Let's talk about me.
I mean, really...why stop now?
Let's talk about me.
Okay, well obviously, this is a blog. It's my blog. I write it. I'm a Millennial (not to mention a human-being), and it's going to be about me. I want to write about me...what I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see.
(Sorry. That's the first and, hopefully, the last time I channel Toby Keith...but I make no promises.)
Surely none of you are too surprised that the primary topic of this blog is...well...me. I don't apologize for that. But when that self-focus overflows from the blogosphere into my real-life relationships...that's when a great deal of repentance is needed.
I'm an INFJ. I like talking about my feelings, and my feelings and I are pretty tight. We interact often. We have open lines of communication. The problem comes when I try to include everyone else I know in that party-line of my inner dialogue.
Don't get me wrong...we all need to vent sometimes. We need friends who will listen to us when we just need to rant and get things off our chest....or just verbally process something. Absolutely. I'm blessed to have friends who will "listen to me bitch," so to speak.
But somehow, the vast majority of my conversations, like my blog posts, tend to revolve around me...what I think, what I feel...what I think and feel about what I think and feel. Convinced that such vulnerability is healthy, I talk and talk while my friends patiently listen, ask questions, offer thoughts and feedback. Sometimes I'll sense that things are getting one-sided, and I'll ask some token questions about what they think. But invariably, their responses will remind me of something else I was thinking about, and boom...we're back on the ME-train.
I'll cut myself some slack. I am processing through a lot of stuff right now. I'm still coming to grips with what it means to live as a same-sex attracted Christian. I'm learning the dance of attending seminary while simultaneously being attracted to my same gender. I'm struggling to trust that God has indeed called me to full-time ministry and anxiously wondering what the ordination process in my conservative Presbyterian denomination will look like for me. Throw in the loneliness and battles with shame, and sure...I suppose I do have a lot to talk about.
I could talk to you for hours about what the Church can do differently...how the Church can love me better. I could produce a whole list of ways that my friends and family can love, serve, and support me as I deal with the implications of life as an evangelical, same-sex attracted pastor-in-training. Basically, I'm an expert at telling you how you can love me better.
But you know what I'm not very good at? Loving the Church...loving the world...loving you.
I'll gripe about how hard it is to find my place as a single man in my church, but I avoid service opportunities like the plague.
I lament the possibility of never having children of my own, but whenever my church asks for nursery volunteers, I'm oddly M.I.A.
I love to see myself as a victim...even a martyr! But I consistently numb myself to the suffering of millions around me. I forget about those who are hungry, sick, and oppressed. I forget those whose very lives and loved ones are at risk because of their faith in Jesus.
I talk about how much I need and want community, but when push comes to shove, Netflix is one of my closest, most trusted friends. #1 on my speed-dial, if you will.
I long for close friendships, but I forget that friendships are two-way streets.
I'm quick to demand sacrificial love, but so painfully slow to offer it myself.
You know, there are a number of things the Church could do better in regards to loving singles and especially gay people. I think that's an important conversation to have. I also think it's an important conversation for my friends to know how they can love me better, but we must be having the same conversations about how I can love them better too.
A self-absorbed life is a miserable life. I spend way too much time rattling around inside my own head, analyzing my thoughts, questioning my analysis, lamenting my lack of growth, wallowing in my mess. I need to break out of my bubble, my petty web of needs and insecurities...and learn how to love.
I love this C.S. Lewis quote: "True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." Wow...right?
I'm not saying it's wrong for me to desire love and friendship. I'm saying it's wrong for me to sit around waiting for love and friendship instead of going out and looking for ways that I can love other people like Jesus has loved me.
Maybe a married friend needs help running errands. Maybe the young parents next door need someone to watch their kids so they can have a night out together. Maybe that guy who always sits alone at church needs someone to talk to. Maybe the church needs me to use my spare time and resources to serve her various ministries. Maybe the church needs me to start a new ministry to meet that need I'm always griping about!
Maybe my wonderful, patient friends need me to stop talking about how much I love them...and simply listen to them for a change.
I'm a slow learner...but I'm learning. I'm learning to listen, and I'm learning to love. I still have a long way to go.
I think it's time for me to stop asking what the Church can do for me...and start asking what I can do for the Church.
I'll need a whole lot of grace for that endeavor, but His grace is sufficient...and it never runs dry.
Your Brother Behind the Mask