To nurture and encourage those facing conflicts, fears, doubts, and loneliness by teaching strategies that reduce distractions or eliminate stress, and lead to unspeakable joy, greater freedom and lasting confidence.
By the time I came out as gay in the late 80s, I had tried to find God outside of the required monthly church service at school and I even tried other churches, but God was not tangible and I struggled against the lie that there was no hope for me. Yet, despite the thoughts that were constantly telling me how I was not going to make it in this life, I wanted to live more than anything else and I knew that if I could take a step in a direction towards healing the pain of the past, a step like therapy, in spite of the years of being told to keep quiet, that I could make it. I could beat the odds; I could survive. So, I went to therapy, but I stayed angry at God because I believed He abandoned me when I was younger, and left me to be terrified and lonely — and sadly, I believed that I was doing life all on my own, that I didn’t need Him anyway.
If you knew me then, you could see I was going to live life my way and I seemed confident on the outside, but the mental and emotional struggle between what I wanted to do and what I had to do was obvious within me. In college, I abandoned, rekindled, then abandoned writing again — for what I thought was the last time. I tried to convince myself that writing was a frivolous thing — a dreamer’s dream, a hobby that wouldn’t pay. Yet, my passion for words developed into teaching others about the very thing I loved — writing and the mystery of words: the power, the pain, the implications, the carefully chosen ones to soothe the wounds or to afflict them.
Still something was missing. I kept searching for that missing piece; unfortunately, I was looking to other people, food, nicotine, alcohol — all of which failed me.
It wasn't until 2006 when I was reintroduced to church — attendance, prayer, Bible study, ministry teams — that I started to feel uncomfortable with the “emptiness” I had accepted as my normal and I started to write again over the summer, over the breaks, over stolen moments between semesters. Seven years later, in 2013, I went to my pastor who directed me to God and to what the Word (Bible) says and I became more uncomfortable with where I was but at the same time, I also began to see a glimpse of hope for better, for change, for joy. It wasn't until I read, studied, and meditated on the Word of God that I experienced pockets of happiness in the small things. Suddenly, I understood that life was coming back to me and I grew willing to let go of the dark and selfish ideas that had plagued me nearly my entire life and embrace the light and selflessness of God.
It was in this time, which “Out of the Darkness” captures, that I began to look back to see where God was in the past when I felt He had abandoned me and it was in my poetry that I saw He was there; I may have mentioned Him at the end, or misunderstood Him, but He was there although I could not feel the Light of His Presence. With this revelation, and a great deal of convincing from those closest to me, I took what I had always wanted to do, be a writer and I cast aside the fear about what people would think about me telling my story — to experience joy and to share it with those who for the first time might come to see that transformation from darkness to light, from selfishness to selflessness, is a process; it’s not impossible; it’s not too late; it just depends on how badly you want it.
Me? I wanted it bad enough to do the hard work and to keep at it; no, it did not all happen at once — it took months of intentionally facing my most intense fears — pain and rejection — and replacing the old thinking with the new and I am still in the process, redirecting and refocusing because how I used to be keeps trying to override the me I long to be. It is challenging, but I didn’t give up then and I won’t give up now. I wanted it bad enough to take a leap of faith “Into the Light” and leave behind the security of a teaching job, which I loved, to stay out of work long enough to know what direction God was waiting for me to take with His Guidance and it was simple: to write, to teach, to speak.
While I waited for transformation, which I thought and naively hoped would occur all at once, LOL, I continued to look for God everywhere and desperately strove to learn about Him by attending a Bible-based church, one that teaches from the Bible and encourages reading the Bible, attending study, spending time with other believers, and developing open and honest communication with God for myself.
Having a real conversation with God about everything that was in my heart was something I needed to learn to do — even though He already knew me, I had to enter into a conversation, into a meaningful relationship with Him — not as my punisher, but as my Creator, as my Heavenly Father. I wanted transformation, revival and restoration bad enough to ask God the tough questions for me: How do I get delivered from anger? How do I get delivered from fear? What about anxiety? How do I stay humble? How do I stay delivered? I wanted it bad enough to seek prayer and counsel and to meditate, study, breathe, and eat God’s Word and pray it and speak it over myself until the I began to experience the freedom I longed for.
The bottom line is I wanted to come out of the darkness bad enough to learn what I could from my past, to forgive those who intentionally and unintentionally hurt me, to seek forgiveness from those I hurt, to forgive myself, and finally, to let it all go.
Today, I accept that there’s still work to be done and that this is only the beginning, but if there’s one thing that I have learned so far that I hope you will gain by reading this part of my story and the poetry within this collection, it’s that none of us is ever alone in the darkness and nothing that we have ever done, nothing that we have ever witnessed, nothing that we have ever played over and over in our minds or hearts — no matter how bad — nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.