Monday, March 28, 2016

Act Two, Scene Seven - "The Cord"

This post is part of my on-going story that I have been telling through this blog.  If you are just coming here for the first time or if you need to catch up, you can catch the earlier parts of the story in Setting the Stage or Act One.  See the navigation panel to the right labeled My Story.  I hope that my sharing of my story is helpful, encouraging, informative, or at least entertaining for you.  Please feel free to comment or contact me at the e-mail address below.  Thanks!

            I continued to spend time with Anthony and Brent and continued to buy more and more into the idea of a supernatural world that exists parallel and unseen to our own.  To this day, I do believe that there are things about our own spiritual nature and the nature of the world we live in that we will never understand.  The difference is that they and several of the people around them claimed to understand how these forces worked.  For someone who was looking for answers, I was eager, if sometimes terrified, to speak to anyone who claimed to have them. 

            One day, Anthony shared that he was feeling led to begin a ministry for young men in the churches in the community, and he wanted me to be a part of it.  I was honored to be asked.  It also meant a great deal that he trusted me to work with and minister to young men, an area that I imagined some would see as parading the fax through the hen house so to speak.  I took it very seriously though.  One of the things that I believed opened the door for homosexuality to take root was for young men to fail to learn how to establish healthy relationships with other men.  I saw being given the opportunity to help cultivate healthy relationships among young men as the best line of protection against homosexuality in their lives.  While I think, feel, and believe differently now, at the time, it seemed completely logical to me and in congruence with my understanding of spirituality at the time.

            The group was formed independent of any particular church, and it was called The Cord.  It was a reference to Ecclesiastes 4:11-12: “Again, if two lie down together, then they have heat, but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threestrand cord is not quickly broken.”  First, let’s completely ignore the homoerotic overtones implied in verse 11.  The emphasis was placed on verse 12 and the strength of the three-strand cord, which also carried an implied reference to the Trinity. 

            We began holding meetings and sending out a monthly newsletter.  Brent, Anthony and I would come up with the content, print an original of the newsletter in my parents’ basement.  Then we would make copies at a local office supply store and mail them to the guys at their homes.  We did overnight events with them in hotels, set up obstacle courses, and held other events and build strong relationships within the group.  There were some youth from New Promise involved.  There were also youth from other churches.  To a great extent, I think we were successful in our goals.  I still have relationships with many of the guys who were involved in the group today.  The nature of those friendships have changed, but many of them still exist. 

            The existence of the group and my participation in it caused additional problems for me at New Promise.  Some of the objections that the leadership had were valid.  Looking back now as someone who is nearing his 40th birthday and a former insurance agent, we were very fortunate that nothing ever happened in terms of injuries or other negative outcomes.  As it was pointed out to us, if anything happened to any of these kids, we had no umbrella of protection that would come from having it being an officially sanctioned church ministry.  Another valid point was that we were operating under no real spiritual authority at all other than our own.  In theory, Anthony, Brent, and I held each other accountable.  In reality, that didn’t play out so well.  I was a very different person at the time.  Feeling that I was broken and always falling short of the expectations of God, I didn’t really believe that my opinion or spiritual understanding held much weight; so, things often devolved into a tug-of-war between Brent and Anthony.  At the end, we would go the direction of whoever’s voice was strongest.  I don’t say this to excuse myself of responsibility.  If anything, I say it to re-emphasize to myself my responsibility in never being that passive voice, or lack of voice, again.  There are times that one direction or another doesn’t matter all that much, and there are other times that it matters very much. 

            I am thankful for my time as a part of this group.  While it may not have been the best conceived of ideas, it gave me the opportunity to do what was and is truly in my heart.  I want to make the world better for those who come after me.  I recently read an anonymous quote: “Be the person you needed when you were younger.”  Even though my view of the world and how I walk out that quote has changed, it is still at the heart of who I am.  As with most things, The Cord produced a mixture of positive and negative outcomes, and, as will all things, it did not last forever.  I’ll talk more about the fall of the group next.

~ Culbs

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