Kings Cream

I decided I wanted to write about a really wonderful place I found in my recent stay in Ponce, PR. Whenever I travel somewhere lately, I generally like to try something of local flair. With a few days to spend on my own, I decided that I would do some venturing out during that time. In a recent posting, I talked about how there are things that sometimes are right in front of us when we are looking for them. The subject of that posting was this specific night that I went into downtown Ponce. That evening I had planned to dine at a local Spanish restaurant, see a few sites within walking distance, and then have ice cream at a very well known place in all of Puerto Rico named Kings Cream. Thankfully I was able to find all three, especially Kings Cream, after spending time being lost.

In most cases, Kings Cream is a place that if one was driving down the street and saw the sign, they probably wouldn’t stop. Appearing essentially as a hole in the wall in a slightly run down section of the city, I parked and walked in to look at the flavors. Everything was in Spanish which I kicked myself for not knowing. I found the place on Trip Advisor, which I use often when I travel. It was rated by quite a number of people with close to five stars. What Kings Cream is known for is having unique flavors of ice cream that one probably wouldn’t find anywhere else. I recognized one word, “Coco” and ordered a medium cup of coconut ice cream. And it was amazing.

What’s funny is that the old me would never have ventured out alone to a place in an old city that primarily speaks a language I didn’t know. What’s even funnier is that I went back again another night and got a tropical fruit flavor named guanabana which was even better than the coconut. While I was there, I found out they even had passion fruit, corn, and pineapple as flavors. I had a sample of the corn ice cream which was definitely unique. Regardless, for a place that only charged a couple of bucks for a very large portion of their delectable ice cream, I was glad that I made the trip and am even more glad that I’m much open in my life to trusting in God to try new experiences.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

What Is God’s Will?

For years, I went about looking for God’s will in the way that was presented to me from when I was a young child. I would go to church each week, volunteer, pray, and wait for an answer but many times no answers came for what I was seeking. As I grew older, I found that I was too busy in my life, especially in my head, each and every day to even hear what God’s will may be for something I was praying on. I’ve come to learn in my life that while prayer is the active form of communicating with God. Meditation is the active form of listening and waiting for those answers. One of those things that I prayed upon for years and years was about God’s will with my sexuality. This entry is about my journey in receiving that answer from God.

As a child I stayed in the closet. I dated women. I played it “straight”. I was too afraid. So many people still say today that gay people choose their lifestyle and of course, much of those same people also say it’s a sin and against God’s will. I grew up Methodist and while I don’t remember people like that or sermons based around homosexuality, I do remember friends making fun of those that appeared gay. Sadly, I was one of them. I was so deeply afraid of my attractions to a guy that I ridiculed those that were a mirror for what I felt inside. My life became a fantasy world where I lived in my head about what I wanted. On the outside, I appeared “normal” to everyone else. Yet inside, I was completely miserable. I couldn’t understand how God would create me this way and have attractions and feelings towards the same sex if it was a sin.

I drank and took drugs for many years to hide this part of me and kept it suppressed. I found that when I was drunk or high I could fake being heterosexual and be with a woman. Usually, I was thinking about a man during those times anyway. Never did I feel a strong current or attraction towards any of the women I dated. It was all a front. A good one at that. After years of therapy trying to figure out me, I came to the conclusion that I really was gay but it still didn’t answer what God’s will was for me on that issue.

There are many who say that being gay is a choice. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t choose to be gay in a world where there is so much prejudice and hate towards it. But I don’t have a choice. It’s who I am. And when I began to realize that, I tried praying to God to take “my gayness” away. When that didn’t work, I came to the acceptance that it was the way I was meant to be from the day I was born. It brought up a lot of fear because of my religious upbringing and what I knew the Bible said. Questions began to come up every day around it.

Did God want me to be celibate the rest of my life and never find love with anyone?

Did God want me to find a woman and just force myself to be with her and trust that the parts might somehow work as time went on?

Would God be ok with me being with a man?

Was the Bible really stating God’s will?

They all led up to one big question. “God, what is your will for me with my sexuality?”

I prayed about it.

I wrote about it.

I prayed some more about it.

I cried and felt like I was being punished.

I even tried to “ex-communicate” myself from being gay.

After many therapy visits, reading spiritual books on the matter, talking about it to pastors and friends, I was no closer to knowing what God’s will was. The more that I took action to figure it out, the more I was overwhelmed with data on how it was right or wrong depending on the source.

Finally I took the one action I didn’t want to take, because it was too fearful for me. It’s an action that many people don’t even realize is one. I became still. I stopped taking physical actions and sat down, and started meditating. Initially for short periods of time, and then eventually for hours on end, I was silent. One night I was so fed up with my life and feeling confused about this issue and so many more that I said I wasn’t going to stop meditating until I got some answers, or any answer for that matter. I started meditating that night, sitting on the floor with my back to the couch and a candle lit in front of me. My breathing was in and out in a regular repeated pattern. Thirty minutes became an hour. An hour went into two hours. Two hours turned into four hours and at some point something happened that never had happened before. A beautiful vibration swept through my whole body and I suddenly felt lighter than I ever had felt before. All the fears, worries, and concerns of my day to day life seemed to disappear immediately. The place I arrived in that moment was more peaceful than anything I had ever experienced before in my life. And that’s when I heard the answer to the prayer I had so often sought after from God.

As clear as day, I heard a voice that said to me that as long as I love one person, whether it’s a man or a woman, that I was to love them with all my heart, mind, and soul. There were other prayers that were answered at that moment too but for this entry’s purposes, I’ll stay on topic. I realized in that moment, that fantasizing about someone else while I was in a relationship wasn’t in God’s will. I realized that looking at porn while I was in a relationship with someone wasn’t in God’s will. I realized that God was trying to tell me that if I am with a man, to just love them with all of me. Tears of joy flooded my eyes and face and I knew in that moment, that I was hearing God’s will and not some Darkness or Satan as some have said.

Many years have passed since then. I fell off the path many times and didn’t stick to God’s will. I became toxic and hurt myself and many others. A year ago, I pledged 100 percent of my life to God. For the first time in my life, I can say that I am loving the man I am with now with all my heart, mind, and soul. It is the best relationship I’ve ever had. It’s God centered. And I’m becoming brighter and lighter in the process.

If anyone out there is struggling with their sexuality, please, don’t listen to anyone else tell you what God’s will is. Don’t let a single person tell you that it’s against the Bible, or God, or any other religion. All of those are coming from human beings who have or had opinions and are potentially flawed. God WILL give you the answer you are seeking. Sometimes what it takes is to just be quiet and listen. Wait patiently and meditate on it. It took me many, many years, to get my answer. But no matter how long it may take to get His answer, it will come. When He feels the time is right. It did for me and I know it will for you.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

All Aren’t Welcomed – Part I

As much as times have changed and people have become more accepting of gays and lesbians in society, there are still so many close minded individuals and institutions that claim it’s against God’s will. While this entry isn’t about my “coming out”, and the processes I went through to have acceptance of that part of me, it is a story about the rejection I continue to face in mainstream society due to my sexuality.

I’ve always been somewhere in between a religious and spiritual person. Having grown up Methodist and having studied other denominations over the years as well, I’ve come to have an appreciation for all walks of faith. What I have found most difficult though is the wall I continue to face with churches that show rejection and exclusion.

Many years ago when I lived in Northern Virginia, just after graduating from college, I was coming to terms of my sober life as well as my gay one, except I wasn’t ready to announce to the world the latter. My therapist recommended it might help provide me some direction if I find a place of worship to reconnect with God. Initially she suggested a church that was one established for gay people. After one service, I was too overwhelmed as my mind wasn’t open enough yet to embracing my sexuality. So I looked for something else and found a new church that had formed and was currently meeting in a high school auditorium. It was hip and trendy, had live music, used clips from movies for parts of the service, and the songs were toe tapping, hand clapping, and upbeat. I loved it enough and eventually I became a full time member and was re-baptized there. At some point I had come to accept my sexuality completely through my therapy and had started my first monogamous gay relationship. Because of that, I decided it was time to be truthful to the church I called my spiritual home. At a weekly men’s bible study I finally opened up and spoke the truth about my lifestyle. I assumed they all would embrace me as I had made many close friends in the church and was quite active with them. Sadly, the opposite happened and my moment of truthfulness became the end of my attendance with them. I was pulled aside by the pastor and assistant pastor and told how it was clearly a sin in the bible how I was living my life and that I should pray and repent. Ironically, this church was the first of many to say they were all-welcoming but weren’t.

Thankfully, in that critical time of my life I went back to the gay and lesbian based church I had once attended except I was in a much more open place in my life to accept my sexuality. They helped me to believe that God loved each and every one of us no matter what walk of life we were from. When I moved out of that area and could no longer attend that church, I was unable to find any place of worship that would embrace my sexuality or my relationship to the man I was partnered to at the time. I lived in a remote area where there were at least six churches to attend, but each of them were the same in that they said they were all-welcoming but could not accept gay people.

Eventually, I moved from that area to Massachusetts to be closer to my sister and within a few years, I found myself wanting to find a church again to call home. I had taken quite a number of years off from having a regular place of worship because of all the rejection I had experienced. My life had changed immensely having removed all the resentment I held to those places of worship. I also had become more opened to other religions and embraced a lot more things in my life that I once never understood.  I checked out various churches but most of them were very formal Christian based services with slow hymns and standard sermons that I felt I had heard before, so I began to give up hope of finding one I might like. A very close gay friend of mine encouraged me to come check out his church and told me that it was extremely uplifting. I decided to make a visit.

After many weeks of attending it, I became excited again about going to church. This church was very similar to the style of the one that had rejected me so long before that so I was slightly wary. I assumed though that because my friend was gay that it must be different. Week in and week out I heard the pastor say the church welcomed everyone and that they encouraged people to join. I decided to do just that and scheduled an appointment with the pastor. When the day of that meeting came, I sat across from him and told him of my excitement about his church and that I was giving him my intention to join. I also made sure this time to say up front that I was a gay male. Instead of the next hour being spent on giving me directions on the next step to becoming a member, I was once again lectured about how I was living in sin and that his church wouldn’t allow me to join if I was gay. Passages were cited out in the bible throughout the rest of the meeting and were used as ammunition towards how I was living my life.

When did the Bible become a way to segregate people? When did the Bible become a weapon? Why does religion seem to be continuing to push people away rather than draw them in?

These questions are the main reason why I wrote this entry. It was to show that there is one main flaw in religion today. It’s that the phrase “all-welcoming” doesn’t mean just that. I don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin. I had a spiritual experience with God earlier in my life that was so direct on that issue that I can’t refute it. While some have tried to tell me it was Satan telling me this, I know in my heart that it was God. The message I was told was to love unconditionally with all my heart, mind, and soul whoever it was that I went into a relationship with, whether a man or a woman.

I don’t know why the bible has a handful of passages that say being gay is a sin. What I do know is that Jesus never spoke of it, God never directly said anything to it, and for the handful of accounts where it is mentioned, it comes from a man writing his thoughts. I’ve learned that just because I’m reading something in any type of book, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the exact truth. There’s a little bit of truth in everything and a lot of mistruths in everything as well. Whether I’m practicing Christianity, Buddhism, or any other religion, I’ve come to embrace everyone equally with light and love.

Isn’t that how it should be? Shouldn’t we all just accept each other no matter what walk of life we are and let God decide the rest? Why are people being turned away from churches where they may receive the answers from God? Since that sit down meeting, I communicated to several other churches that had elements I was looking for and faced the same rejection in each of them. Sadly, I don’t have a desire to go to any church anymore because of this. Personally, I don’t think God or Jesus or any other master teacher that people follow in any religion would approve today of how segregated churches have become. Day to day, I try to preach love, equality, and acceptance of everyone, while many people and many churches still seem to be preaching fear and hate, continuing to show rejection, and ultimately are keeping their doors only open for some even while they say they are an all-welcoming church.

All-welcoming should mean just that. All our welcomed no matter who you are from whatever walk of life you come from. God is love and nothing else. If any church says otherwise including telling someone they aren’t welcomed for any reason, it’s not a place I want to be at, because it’s not love and it’s not God.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson