of efforts weren’t even just neutral, but usually psychologically and spiritually harmful.

Then, in 2015, I read Washed and Waiting for the first time, and my whole world shifted. I became convicted that the Bible really did teach that sex was only for marriage, and marriage was only to be a covenant between a man and a woman. This was obviously hard to swallow as a nineteen-year-old college freshman, but at the same time (also thanks to Washed and Waiting), I saw in Scripture that singleness was a unique calling, worthy of dignity and honor. In God’s kingdom, singleness was worth pursuing, not just as a way to steward oneself while waiting for marriage (how it is almost universally conceived among evangelical Christians), but as a worthy calling in its own right. It was something I could realistically pursue.

But here’s the thing: even as the Spirit moved in me to convict me of the traditional Christian ethic, I never once conceived of this as a story of someone who was gay becoming “not gay” in any sense. And this is for the simple reason that that didn’t happen. This was surely a huge turning point in my story; things were changing. But my experience wasn’t. So it never occurred to me to stop calling myself gay, because for all intents and purposes, I still was (and am) gay, at least as I had always used the word. My convictions were changing in deep, Spirit-led ways, but the way I experienced the world, and other humans, wasn’t. It continued to be true that the only people I ever felt romantic and sexual attraction to were other guys, and it continued to be true that I never experienced feelings like that toward any of my female friends, even though I was usually closer to them in many ways than my guy friends. 

What did change, in a big way, was what I now believed I was called to pursue. And that was celibacy. If there is a place in my story where I believe I have gotten language wrong, it is here. There have been times and contexts (mostly right after I had my “Side B conversion,” in non-Christian spaces) in which I’ve openly identified myself as gay and not said a word about being celibate, and I think this was wrong. 

My thought process is this: there is a claim that gets repeated that to call myself gay is to make my whole identity my sexuality, or to put my identity in my sin. Now this seems to me to be an incredibly shallow notion of “identity” and where it comes from,* but I do think there is a point to be made by this objection. Sexuality surely is at least a part of everyone’s identity, and probably a fairly significant part (this is why we all know intuitively that to violate someone sexually is especially evil). Gay, then, definitely is a word that communicates something about sexual identity. In the same way, celibate is a marker of sexual identity. In our current culture, one of those is celebrated, and one of those is, at best, puzzling, and at worst, seen as an obvious sign that one is not a well-adjusted, healthy citizen. There are contexts, especially when I was in college, in which it would have very much left me ostracized if I were to so much as suggest that I think gay sex and gay marriage are unethical by clarifying that I’m celibate. I knew this, and so I chose to be ambiguous and therefore remain “safe” socially. In those contexts, I had no problem openly identifying as gay, but I almost never added that I was celibate. This was done out of fear and a sense of shame; I was ashamed of that to which God had called me, and so I hid it. I think this was wrong.** This is why I’ve landed at a place in which my conviction is that if I am in a context in which I am willing to call myself gay, I should, in the very same breath, clarify that I’m celibate. This has implications for the phrase “gay Christian,” the obvious being that I should only ever use that phrase if I insert the word “celibate” somewhere in there. To be honest, “gay Christian” is not a phrase I have ever used anyway; given its use by Side A (gay marriage affirming) people, and the prevalence of such figures like Matthew Vines who use it, it is a phrase particularly prone to miscommunication.


A question naturally arises at this point, or at least it did for me, and I’ve been wrestling with it for awhile now. Why not same-sex attracted? After all, it seems to strictly describe an experience more clearly than the word gay does. Rachel Gilson makes the good point that most people, especially young people, haven’t actually been exposed to ex-gay theology. The phrase doesn’t have the baggage for them that it has for me. It will surely invite questions, the same way gay and celibate would, but probably without the (apparent) downsides of the word gay

This is where I will appeal to my story. It has taken me awhile to realize why the phrase “same-sex attracted” doesn’t quite fit, but I think it has to do with shame. 

A little over a year ago, I graduated college and started my first job as a campus ministry intern. For the first time in years, I was almost exclusively interacting with other Christians in explicitly Christian spaces. And for the first three months of my job, I was closeted for the first time since I was 17. 

The point has been made far and wide by gay people, Christian or otherwise, that the closet basically functions as a chamber for soaking in shame, subtly harming all your relationships. Maybe it was the fact that all of my relationships were new or that my new job more or less boiled down to “build relationships with students,” but the closet started to work its poison on me frighteningly quickly, within weeks. I was starting to get to know and love these students, but the voice was louder and louder in the back of my head: Will they still like me when they find out? Will they still want to be my friend? Will they still trust me as a person on a campus ministry staff? This is the same voice that tells you to stay hidden, stay in the closet. Stay safe. 

Eventually, I felt like I was starting to go crazy, and I asked if I could share my testimony to a smaller group of our students at our next meeting. What I’d realized in those first three months is that this group tended to be more culturally conservative than I was used to. I expected my new campus to be more similar to my old campus than it was. At my college, coming out as intentionally celibate would almost surely be the point of controversy to most people. At my new campus, what I was perceiving from this group of Christian students was that coming out as gay would probably be more controversial. 

I eventually shared my testimony one night, and it went fine, which is more a testament to my students than me. I stumbled through what I wanted to say, unsure if I was clear in explaining how God had brought me to where I was. But something unexpected happened, and it was the only thing I could think about all evening afterward: I could barely look up for the whole fifteen or so minutes that I was talking. All I could imagine is that I was ruining these students’ opinions of me as I told them the truth, and I wanted to be anywhere but in front of them, uttering those words, “I’m gay.” I was surprised that this happened, because I had never thought of myself as someone who struggles with shame. I came out at fifteen, for goodness’ sake, well ahead of schedule for a conservative Christian Southern kid (at least, according to the studies). Why was I suddenly ashamed of being gay? I didn’t have a clear answer to this question, but it was obvious to me for the first time that I did (and do) carry shame about this.

Here is how this relates to language: what I realize now, that I’m thankful I did not even think about then, is how convenient the phrase same-sex attracted would have been to me that night. I think I would have been tempted to use it as a Christian smoke-screen, a subtle virtue-signal to a group that I perceived to have culturally conservative sensibilities. It would not have been out of a sense of conviction, but out of a sense of wanting people not to see me as I (still) am.

Let me pause and say, again, that I think there is no winning the language debate. What I mean is that there are legitimately good reasons on either side, and faithful, wise believers come to different conclusions here. Each of us with this experience has to work through this on our own, and some have legitimately come to the conclusion that they should only ever identify as same-sex attracted because of their story and how language has functioned for them. I am not suggesting that everyone who uses SSA language does so out of shame. But I am saying that for me, right now, to start using that language would not be for the right reasons. 

I realized this because of another situation that happened recently. In short, I was in a conversation with someone who doesn’t know me very well, and they started talking about questions they had about homosexuality. It became clear that 1) they were coming from a very conservative background, and 2) that it would be appropriate to come out to them so I could openly speak from experience to their questions. With all these thoughts about language being on my mind recently, I suddenly didn’t know what words to use (even though I had done this many times before). In the midst of the wave of anxiety that always comes the moment before I come out to someone new, I ended up referring to myself as same-sex attracted, and the second it left my mouth it felt like a lie. I knew that some part of me wanted to be respectful of where this person was in their thoughts about homosexuality (and this was a good impulse!). But I think our motives will always be mixed in this life, and even if there was a small part of me that was truly trying to care for this person, a much bigger part of me was scared of being outright rejected. That bigger part of me wanted to hide behind what I intuitively knew they would recognize as Christianese, wanted to assure them of my own goodness and worthiness by demonstrating that I am a Christian insider. What I didn’t want was for them to see me as I had always seen myself: gay. By using the phrase samesex attracted, I got my message across: “I only experience sexual and romantic attractions to guys, but I’m not gay.” To me, the implication is clear: this phrase and this word are naming the exact same reality, but gay is something shameful, something to be hidden. And in the end, I don’t think shame is a good reason to use a phrase.

Gay and celibate communicates efficiently and clearly the way I experience sexuality and the way I believe I’m supposed to respond to it in light of the Gospel. Same-sex attracted does the same thing, in a more subtle way. But for me, gay and celibate fits better because it carries no baggage of a culture that taught me that I should be especially ashamed, in a way other guys aren’t, because of my sexual brokenness. I need to fight back against that feeling in myself that wants to hide from people when I tell my story and that believes that this part of me is not something God has worked through and continues to work through. And so I will continue to refer to myself as a gay person. In doing so, I hope that I can push back a little against a Christian culture that still considers gay people to be especially broken and somehow more in need of grace than straight people. That culture has made it all too easy for me to believe the lies that my shame tells me: the lie that God can’t use me because of my sexuality, the lie that I have no business being in ministry, and the lie that I believe all too often, the lie at the root of all the other ones. When believers honestly look at ourselves and see all our fallenness, and call it what it is, this is the lie Satan whispers in our ear to discourage us: “The Gospel is true for everyone except you. You are too broken for God.”

Against this lie, Jesus’ true words come to me again: “I am making all things new.” Including a gay kid from Memphis, still struggling to overcome his shame. 

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8


*This really is the bigger question behind the language debate, and it’s the more important one. I want to write more about how I’ve thought about this question of identity soon, but alas, there are only so many hours in the day. In short, though: asking “What language does someone use?” to try to understand how someone thinks of himself is assuming that individual words are much more powerful than they actually are. A much better and more interesting question is, “What narrative(s) does this person take as their own? What story does he see himself in?” 

**The caveat that I want to add here is that there are also contexts in which it would have been unwise, I think, to mark myself out, or to start a conversation in the wrong time or place. While each unique situation required wisdom that I didn’t have at the time, what I know is that there are times I should have spoken up and didn’t, and times I didn’t speak up and this was the wise choice. I have to believe that God’s grace is enough for those times that I was wrong in discerning my own motives.

Martin Luther and Celibate Gay Christians

In my world lately, there’s been a debate about a theological concept called concupiscence (the desire for sin that remains, even in believers, this side of the resurrection), and how exactly it is to be applied in the lives of Christians who are celibate and gay. I am deeply unqualified to jump into the deep end of those theological waters, so I won’t, except to say that the debate has made me start to rethink and consider how sanctification should look in a life like mine. I’m more interested in those practical questions anyway, like When and for what am I supposed to repent in sorrow? What should my daily walk feel like? What should I be hoping for?

I was recently reading Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians for the study program that’s part of my job, and suddenly there was that word that has a lot to do with these questions: concupiscence. I was very encouraged and honestly, surprised, at what he had to say about it. First, because Luther is actually honest about the experience of every Christian, including people like me, and second, because unless I’m grossly misreading Luther (or he’s grossly misreading Paul) then this rules out the ex-gay approach that has hurt so many like me. I didn’t really need convincing of this, because the bad fruit of that approach seems obvious to me, but it is obviously even better to know that there are Scriptural reasons for rejecting such an approach. And they are so well-articulated by Martin Luther. These passages I’ve pulled out were a huge encouragement to me, and I hope are to you, too, whether you’re gay or not. The bolded emphases are mine.

(As an aside, these mostly present a negative case; that is, Luther is mainly saying what sanctification won’t look like for Christians. I hope to write soon about a positive case about what sanctification has looked like so far for me.)

The passage to which most of these pertain is Galatians 5:17-21:

“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

“But thou wilt say: How can I be holy, when I have and feel sin in me? I answer: In that thou dost feel and acknowledge thy sin, it is a good token; give thanks unto God and despair not. It is one step of health, when the sick man doth acknowledge and confess his infirmity. But how shall I be delivered from sin? Run to Christ the physician, which healeth them that are broken in heart, and saveth sinners. Follow not the judgment of reason, which telleth thee, that he is angry with sinners; but kill reason and believe in Christ.”

When Paul saith that the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, he admonisheth us that we shall feel the concupiscence of the flesh, that is to say, not only carnal lust, but also pride, wrath, heaviness, impatience, incredulity, and such-like. Notwithstanding he would have us so to feel them, that we consent not unto them, nor accomplish them: that is, that we neither think, speak, nor do those things which the flesh provoketh us unto. As, if it move us to anger, yet we should be angry in such wise as we are taught in the fourth Psalm, that we sin not. As if Paul would thus say: I know that the flesh will provoke you unto wrath, envy, doubting, incredulity, and such-like; but resist it by the Spirit, that ye sin not. But if ye forsake the guiding of the Spirit, and follow the flesh, ye shall fulfil the lust of the flesh, and ye shall die, as Paul saith in the eighth to the Romans. So this saying of the Apostle is to be understood, not of fleshly lusts only, but of the whole kingdom of sin.”

“But we credit Paul’s sin, that he is led captive of sin, that he hath a law in his members rebelling against him, and that in the flesh he serveth the law of sin. Here again they [people Luther was arguing against] answer, that the Apostle speaketh in the person of the ungodly. But the ungodly do not complain of the rebellion of their flesh, of any battle or conflict, or of the captivity and bondage of sin: for sin mightily reigneth in them.”

This is one of my favorite passages; I love Luther’s new self-talk that came from rightly understanding the Gospel: 

“It is very profitable for the godly to know this, and to bear it well in mind; for it wonderfully comforteth them when they are tempted. When I was a monk I thought by and by that I was utterly cast away, if at any time I felt the concupiscence of the flesh: that is to say, if I felt any evil motion, fleshly lust, wrath, hatred, or envy against any brother. I assayed many ways, I went to confession daily, etc., but it profited me not; for the concupiscence of my flesh did always return, so that I could not rest, but was continually vexed with these thoughts: This or that sin thou has committed; thou art infected with envy, with impatiency, and such other sins; therefore thou art entered into this holy order in vain, and all thy good works are unprofitable. If then I had rightly understood these sentences of Paul: ‘The flesh lusteth contrary to the spirit, and the spirit contrary to the flesh,’ and, ‘these two are one against another, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would do,’ I should not have so miserably tormented myself, but should have thought and said to myself, as now commonly I do: Martin, thou shalt not utterly be without sin, for thou hast yet flesh; thou shalt therefore feel the battle thereof, according to that saying of Paul: ‘The flesh resisteth the spirit.’ Despair not therefore, but resist it strongly, and fulfil not the lust thereof. Thus doing thou art not under the law.”

“I remember that Staupitius was wont to say: ‘I have vowed unto God above a thousand times, that I would become a better man; but I never performed that which I vowed. Hereafter I will make no such vow: for I have now learned by experience, that I am not able to perform it. Unless therefore God be favourable and merciful unto me for Christ’s sake, and grant unto me a blessed and a happy hour when I shall depart out of this miserable life, I shall not be able with all my vows and all my good deeds, to stand before him.’ This was not only a true, but also a godly and a holy desperation: and this must they all confess both with mouth and heart, which will be saved. For the godly trust not to their own righteousness, but say with David: ‘Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall none that liveth be justified’ (Psalm 143:2), and: ‘If thou, O Lord, shouldst straitly mark iniquities, Lord, who shall stand?” (Psalm 130:3). They look unto Christ their reconciler, who gave his life for their sins. Moreover, they know that the remnant of sin which is in their flesh, is not laid to their charge, but freely pardoned. Notwithstanding in the meanwhile they fight in the Spirit against the flesh, lest they should fulfil the lust thereof. And although they feel the flesh to rage and rebel against the spirit, and themselves also do fall sometimes into sin through infirmity, yet are they not discouraged, nor think therefore that their state and kind of life, and the works which are done according to their calling, displease God: but they raise up themselves by faith.”

I love this next passage. In the first sentence, Luther diagnoses exactly what I think happened with the ex-gay movement; it caused a “fall into desperation” that damaged and/or destroyed the faith of many who were seeking God. The rest of the passage rings true of my current experience. It took almost five years of living with this weight, but in the last few months, celibacy has started to become a deep source of joy in my life, and far less a crushing burden.

“He that knoweth not this doctrine, and thinketh that the faithful ought to be without all fault, and yet seeth the contrary in himself, must needs at the length be swallowed up by the spirit of heaviness, and fall into desperation. But whoso knoweth this doctrine well and useth it rightly, to him the things that are evil turn unto good. For when the flesh provoketh him to sin, by occasion thereof he is stirred up and forced to seek forgiveness of sins by Christ, and to embrace the righteousness of faith, which else he would not so greatly esteem, nor seek for the same with so great desire. Therefore it profiteth us very much to feel sometimes the wickedness of our nature and corruption of our flesh, that even by this means we may be waked and stirred up to faith and to call upon Christ. And by this occasion a Christian becometh a mighty workman and a wonderful creator, which of heaviness can make joy, of terror comfort, of sin righteousness, and of death life, when he by this means repressing and bridling the flesh, maketh it subject to the Spirit.”

These are some of the most comforting passages; the fact that I am still gay is not a cause for despair: 

Wherefore let not them which feel the concupiscence of the flesh, despair of their salvation. Let them feel it and all the force thereof, so that they consent not to it. Let the passions of lust, wrath, and such other vices shake them, so that they do not overthrow them. Let sin assail them, so that they do not accomplish it. Yea the more godly a man is, the more doth he feel that battle. And hereof come those lamentable complaints of the saints in the Psalms and in all the Holy Scripture. Of this battle the hermits, the monks, and the schoolmen, and all that seek righteousness and salvation by works, know nothing at all.”

“And with these words: ‘If ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law,’ thou mayest greatly comfort thyself and others that be grievously tempted. For it oftentimes cometh to pass, that a man is so vehemently assailed with wrath, hatred, impatiency, carnal desire, heaviness of spirit, or some other lust of the flesh, that he cannot shake them off, though he would never so fain. What should he do in this case? Should he despair? No, God forbid; but let him say thus with himself: Thy flesh fighteth and rageth against the Spirit. Let it rage as long as it listeth: only see thou that in any case thou consent not to it, to fulfil the lust thereof, but walk wisely and follow the leading of the Spirit. In so doing, thou art free from the law. It accuseth and terrifieth thee (I grant) but altogether in vain. In this conflict therefore of the flesh against the Spirit, there is nothing better, than to have the Word of God before thine eyes, and therein to seek the comfort of the Spirit.”

Here, Luther anticipates the antinomian objection, and answers it well. It’s an especially good word for celibate gay Christians, making the point that sin is still sin, and we must be honest with ourselves and wise about what we do. We are free in Christ to enjoy the goods of friendship and relational intimacy that comes with that; we need not build unnecessary walls around the law. But we should never flatter ourselves about how easily we can slip into sin:

“But here may some man say, that it is a dangerous matter to teach that a man is not condemned, if by and by he overcome not the motions and passions of the flesh which he feeleth. For when this doctrine is taught amongst the common people, it maketh them careless, negligent and slothful. This is it which I said a little before, that if we teach faith, then carnal men neglect and reject works: if works be required, then is faith and consolation of conscience lost. Here no man can be compelled, neither can there be any certain rule prescribed. But let every man diligently try himself to what passion of the flesh he is most subject, and when he findeth that, let him not be careless, nor flatter himself: but let him watch and wrestle in Spirit against it, that if he cannot altogether bridle it, yet at the least he do not fulfil the lust thereof.”

And finally, Luther comments on how to discern who are “true saints.” This was a huge encouragement to me, because in light of recent events and discussions about people like me, the thought has crept in: “What if I’m wrong? What if I should be aiming for marriage? What if me using the word “gay” does reveal a lack of faith? A lack of saving faith even?” I generally don’t entertain these thoughts long, but I think they come back for a lot of us who are celibate and gay, especially when respected Christian leaders are increasingly skeptical of lives like ours, as they have been in some of their responses to Revoice.

“This I say for the comfort of the godly. For they only feel indeed that they have and do commit sins, that is to say, they feel they do not love God so fervently as they should do; that they do not trust him so heartily as they would, but rather they oftentimes doubt whether God have a care of them or no…”

“The saints therefore do sin, fall, and also err: but yet through ignorance. For they would not willingly deny Christ, forsake the Gospel, revoke their baptism, therefore they have remission of sins. And if through ignorance they err also in doctrine, yet is this pardoned; for in the end they acknowledge their error, and rest only upon the truth and the grace of God offered in Christ, as Jerome, Gregory, Bernard, and others did. Let Christians then endeavour to avoid the works of the flesh; but the desires [or lusts of the flest] they cannot avoid.

“Wherefore, do you endeavor with diligence, that ye may discern and rightly judge between true righteousness and holiness, and that which is hypocritical: then shall ye behold the kingdom of Christ with other eyes than [carnal] reason doth, that is, with spiritual eyes, and certainly judge those to be true saints indeed which are baptized and believe in Christ, and afterwards in the same faith whereby they are justified, and their sins both past and present are forgiven, do abstain from the desires of the flesh. But from these desires they are not thoroughly cleansed; for the flesh lusteth against the spirit. Notwithstanding these uncleannesses do still remain in the unto this end, that they may be humbled, and being so humbled, they may feel the sweetness of the grace and benefit of Christ. So these unclean remnants of sin do nothing at all hinder, but greatly further the godly; for the more they feel their infirmities and sins, so much the more they fly unto Christ the throne of grace, and more heartily crave his aid and succour: to wit, that he will adorn them with his righteousness, that he will increase their faith, that he will endue them with his Spirit, by whose [gracious leading and] guiding they may overcome the lusts of the flesh, that they may not rule and reign over them, but may be subject unto them. Thus true Christians do continually wrestle with sin, and yet notwithstanding in wrestling they are not overcome, but obtain the victory.”

It Still Hurts, and It’s Still Beautiful

I didn’t want this to be my first blog post (and maybe it won’t be; I might not have the guts to publish and/or share whatever I’m about to write). I pride myself on being fairly positive, even in the midst of trying to live with the burden of likely life-long celibacy as someone in my early twenties, when almost everyone in my age group is getting married or wanting to get married. Or at the very least, wanting to be paired off romantically.

But today a hard thing happened, right in the middle of a beautiful thing, and that feels important, so here we are.

I do, in fact, have ample reasons to be positive about my life, and especially about my life as a celibate, gay Christian. There’s the obvious first reason, which is that I’ve been given all I could ever need in Christ. And I don’t say that just because I have to, but because I believe it. At least, I want to believe it. He really is enough.

Then there’s the fact that I have what is probably the safest, most ideal community in which to wrestle with all this. I have the St. Louis Side B community, of course. And I have close relationships with several pastors, including my boss, who know me and love me. I have the unprecedented freedom to be open about all this, even in Christian circles. Add to this a handful of other close friends who have loved me so well, and continue to do so, and a job that I absolutely love, and I should be thriving.

To be honest, I am thriving. It’s hard not to feel like I’m living a charmed life, living the best possible version of how this story could be going. This is all through no merit of my own: I was assigned to St. Louis, I didn’t choose it. I didn’t have to work through a series of painful experiences to find pastors and friends that are compassionate and understanding (in a word: safe) even as they’re orthodox and unwavering in their commitment to the truth. This is all proof of God’s hand in my life. For these things, I am grateful. I honestly sometimes have a little bit of some odd form of survivor’s guilt, I think; most Side B Christians aren’t even half as lucky as I am. Their faithfulness is harder won than mine, and by their witness, I am humbled.

Today was a microcosm of my charmed life. I was invited to hang out with my pastor, at his house, with his family. Not for any particular reason, just because. I get there, and we talk about light things at first, like recent presidential debates and the women of Big Little Lies. We laugh together about the absurdity of Marianne Williamson and the mere concept of someone slapping Meryl Streep.

We move on to more important things, like our denomination’s recent annual gathering, in which a lot of men who almost completely agree on the topic of homosexuality had some intense debates about the (very small) areas in which they do not agree. I tell my pastor about the parts of those debates that were hurtful. He listens and empathizes. He is also upset with how things went. He tells me his perspective, which helps me to see the situation more clearly. We still find things to laugh about, even in this conversation. I express to him (again) how unfair it all is. He acknowledges (again) that yes, it is. I am reminded (again) to be thankful for him.

The conversation reaches that point that many conversations do, when there is so much more to be said but we know that we can’t say it all today, so there is a moment of silence as we’re both thinking. Eventually, my pastor and his wife invite me to come with them to take their kids to see the new Spiderman movie. I accept, feeling more and more thankful to be invited into quotidian family life like this. We all eat a quick lunch together before we go, my pastor’s young sons theorizing out loud about what will happen to Spiderman in a post-Endgame world. I think to myself, This is it. This moment around the table, so mundane, is where God’s grace is most evident to me. This is enough. This is more than enough. This is how I know I’ll be okay.

Because this is the stuff Side B people have been writing about and dreaming about. Finding an answer to our loneliness (and fear of future loneliness) by being placed in families, as God has promised in Psalm 68. I think of another line from the psalms, one that’s been a theme lately: The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Indeed.

It was the actual movie that pulled me out of this celibate bliss I was feeling. Thanks, Marvel!

But in all seriousness, I am becoming more and more convinced that stories told well are our single best apologetic tool, because they move the heart in a way nothing else does, whether for good or bad. (It’s no accident that before the Gospel is anything else, it is a story.) And despite the fact that I am predisposed to not like Marvel movies because I’ve never been a huge fan and I find them so predictable, I think Spiderman: Far From Home is a well-told story. I won’t spoil anything major (or anything significant at all, really, I don’t think) going forward, but if you’re a purist and want to know absolutely nothing going into this movie, you should probably stop reading now.

There is a scene as the movie transitions from the first act to the second act, in which an older character who is talking to Spiderman (a teenager in this latest iteration of the franchise) in a fatherly way, asks him point-blank, “What do you want?” This is where Spiderman, who’s just been lamenting his woes over feeling the burden of literally having to save the world, finally puts into words, exasperated, his biggest internal conflict in this movie (I’m paraphrasing): “I don’t want to save the world. I want to go on my school trip. I want to be sixteen, and go to Paris, and take the girl I like to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and tell her how I feel, and then give her a kiss.”

I love to read into things, so bear with me here. But that scene struck a nerve for me emotionally. My calling is not to save the world, like Peter Parker’s, but he is struggling with a set of unchosen circumstances that are keeping him from being normal, and enjoying the normal things of life that sixteen-year-olds are supposed to be enjoying. Particularly, young love and a first romantic relationship. To push the analogy further without spoiling too much, he tries to take an easy way out of the situation by relinquishing his responsibility, and it backfires spectacularly; for me, this would be the equivalent of giving up on celibacy, I think. To sum it up: his situation is that he has a huge, burdensome responsibility, that is completely not his fault and not very fair, and yet it’s still his responsibility to bear at the cost of giving up some things that other people (rightfully) enjoy.

So yes. It made me feel things. I started to question whether I really would be okay.

But what was particularly hard about this is that, this being a movie, he gets the girl anyway. The young couple gets their moment of awkwardly confessing their feelings to each other, they get their first kiss, they get the moment immediately after that kiss in which they just look at each other sheepishly because they don’t know what to say or do now, they just know that they delight in each other and it’s all exciting and new. All I could think while that scene played out is, I will never get to have these moments.

And unlike if this were a gay couple, there was no reassuring myself that I believed this was wrong, no matter how good and pleasant it appeared. There was nothing inherently wrong with two high schoolers figuring out their feelings for each other, together. This is what people are supposed to do, and romantic love rightly expressed is beautiful, Godlike even. I think that made it even harder. Here is a true and good beauty that I will not experience in this life.

This forced me to admit that even as I’m so glad and thankful for the life I currently have, some part of me, a not-insignificant part of me, wishes my timeline were just a few years pushed back. Couldn’t I have just had a high school fling? A boyfriend in college? St. Augustine’s prayer was, “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet,” and it feels like mine is, “Lord, you’ve made me chaste, but why so soon?” I know this is utter foolishness. Sin always over promises and under delivers; I wouldn’t somehow be happier right now if I’ve had those moments I want so badly. Not to mention, I am hardly confident enough to say that God has made me anywhere close to totally chaste yet. It will take plentiful more grace to protect me from my own impulses.

Even now, I hear Jesus remind me of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. I feel like the laborer hired early in the morning, and I foolishly grumble and begrudge the generosity of my Savior. He reminds me, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?”

And therein is my measure of comfort. I belong to Him, and in the end, this is all that matters. And He can do with me as He chooses.

After the movie, we piled back into the family car, and my pastor’s sons excitedly chattered away about how awesome the movie was, talking about superheroes in the way only little boys can. Another beautiful familial moment that I was given. I hope and pray that my heart learns to love these moments more, and to let go of the dreams of the moments that God has, in His infinite wisdom and grace, kept from me.