For four years I was an Assemblies of God minister and a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. This is an excerpt from my book, Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes: Removing Religion to Find Relationship.
After I left the Little Portion, many people have asked me why I went there in the first place. Shortly after leaving, my typical answer was, “God wanted to make me a holy man in His sight.” This is true, but that is also God’s agenda in every person’s life.
After Barbara and I started dating and I began seriously thinking about marrying her, I started to see another reason for my time at the community—God wanted to work on certain areas of my life so they would not be a burden to my future wife. The Lord wanted to rid me of as much of my selfishness as possible, because if He was going to entrust me with His daughter, I needed to be in the right spiritual shape in order to treat her as God intended. My time at the Little Portion helped me do that, and it was a girlfriend from high school who showed me that I’d changed.
One time I returned to California on vacation and visited some college friends in San Jose. While I was there, I called my high school girlfriend because I was in the area and I’d never met her husband. We had remained friends since high school and I was looking forward to seeing her. Since this was the first time she saw me in my brown monastic habit, her opening line after a hug and a kiss was, “Well, you’re not hard to spot in a crowd!” As she got ready to leave, she told me she could see a change in me. “I no longer feel like an object in your eyes,” she said.
Okay guys, admit it. When you were eighteen years old, you have trouble looking at girls in any other manner. Paul may have told Timothy to treat every woman as a sister, but that wasn’t our first choice!