I was sitting at Starbucks, looking through my twitter feed when I saw that Alan Chambers announced that Exodus International was closing its doors. I held myself together as tightly as I could and then, slipped out into the night, tears and exhales and everything.
I remembered my first meeting. It was raining and the counselor’s house dimly lit. We sat on opposing couches and he opened a booklet, set it on the ottoman between us and turned it toward me.
“I need you to read this,” he pointed his finger to the start of the paragraph. “Out loud. It’s a pledge.”
With a sudden shiver in my spine, I croaked out something similar to this.
“I reject the world’s claim that God made me Gay. God does not make people gay. I accept that my sexuality is a result of my fallenness. I will not accept my sexuality. I reclaim that I am not gay. I am a follower of Christ.”
I closed the book and looked up.
“How do you feel about that?” He said.
“Good. Its all the truth.” I said.
I never returned.
If any of you remember this post going up on Rachel Held Evans blog- that was a result of Exodus International. That was when they told my dad that he made me gay.
I have had to go through a lot of therapy to overcome the spiritual abusive practices and materials of Exodus International. The confusion, the shame they instill in you can be so deep that it can take months to even begin parsing out fact from fiction.
And now they’re closing their doors. And I am happy. It is a clearing of the space for the kingdom to come flourishing forth.
But the hard part now, for all of us affected by Exodus, is learning to forgive.
When I read Chamber’s apology, prior to the announcement, I sort of smirked. I thought, are you being serious? Do you think a Press Release apology can make up for all the blood on your hands? For all those who spent years in your treatment and then, put a bullet in their head or jumped off a bridge or hung themselves? For those that never really recovered at all? For those entering marriages to try to make themselves straight?
I sit in this place of joy that its over and anger because it still feels like its not enough.
I’m working on it. We all need to work on it. I will take my time as I am sure you will take yours.
I am skipping and startled by happiness.
I am dragging my feet toward forgiveness.
I am getting there.
One slow nod after another.