THE other week I said no to attending a weekly SSA group over summer. It’s the first time I’ve said no to something like that in a long time. Indeed over the past couple of years I’ve attended several conferences, retreats and support group nights all specialising in the sexuality genre. And they’ve been largely helpful for the journey. But right at this moment I don’t think I need more information or tools to fight or self understanding.

To be honest I feel like there’s more knowledge in my brain than I have consistently used to fight sin, understand myself or man up. Take masturbation. Last year I went 100 days without that moment of comfort demonstrating I have what it takes to win. But this year, even with extra maturity, that feat hasn’t been repeated and it should have, because the way to make it through the day without it is clear. Take understanding myself. I did the questions about my childhood and teenage years from the book I reviewed earlier in the week and there was only one thing I realised. (My parents gave me a toy telephone for my first birthday, which is hardly a gift fit for a boy who is meant to become a man). But other than that I’m clued into how my dad/mum affected me growing up and what I felt I lacked from same sex peers as a teenager.

So what’s gripping me at the moment is: take what I know and move forward. As Neil Cole said “we in the Western church are educated beyond our obedience and more education is not the solution, we need more obedience”. Or as Matt Chandler (he is fired up as he says this on the podcast) said on evangelism: “Ladies, how many Beth Moore Bible studies are we going to do? I’m just saying. Can we maybe run some of the plays instead of just studying them? Men, how many men’s Bible studies are we going to do?…How much are you going to study before you start to play? I mean, that’s what makes this thing so stupid. Everybody can talk it, nobody wants to engage anybody with it. Or at least very few of us do. Why? “Well because I have a lust issue.” Okay, submit to Christ, get into Recovery and live on mission. It will reveal all that stuff;. It will be horrible. God will just rip it out and replace it with His grace and mercy. It will be awesome in the end.”

Sometimes it’s easier for me to look for the next exciting teaching than to put what I know into practice. Putting knowledge into practice means getting up when I wake up so I don’t masturbate, making sure my mind doesn’t wander when praying as I drive to work, initiating conversations at work with quiet people instead of going on web sites for a break, planning conversations about God with colleagues sometimes, engaging with my parents at dinner time, seeking God and being self aware when tempted to idolise a guy and emailing friends I haven’t talked to in a while before I go to bed. It’s all pretty routine stuff. But I think that’s where growth and freedom happen rather than in gaining a fistful of knowledge that will be lost in three months time when I haven’t done anything with it.

In Wesley Hill’s book Washed and Waiting he quotes a novel called Jayber Crow, which my local library happened to have a copy of so I borrowed and read it. This work of fiction is about a man named Jayber Crow and his life story. How he grew up in the country, tried the big city for a while, came back home and worked as a barber in his hometown for 30 years and then moved a couple of kilometres to a river shack for the next 15 years. It was about the people he met and his thoughts and his life as a bachelor. To be honest it was kind of boring. But it was an honest book about the tedium and repetitiveness and occasional joys of life. Ie “And so for a while there I took part in a little passage of family life, and with the family I would most have chosen if I had the choice. It was something I might have prayed for, if I had thought of it, but it was not among the possibilities I had forseen. It was just a good thing that came.” Jayber’s success is settling down and becoming part of a community and living one day at a time.

I think my success will come the same way.


10 thoughts on “Consolidation

  1. I love this post.  Good way to start my Sunday.  Thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts.  This is why I like reading blogs and find value in it. 

  2. I enjoyed this post as well. You are right about the need to put talk into action…we all need to hear that (and DO IT). Jayber Crow is one of my favorite books. I’ve re-read the chapter “The Way of Love” many times. There’s a lot of deeper and very important themes in that book – about faith, love, and life. Me and some guys took Wendell Berry’s “Agrarian Essays” and studied them one semester for our small group…specifically the ones dealing with Christianity. Great stuff.

  3. I love and am encouraged by everything I’ve read here! Go obedience! 😛

  4. Just obey?  What a concept!   Go forth and obey empowered by God’s almighty grace.  You will never be sorry.Lonnie

  5. Brutal Chris!I found the mojo I needed to get my p90x workout done….nothing left, but to do it!

  6. So would you say you’re rejecting the whole “ex-gay” kind of thing and going for a different approach.   I’m really new to all this “struggling with SSA.”    I was just plain old gay until a few years ago.  Became a Christian a couple years after leaving the whole gay world.   Now a friend of mine is trying to get me involved with an Exodus group.   I’m not real crazy about the idea.  I kinda like just going to church and hanging  out with my friend and some of the guys from church.   I’ve found just being around “straight” guys is helpful.   I’ve been fighting my buddy who has been trying to get me to hang with people like me.   I told him when I wanted to be gay I hung out with gay people.  Now that I’ve left that why would I want to go on hanging out with a bunch of guys who only know what gay?   How can a bunch of gay guys help me not be gay?I guess I’m just looking for some answers.   I was gay and now I’m supposed to be what?

  7. @flickinboogers – No, I wouldn’t say I’m rejecting the whole exgay thing. It’s more I’ve done the groups and got what I needed from them. Which was somewhere that I could be entirely honest and where my honesty elicited compassion and knowing suggestions rather than polite listening noises as from straight Christian friends. Somewhere where I met other guys who struggled and could be encouraged that they were suffering and fighting sin and seeking healthy relationships just as I was. It also helped me accept that SSA was what I dealt with and to embrace it as part of a fallen world rather than trying to pretend that I could deal with it by myself.I don’t think it’s a requirement you go to an Exodus type group. You might find it helpful though; you never know. A lot of people don’t go to these groups for years on end. With the one I went to people would go for a couple of years and then as they were emotionally healthier they would leave and deal with any issues with friends they made in the group or with their straight friends. The group built up a confidence in themselves and helped them handle SSA better. Though others may continue to attend for longer to support new guys coming into the group or because they have deeper issues or a more troubled background.In an ideal world I don’t think there would be groups like Exodus. People would be able to be totally honest in their local churches and the men of the church would come around them and walk with them.If that’s what you’ve found; that’s great!  ‘Cause as you allude to a bunch of gay guys aren’t going to help you. As for labels. I don’t personally use ex-gay. Firstly I was never out and gay and having sex. I was masturbating and looking at porn, which I still struggle with now, so I’m not exactly ex from it. I think some people hear ex-gay and think people have become straight and when they learn there are still gay temptations, and failings, they mock. Personally I just say “dealing with same sex attraction”. I have attractions to the same sex and I am dealing with them. Also because “same sex attraction” isn’t used heaps in the wider culture I get to define what I mean by it rather than having people have a preconceived idea about what it might mean. Though in saying that I don’t label myself much. As to what you are supposed to be now, I don’t think there is a simple answer. You can be whoever you want to be. Man. Saved man. Forgiven man. Growing man. Whatever.Hope this was helpful, feel free to ask more if you want,Cheers,Chris

  8. @Chrisjb7 – Thank you.  I like your response.   I’m learning a lot from just reading your posts and responses.   I hope you don’t freak out if I kind of go back and read your older blogs.   You would see a lot of my footprints.   Maybe “man under construction”?   A little long, but I like it.   I’ve got a lot to show my best friend when he comes back home.   I don’t think I’ll do Exodus, not for a long while anyway.   If I hit a dead end maybe I’ll give it a try.  Thanks again, your thoughts and others are very helpful.

  9. @2 cents from a Bad Penny – I’d like to speak with you.  I’ve read your site “The Strugglers Place”, and would like to know if you still blog somewhere.   If you don’t blog anywhere else, would you visit me on my site?   

  10. @Chrisjb7 – This is really good, Chris!  I personally do not like the idea of labelling oneself  as anything other than Christian.  Or identifying oneself with anyone other than our wonderful Friend and only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!  The closer I learn to walk with Him, by actual experience, the freer I will be from the thoughts that the devil introduces in order to ensnare me.  Every Christian man on the face of the earth, is daily tempted with thoughts about various things that might perhaps be likened to the forbidden fruit in Eden.I really wonder whether constantly thinking of oneself as homosexual is not helping to fix that unfortunate orientation more permanently into one’s self conception.  We need to learn, don’t we (?) simply to “rejoice in the Lord always,” as the apostle points out in his first century epistle!  There will always be some times of discouragement, possibly even some defeats, but, like ‘Pilgrim’ in John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ there will always be those, either angels from heaven or men here on earth, who will come alongside us just when we need them most!You are a great encouragement to me, my younger brother!David

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