I have had the good fortune to be around a large varied group of people over the years. Yes, I’ve been around red necks, extreme right-wingers, liberals and many from the GLBT community. I have lived between the white-collar world and blue-collar world. I think I have had the best of many different worlds also in terms of culture or people groups also.
The greatest challenge in today’s society is understanding what defines my identity? Is it based upon my feelings, the feelings of those around me, my family, my church or who?? We live in a culture that is obsessed with sexuality that intersects the lives of even the pre-teen community. The waves of discontent within the more normal community makes it even easier today to throw out your parents and especially your grandparent’s norms or morals for the alternatives that are have now become accepted and popular.
I have lived around the San Francisco area for over 14 years of my life. I have many friends who are awesome people that don’t fit very well if at all in the church community that surrounds me. I get frustrated with how quickly people judge each other and make assumptions that mean they can’t relate back to many or any because they are perceived to be outside the normal box.
Last night after our evening church we went to McDonalds, as usual, to enjoy our $2 meal and then just hang out to be together. One of my teens reflected on what I talked about in church; the ability to ask for help when your life isn’t working. He quickly said that he didn’t like his life. WOOOO. This is what I want to hear but was I really prepared to hear about his personal life crisis? Do I really have the words of hope and peace in the face of a church and different cultural groups that would quickly label this guy as being gay and therefore must be evil? Yet, I know deep down inside he is searching for acceptance and God.
I had met this guy 5 years ago at a different community non-profit. I was totally shocked when he went out of his way to reconnect with me. His mom seemed pleased for him to be involved with us. Yet, I know the discussions we will have won’t be easy because he lives between a couple of different of worlds where he isn’t going to fit very well, if at all. I truly believe that the Gospel will impact his life and give him hope. Yet I know what he doesn’t want to hear is that he is totally off base when it comes to his perception of who he is and where he should fit.
My wife and I have had over 30 years of being around the ‘gay’ community. We have many good friends who live between the church world and the GLBT community. I have pastor friends who are much more genuine and able to minister that are part of this community, then many within my own circle. So what do I do? The standard evangelical line is one something that this young man won’t receive. I have been rejected by people for various reasons so I know that the one who you think is going to help you turns out to totally reject you makes it very difficult to want to keep going. I asked the question about what was the major cause of teenage death and everyone knew that is was suicide. I didn’t ask the real question which was what causes a teen to take their own life. The next path would be to talk about sexual identification and the inability to fit in your own peer group. This is right where my young friend is living. He so much wants to fit and be part of our group, yet it would be so easy for him to be hurt and rejected.
I pray for wisdom and gentleness in helping my young friend on his journey to discover who he is by God’s design.