Mug of Questions

by Joe LeBlanc

Oct 11, 2013

When I imagined this moment, it always looked something like a dinner party where I’m holding up a perfect crystal champagne flute. It’s filled to just the correct height and foaming ever so slightly. I have principled answers, articulated from a position of both reason and experience. People I’ve never met are gathering around, instantly gaining understanding and standing in awe. The wise become wiser still, and the not-so-wise are quieting to think. This is a glorious triumph, both for me and for everyone sharing in my plight.

Instead, this moment looks more like a Monday night in front of the TV where I’m holding a piece of pottery done by a beginner. It’s a mug… no, it’s a bowl… actually it is a mug, but it’s a bit wide and the handle chipped off. One side has this awkward lip and the entire surface is uneven. I can only fill it up to about two thirds of the way because there’s a hairline crack where the top of the handle broke off.

It’s currently holding some Swiss Miss cocoa, complete with the little globs of mix that never fully dissolve and the already evaporated micro-marshmallows. I’m drinking out of this mug because it’s all I’ve got. I usually put the mug back in the cabinet because even though it’s special to me, most people don’t want to see it.

I sit by myself, perplexed and alone. I debate on whether to read or call it a night. It’s in this moment I realize no matter what I say or how I present it, there will still be people who don’t get it. But then I realize it’s okay for me to be misunderstood.

I’m mulling a bit of my recent past. My life is one where my faith makes sense. There are persuasive answers to many difficult questions. I’m a part of a local church where I worship, pray, listen, and serve along with everyone else. Life is going well: I have a good education, an incredible career, health, and friends.

Despite all of this, I’m finding myself in a situation where I’m trying to make an answer fit into nagging questions I’m faced with. I’ve previously stalled, hoping the situation would go away or change. Or maybe the answer will fit on a 43rd try, even though it didn’t the other 42 times.

Instead of making another attempt, I’m realizing this isn’t ever going to work. Trying to make my life look like everyone else’s isn’t holding up. These unanswered questions are slowly grinding away the walls of my heart.

I’m coming to the conclusion I have to not only admit I don’t have the answer, but that I have these questions to begin with. I’m realizing faith isn’t really faith when it’s conditioned on knowing an answer now. Even though it can be painful and confusing to not have answers, you have to move on in spite of the questions.

But that doesn’t mean you have to hide them. I’m no longer scared of what people think of me, and I realize it’s worth sharing these questions, even if people misunderstand me. So I’m pulling this mug out of the cabinet and turning it around so you can see the questions etched on the surface:

Whom will I marry?

Will I be alone for the rest of my life?

Why do I find men attractive?

Is God planning some miracle I have yet to experience?

And given these questions, what should I be doing now?

I don’t have fitting, satisfying answers for these questions. And I’m okay with that. If you’re a person asking yourself similar questions, you’re not alone. In case you’re still wondering why I have them, let me introduce myself:

My name is Joe. I’m an out and humbled gay Christian.