Celibacy

Back when I first started to tell people that I was celibate, I got a lot of ‘interesting’ responses. Not many people understood why I was taking this path. This was something I wrote approximately 2 years ago to vent about how I was misunderstood and about how sometimes celibacy can be hard when there is a lack of support or committed friendship.


Tell me, What does celibacy mean to you?

Does it mean immaturity?
A wild dog running far and free,
never to be tied down by anything,
or anyone.

Does it mean giving up?
A ship returning home from another failed expedition
torn sails and a breathless crew
unable to catch a second wind.

Does it mean a low libido?
A broken water heater that’s never been hot and bothered
because all it can give are cold showers.

No, I am not a dog, a tired ship, or a broken heater

I am human

but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way

sometimes celibacy is like a spare tire
always tagging along but never quite needed
A perfect third,fifth, or seventh wheel
playing the odd one out to smooth things over when someone goes flat.
a temporary solution,
not quite the right fit but good enough to drive on until you can get a replacement.

yes, sometimes celibacy is like a buoy
anchored but never to find a harbour,
always swaying with the tides,
trying to keep my head above the water as friends pass me by like ships in the night
a life filled with beautiful if not fleeting encounters that I am all the more thankful for during my darkest nights
Although ships may wander,
Oh how I long to know the places you will go and things you will see.
because I grew up hearing nothing but fairy tales
so I only learned how to live someone else’s story
and I don’t quite know how to live as a single person.

Sometimes celibacy is like a pair of blistered hands
Damaged from always being the willing fool.
Ready to catch any sparks that fly between good friends
knowing that sparks will always remain sparks
knowing that I will always love you from afar
knowing that all I will ever get is burnt out.
but I hold my hands out proud any ways
ready to catch any glimmer of light that comes falling down.
ready to love those who need it.

Shrapnel

This last weekend I got to perform my first ever collaborative poem with a friend, Rob Walker. It was such an honour to work with Rob on this. Although we didn’t have much time to practice, I really enjoyed performing it and I hope to perform it again some time. Enjoy.

Chris: I was in shock.

Rob: Caught in the headlights

Chris: My mind was racing a thousand miles per minute,
but my lungs were in stop-and-go traffic.

Rob: It felt like  quick jab to my gut,
Knocking the wind out of me and leaving me befuddled.
Desperately trying to remember how to breathe.

Chris: Like my body forgot how to survive and in a moment I tried to re-learn 22 years of my life

Both: Maybe you’ve been there too. 

Both: Question:

Rob: How do you keep your composure when your pastor betrays you in front of 30 of your peers?

Both: Answer:

Chris: You don’t

Rob: No matter how hard you try,
you wont be able to hide your grief.

Chris: The air around you becomes heavy with distress.

Rob: And everyone is waiting to see
if you will drown in an ocean of your own tears
Or boil over in a fit of rage.

Chris: Either way …

Both: You’re crying

Rob: I know what it’s like to be among friends one moment
and ‘the enemy’ the next.

Chris: one of the baptised;
filled with the spirit
And then ‘worldly’ the next.

Rob: Never quite trustworthy because
as my pastor says,

Both: YOU HAVE AN EVIL SPIRIT 

Rob: I know what it’s like to study ‘those verses’ with a flashlight long after my parents have told me to go to bed.

Chris: to lose sleep praying for somebody else’s life —
Something a bit more normal.

Rob: To share my heart with the ones who taught me to love Jesus
but instead becoming a target for apologetics
because they listen to respond rather than honestly trying to understand.

Chris: As if my existence jeopardizes their very faith in God.

Rob: Sometimes …
I desperately want AGREEMENT.

Chris: Sometimes

Rob: Most times

Chris: I just want acceptance

Both: THE ASSURANCE THAT I AM LOVED

Rob: becoming whole

Chris: and not some sexually depraved heretic.

Both: Maybe you’ve been there too. 

Both: Question:

Rob: What do spiritual and emotional bruises look like?

Both: Answer:

Chris: a rope worn through after years of tension and friction;
black and blue fraying ends

Rob: which is to say: it didn’t happen overnight.

Chris: but strand by strand my soul unravelled never to  be quite the same again.

Rob: Because even if one day I can fix these ties, there will always be a knot in my stomach when I think of you.

Chris: A sinking feeling that remains from when you dropped me.

Rob: Falling, I broke into a million pieces …
on the ground shattered.

Chris: Thinking horses and men could fix me but when the dust finally settled all that remained were crushed eggshells.

BOTH: SHRAPNEL FOR MY PEERS TO RIP OUT OF THEIR FLESH. 

Rob: Which is to say:

Both: Maybe you’ve been there too

Hide and No Seek

When I was a child,
I played hide and seek like I was a professional.
I treated it like an Olympic sport that one day
I would bring home the gold
I was a secret agent
I was a tiny ninja
I was some mutant combination two, and I knew
I was something special

Hide and seek was my favourite game
Life didn’t seem so lonely when all I had to do was
work hard enough, look hard enough and
next time,
I would be the one sought after

When I was 9 years old, my older brother told me to go hide …
that was the day I learned that when people tell you to hide
they do not always intend to look for you afterwards

As I grew older,
I realized The church was one big game of hide and no seek
There were parts of me the Church didn’t like to look at
parts they wanted to remain hidden
and in order to keep things locked away for as long as possible
they formed bullets from silver spoon pacifiers and
raised a generation to be afraid of closet doors
telling them only monsters lived on the other side

It taught me they would rather skeletons in the closet
then bother to coming looking for me

I spent so long in hiding,
I started to defend my captors,
convincing myself that I didn’t deserve to be found.

But this is an apology letter to myself,
for all the time I spent hiding when I could have been fighting.
It was not my intention to lie to anyone,
especially myself,
I was only trying to survive
But I am tired of playing these games,
So come out, come out, wherever you are.
You don’t have to hide anymore.

 

Reflections on Leaving My Home Church

About 3 months ago I made the decision to leave the church that I have attended ever since I was 8 years old. Since then I have had some time to process all the baggage that came along with making that decision. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. That church was a solid rock for me in some of my toughest times and I laughed, learned, grew, and served inside those four walls. The day that I chose to leave that community was filled with a lot of mixed emotion. I knew that if I stayed I would grow more bitter, resentful, and jaded towards my faith and my fellow brothers and sister in Christ. The community that I had once depended on had become a place where even listening to my church leadership speak would bring about a very visceral response of betrayal and deep hurting. I would often sit in the pews and feel like bursting into tears. Instead, all I could do was sit there with a stone in my stomach taking large gulps to try and suppress a cracking voice and a stream of tears.

Before I made the decision to leave, I made a decision to try and work out my problems with my church leadership. When problems arose I would try and address them right away. I didn’t want to fight over something that we could solve through a little discussion. I wanted to make sure there were no misunderstandings or hurt feelings when there didn’t need to be. However, about 4 months prior to my leaving, I had given up on trying to talk through my problems. Every time I raised legitimate concerns or sought out mutual understanding I was met with an apathetic response akin to “sorry, not sorry”. Times that I had been wronged by my church leadership were quickly pushed under the rug and I never really got an authentic apology for the way they had hurt me. They never sought out ways to make things right, and I was left reeling; grasping at straws.

The thing that drove me away from my church more than anything was not a difference of opinion, but a lack of empathy and kindness. 

I said earlier that the day I left my church was filled with mixed emotion. Although I have so much hurt connected to that community right now, I also have a lot of affection attached to them as well. Like I said, they were very foundational to my formation and there are still many people who I love dearly that are also members. I will never forget the way that community loved me, but I also can not forget the way they hurt me. It is possible that in the future I will make amends with that community, but as of right now I am in no position to be seeking reconciliation. My emotional state is too turbulent and I need some space from them before I can rationally approach the idea.

Needless to say, the past few months have been very emotionally taxing. The thing that I am having the most trouble with is staying in touch with people I love from that church. Many people don’t know the reasons why I left, and as of right now I plan to keep it that way. As much as I personally have a problem with that community, they are still doing some great things. I don’t want to drag my personal problems into the equation.

Many friends from that community have noticed my absence and since they want to spend more time with me have started to invite me out to events at that church more frequently. Every time I am invited to an event, it hurts a little. I am being welcomed into a space where I have been wounded, and although I want to trust them once again, I can’t seem to. Since I don’t want to slander that community, I have opted to remain quiet about it and tell people that I have chosen to move on from that space (without giving many details). However, secretly in the back of my mind, I am wishing that something or someone will prompt them to dig a little further into some of the secrets that that church would prefer to keep hidden.

Recently I have started to attend a few other church communities in the area, and I am very hopeful that I will find a place of peace and love once again. This process is full of hope but also full of uneasiness. In some regard I am still grieving the loss of my previous church community and sometimes I don’t want to be around anyone on Sunday mornings. I have amazing friends and family who have been there for me during this transition, and I know that God will be there with me as I navigate finding a new community.

A Body Divided : A Prayer in The Midst of Exclusion

God of the broken, lost, and lonely.
when I came to you in pieces,
you held me back together.
When my mind was hazy and unclear,
you walked with me through the fog.
When no one was around,
you were there for me.

In a world that can be cold and distant,
I found refuge with Your body; Your church.
I trusted them, loved them, and cared for them
just like you had done for me.
Which is why it hurts when they bear their fangs at me.

Your people have always taught me to be cautious of the world.
A beautiful rose with many thorns.
In spite of what I was taught,
persecution came from the one place I never expected it to,
Your church.

Your body consists of many parts.
The eye can not say to the ear,
“I do not need you”
but somewhere along the way I became vestigial.
An inflamed appendix to be cut out;
a ticking time bomb to be defused.

You tell me to love my enemies
but I was never prepared to love a church that rejects me.

I come to you in this moment.
weak, confused, tired, and scared.
I need your support and guidance once again,
for I am broken, lost, and lonely.
Give me strength to love my enemies,
but give me patience to love my family.

You are what you eat

What little boys do during communion in evangelical churches
is take handfuls of bread and juice when they think nobody is looking
mashing their fists into their mouths so fast
I could have sworn they forgot to eat breakfast that morning.

Their parents scold them quietly under the soft melody of a piano,
and usher them back to their seat, hoping no one else noticed.

I notice

I notice, because back in the days when my school week started on Sunday morning,
I too had large appetite and didn’t know how to quench it.
We have all heard the adage, you are what you eat,
and so I took up cannibalistic tendencies and devoured the flesh and blood of the one I called saviour.
hoping that somehow his grace would get stuck in the deepest parts of me.

Today, I am grown up
I attend large dinner parties on the weekend.
Invited to a table that extends far beyond these four walls,
and taking part in a feast I did nothing to earn.

It is more than just a time of remembrance

I am invited to partake in abundance
And welcome it into my life that it might transform me into a better man
that if I just taste Jesus, someday I might look like him too.

So join with me today and break this bread, and drink this wine
but don’t be scared when you start to grow holes in you hands

After all, you are what you eat.

Silence is Golden

We have more silence in the church than we know what to do with.

We were told silence was golden
So we paved our streets with it convinced we were creating paradise.

Equating ignorance and bliss we
Yoked our mouths and ears together and avoided tough questions.

Yeah, silence is golden
Wearing fine jewelry to appear as wise men
you inherited a legacy without appreciation or understanding of where it all came from
A spoiled generation that does not know the value of a dollar.

So quick to speak about love, kindness, and peace among men
Yet you promptly turn your back on the people that don’t fit into your plans.
Waging quiet wars against the misunderstood
Saying far more than you intend to with your silence

One time, I tried to read you like a book
But There were too many empty chapters filled with missing text
So I let my imagination go wild
I was reading between nothing but empty lines
While Misinformation flew off the paper and Clung to my hopes that somehow we could understand each other without speaking a word

We spent far too long writing empty love songs to one another
Too much time on a ballad of rests
I can not understand how our symphony of silence could be so noisy
Which is why It took me so long to notice where we went wrong
That Even the things left unsaid can be a clanging cymbal if not done out of love

However you continue to wear dentures to hide a mouth full of missing teeth
Wearing a fake smile to guarantee that no one ever knows the difference between your empathy and your apathy

Yeah, Silence is golden,
Or so I was told
I swallowed nothing but easy truths
Hoping this antacid would stop the butterflies in my stomach
Hoping to avoid the parts of the bible that simply hurt too much to read
Like picking at a bandaid but never quite ready to rip it off

Yes, I wasn’t always the person I am today
I carried comfort to the bank in stride
that I might bring it with me when I die.
Like I was certain … it was the currency of heaven.
So I wore blindfolds in dimly lit places to justify all the times I stubbed my toes.
A willful blindness to free me from being held accountable for my actions

There is something twisted about our understanding of silence that when someone speaks up
we are quick to throw them under the bus and label them heretic
But I am tired of fostering shallow conversations in deep waters and I know you want to dive deeper than this
I know you want to see more than the black and white
I know you can see just how messy life can be
So hold your breath with me that we might see how just how small we really are.