This trip happened a few weeks ago. I had written about this on my Facebook page but wanted to embed it here on the blog too. Memorable, inspiring.
Two years ago today one of the best friends a man could have, Michael P, passed away by his own hand. When it happened, his family, our mutual friends, all of us were shocked and completely devastated. I remember crying for what seemed like forever.
Initially, I desperately held on to a dream I had shortly after his passing that completely reframed the situation. In it, Michael came to me, held my hand, and we sat on a bench. He was radiant and he sang the most beautiful otherworldly song. I believe our Heavenly Father allowed that to happen so that I would remember the beautiful Michael and not let the tragedy of suicide define him in my mind. Holding his strong hand, hearing his amazing song. It was so clear, so vivid, and beautiful.
For the longest time it was hard to get past the mourning to remember all the good without sobbing my eyes out. This past year that began to change. Now I can remember and enjoy memories of Michael without being lost in the sadness. With 23 years worth of wonderful memories, I have more than the dream to bring to mind and focus on.
Michael and I dated for a few months at the beginning of our 23 year friendship but quickly realized we were better as friends than as a dating couple. I say that only because it reveals how much I trusted him, completely. He was an amazing man. He was always respectful, tender-hearted, attentive, and quick to help. He and our little crew taught me many life-giving principles including unconditional love. I honestly think it was with them that I first heard those two words ever used together as well as experience it first-hand.
Michael was also a magnificent blend of wisdom and hilarity. He would say something so profound and then just so… irreverent! I will *never* forget his great laugh. Makes me chuckle as I type this.
He also had an astonishing intellect/analytical side. I have no doubt that after meeting Jesus and checking in with the Archangels, one of Michael’s first appointments was to meet CS Lewis and the Apostle Paul at the Pearly Gates Coffee Shop. I imagined he had a list of topics to talk about and ideas they might want to consider :).
::: enjoying that picture in my mind :::
So, now the water-works start. The tears are coming from a loving place, a warm and grateful heart.
I love you Michael. I miss you so much my friend. I choose to celebrate your memory and continue to learn from you through our memories. I take comfort knowing the Lord has already wiped every one of your tears away and I look forward to hearing your laugh ring out in heaven.
…And you better save me a spot at the Pearly Gates Coffee Shop!
[callout]Today I am making a modest contribution to the Trevor Project in honor of Michael P. I am also going to make this a monthly pledge of support as well. From their website, “The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”
Please join me in supporting The Trevor Project with a one time gift or signing up for their easy to use automatic recurring monthly support option. Thank you.[/callout]
[guestpost]Friends, today Ben Patrick Johnson graciously accepted my invitation to write a guest blog post. I extended the invite with full confidence that he would be honest, clear, and civil. I asked him if he would be willing to write about my coming out and what he felt were the issues that this might represent. I didn’t suggest what those issues would be, and trusted him to write from his heart. His post below is the result and completely unedited. Thank you so much for writing this Ben. – Randy[/guestpost]
There are moments in life when we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. In a blush of painful self-honesty, we realize we’ve been making choices that are not in the best interest of ourselves or those around us. We may have hurt others with our actions; we have almost certainly hurt ourselves.
A friend of mine once said, “Some people just travel the road to hell. Me, I bought property.” I, for one, have certainly bought property on this road. I’ve made foolish and cowardly choices. I’ve taken shortcuts, moral and practical. I’ve lied. I’ve been an enabler for bad behavior of friends and family, feeding (and funding) folly in the hope they would love me more.
I am flawed.
We are flawed.
So what we do when we have these mirror moments? Do we sit with the discomfort then take steps to improve our behavior? Or do we look away, distract ourselves with a drink or a toke or chocolate cake, go on a shopping spree, gamble, or jump out of an airplane? Most often, it seems, we jump to self-soothing, distraction and denial. But every once in a while we find courage to face our own shortcomings and poor choices, and make material changes in our lives as a result of this self-reflection.
One year ago today was one of the most adrenaline filled/stressed-out days of my life. I knew that Alan Chambers was going to announce that we were closing Exodus that June 19th night. It was an incredible moment. One I will not forget. I am very proud of, and love, Alan for his intellect, bravery, and compassion.
I was the guy to hit publish on the press release and distributed it online while Alan was speaking. Definitely a personally catalytic moment in time.
Today I am not writing this to re-argue about the rightness of our decision. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was the correct decision to make. I am confident the Lord had orchestrated the entire situation; that He lead the staff, Alan, and the Board to that conclusion. I have a peace in my heart and simply know it was the right decision. I remain convinced it was for the best on many levels. I also stopped trying to convince others who disagree to agree with me. It is what it is. I’ve moved on and I hope others will too.