Jim spent a lot of time at the church and doing church work. He threw himself into it. He felt that his mind might not wonder into dangerous places as often if he kept a busy schedule filled with sermon preparation, visitation, and charity work in the community. After all, his grandmother had always said, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Oh boy if she only knew where his thoughts drifted from time to time and what his eyes beheld. The desire and longing that Jim felt in his heart and had felt for a long time was to be with another man. Jim was gay. Although no other human being on the earth knew it, he was. It pained his heart to admit it, but he knew that it was the truth. It was a realization that he’d been coming to more and more lately. As the urge and need for love and contact with another man grew stronger and stronger, Jim was getting very interested in meeting someone, even if it meant traveling a long way to do it. He needed to feel the warmth of another man, the touch of his hands, the warmth of his body lying next to him. Jim longed to find a lover. He wanted to wake up each morning wrapped in the arms of a man he loved and one who loved him. He wanted to share his life with a man who looked into his eyes and told him how much he loved him without even saying a word. This was that hole in his heart. But as of late, that hole was turning into an abyss. He needed love and companionship. It was easy to admit that that was what he wanted. The difficult part was the shame and guilt he felt when he was brought back to the realization that he was a pastor.
Yes, he was a man of God, one who had a congregation full of people who looked up to him for spiritual guidance. They would most certainly be disappointed in him if they knew. They would not only be disappointed, but they would look down on him in shame. They would fire him, send him home to his mother and father who would remind him that his choices had been wrong and that he had thrown away everything he had worked for, and everything that they had worked for. Oh God the agony of this made him feel as if he were trapped. He had seen those movies where someone ran off a bridge into a river or lake and the water gushed into the car while they struggled to get out before drowning. This image rang home to him like truth. Would this urge and desire drown him? He felt that it would for sure. He had to find some way of containing his desire. But that was getting more difficult by the day. It had become even more of a problem ever since the church had hired the new youth minister, Phillip.
Phillip was a young man of only 22. Jim helped hire him as the new youth minister for the church not because he was the most gorgeous human being he’d ever seen, but because Phillip was the right person for the job. His wit, ability to relate to teenagers and his creative mind were perfect for the job. It certainly didn’t hurt that Phillip was very respectful and had a gentle spirit. Jim felt that he had done something good by hiring Phillip. But there was something he felt awful about when it came to the young youth minister. Jim was very attracted to him, and at times felt that he was falling in love with him. It was painful to watch Phillip come in each day at the church, go about his daily routine and never know the love that Jim was beginning to feel for him in his heart. As the days waxed on Jim began to admit to himself that he loved Phillip and wanted to be with him. But that would never be. It would be easier to walk across water than to hold Phillip, kiss him, make love to him, and be held by him. The pain was deep. Jim would often find himself avoiding Phillip rather than have to face him and have all those feelings come full throttle in his mind and in his heart. It was becoming hard to hide his emotions too. There were several occasions when Phillip came to meet with Jim about church business that Jim would find it nearly impossible to keep his mind on the meeting and the business at hand. It was getting worse with each passing day.
“So how is the pastor this morning,” Phillip asked as he walked by Jim in the hallway.
Jim was walking from the sanctuary into his office and must have been in a daze because he never saw Phillip coming. As he looked up to respond, he could not help but to notice those beautiful baby blue eyes that Phillip had and that sexy dark brown hair. He could get lost in those eyes. His dream would be to sit arm in arm with Phillip in front of a roaring fire while passionately kissing him and staring into those eyes.
“I’m doing fine this morning, Phillip. How are you?” Jim struggled to regain his thoughts after glancing into Phillip’s eyes.
“Great. Hey, listen, Jim. If you’re not busy today, I would like to take you out to lunch. There is this really great Chinese place that just opened around the corner and I think you would really like it,” Phillip said looking directly into Jim’s face.
Jim was in a very difficult situation here. He so wanted to go and have lunch with Jim, but he knew that it would only make the pain in his heart that much worse. He had been trying to maintain a distance when it came to the youth minister and this would be a step in the wrong direction as far as Jim was concerned.
“Oh that is so kind of you, Phillip, but I already made plans. Maybe we can do that later in the week. I really appreciate you asking, Phillip,” Jim responded.
“Oh no problem. I totally understand. Maybe I can take you there later this week like you said.”
“Sure thing, Phillip.”
Phillip patted Jim on the back as he walked past him going into the sanctuary. The feel of his warm hand on Jim’s back sent a bolt of lightening through Jim’s entire body. He closed his eyes as he felt it and then opened them to walk forward into his office. Jim was so hurt by this. This was the result of the pain that he was in because of this longing in his heart. In any other situation he would have gladly accepted the invitation to sit and talk with this young man who was close to his own age and trying to make his way in the ministry like he had just a few years ago.
Jim walked into his office, turned on the lights and closed the door. His heart was torturing him at this very moment. “Why, oh why, God,” he thought as he sat behind his desk. He had been born to serve God, the church, and the downtrodden. But he wasn’t born for this pain. Right now he was the downtrodden. He was in need of some guidance and understanding. But there was nowhere to find it for Jim, or so he thought.
As he sat there with this deep pain in his soul, he wondered what it was all for. Why was he the one being tortured by this? He reached over to the radio on the bookshelf in his office and turned it on. Then he walked to his office door and locked it. As he returned to his desk, he turned up the volume on the radio so that no one would hear him as he sat at his desk and cried. It was a familiar scene in the life of Rev. Jim Branigan. As the music played, the tears fell from his face.