It was just about a month ago I sat at the desk in my office and heard the words that caused me to go numb with dread, “we are letting you go.” I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, I felt nausea rise in my throat. I began to sweat. I could not talk. I could NOT talk. I could not ask why, I could not protest, I could not even cry, at first.
I started working with people living with HIV/AIDS and those at risk for HIV a little over seven years ago. Back then I didn’t know anything about HIV other than the basics. Also some of the people who I was going to be working with had other issues as well. Some used IV drugs. some where homeless, or on the verge of homelessness, most had been rejected in some way, shape or form by “normal” society. So much pain and hurt. So much disconnect. I was nervous that I did not have the ability to help. Not having experienced many of these things. I was concerned that people would see me as an almost middle age white man, unable to connect with them.
I was wrong. And what started out as a job, became a passion. I poured myself into it, it became part of me, and I fell in love with the people I worked with. I think that at times they taught me more that I taught them. I was involved in HIV testing, one on one counseling, developing and running groups and workshops. I attended many off site trainings, eager to learn and to become the best I could be for the people I was helping.
I became an advocate for people living with HIV and I took that passion to the churches I attended, to educate them and encourage them to reach out and love these amazing, wonderful people. Churches have a long way to go in this area if we are ever to convince people living with HIV that God loves them. We have done so much damage.
I also began to take to task the attitudes of some in the church for their angry, and hateful words and actions toward people in the LGBT community. I have become a strong supporter of marriage equality, a view that cost me a leadership position in the church I had attended a couple of years ago. Again, the damage the fundamentalist wing of the Evangelical church has done to the LGBT community is staggering and we have just begun to build a bridge to this community and to see the need to apologize for our hate.
My love for my job continued to grow over the time a worked there. It never got old, or stale.
I developed strong friendships within the agency and felt that as a result of these friendships and the work I was doing, I became a stronger person.
Then on the 2oth of January at around 10:20 AM people whom I loved and trusted shut the book on this chapter of my life…
There are no words profound enough to describe the hurt and feelings of betrayal. There are no words strong enough to expound on the deep pain that stabbed at my heart and soul.
Part of my life died.
Perhaps at this juncture you are thinking to yourself that I am being a bit dramatic and it would sound that way even to me if I had not experienced it myself. I battled with remorse, aching sadness, crying so long and so hard that my eyes burned from the tears. I was angry, and confused, and angry.
I asked God why…He remained silent. he remained silent. I asked again…why…He remains silent still. I went to an Episcopal Church as late as today, lit a candle to symbolize my “why” prayer to God. I prayed out loud in the cavernous sanctuary, hearing my prayers and confessions bouncing off the walls of the empty church.
I lack direction, clarity, even motivation. No answers and only more questions.
Only one thing I have heard the Spirit say to me.
Forgive them or you will be trapped in despair and bitterness.
So I forgave. I have no right to hold onto it after all the God had done for me in Jesus.
But the question remain…”what are You doing to me?” I know that I am forever in the hand of God, and He has not forgotten me, but to be honest,I am NOT happy where I am right now.
I guess this is what trusting Him is all about.