A Chat with My Younger Self
So, I’m violating all laws of time travel and venturing back to early 1987 to have a chat with my younger self. Of course, we all know that if someone sees their older mirror image from the future, the consequences could be insanity. Since I’m already a bit insane, I’m going to risk it. It won’t be hard to locate myself on any given evening during this season of life—I’m heading to Tracks, the local gay bar I frequented most nights. Ah yes, there’s the old familiar 80’s dance tunes playing and who could forget that smell?
And…there I am—teased up 80’s hair, a poor attempt at a Tom Selleck moustache, tight 501 Levi’s and black Madonna half-shirt (“man, I wish I had that 28 inch waist again”, I sigh). I see I’m holding my signature Long Island Iced Tea and taking a long drag off a Benson and Hedges menthol cigarette. My coolness factor is about a 4 out of 10. Time to go in for the encounter!
“Scott!—I’m YOU from the future! Uh yes…I know I haven’t held up great—really that’s all you have to say? Stop being horrified. Anyway, I know you’ve been hurt by the church when you were a Christian in High School and that made you very bitter. These wounds sent you on a rough path trying to figure out who you are. But Jesus is loving, and kind and HE has never left you—you will once again fall in love with Him, despite His people. Jesus will take what you think is your greatest pain and use it for His Glory & Kingdom way into the future.”
Another slow drag on the menthol—“Right, like that’s going to happen.”
Hmm…no signs of insanity, but not quite the reaction I had hoped for and you really need to quit smoking. But because Jesus is so awesome, by the November of 1987, He was graciously back in my life and I was attending my first Where Grace Abounds Thursday Meeting. So began the journey of figuring out faith and sexuality. It was truly a miracle.
And Now Back to the Future and a Few Lessons Learned Along the Way:
God’s Tangible Care
During the next several years I addressed all sorts of my personal issues using the WGA community. I was also volunteering administratively in the office until 1992, when I had clawed my way up into a staff position—and took on that mantle eagerly. Now my parents were bewildered why I was leaving my cushy, decently paying job to enter the wonderful world of fundraising your salary. To be honest, it was scary to take that leap of faith. The Lord quickly gave me this verse from Matthew’s sermon on the mount. Jesus addressed the anxiety about what I would eat, drink and wear—where was the money going to come from?
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
So, that scripture was taken literally and to heart. I just need to focus on God’s work through WGA and He will care for me. I raised a bit of support and worked a tent-making job those first few years. The staff has been blessed with full time salaries for a long time and I’m grateful looking back at God’s faithful promises through His Word.
Zeal to Burnout (Fast)
When stirred together, Lack of boundaries, the inability to say “no”, codependency and Christian zeal can be a really bad combo. I was young and enthusiastic about my new ministerial position and brought 110% to the work. I met with group members, started doing discipleship counseling and began sharing my story at churches. I also took over Thursday nights as the new Program Director. I oversaw our group facilitators and even insanely loved attending meetings. My daytimer was bursting at the seams with appointments. Due to the great fear of disappointing anyone, my answer to any request was soon becoming an exhausted “yes”.
One memorable night I couldn’t take it anymore and flung myself onto the bed crying dramatic tears out to God. “I’m SOOO tired Lord, I can’t do ALL these things you want me to do!!” Then in mid-sob I heard a still small voice say quietly. “I never asked you to do all those things.” I literally laughed out loud. “Oh, perhaps my burnout is my fault?” It’s still hard saying “no” and disappointing people, but I’ve gotten better at it over the last 30 years.
The Gift of Longevity and Community
I’m smiling fondly thinking of all the Staff and Leaders who’ve come through WGA’s door these past 30 years. It’s always been painful when these dear friends have moved on into the next chapter of life God has for them. “Aren’t we going to be doing this work forever together till we die, or Jesus comes back?” That would be nice but not exactly God’s plan for everyone. I’m also thinking of many of those group members who’ve attended WGA throughout the decades.
When reminiscing about this community, some have moved out of state, some are involved in other ministries. Sadly, many have left or changed their faith, wounded by their experiences with church and Christians. And still others have embraced an affirming theology as a way of resolving their conflict with faith and sexuality. For a long time I think there was a propensity in me to want to control people’s choices (does that sounds familiar to anyone?). But over the last several years I’ve learned to release them and their own journeys to God and to prayer. This simply frees me up to love and be in relationship. I’m grateful for the “cloud of dear ones” that surrounds me and the longevity of friendship which endures.
WGA’s part in God’s Great Commission
Those who evangelize bring people to salvation in Jesus. Our work at WGA is bringing those who’ve accepted Christ and being part of God’s plan in the work of sanctification—being more of who God is creating us to be. The work continues to be the same when I came 30 years ago—offering an environment for folks to explore, practice better relational skills, work through wounds and generally flail around figuring all this faith and sexuality stuff in their relationships with God. That was and continues to be so valuable in my own healing process.
I’ve also had countless experiences speaking at churches, parachurch organizations and conferences with the Staff over the years. This is part of the education and resources WGA has to offer. Remember when I told my younger self that God would use my greatest pain for His Glory? I certainly hope sharing my own personal story with so many over the years has given Him Glory and encouraged others along the way. His presence in my life and work has been absolutely glorious and I’m grateful beyond words at this 30-year milestone. Cheers to more to come!
Although he holds a degree in graphic arts, he attributes his ministry qualifications to the “school of hard knocks.” God’s abundant grace continues to be the instrument of growth in his life, and he desires to be firmly grounded in the forgiveness and freedom of relationship with Jesus Christ.
Scott attends a Presbyterian Church.
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