Tuesday, July 19, 2005

July 19th, 2005

This morning came early-only because we had a late night. This morning is the start of the conference. Last night I went out with some men who have been transformed by the power of God's love. I also realized, last night that I am not all that different or TRANSFORMED as a lot of men here who are in forms of leadership. They realize though where they have come from and where they are at and where they are going. They are TRANSPARENT. What a freeing place to be at. That for a lot of them has been part of the process.
I was told to ask people why they decided to change and what was their motivation to stay out of the lifestyle. Each story being it's own on how God has called us...but for one reason only, to glorify God. It gave me a rememberance to what it was like for me.
A time of questioning and longing. There has to be more to LIFE than this!!
God speaking to me even though I was not crying out, but inside I was. I was caught. I knew that my life was empty of meaning and purpose. When as a child I knew my purpose was to follow God. As an early adult I knew God in a way that changed my life. I didn't fear death, I knew eternally that I was heaven bound, and really, I was full of judgement of others and not full of love.
That changed in 1997. When a mistake of walking in sin, having an affair while engaged and running from that truth rather than face it. It brought me into the place of hiding. Of silence.
I see it now plain as day. Now that the blinders are off. How I tried to protect myself. How selfish that act was and it made me close part of myself off. That spiraled me downward. Toward 8 years of deep disconnection with God. Following the path of my own salvation. I had saved myself from what?
-fellowship...true, deep fellowship
-the opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation
-renewal of strength and character
-humility of my weaknesses and allow God to be my strength

Instead, what did I get?
-I got sexual freedom
-no guilt on acting out sexually- my motto was that I felt guilty far too many times as a christian that I would have no guilt or shame, living as a gay man. It somehow gave me a feeling of immortality. I could do no wrong. I could get drunk, do drugs and sleep with whoever. That was just a part of who I was. I embraced the "freedom" of homosexuality.
Even though I was eventually in a committed relationship, I began to have affairs. I justified it by saying that I realy wasn't married so I could still sleep with whoever. So whenever a demand or emotion or urge became too great, I knew where to get it filled. A temporary fix to a deeper problem. But it began to fester. Like a small puncture wound which slowly gets infected. Gradually the pain became too aparent. There had to be a breaking point and it soon came. Living with my partner of 8 years-I was the unfaithful one. In the first 2 years of commuting, it gave me the liscence to have my needs met when I needed them met. I knew where to go, and fully aware that he might find out. Then taking the step and making the move to Vancouver, making the final "cut" away from family, faith and friends. I knew that this was me saying "I can do this on my own." Just one more step of cutting myself off and standing on my own two feet..."I don't need anyones help."
Yet was I alone? I allowed my partner in...to see just what I wanted him to see. He had to work really hard at seeing the real Kenn. Pushing, pulling, pleading for me to be "real", except that I wasn't being real. I could not allow myself to think that deeply. Because in doing so I would have to admit certain things that I could not face...and remember I could do this on my own.
I had experienced Christ's attonment, his forgiveness before and I pushed that truth really far down. I had to now cover up like Adam did. To hide my nakedness and that was hardening my heart. I wouldn't have said it at the time but looking back, I had to harden my heart so that I wouldn't hear God's voice calling me back into his presence. But He also never gave up. He is way smarter than I gave Him credit for. All the while he continued putting options in front of me.
I remember when I was still in Winnipeg 7 years ago, and everytime I would be off to Vancouver or my ex partner was coming here I would get a New Direction(I had been involved in a ministry that dealt with same sex attraction...as a participant) newsletter in the mail. I would mockingly laugh...but deep down I knew this was God...so quickly and as fast as I could, I pushed that thought away.
My partner had a cousin who is a christian and I met her soon after the move. She did not talk all the time about God but when she did it always touched me. I thank her now for her faith. I can remember once when she was questioning somethings in her life, and I would tell her to ask God to reveal things to her...here I was in amongst my own pain and pushing God away and I was telling her to go deeper...which tells me that God uses those who are caught in sin as well.
We had a mutual friend (who is a christian) who never once judged us. Who invited us into her home and we where a part of her family. She blessed us.
There was christians at my work place.
My family never gave up hope for my healing. When I broke up with my partner I was doing so out of frustration. I had again been unfaithful and I kept that locked away and that caused me to lock away my heart. To stop being real...well, I actually never was real...that would be way too painful. Communication was at a standstill and I sought out my own way of dealing with that pain. So I ran from truth yet again. I ran to others and I ended my 8 year relationship. It caused so much pain and hurt for both myself and my partner. But I felt a freedom. I said to myself..."alright, I am single. Let's have fun." Yet I was hurting. I loved my partner and longed to be "real". But what was that. I started questioning my decision making skills and I thought maybe I'll work on the relationship and when I approached my partner he thought otherwise. He was wounded. He didn't want to work on us, he needed to just find peace, to make it through the day. We both dealt with our pain differently. I figured that I needed to embrace the pain and so I did. I can say that those few weeks, where the worst I have ever felt in my entire life. I have never cried so much in all of my life. I moaned and ached all over. I would be cleaning the cat's litter boxes and would cry, I would walk down the street and cry. I would have to leave work because I was breaking down. It was extraordinarily hard. I began to realize the ending of the relationship was inevitable. I knew for a couple of years that it wasn't healthy. It was a co-dependant relationship. He was my hero. My knight in shinning armour. He saved me! I felt so sexure when I was with him. My security was him. When I was second guessing my decision it was partly to do with feeling so lost without that security.
It was then that I phoned my mom. I told her I was second guessing my decision. She shared with me the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt and they second guessed their decision. It didn't mean that they should go back to slavery. So she said to me "Kenn, you don't have to go back to Egypt. That God would provide light for me in the wilderness. That statement went down deep. I acknowledged it and then put is away. My mom was talking about my relationship, not my lifestyle. I began planning on leaving, as I was still living in Langley with my ex-partner and commuting everyday together. I talked with a realtor in Vancouver and she told me of condo's that I could afford and so I began planning. A smart little condo and continue on, maybe start dating, but really enjoy singlehood.
But I also started wrestling with what my mom had said. I was crying out. I wanted to be able to communicate my feelings with my ex but it just didn't flow right. It was like I couldn't put into words the way I was feeling. I was alone it seemed in the wilderness. I seemed so far off. Yet, God was right there, waiting. I get the picture of God at that point in my life as a man holding his breath with anticipation and a man standing there arms ready and willing to hold me but waiting until just the right moment to grab me with enthusiasm, embracing me and never letting me go.
One day a few weeks after the break up, we attended a cat show. My partner and I had begun to show cats and breed them. That was our passion together. I was now living in the spare bedroom. Things where tense in the house. We would commute to and from work together and then come home and feed and care for the multitude of cats. Friday, we went to the show. My partner went early and I showed up later. It was tense. The joy I usually felt when we showed together had faded. I yearned for things to be normal again. I secretly wanted to say, forget what I said, I take it back. Yet I didn't. I showed the cats alone the next day, people coming and talking with me. People who had been a part of our lives for the last 5 years. Good friends.
I remember whenever things got too emotional, I called anyone I could....my cell phone bill was HUGE. That night I went home, I wept. I wept at being alone, for the decisions that I had made. I woke up in the morning and I remember that I felt the need to go for a run in the forest just close by to the house. So I went for the run. I ran and ran and could remember how good it felt and how amazing it was that I wasn't getting tired. Then the words "Kenn, you don't have to go back to Egypt" came into my mind...was it audible, I am not sure but it was so real that I stopped, composed myself and continued running. Okay then God, if you are real speak to me, I am hurt and so very sad. I am alone here!! Then it came and I heard the words "I will be your refuge and strength, I will shine the light in the wilderness." Alrighty then, the tears began to flow and here I was running, crying and I never felt so good in a long time. It was a really good run...the run of my life. When I ran out of the wilderness and onto the road I felt so much joy and instantly I knew that going back to Egypt meant continuing on in the gay lifestyle. I knew that God was going to be my refuge and strength and he was calling me out of the lifestyle. I felt incredible joy. I literally ran home and phoned my friend and told her about Egypt, my run and the decision to leave the lifestyle. She told me she would pray for me.
I went back to the cat show and I asked one of my friends if I could talk to her and I told her my experience and she said she understood my struggle. She said she was a christian and she blessed me with words of love and not condemnation. When her husband came to me at the end of the cat show and told me to hold on to Jesus' hand and stand firm in my faith, I went to my car and wept. No longer tears of sorrow but tears of joy. Of knowing the truth had just set me free.
When I got home from the cat show I checked my email. My friend had emailed me. In it she told she had felt the need to pray for me all day. That she was so amazed at God's love. That God had given her 3 verses for me.
1. That God led the people out into the streets with tambourines
-this verse was spoken over me years ago when I went on a mission trip to Europe and I was on the tambourine team...that actually tambourined in the streets...and my friend never knew this.
2. God would be my refuge and strength....again, I had not told her what God had spoken to me in the wilderness that morning.
3. That God had a plan and purpose for my life Isaiah 43...that He has called my name and redeemed my life.
She never once told me to leave my partner or the gay lifestyle but to look for God, to seek Him first.
Each verse struck me and reminded me that God chose to give me a sign of his faithfulness.
That's how much he loved me. He had waited for just the right moment, and he wasn't holding his breath any longer. He was breathing his life into me. He just didn't speak to me and leave me. He now started to use others to reveal even more of himself to me. I call this the beginning of when the blinders started to be removed of the reality of life being shown. Then I wondered what to do. Here I was living with my ex partner, in a city where I had fled from God. He began to call me home. It was subtle. Then another blindfold slowly fell away and I realized that Vancouver was the place I had fled to. My family was not here, yet I had many friends a great job...yet I felt a strong desire to be near family. To be close to those I needed to be near. So one day it became apparent that I needed to go home. To stop running and face issues. So I went to my 2 jobs...which I LOVED and gave my notice. Both places told me that maybe I should take a year leave of absence and I really felt God say..."no, you need to leave."
I then went to my home and gave my notice. My ex parnter now in shock told me I was moving backward...not being true to myself, that I would find myself in the same place I was at before I left Winnipeg. But I felt for the first time in my life that I was being true to myself. That I was doing the right thing.
It wasn't all roses the last month that I was there. But I felt God's grace during this period. It was a struggle and I fell often. Then I met a pastor out there and I took a step of faith and began meeting with him. I sometimes felt why I did that with only a month left but it was encouraging for me. It was a lifeline.
My family rallied around me and my sister drove 2000 miles to pick me up. I remember seeing her for the first time and running up to her and holding her and sobbing. A picture of the prodigal came to my mind...what it was like for the son to come home.
My friends helped pack me up and I said goodbye. I closed the door on an 8 year relationship and turned my back, in faith, that God would be my provision and strength. I was leaving with nothing and God said, that I need not be afraid.
We travelled for 3 days. A door closed when I left my old home. A door closed when I left BC, again in Alberta and Sask. Soon I was standing in Winnipeg. How strange it felt.
I began reconnecting with family. I re-connected with New Directions and started to feel the grieving process of what I left behind. It hasn't been easy, old patterns are hard to break, especially when you fall back on thinking you can do it on your own strength. I fell sexually, I seconded guessed my decision.
God is faithful. I always feel Him close. I have had awesome times of worship with Him. I have had to totally rely on him for my everything. I left BC with nothing. Financially able to last a few months but still very much in debt. I have not worked for 3 months. The odd job here and there. But it was like God was saying, trust in me, trust in me. I have always been one to not rely on anyone but myself and here was God saying "Kenn, won't you just trust in me?" So I began. It was hard and is hard still at times. I have begun to see a clearer picture of who I am. I have begun to love myself because God loves me.
The biggest realization is the Grace of God, which comes through the blood of Christ. Reading again today Hebrews 9:11 about the blood of Christ, that Christ is the new covenant. Then reading Psalm 31 on God's strong fortress to save me. Though evil men try to ensnare me and trap me, that God will deliver me in his righteousness. He will rescue me.
God provided a way to come to Exodus with not allowing me to get a job right away. It was hard because it cost way too much but I have faith that he will provide. I thanked God everyday for his provision, even when I did not see it. With much fear and trembling I came to Exodus. What if I fall sexually with someone there? What if I am tempted? What if it doesn't meet my needs? What if I don't hear God?
As I re-read these pages, if this is all that I get out of coming here to Exodus, then it will have still been worth it. God has met me, He is faithful. I have been hearing stories of redemption of transition and begun to realize I am not alone. That God's heart is for me. That through it all God desires to have an intimate relationship with me. He is opening up the floodgates of his love for me. He is transforming me through the renewing of my mind and through his eternal love.


Tremenda TrigueƱa said...

What an amazing transformation...These are the kinds of stories that people never hear about, the kind of grace that God grants His children. I am a Christian and I was a bridesmaid for my friend who married another woman. I have never actually read an account of someone making the decision to get out of the gay lifestyle because of God's grace. I have only heard of people hiding their homosexuality from the world because they were ashamed, trying to make the church accept homosexuality as Biblical, or totally turning their back on God and living as a homosexual. I think God is not there to crush us, he is there to lift us out of anything that is keeping us imprisoned. I think you have an amazing story and I lok forward to hearing more.

manchu said...

I don't think I had a true appreciation of your journey until now. Wow. Kenn, God is on your side as He has so shown you. He is our Father. He always loves us and always welcomes us. He always forgives us even when we say 'I'm not doing that again' and we do. This is really a window into your soul and I have to say that I really appreciate the view! You are an amazing person. By the way... welcome home!

I love you brother.

backseat driver said...

You know, we all are on some kind of "journey out" in our lives--from whatever is holding us back from true freedom. I so appreciate you sharing your story as you travel. I am in awe of how God has met you throughout the journey--even in the "Egypt" of your life, I know you still saw signs of GOd's call to you. Hearing you talk about your travels is helping me build up my faith again to believe that God can help me get out of my "slavery."
You are a wonderful person, Kenn. God does have some great plans for your life--I am sure! I'm so glad I'm part of it--I am SOOO glad you're home!