I Almost Lost Focus

I haven’t written in a while for a variety of reasons. I’ve not been sure about how I want to write about sex and sexuality on this blog in the midst of a world that tirelessly talks about sex. I have many drafts from things I’ve written in response to current events such as the Duke Porn Star and the book that incensed a nation of parents, “It’s Perfectly Normal.” I didn’t publish those stories because I felt they were just reactive and I didn’t want to be a part of the multitude of voices that always have something to say with very little qualification or credibility for saying it. So I’ve tried to find my way and think through what is expedient in regards to talking about sex here and beyond and I’m finally getting to the point where I think I’m ready to come back. But this return was almost not.

A few weeks ago I was interviewing for a job I really wanted and all was well until they told me that I wouldn’t be able to speak or write about sexuality or sexual ethics because it would be a conflict of interest with the organization’s work. I was shocked. Even though I don’t write about sexuality all day, everyday–as you can very well tell from the skeletal nature of this blog–I still believe that work in the field is essential to my life’s calling. The CEO of the organization even pointed out that it seems I get a lot of energy out of talking about and thinking through matters of sexuality. But I also wanted the job because I saw it as a really great opportunity to broaden my professional experience in another area. So I told the team that I could deal with not writing or speaking about sexuality in exchange for a larger goal. I even cracked a little joke by saying, “I can still read books about it, can’t I?” They laughed and we continued with the interview, yet the thought of letting go of the opportunity to write and speak about something important to me weighed heavily on me. When I was done with the interview I called a trusted friend and told her about it and she agreed with the answer that I gave them and talked me through my concerns. It seemed more than logical to take a break from writing and speaking about sex in order to get in on the ground level of some really great and important work within its own right. But I was still discouraged about the possibility that lingered. I know I have a long-term commitment to studying, writing, speaking, teaching, reflecting, on matters of sex and sexuality and I know that’s important to me. I didn’t know for sure, however, if I should jettison that for something that I am much less certain about. Sure I was excited about the organization’s work, the possibilities within the position, and even my brilliantly bright future colleagues, but would that be selling myself short? Long story short, I didn’t get the job.

The official reason for not getting it wasn’t even about all the energy I get from talking about sex or my feeble attempt at proving I’d be fine without writing/writing about–at least as they tell it. It was about the organization needing to reassess their staffing needs. I can’t help but think it was also about God trying to keep me on track. I don’t speak in these terms often because I don’t like to presume what God is or isn’t doing in my life, but I am hoping that this is one of those times where God was doing something particular. The last few months have been bleak for me and I haven’t always been certain about where I’m going, so it meant something that someone took an interest in me and felt my experience impressive. I felt like I mattered again. I needed this opportunity in more ways than one. I couldn’t wait to move and start a new life and I was even delaying plans I’ve been talking about for a while. But just like that the plans changed and it seemed like I was being told to stay the course. And so here I am. No regrets. 

Earlier this week I had a chance to speak with a group of people living with HIV/AIDS about faith and sexuality and it was the most vibrant discussion I’ve had. I did the same talk at a church as few months ago and I felt like I was pulling teeth with the congregants, but this week’s group had so much energy around the topic. Interesting because they are a group of people whom some in a church context would say are “marked” because of their deleterious sexual behavior. Yet those people were the most faithful I’ve encountered and the most fearless as well. They didn’t feel entitled to anything. They had no bourgeois Christian laurels to rest on. They just have this lived experience and the certainty that God is still with them. If it wasn’t for not getting that job I wouldn’t have been able to have that experience with the group and to remember what is most important not only to me but to others. So here I go, once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. I don’t know where any of this will lead me but I am glad to not have given up so easily.