In my last blog, I described that over the last year I’ve been acknowledging a season of grief surrounding my sexuality. This grief has many facets, like the unmet needs that led to some very poor and desperate decisions regarding sex. The consequences of those choices also left me more wounded and emptier. There is grief from giving myself away so easily sexually because of wanting to be loved and valued. Sex was introduced to me at an early age (14) and there were years of shame for simply having same-gender attractions. Because of those early sexual experiences with a male friend, I adopted a gay identity far too early. The bottom line?–sexuality never felt good or right growing up.
Looking ahead, I realize I might never experience that kind of “union” with another person for which we are created. There is something very powerful emotionally and relationally about sex. To not ever feel desired or share life with someone in that intimate kind of way saddens me. We are created by our relational trinitarian God to experience various levels of healthy intimacy with one another. Our longing to connect deeply is ultimately met in our relationship with God. Still, the grief over bad choices, sexualized emotional needs and not experiencing something human is real. Being honest before God and entering that grief with Him is the best place to start. But my question lingers for Him—how Lord, do I work through the grief and move forward?
The Loss of SO Much More
And then the world literally collapsed overnight. Things I unconsciously put my trust in became sinking sand beneath my feet. Work, identity, money and health became vulnerable as the coronavirus systematically shut most everything down. Examining grief around my sexuality quickly became buried by bigger daily losses and a larger global grief. Everyone’s fear started to mount (including mine) and there were runs on the grocery stores. “Scarcity mentality” kept me up at night with anxiety of not having enough, and I made endless lists of the things in my mind.
The next big shift came when the “Stay at Home” order began in our state on March 26th. There was no returning to the office and we were encouraged not to leave our homes except for essentials and exercise. Like most people the first week, I was trying to get my home up and running to become the new office. All my old haunts for intimacy and connection closed—bars, restaurants, movie theaters and any gatherings were discouraged. Roger was a solid leader, getting all our groups and staff meetings on Zoom and improving the technology each week. It felt good to connect virtually, to see everyone’s faces in their little boxes on my screen. My church also met on Zoom and I made daily happy hour dates and virtual game nights via online.
Baby Steps Out of Isolation
For two months I was alone in my small studio condo connecting over a screen except for few grocery trips and walks. I was grateful for the ability to meet virtually but felt fatigued by it all. There must be creative ways to connect safely, but in person.
One friend I met at a Chik-Fil-A by an empty mall parking lot—I had not seen him in person for a month. We each went through the drive through and then parked so our driver’s windows were facing each other. There was a lot of laughter and catching up while we ate and then ended our time with a lovely, distanced walk outside around the mall. A satisfying fullness I hadn’t felt in a long time returned. On the way home I mused, “that’s exactly what my heart needed,” with a grin on my face. I realized I had lost so much over the last several months… from moaning about the loss of sexual intimacy to barely any intimacy at all. We now affectionately call these dates “Auto Lunches”.
As a single person quarantining alone, I never cooked so many meals, washed so many dishes or used my Tupperware daily. My refrigerator and freezer have never been this full, and I even made potato salad for the first time. I have never lost so much physical touch all at once—this has been painful. But we should also give airtime to my counterparts who are suffering in the opposite way. Those who are quarantined with family or roommates 24/7— and non-stop interaction. Parents overwhelmed at juggling working at home and are suddenly called upon to become full-time teachers. My heart ached for those quarantined in abusive situations. As my mantra always states—no one has it easy no matter what your relational status.
Finding Meaning in this Bizarre Season
A helpful article that came out early in the isolation was “The Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” by Scott Berinato in the Harvard Business Review. In it, he interviews grief expert David Kessler who wrote the recent book “Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief”. Kessler states while experiencing the five usual states of grief (like anger, denial, sadness) we must also look for meaning. Part of the stage of acceptance and moving forward is looking for the good coming out of a situation—might I say redemption? As we move into this new season of “Safer at Home”, I ask myself “How is God redeeming this bizarre, isolating season?”
Embracing Technology and WGA’s Future:
I find it comical that 3 years ago I didn’t even own a smart phone.” Give me my good reliable Razor flip phone!” I’d say in defiance of “The Man,” fist pumping in the air. Can you imagine navigating all the recent changes, keeping up with work and connection without this technology? While getting my wifi and office at home set up, my phone was invaluable for doing Zoom meetings, paying bills and staying connected. You can’t do all that with a Razor. Now that we’ve opened the door to this virtual way of connecting (finally), we are discussing ways of expanding WGA’s ministry to more than just local. Old WGA alum who have moved away can now join us on Thursdays. Guess it took a pandemic to get off our resting laurels, and God expanded my technology for “such a time as this”.
Silence and Solitude Can Lead Us to God
For us singletons, God stopped us in our tracks. All the busy-ness and running around which kept me distracted evaporated and was replaced by lots of space. Without a commute, there was suddenly more time in the morning for reading and prayer (and there was much to pray for.) It helped we were in the Lenten season to keep a focus. One day I realized “You know you read a lot about Henri Nouwen’s benefits of silence and solitude, perhaps now you can put them into practice.” My home became quieter during the day in my working alone. I felt like God was leading me into a desert time and a growing hunger and thirst relationally on a soul level. It is those deprived longings and desires in which God will use as a vehicle to draw us nearer to Him.
Don’t Take Any Kind of Intimacy for Granted
This is probably my biggest take away from two months of self-quarantine. I’ve missed simple ways of spending time with friends. Sharing drinks over happy hour, seeing a movie and eating popcorn or sitting close and playing games, hugging. I am grateful for the technology to see each others faces and connect, but virtual can never replace the real thing. To my hungry heart, each gathering where I have a bit of time with others “in person” is better than the last. I never want to take any kind of interaction or intimacy for granted again.
Looking ahead, the question still remains. “Lord, how do I work on the grief surrounding my sexuality and move forward?” I’m more hopeful than ever with these new quarantine lessons and we’ll explore this together in the final part of this series.
Make a Difference in Someone's Life
If you enjoy reading WGA’s blogs and would like to show your support, please consider making a donation. Where Grace Abounds is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The majority of services, including support groups and discipleship counseling, are provided free of charge. Your financial gifts help to cover the costs associated with offering a free program to those who seek WGA’s services.