Deep Dark Secrets, and Other Irrelevancies

I just dropped Sal off at the bus station. He’s moving on up north, to see his cousin and maybe get his old job back. My heart aches to see him go, and I know the apartment will be lonelier for a while, but it was time, and it was one heck of a visit.

We didn’t do much while he was here. Watched a bunch of movies, drank a bunch of beer. Went to adoration, went to Mass, hung out with mutual friends. Talked a lot, occasionally about things that mattered, but mostly not. Talked about writing and hacking, theology and martial arts, traded lines from Star Wars and Kung Pow.

A couple of Saturdays ago, we were sitting in the car after going to Confession. In a moment of courage born of prayer, I let him know about my SSA. His response was to put his head on my shoulder for a second, and then say regretfully that he wished he could reciprocate by telling me some dreadful secret of his own, but he didn’t have any that I didn’t already know.

And that was pretty much it. We talked about it a little more, then moved on. It seemed to make so little difference to him that I almost wondered if he had heard me right. But he did.

That is how Sal is. I talk and think a lot about how having SSA doesn’t put you in a separate category from other men, doesn’t make any difference to who you are. For me, though, sometimes it’s just talk, and sometimes I’m talking to convince myself.

Sal, for the hundredth time, showed me what these things really look like — to love unconditionally, to love without reservation. I could never deserve a friend like that.

But God doesn’t always give us what we deserve. Maybe never.

14 Comments on “Deep Dark Secrets, and Other Irrelevancies”

  1. Nayhee says:

    pushes “Like” button

  2. Paula says:

    What a beautiful friend you have. You’re right, God almost always gives us what we don’t deserve. What a joy it is to have such love in your life.
    I have a friend like this too. Last week I told her on the phone that I had recently lived 6 days in a row without anger. She wept with joy for me as only she truly understood what that meant to my life.
    She knew me when and loved me then. She is one of the great gifts of my life.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I think of my friend. Since I don’t know who will be reading this, I’ll give him a fake name: Jose. The one I tell anything. For as long as I’v known him, I knew I could tell him anything. Pray for him, anyone who’s reading this, as he’s not sure if he believes in God. Sometimes he wants to go to mass, other times…he’s confused 🙁

  4. Sean says:

    How do some guys just have the maturity and the strength to respond in the way Sal responded to you? Such a great response. Is there any resource that you would suggest for someone who hasn’t responded quite that great? I’ve read a number of books about men with homosexuality, but never any for friends – especially friend who are attractive to their brother-in-christ who struggles with SSA. Any comment or suggestion?

  5. Mary says:

    God Bless Sal. And the Sal’s in all our lives. Rebecca, I will pray for Jose!

  6. Brother B says:

    No, God never gives want we deserve, thank God! He only ever gives us what we need!

  7. Jared says:

    Thanks for the post. It was truly touching. I remember having a conversation of a similar sort in high school or early college about a different but comparative issue. You have given a great example of friendship, thanks.

  8. Michel Bachman says:

    God bless you! He sends friends like Sal into our lives when we need them the most but don’t know enough to ask. 🙂 As a heterosexual woman who is considering the celibate life, I want to let you know that you inspire me to keep shooting for sainthood. Thank you!

  9. You have the Social Security Administration? It can’t be that. what the heck is SSA?

  10. Emily says:

    Jennifer: it stands for same-sex attraction (don’t feel bad, I was confused at first :p)
    And what a great friend you have to not be affected or to have reacted badly to this. That’s a blessing.
    I also applaud and pray for you, Steve, for living your faith no matter the trials, fears, temptations. That is something any Catholi can appreciate.
    God bless!

  11. Su says:

    Hello, Steve!
    I was just referred to your blog by a friend. Thanks for being a humble witness and encouraging me to be one too.

  12. Tony says:

    SSA happens everywhere, I believe. I have one of my own – pure sweet friendship…

  13. anakinmcfly says:

    hi. I’m leaving a comment here because I couldn’t find an e-mail address, and I would have just left but I don’t think I found your blog and you by accident – via Keanu Reeves of all things – and felt moved to say something. Perhaps it’s God, or just a coincidence.

    I’m Protestant, not Catholic, and I understand therefore that you are held to standards such as papal authority which I am not. And perhaps you’ve already heard some of the arguments that justify being gay and Catholic and not celibate, and I respect what conclusions you’ve made from that, even though they apparently differ from my own.

    But one thing stood out to me – your depression, and how it’s one of the topics you talk most about. It would seem to be a warning sign that perhaps this is not how God means you to live your life. Jesus came that we may have freedom and have life abundantly (John 10:10). It suggests that if you were truly doing His will, you wouldn’t be living with the depression you currently are, and that perhaps this is a sign to reappraise things.

    This isn’t like struggling with regular sin, where doing so actively improves your life and makes you a better person. You’re actively denying yourself a form of love – not even talking about gay sex here, just the kind of deep love one shares with a romantic partner – which is something that no other sin involves, and it seems to be hurting you, which would seem a natural effect of shutting off one of the best, most meaningful things about being human.

    And if it’s hurting you to a point where you’re unable to completely stop thinking about it and being depressed about it, isn’t that taking away time and effort better spent serving God in other, more positive ways? How is a life spent denying an innate part of yourself – that God created just as much as the rest of you, fearfully and wonderfully, which as you’ve said yourself is deep and permanent – spiritually healthy in any way?

    Here’s a great post on the subject of how refusing SSA is not the same as resisting sinful temptation:

    I’d also like to leave this link here:

    Humans are fallible. Meanings are lost with translations and time. Religion changes. Dogma changes. Some struggles were never meant to be struggles.

    In my case, I’m gay and transgender (FtM). I spent 21 years of my life fighting against it, thinking that it’s what God wanted, to the extent of years of depression and nearly taking my own life. That night I cried out to God, completely broken, and felt nothing but acceptance, and peace, and love. Soon after I came out to family, and they accepted me when I’d never thought they would. I started transition. Along the way I was aided by a series of small miracles that I took as signs that I was on the right path. Since then, my life – and spiritual life – has improved immensely. I’m closer to God than I ever was before. I feel free, not mired in sin. I’m no longer depressed and suicidal. I’m more willing to love than to hate. And I can’t, in any way, truly believe that what I was before is how God wanted me to live.

    I’m not here to change your mind; only God has the ability to do that. But I’m praying for you, and that whatever decision you make, you will find true happiness and contentment in it.

    God bless.

  14. L. Luster says:

    Hello there, I just “stumbled” upon your site and it moved me. Reading your blog makes me think that you are a person who has been through a lot of trials and touched by Jesus. I am glad you found your peace with God. It makes my heart light. Just so you know that you made a person smile somewhere out in the world today. God Bless you and keep you.


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