Conflict.

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I am so ready for this semester, and 2017 to be over.

If I had to describe this year in one word, it would be “Conflict.”
2017 started off with quite a large rattle to my position in two faith communities I was a part of, my youth group, and Intervarsity.

At my Youth Group, – a community that I spent all of high school involved with – someone who was supposed to be a leader to me went behind my back and did something very hurtful and deceitful to me. When I found out and confronted him about it, he told me it was true, but did not give me a single, solid reason as to why he did what he did. So I left. It still stings.

Within the same month, right around the time I started talking to Zach, leadership applications for Intervarsity opened. Intervarsity, as a nationwide fellowship organization, is against same-sex marriage (for biblical reasons), and they expect their staff members to be as well, or live in infidelity, working for an organization they do not agree with. I knew this, but because I was grateful to have found the community so early on, and because I had already invested so much of my self in people who didn’t see things that way, I figured I could live with it. When I wanted to be in a leadership role, either as a worship team member or an outreach team member, I talked to someone on leadership who had a bit of control in that process. We had a nice, long chat, running on close to 3 hours, I gave them my testimony and talked about my faith journey, also that I was anticipating being in a relationship in the near future. Because of this, I was told that I could and was encouraged to still apply, but it would be a very tricky decision and a very tricky path to take. Basically, things there were kind of up in the air. I ultimately decided against applying. I still participated actively in IV events through the rest of the year and I am thankful for the friends I have made that do not pass judgement on me.

Near the end of August, the person at my youth group who did what they did 7 months prior was stepping down to start a new chapter of his life away from that church. I went back that last night, as it was a transitional night for the students, and I wanted to come back after he was gone. When we finally did talk at the end of the night, it was a quick conversation that I’ve honestly already forgotten because he didn’t say any of the things I’d hoped he would say, the first being “I’m sorry.” I came back every week for a few weeks until I was told by the new campus pastor, and interim youth leader, that I was not allowed to be there unless I was a student or a leader, a leader being something I thought I was. When I inquired about applying to be a leader, things became complicated. We met one day about a month and a half ago for coffee and had a conversation very similar to the one I had with the person in IV, I couldn’t be a leader because I am gay and openly in a relationship. That door then closed in my face.

That brought back memories of the conversation I had with regards to IV, and I haven’t been to any Intervarsity events since then. To those of you in Intervarsity who may be reading this, I do care about you, and I apologize for having dropped off of your radars. It’s very hard to be told that you can’t do the things you feel called to do, especially over something you can’t control.

Since January, and especially since the conversation I had at the end of October, I have been on a rollercoaster. I have had so much of my identity enveloped in giving my troubles away, that I do not know how to face them. I’m going through a very scary and a very real change, to find out what my identity is. I don’t renounce Christ, or regret the times and wonderful memories I have, or the friendships and bonds I’ve formed and will continue to pursue all of these things. I’m writing this, somewhat as an apology for effectively disappearing, as a way to tell my story, and as a personal mission to myself to find out who I really am.

I’m not these personas that I’ve had set up for me, the broken person, who is full of doubt and helplessness, hopeless and a failure, always feeling like a screw-up, that everything is his fault; the person who feels the need to fix everything around him because maybe if the rest of the puzzle is complete he will fit right in the middle. I am not a child, who is needy, expectant, childish, nagging, and selfish.
These are traits and mindsets I want to expose and to expel. I want to be better, stronger, able to hold my own and take responsibility for the things I am actually required to be responsible for. I want to be a good person, partner, and friend. I have spent so long giving myself away, good and bad, that all that is left is a combination of things that makes me a very weird looking puzzle piece.

I come back to this theme of conflict because even as I’m sitting here writing this I’m conflicted. Should I be trying to fit into the puzzle, or should I destroy the puzzle entirely, and come up with a better metaphor for how to be independent, invoking my own strengths to get me through life?

One thing I do know is that “No one is coming” (You. Are. The. One. by Kute Blackson), no one is going to do this for me. People can help, but I think that I’ve been confusing the two, trying to blur the lines to what I want them to be.

All that I ask now, if you’re still reading, is for your encouragement. Whether it’s in words, prayers, good vibes, etc. And that if I fall, you be there to help me back up. Get me back on my horse, don’t take the reigns with me on its back.

Thank you.

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