The Art of Japanese Kintsugi

We’ve all broken dishes at one time or another.  Leslie and I are avid collectors of family artifacts and have inherited hundreds of pieces of china and other breakable mementos.  Because we display these rare treasures rather than store them, some have been broken.  Because of their sentimental worth we try to fix these pieces.  In some cases we simply put them in a box with other broken wears in hopes that we can do a mosaic with them later.

You see, even broken heirlooms are of high value to me.  Yet, until today I hadn’t considered the deep value of the actual fracture.  I have long preferred fixing these items in such a way that their brokenness is masked, which is how so many of us treat our own personal struggles, weaknesses and failures.  We go to counseling or support groups to “fix” ourselves and then try to pretend nothing ever happened.  Like that’s even possible.

Making Room: A Shift Toward Compassion

Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog. Excellent article!

Making Room: A Shift Toward Compassion

by Julie Rodgers

As a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, I’ve spent the past decade of my life trying to change my homosexual orientation.  When I attended my first Exodus conference ten years ago, I heard story after story of people who had experienced substantial shifts in their sexual attractions.  Countless men and women, who had previously been involved in intimate homosexual relationships, were sharing compelling testimonies about their transformation from homosexual to heterosexual.

Thrilled with the prospect that I too would experience a similar transformation in my attractions, I committed myself whole-heartedly to the process.  About seven years into that season—the non-stop support groups, ongoing counseling, healthy friendships with heterosexual women, abstaining from homosexual behavior, and praying with all my heart for the Lord to change my desires—I realized I was as passionately attracted to women as I had ever been.  I felt more alive, with a more vibrant relationship with Christ and His people, but I was still almost exclusively attracted to other women.  When I watched a romantic comedy, I dreamed of snuggling with a girl rather than a man holding me tight.

Letter from Alan Chambers for April 2012

Cross-posted on the Exodus Blog

Dear Friends,

For years Exodus has been well known for our outreach to people with same-sex attractions (SSA).  Sixty percent of the people who seek help through Exodus and our membership network for their SSA are single.  Over the years we have sought to highlight stories of men and women who have experienced great resolution in their lives related to their struggles. Often, our most frequent speakers at conferences like Love Won Out have been people that have “overcome homosexuality” and gone on to get married.  While I think anyone would celebrate the stories like mine, where amazing marriages have resulted and produced children, I do hear from people who say, “Alan, that’s great for you, but I don’t want your life.  I just need to know that it’s okay if I choose celibacy.”  In addition, dear friends of mine have said, “Alan, why don’t you ever highlight messier stories where everything doesn’t end in marriage and sounds like complete and absolute change has occurred?”

This year we have made an enormous effort to make sure our ministry to married folks and our promotion of married leaders doesn’t overshadow our ministry to those whom God has called to be faithfully celibate, whether for life or a season.  Also, we never want to communicate, even indirectly, that the answer for people with SSA is marriage.  While these things have often been at work in our hearts and minds, I have never shared this in a newsletter.  Some of my long-term single friens have recently challenged me to make sure that the Exodus Freedom Conference, specifically, is a safe place for single folks who may not want the life that I have, but deeply desire to be faithful celibate Christians.  I want to let those folks out there who are single know that Exodus is a place that you can find help on your journey towards holiness.  Marriage is a hopeful desire for some, but our experience is that most men and women who come to us for help simply want encouragement for where they are and some tools and help as they move forward one step at a time.

I think it is important for us, as a ministry, as well as the broader Church, to teach that celibacy is not only a reality for millions of people, but the Godly option for people who are not married.  There is no place in scripture that states that everyone will get married or that everyone is supposed to get married or that everyone should want to get married.  And, it is easy for those of us who are married to want to force that on our single friends.  I have a friend who told me once, “Stop trying to fix me up.  I’m not in need of your prescription for happiness. I have all that I want and need.”  She was right; I needed to back off.  My dear friend and fellow Exodus board member, Dr. Kathy Koch, often states, “I am single and more than satisfied.”  I love that.  And, as a single woman she often helps married couples with their marriages.  In fact, this year at the Exodus Freedom Conference, Kathy will be the special guest at Steadfast, our marriage conference within the Freedom Conference.

In addition to making sure we are truly a place for both single and married people, we want to make sure that we accurately communicate what change looks like for Christians with SSA and not present a little shiny silver package that insinuates the process is easy or that people get to a place where they never have to think about it again.  I realize we’ve done that.  We don’t want to limit God or say that amazing things aren’t possible, but we also recognize that amazing can be a part of the messy journey and not just a descriptor of the final outcome.  So, we have an increasing number of testimonies, workshops and resources at conferences and on our website that highlight the reality of our daily pursuit for God’s very best.

On behalf of the membership of Exodus International, it our sincere desire to honor Christ as we pursue holiness on a daily basis and to help others who want to join us on that journey.  Whether your struggle is same-sex or opposite-sex or whether you are the friend, spouse, pastor of parents of someone struggling, we want to serve you well by providing encouragement, resources and space to walk out your journey towards Christ.  There is hope and there is help.

UPDATE: UPDATE: I am grateful to the The Christian Post for picking up this article.