One Mercy Street

“She pictures a soul with no leaks at the seam.” – Peter Gabriel

 

Schopenhauer said that “through our deeds we discover who we are”.  He was, no doubt, wrong; but there is something terrifying in the thought, no less.

In every gay or bisexual person’s life, there is a moment where some action has occurred — some deed of discovery — and from that moment nothing is the same anymore.  You might call this the moment of lost innocence, the moment of awakening, the moment of the knowledge of good and evil.  But whatever you call it, that moment colors everything, from that day forward.  You are no longer one of us, but one of them.

My moment was looking at a picture of Jim Palmer, the famous pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.  But this was not a picture of him pitching, or fielding, or giving an interview.  It was an underwear advertisement, and my interest was focused on one spot, one fold in the fabric of the small white briefs the man was wearing.

I was 11 years old.

And that was it, as far as I was concerned.  Through my deed, I discovered who I was.  I was a pervert.  I was “gay”.  I was doomed.

I did not give up hope that day, but I did begin to hate myself.  And I had no antidote for the hate, because God knows I wasn’t going to tell anyone.  Every word my family spoke casually about gay people dug into me like a knife.  Loneliness enveloped me.  I was loved by my images, nothing more.  They held me, they accepted me, they knew me.

I was my desires, and my desires took me as I was.

This was a beautiful dream, in some ways.  But with it came self-hatred like you wouldn’t believe.  I despised myself for over a decade, silent in my pain and yearning, self-destructive, self-obsessed, and self-negating.  Through my deeds, I discovered “who I was”, and it was not a pretty sight.

Then I fell upon a path quite by mistake, a path that totally turned the tables on me.  One day I was tricked into telling my brother the truth, and he showed me pure acceptance, pure love.  Not a love that said, “Whatever you do is good, Daniel”, but a love that said, “You are good, and you are forgiven.  I will never leave you.  You are safe.”

They came out of my brother’s mouth, but they were my Father’s words.

Since that moment, twelve years ago, the world has been new.  The same horizon looms — the same temptation, the same sin, the same loneliness, the same weakness — but something new rises above it.  Mercy.

In mercy, there is freedom.  Freedom to say, “I like guys” and not feel like a monster.  Freedom to think seriously about how things like pornography can be harmful, not just to think of them as “forbidden”.  And — most of all — freedom to love and be loved, to know and be known, to be seen naked and to get past the shame.

Oh, but there is so much more freedom just around the corner!  And it all begins there: on the path of mercy.

Schopenhauer, then, was gravely wrong.  It is not through my deeds that I discover who I am; it is through God’s mercy.  God has one name for me: beloved.  I did nothing to earn it, and I can do nothing to live it down.  His name is Mercy; and my named is Loved.  This blog will be by turns serious and silly, passionate and casual, inspired and obtuse — but behind it all it is only one thing: a witness to what God is doing in my life.

If I can live up to that, then I may boast that it will be an excellent blog.  Not because I can do anything worthy, but because God can.  Through his mercy, I discover who I am.

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8 thoughts on “One Mercy Street

  1. Stumbled on this blog via CAF, and just read through (I think) everything you’ve posted so far, starting at the top (i.e newest). I am very excited to see more: yours is a unique perspective that I’m sure will be valuable to many.

  2. Guessed says:

    Thank you for sharing. I discovered this blog on CAF. This is also my struggle, and people don’t understand. It’s even more difficult because of all the controversy and allegations in my diocese right now regarding immoral behavior by priests and accusations against the archbishop.

    People have a hard time why I would leave my ELCA church and become Catholic. It ultimately is about truth and accepting God’s word, which the ELCA had voted to place their own opinions over God’s.

    I accept and realize and try to live by the truth. But as a guy in my 20s I am also acutely aware of how fall short I fall. I recently lapsed in trying to be celibate, only to be reminded of how humiliating the act is.

    Ultimately, though, I have to keep moving forward. Striving to put God before my own desire. It really isn’t easy. But I’m not about to ignore Truth, either. For when I have tried to ignore the truth and put myself over God, it makes me unhappy. And when I do my best to follow God, I am VERY happy!

    I look forward to reading more of your blogs as we walk this walk together.

    • Hi Guessed!

      Sorry it took me over a week to respond here. Sometimes things slip through the cracks.

      It’s good to hear from another brother that is walking this path with me. I would encourage you to remember that grace abounds, when we recognize and repent from our sins. When we — as you say — “strive to put God before our own desire”, then God replaces our desires with His desires. We long for what He longs for.

      C.S. Lewis had the idea that this thing, the satisfaction of our ultimate desires, is not entirely different from the desire for sex. It is an *intimacy*. But our intimacy with God widens our horizons and fills them with Himself, whereas the intimacy of illicit sexual fulfillment makes the self very large and God’s creation very small.

      You say “people don’t understand”, especially in the context of priest scandals and such. I know. It’s a very sad. The noise of self-righteousness drowns out the voices of mercy. But that’s when it’s best to withdraw to a still, quiet place, and listen for the Voice of mercy Himself.

      Peace,

      Daniel

  3. Much love and blessings. I’m enjoying the strength of your “side b” convictions, and I’ll look forward to your insight and musings, as if you are my own son, whom I miss horribly. May God bless you abundantly.

    • Blessings to you as well! I looked at your blog a little bit, and I would love to hear more about your son — can you direct me to a specific link? So sorry to hear he has passed from this world. Obviously words can’t express it.

      Peace,

      Daniel

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