The Heart I Hid and The Stuff I Saved

It’s a beautiful Spring Saturday in Vegas. Sunny skies warming the air to a comfortable temperature before the summer furnace is ignited. Nature clear in its message that we live in a gigantic easy bake oven. The sun an oversized lightbulb capable of cooking all creatures. A high temperature reminder of our mortality.

Before heading outside to enjoy today’s gift, I’m spending my morning cleaning and letting go of stuff that I’ve accumulated during my journey through this world. All stuff I realize I never really needed but believed I did at some point in my life. Stuff that uses my life’s energy to dispose of it after using my limited life to acquire it. Stuff that will probably be dumped into the earth. Stuff that makes me sigh.

Buried beneath this stuff are trinkets and mementoes from my past life including all my Boy Scout awards. Like a tree knowing its Christmas; these ornaments that once decorated my body told me and the world who I was even when I knew they were symbols of false pride. Embellishments donning my apparel to solidify my reputation as an outstanding young man. Donning them to hide my sexuality. Don’s true garb; gay.

My 1980’s world was not an accepting place for gay people, especially closeted gay youth growing up in Midwest suburbia. Especially closeted gay youth active in Boy Scouts, church youth camps and Republican politics. Especially as an outstanding young man.

I spent my entire teenage years pretending to be someone I wasn’t because I didn’t want to lose my reputation and my place in the world. Forging our own identity is something we all struggle with as teenagers and young adults. A struggle made even more difficult when you feel like you cannot trust anyone in the world, including the people you love and who you know deep inside love you.

Finally accepting who God created, I would let go of my fabricated shame and live a life of authenticity. A life that didn’t include lying, deceit and half-truths when describing who I might love. A past life where I hid my heart from everyone.

I would struggle for most of my adult life with a lingering anger and a simmering resentment for every institution and every individual who hurt me as a teenager. Who made me live a life of fear, dishonesty and one void of romantic love. A life where I still hid my heart from everyone.

My teenage and college memories are bittersweet reminders of a young life lacking in love. Burying my scouting awards in the closet like I did to myself as a teenager. Like a long-forgotten time capsule hidden from the living. Hiding my memories of youth in a heart hidden from the world.

Finally at fifty-five, the unconditional love of God burst through my hidden heart. Like a well spring of water in the desert, giving life to what appeared to be dead. Nothing in all creation, even my heart, is hidden from God.  

Spiritually awake, I’ve finally forgiven everyone who caused me any pain at twelve, at twenty at forty and at now. This includes me. Particularly me.

Like the physical stuff I no longer need to carry, I set aside time every day to forgive those who trespass against me including myself. I also set aside time to seek the forgiveness I require when I subtract love from the world.

I’m learning with each new day to let go of stuff I no longer need or want in my life. Knowing none of this stuff goes with me when I pass from this world. Knowing the only stuff that goes with me when I physically die is the love that I created in this world. Knowing I will never again hide my heart from the world or from God.