On November 1, 2015, Rev. Vincent Fuqua addressed the congregation at the Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA for the Sunday Service. What follows is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
It's always an incredible opportunity to have the chance to speak here at Community Miracles Center, because we get a chance to share our thoughts and our feelings about a variety of things that go on in our lives. I like that. I like that idea.
Some of you probably know that my last couple of talks have been regarding my parents. Back on Mother's Day I spoke about my mom which was about loving thy mother and that was a very healing process for me. It allowed me to recognize all the amazing things that my mom did for me and my siblings. That was an incredible healing for me, to be able to talk about that.
Then my next talk was regarding forgiving our fathers, forgiving thy father. It gave me the opportunity to share and speak about the forgiveness that I had to go through regarding my dad and how our relationship had evolved. That was another very healing and wonderful opportunity for me. Okay, so I spoke about those two, now I'm going to talk about me. (laughter) It's "Love Thyself ." The reason why I chose this, there are many reasons, but mainly because I just celebrated my 46th year of being on this road last Thursday. This gave me the opportunity to reflect on what my life has been like over these years and how much it has changed, how much it has evolved.
One of the things that came to my mind and became very clear is this whole idea of how much we have to love ourselves and how often we tend to allow other things to enter to the point where we don't feel good about ourselves. We have our own self-hatred, our own insecurities, our own judgments. All this stuff that comes up within ourselves. Then we realize that it's important at least to take a step back and look at it. We can learn a different way to block these things, how to let them go. We can learn how to really get to the point where we appreciate who we are and be okay and comfortable with that. There are so many different areas in my life where I can actually talk about this, areas where I feel I need to improve, and I need to continue to work on me loving myself. But we don't have enough time for that, so I chose three particular areas to focus on. Today I would like to share with you regarding my evolving and getting to the point of learning different things and different paths that I am setting for myself.
One of the areas I want to focus on, as many of you know, is that I am the commissioner of one of the biggest softball leagues in our country, the San Francisco Gay Softball League. I've been the commissioner there since 2008. Although I have appreciated being the commissioner, I recognize that a lot of stuff comes up for me with regards to that and what that entails.
A Course in Miracles reminds us of this, "There is a rationale for choice. Only one Teacher knows what your reality is. If learning that is the purpose of the curriculum, you must learn it of Him." (OrEd.Tx.8.8) This is one of many important lessons for me to know as a Course student, because for me it's about trying to tell myself that I do have a choice. The Holy Spirit reminds me of what my role is as a commissioner, or a leader, of a particular organization. That has become challenging for me. Specifically it has to do with an incident that began back in our World Series this year in Columbus, Ohio. We, San Francisco, sent eleven teams and one of our teams did very well at the World Series. This team, in my opinion, won the whole thing, but because of the way the NAGAAA (North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance) system is set up, the team was protested based on these things that we call ratings.
There are twenty-seven questions, and how you answer them determines which division you're allowed to play in. There are different divisions. We have the A division which is the top level division that you could play on. Then the B division is the next level. That's the division that Rev. Peter and I play in. Then we have our C division and our D division which are our lower divisions. The idea is all these teams get together and compete in a big, gay softball World Series every year to see who is the best team. A lot of egos come into play when that happens. As a commissioner, my role is to make sure I send proper teams and make sure that they are rated properly. Before the series ever started, someone sent out a Facebook message saying that San Francisco, in essence, was cheating because we were sending a team that had more than the allowed identified straight players on a team.
This brought up a lot of issues for me. It made me take a second to think about what that means for me. How was that impacting where I was coming from? The thing is in 2008, when I first became commissioner, the same issue came up. One of our teams was protested because they had too many straight players on their team. A whole lawsuit happened and they went through a process. Neither dropped the lawsuit. I believe that many of the people involved in the lawsuit knew what they were doing was not right.
What is coming up for me now as the commissioner is that I have to make a decision of who I am and where it is that I stand as an individual regarding this. I love the league that I'm involved with. I love San Francisco, and I love being a commissioner here. But this has made me realize that I do not like the direction that the NAGAAA organization is going, because I don't believe in discrimination.
I don't believe that we have the right to decide what someone's sexual orientation is. I think it's wrong. It's been very challenging for me to look at that because the way it's set up is when you get to the World Series, you as a person, have to identify what your sexual orientation is. I think this is wrong. Some people assume some individuals are straight, however they identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Yet we have a habit of people deciding for them what their sexual orientation is, and I don't think that's right. I don't think it's our place to tell someone what their orientation is. The fact is, these individuals have the courage to mark down that they are gay or bisexual. Therefore to me, they are loving themselves. They couldn't care crap about what other people think. It's making me realize how important it is for me to start doing that, to love myself and to be okay with what I believe in.
"The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are without knowing it. The ego is expert only in confusion. It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, it is totally confused and totally confusing." (OrEd.Tx.8.8) This is the issue that I've been working with. I've been working on how is it that I've allowed my ego thoughts to confuse me about what I truly believe in. What is the nature of who I am? I understand that rules are set, but that does not mean that they have to be right – not for me. By me denying what my beliefs are I'm not loving myself. I am not creating the space that says I'll bring healing and peace. It's what I want. I was forgetting that, and I was thinking about resigning as commissioner of my league, because I did not want to deal with this stuff anymore. Then Rev. Dusa Althea reminded me of what my purpose is. My purpose is not about running away, but it's about knowing and trusting that I am put in this role for a reason. That reason is to model and to show what I am about.
The fact is "yes," the San Francisco Gay Softball League may already disagree. However as long as I'm coming from my true self, from the Spirit and from guidance, then I'm doing the right thing. People may not agree with this, because they may feel we've got to follow what this rule says. Well you know what – no I don't. I need to follow what my Spirit is telling me and what feels right. What feels right is that everyone should be treated equally no matter what. When we say only three straight people are allowed on a team, we're separating people, and that's not what we're about. The Course is teaching us that we are one, and I study this because that's what I believe in. This is the message that I have to continue to remember and to remind myself of, because when I do that then I know that I am loving myself. That is a very important thing for me to continue to keep in mind. I'm still struggling with it, but I'm getting better at it. The ego is an expert only in confusing. That's what it does. The ego came into my mind and sent in all this doubt, questioning everything that I was doing was wrong. I thought I was wrong. I was feeling that I let my league down, players on my league down, my board down, and more importantly feeling like I let myself down. So it's important that I take a step back and realize what my purpose and what my path is.
Then this reminds me of what my career path is. As a lot of you know for the last twenty-three years I've been working for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Being part of that been an amazing opportunity for growth. Also you may be aware that for the last seven years I've been working outside of my classification. San Francisco has different classifications that you work in, and honestly it makes a huge difference salary-wise if you're not in your classification. For years I've been working outside of my classification. For years I've been sitting there and waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and reflecting upon what it means. Then I realized, as I reflected upon it, that a lot of it had to do with how I perceived myself, my worthiness in the situation. I allowed myself to be frustrated with the process, but I wasn't doing anything about it. I allowed my own resentments to come up.
The ego wants to teach you that you want to oppose God's will and the fact is that I kept rationalizing the reason why I was not getting reclassified. I kept telling myself, "Well my job has been very good. It has supported me to go and get my education. It has done a lot for me, so that's okay." I recognize that the fact is there is a city system. They take a long time to go through their different processes, and the things that they need to go through. The bottom line is – those thoughts are full of crap. It comes down to the fact that I was not believing that I deserved to be in a higher classification. I was demonstrating that by being passive about it. I would gripe and whine about it with others, and even other coworkers, but I wasn't taking action on it. I had to look at myself and realize that my belief in being unworthy was where being passive was coming from.
"This unnatural lesson cannot be learned, but the attempt to learn it is a violation of your own freedom and makes you afraid of your will because it is free." (OrEd.Tx.8.11) I had been afraid, and that is what prevented me from being free to do what I was supposed to do. So all this resentment, all this frustration that I was having towards my job – towards the position that I'm currently in – had to do with me. It had to do with my own fear, not trusting and believing in my own abilities and skills that I have. I recognize now how much that eats up my mind and stays in my psyche when I think about that.
"The Holy Spirit opposes any imprisoning of the will of a Son of God, knowing that the will of the Son is the Father's. The Holy Spirit leads you steadily along the path of freedom, teaching you how to disregard or look beyond everything that would hold you back." (OrEd.Tx.8.11) I need to let go of my ego. I am aware that I am able to see things more clearly and appreciate it when I am able to let my ego thoughts go. I am able to take the moment and think about what are the things that I can do to improve my situation. What I finally started doing was talking to my supervisors, saying, "You cannot continue to give me new projects to do, to be coordinator of, because that is not in my classification. If you need me to do that stuff then you need to put me in my proper classification. Otherwise I'm not taking on any extra assignments that are not within my current job description." I had to start voicing that.
Finally they held this big city wide exam for Health Department Coordinators. I took the exam, and I was one of the top candidates scoring on the exam. That is good, because now God has given me the opportunity to look at other positions outside of the department I belong to. I love where I'm at, but I also have to realize I need to appreciate who I am and not feel like it's okay for me to work for less money when in reality, "No, it's not okay. I deserve more." We all deserve more. So it feels great to have that new opportunity.
I have another new awareness now regarding the career path that I'm on. It's a journey of getting a doctorate degree in clinical psychology. I am aware of the opportunities that's going to give me. All those fears and doubts that I had in myself, that I didn't believe that I deserved better, are starting to shift and change. I'm starting to realize that I can love myself, and I can go and strive for the things that I believe in. The Holy Spirit teaches you the difference between pain and joy. The Spirit knows what joy is for me. I know what joy is for me. It's about me trusting in the path that was set for me and letting it manifest itself. It is starting to manifest itself. My job allowed me to lead an in-service training to all of our department regarding cultural humility. How incredible that was to be able to talk to them about racism, and things like that, within our own office. It was powerful for me.
I am currently now also a teachers' assistant at my school. The way it's set up is during the program we have first year people, second year people and third year individuals. I'm in my third year so they asked me if I wanted to be a teacher's assistant for one of the foundation skills, counseling classes for the new students who were coming in. I have this wonderful opportunity now to be able to do that. Me, being at the school once a week, helping these new students learning their clinical skills and becoming better at them – remarkable! It's remarkable because I'm finally learning to trust who I am. I am understanding the path that has been set for me, and I am letting go of those things that I felt were holding me back.
There is one final thing that I want to touch upon. There was an area in my life that I had to work on, to love myself more about – for us all to love ourselves more about. One of the biggest things is relationships. Wow! Does that bring up stuff for you or not? It especially has for me. This is one of the areas where I do believe that we get the opportunity to look at ourselves and see what that we are really about.
Throughout my years, being 46 now, I have been in numerous significant relationships. I was in a four-year relationship when I was in high school. I actually had a girlfriend all through high school. We were together for four years. I was in an eighteen year relationship with my "ex," Danny. Then I was in an eleven year relationship with Rev. Peter (who is in the audience). After that I was in a two year relationship with another partner, Eric. I'm currently in a relationship with Matt which has been for about six months. I've had a variety of different relationships, and each of these has been a test for me in so many different ways. One of the clear things was that there were several times in those relationships when I felt like I was not loving myself. I was allowing myself to play victim in situations that just did not feel right for me.
"The Holy Spirit's teaching takes only one direction and has only one goal. His direction is freedom, and His goal is God." (OrEd.Tx.8.13) I think this is important for me especially around relationships. If I allow myself to have more freedom, allow myself to be myself in a relationship, that is important. Let's look at these relationships that I was in in my past.
First was the four year relationship with my high school girlfriend. I was not really into that relationship, but I did it out of obligation. I knew I was struggling with my sexuality, but I felt like having a girlfriend was the thing I was supposed to do. So I got into that relationship. I was not loving myself by doing that. It was not fair to me, and it was not fair to her.
Then there was my ten year relationship where, early on, the person I was with was very up front about what they wanted. They wanted an open relationship, and at that time I was still young. I was only about twenty or twenty-one, so I was still developing myself. I was not sure about being in an open relationship, but I allowed myself to go ahead. I knew that did not feel right for me at that time. That was not my path at that moment, but because I loved this person I allowed myself to go ahead and stay. I eventually realized that was not where I was supposed to be. That was not who I was at that moment. It was about me not loving myself. When you don't love yourself you do things that you think are right, but being in an open relationship at that time just was not for me. "Yet He cannot conceive of God without you because it is not God's Will to be without you. When you have learned that your will is God's, you could no more will to be without Him than He could will to be without you. This is freedom and this is joy." (OrEd.Tx.8.13)
This brings me to my eleven year relationship with Rev. Peter. Those two previous ones were pre-Course, and it was during this relationship with Rev. Peter when I became a Course student. He's actually the one who introduced me to the Course. The beauty of it is that we were able to work through a lot of stuff that came up, but I lost myself in that relationship as well. I allowed myself to agree to things that I didn't agree with. As a Course student I thought and felt like that was the right thing, the thing I was supposed to do.I thought we were supposed to go through it. I thought that was our will, and that we had to meet it straight on and we did. But agreeing to things I didn't truly agree with made me re-examine who I was and what I wanted. We did eventually end our intimate relationship, but when I reflect upon it now I realize we did manifest something very powerful. Even though we're not together as partners, our friendship has grown in ways that neither one of us would have thought possible. I think a lot of that had to do with me finally realizing who I was and who he was in our relationship at that time. I am very blessed for that, and I appreciate that. "Deny yourself this and you are denying God His Kingdom because He created you for this." (OrEd.Tx.8.13)
This next one is the tougher relationship for me. It was the last one. I was in it for two years, and I completely lost myself. I allowed myself to be in a relationship where I was not getting my needs met, where I felt like I deserved to be treated in a way that was not healthy for me. As a Course student I thought I was supposed to continue to stay in that relationship and to be able to work through it. That's not what the Course is about. The Course is about us being true to who we are and for us to trust what that is. The Course does not teach that we need to stay in a relationship when it does not feel good, and it does not feel right. When we're doing that we're not loving ourselves. That was a huge lesson that I had to learn. In order for me to heal myself, to have peace of mind, and to extend the love that I need to – I needed to take a step back and love myself . I needed to not stay stuck in a situation that didn't feel right. We know it. We feel it in our gut, but yet we rationalize that feeling, "No, I've got to do this." We think we've got to do this. We've got to make it work. And really, "No." We don't. It's about us learning how to get to the point where we take care of ourselves.
It's important for all of us to recognize that we need to love ourselves in every aspect of our lives, because when we don't love ourselves we're going to be useless to others. That's just the bottom line. It is time for us to take a moment and reflect on every aspect of who we are. Bring that forward; love who we are. That's how we're going to bring peace. That's how we're going to bring joy. That's how we're going to heal our minds and heal this world we're in. And that's my time. (applause) ♥
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the December 2015 (Vol. 29 No.10) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.