Emotions

This post is written by Andrew Marin, President and Founder of The Marin Foundation

If I’m being honest, a good part of the reason I moved to St. Andrews, Scotland for my PhD is three-fold. First, it was too good of an opportunity, at too great of a university, that I couldn’t pass it up. Second, a PhD will only continue to help the work of The Marin Foundation. And third, I needed to get away for a time. The following is not a sap story, it’s an honest reflection. I’m not looking for a pat on the back or trying to write a woe-is-me post; moreso, a new revelation into my own emotional state.

I needed a time to get away because I was tired, very, very tired of being so many people’s punching bag. Inhabiting the space The Marin Foundation does, two distinct things continued to happen: We got credit for positive things we didn’t do, just because we inhabit the space we do; and we got accused for negative things we didn’t do, also just because we inhabit the space we do. As I have said in previous reflectional posts, there is no nuance with our supporters or our critics–which is quite interesting because our message is one of nuance. But as the profile of The Marin Foundation grew along with the profile of the ever-divisive world of LGBTs and conservatism, the easy-out blaming when partisan activists were at a loss of who else to blame for something, anything, generally landed in my direction; by pretty much any activist or outlet you could think of: Christian, LGBT, secular, mainstream. If there was one thing of equality, it was (is) the equality of hate I received from the various aspects of this disconnect. I could only take it for so many years in so many different contexts that I was on the verge of going nuts. Like, literally. At least it felt like that almost every waking hour. Thank God for my therapist, otherwise I probably would have been committed at some point. I was just praying not to let this happen to me (which it did not, PS). These days however, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m in my place of serenity.

In this state over the past few months I have not only been very intentional about facing many of the difficult situations and people that have caused me so much pain over the years, but I have also been very intentional about beginning to let myself feel again. Now I’ve always “felt,” quite intently actually, my whole life. Yet those closest to me would say that the past year and a half in particular, I changed. Emotionally changed. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until a few close family and friends pointed it out to me over a series of months at the end of 2012-beginning of 2013. I just needed to survive until August when I knew I was moving to Scotland. And here I am in my tiny, and I mean tiny, village in Scotland outside of St. Andrews daily meditating in Scripture, relationship, and personhood trying to peel back the layers of very public gunk that has built up over the past few years.

Tonight was a breakthrough for me. Brenda and I were watching the movie Warrior, which just so happened to be on one of the ten channels we actually get. I’ve seen it before, and I love it. I think it’s one of the most genuine expressions of emotional character nuance I’ve come across in a movie. About half way through the movie I was oddly shocked and surprised when I caught myself “feeling.” It was like a preemptive, legitimate emotion that struck me deep in my soul. It felt strange, yet so familiar. I let myself roll with it and the more the movie continued the more I started to shift around in my seat feeling awkward, having genuine anticipatory nervousness for the next scene (even though I knew what was going to happen), and most importantly, I believe, live in real-time in the smaller changes and attempts at connection the characters were sifting through with each other. Then I had a insight.

For the past few years I have been living in a constant state of reactionary emotions. These emotions, which are felt by the individual (me, in this case) as deeply as any other emotion, are not what I would call genuine, per say. They are reactionary; prompted by a random self-judged unattractive (not referencing beauty here) external stimulus. These reactionary emotions are not well thought out, they are not spiritually assessed, and there is no necessity/want/exuberance to reflect. If anything, the only exuberance that is given is invested in the riled-up fullness to the built up of, and the in-the-moment, reaction. Positive or negative; happy or sad; angry or super-pissed. Doesn’t really matter, the process is still the same. That had become my emotional comfort zone (bad label); moreso out of my unconscious necessity to cope with the multiple-times-per-day-emotional-swings of praise and accusation that had come my way for years.

But living in the unique realization of this emotional foreignness I just felt, was the internal trigger of a feeling of great comfort in that moment; something I hadn’t felt or recognized in years. I am now labeling these rational emotions as reflective emotions. Oh how I’ve longed to get a glimpse of them once again, full well knowing that my current reactionary state is not only unhealthy and unbalanced, but fully detrimental to myself and all other genuine relationships in my life. Tonight was the start of me finally realizing the work I have been doing is actually helping me regain the beginning stages of feeling emotionally sane again.

There is still a long way to go. I am still harboring lots of hate and resentment (true story; not pretty, but honest). But for the first time in years I feel I can begin seeing hints of myself being in a healthy emotional state, enough to continue, with just a little more enthusiasm, facing the things I haven’t had the stability to face in recent memory.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Charlene Brown

    Andrew, thanks for sharing. May The Lord continue to grant you and Brenda rest this year for the work ahead. Very grateful for you and the work you do!

  • Jennifer Ellen

    Blessing and prayers in this leg of the journey, Andy! It looks like it’s going to be a rich and important one!

  • naturgesetz

    When Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and then when he says, “Blessed are you when … they utter every kind of evil against you because of me, ” it has never occurred to me until just now, reading your post, that he is talking about the same people. The peacemakers are hated by those who prefer conflict.

    It seems to me that Christianophobe gays are even more intransigent and angry that homophobe Christians. Perhaps the reason is that they have felt personally hurt by the homophobia.

    Anyway, I can understand how the continuing undeserved expressions of hatred from people on both sides who should have been thanking you could take a heavy toll. I’m g;ad that you’ve managed to continue to this point, and I’m happy that you see improvement in your mental state.

    God bless you and your work and the Marin Foundation.

  • Arc77

    I have experienced similar emotional situations Andrew, dealing with combative people and negativity all the time will weigh you down. Im happy that your time in Scotland is being so healthy for you! God bless You and Yours, Brother. Thank you for doing what you do.

  • Dr. Trista L. Carr

    Praising Jesus with you as you are in this season of emotional and physical healing. I have been praying intensely for you and Brenda. Keep on keeping on in your quest for peace, brother, inner peace. May the God of all comfort comfort you in this time of emotional resurrection, forgiveness, relational healing, restoration of faith, intellectual stimulation, and physical rest. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Dr. Trista L. Carr

    Oh…and THANK YOU for your openness and vulnerability! You rock! Much love… :-)

  • Guest

    Hey Andy. Miss talking to you. Was just on the North side a couple weeks ago. Please hang in there man. 2013 was a year of disillusionment for me. I got hit hard the first few months of the year and was sandwiched between 2 people I love dearly, representing the 2 camps. It was the culmination of holding in the emotion, anger, sadness, grief, and pain for 7 years and it finally came out. I gave up. Told the LGBT office I was taking a step back. The battles still didn’t end. Not only did I find myself having to defend our ministry, myself, our students, but the “heretical author of Love Is An Orientation.” The attacks continued from both sides.

    But God is slowing renewing in me a desire to get back up. There’s too many I love who I haven’t seen in months. It’s time to start trying again. I blogged earlier this year about how Building Bridges might not always be feasible. In that case, maybe we need to dig a tunnel…

    Love you man. Stay encouraged. Let me know how I can help and pray for you and Brenda.

    IT’S WORTH IT!!!!!

  • unklt1

    Hey Andy. Miss talking to you. Was just on the North side a couple weeks ago. Please hang in there man. 2013 was a year of disillusionment for me. I got hit hard the first few months of the year and was sandwiched between 2 people I love dearly, representing the 2 camps. It was the culmination of holding in the emotion, anger, sadness, grief, and pain for 7 years and it finally came out. I gave up. Told the LGBT office I was taking a step back. The battles still didn’t end. Not only did I find myself having to defend our ministry, myself, our students, but the “heretical author of Love Is An Orientation.” The attacks continued from both sides.

    But God is slowing renewing in me a desire to get back up. There’s too many I love who I haven’t seen in months. It’s time to start trying again. I blogged earlier this year about how Building Bridges might not always be feasible. In that case, maybe we need to dig a tunnel…

    Love you man. Stay encouraged. Let me know how I can help and pray for you and Brenda.

    IT’S WORTH IT!!!!!

  • Renee Skinner

    Thanks for sharing. No doubt your therapist said you need a regular sabbatical.
    Your book has been a real blessing to me in Australia.


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