Fag, fat, gay, annoying, gap-toothed... I grew up with people telling me who I was. Some knew me, some didn't. Unfortunately, those seeds that were planted during that time have now grown into the tallest red wood trees. Sometimes It feels like all I have to try and cut them down is a butter knife.
Fast forward a bit to the last couple years.
Now I've been living out the things I was told and who people said I was while also trying to find my identity in Christ. I grew up a Christian, but during my mid/late high school years is when I really decided to start taking my personal relationship with God seriously. This is where the battle of the pink and blue seasons begins.
An unattainable ideal, heaven, a loving family, a wife, my 3.5 kids and a white picket fence, security, loneliness, masquerade, longing, a constant war, a constant struggle, and "closeness with God", are some of the things I think about, or am living out when I'm in a pink season.
Distance, false comfort, guilt, numbness, shame, lust, impurity, disgrace, arrogance, hate, conviction, panic attacks, Jekyll and Hide, fear, and drowning, are what I think about when I'm in a blue season.
These opposites are ideals either thought up by me or perpetuated through social media and thoughts of others. My mind longed for pink, my body perpetually pursued blue, and my soul ached for something more.
I am a Christian man that "struggles" with same sex attraction and what that means for me as a Christian. I am few and far between, but I am also one of many. If you would have told me five years ago that there are people, men and women, out there struggling with the same thing I would have told you you were insane.
I'd say a purpose and hope for this culmination of work is to challenge the current conversation regarding homosexuality in the church. For the past couple years I've had the privilege to sing in various worship groups in front of few and in front of many. I struggle all the time with the thoughts of, if they only knew what I'm going through, or what I’ve done, they wouldn't let me sing up here.
On a different note, I feel like if we were to pack all the Christians ever into one big auditorium and give them all "veritaserum" (that's truth juice for all you non Harry potters) and asked them questions like, "who deals with porn, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, lust, homosexuality, who's had an abortion?- all of the "REALLY BAD" sins, we would find that we're not as isolated as we thought. I'm tired of feeling like I'm living two different lives and I know some of you are too.
If we talked more openly about the things we struggle with in isolation I feel like we all wouldn't feel the need to perpetuate this false personification of what it looks like to be a "good Christian." We'd hear a lot more "me toos." To me, being a "good Christian" isn't going to be easy. It's going to look a lot like struggling the rest of my life. Do I choose to do so? With all my heart.
If we talked about these things, the little boy crying at night because he struggles with thoughts about attraction to the same sex, but can't talk to his dad because he's standing on the pulpit condemning the gays to hell, wouldn't feel so alienated. Now that's an exaggerated narrative (that somewhere may be true), but you get my point.
Alien isn't the right word for how I felt or how I feel at times. How could I find someone to love me through this Armageddon I'll be battling with the rest of my life? How could I find someone strong enough to help carry my seemingly infinitely heavy baggage? How can I tell my parents and family?
When I choose Christ, Michael-Andrew has to daily choose to run in the complete opposite direction that the rest of me is running. Since the race has begun I have tripped and fallen many many times, and at other times I've just decided to lay face down on the ground refusing to get up even though God may be standing over me encouraging me to get up.
I've given a lot of back story but haven't really gotten to the art, so let's do that. Collages are very representational of my life. God has blessed me more than I could ever imagine, and because of that, in the past I've struggled with what is mine to do. I've wondered if all of the similar but very different pieces work together or if I'm just supposed to choose one thing and stick to that. This past summer God showed me that all of the pieces, all of the talents and gifts He's given me, work together - like a collage. Now I've mentioned the seasons of blue and pink, but I've neglected to mention the purple you also see here tonight. I've come to the conclusion that there are aspects of both blue and pink that will be with me in this new season of self discovery, confidence, boldness, and walking with God. I choose today in my heart to follow God and pursue Him only. While I'll be living mostly in a pink season aspects of the blue season will be with me the rest of my life and that is why it must be purple. I have no idea what this looks like for me in the future. I’m not sure if I’ll get to live my life with someone and have those 3.5 kids and white picket fence, or if I’ll take the Paul (single) route. Whatever it is, it will be aligned with totally surrendering to Christ daily.
So, here's to new beginnings, new leaves, new struggles, new strength and new life. Here's to purple.