(I was going to say this at the bottom of the post, but it gets crazy early and stays that way, so when I wrote this I was – spent four hours driving today – tired and thus tried to use bigger words than I normally would.)
THEY say time heals everything and while that isn’t strictly true it sure helps us develop some perspective about past events as we mature and gain distance from them. Memories can become insights about God’s grace upon grace to us of the ‘oh look it’s raining and the crops are growing kind’; the grace of gifts from a good God.
Sometimes when I read the stories of other people who deal with same-sex attraction I get mild journey envy. I say mild to mean a fleeting thought or 30 seconds of concern about my disadvantaged situation. I’d hate for you to think I wallow in pity and most of the time I don’t. Also envy is a sin; sin is bad; I try not to sin. This envy, this “God why hasn’t this happened for me?” is usually provoked by a tale of an extremely good relationship with a man or men. A situation so perfectly orchestrated it could only have been God working out the infinite details necessary to bring it together. This is not to say that I think we are God’s pawns on a chessboard or that we do not have a role in succeeding or failing at journeying into closer companionship with members of our gender. But I tend to think God has a bigger role than some. I should say my envy happens in decreasing amounts these days and I am genuinely happy for my brothers and their blessings.
The premise that I am envious of another SSA brother for having close relationships with other males is based upon the universal desire for closeness to people, but also the commonly held belief that healing comes partly through said relationships. I must admit to a short period of heresy on this issue when I decried this belief as “SSA pop psychology”. I continue to believe that God, God, God and how we see Him and think He sees us is the pivotal issue, but have taken a calmer approach to the importance of healthy male relationships. I would argue they are important and a tangible way we notice improvements in our confidence and ability to be accepted and integrated with others.
I think my envy is irrational for many reasons. One being that envy displays a lack of trust in God’s provision for me. And on a deeper level it says that I alone know what I need in the way of male relationships; ie I deserve this to happen to me with this person, because then I would feel manly and accepted. I wonder if the reason I have not been given certain experiences other people have is because they would be too much for me to cope with and therefore I wouldn’t get any benefit from them. I have some support for this hypothesis in that sometimes I have had an intense experience with a guy ie chatting one-on-one with a housemate in a spa that has caused me more problems than healing. Perhaps also the combination of my personality and experience would mean a certain friendship or experience would lead to sin rather than to glorifying God.
Anyway, all this is to say that when I look back over the years, God has seriously blessed me in orchestrating situations where I was surrounded by maleness. I want to recount some examples of them here as an act of praise for His treatment of me, but hopefully also a reminder to seek hard to find blessings in our life and to push on with whatever we need to be working on, so we are ever more ready to receive them healthily into the future.
– 2003 age 17: in my last year of high school I was part of a group of five guys, the first time I was part of a friendship group of guys that was consistently larger then two or three. We had some good times talking about guy stuff and seeing who could physically slam into each other the hardest.
– 2004 age 18: when I stayed at the residences on my university campus the five other people in my ‘house’ were all guys in what was usually a mixed-gender housing situation. I didn’t have good relationships with any of them, but it surely gave me examples of maleness and built up my identification as a male.
– 2005 age 19: in winter I had four weeks off uni during mid-semester break I went home to my parent’s farm and day after day I helped my dad fix fences. It was such a healing time and a big improver of the relationship with my dad.
– 2006 age 20: another year and more man work with a man. This time it was a guy from my church and we spent a lot of one month working on a building he was renovating putting in insulation and nailing on plaster to the walls.
– 2007 age 21: I ended up living in an all male household with two other guys for about two and a half years. I still play tennis regularly with one of them.
– 2008 age 22: at work the office was renovated, so I was moved into an area, which was basically five male journalists. I learnt a lot there about being a man from observing and listening. At this point in time I was living with males and working with males and talking to males on the internet at night and seeing male friends on the weekends sometimes. It was all men all the time really.
– 2009/2010 age 23/24/25: most of my previous examples involve older guys or people my age, but during these later years I’ve been in contact with several guys who were a bit younger than me, which has been interesting to see how young and insecure they are and how old, manly and confident I have become (it feels weird to write that, but it’s basically what has happened to some degree).
In writing these things out they seem slightly average and dull. But I believe God had a hand in making them happen and prepared me to take advantage of them.