At this gathering we seek to explore this third way between men and women, within the context of the beauty, goodness and redemptive love of friendship. We want to intentionally create a safe place to talk about friendships between the sexes.
Forrest and Vanessa Horn are coming to When Jesus Met Mary: Exploring Friendship Between Men and Women. I've had the opportunity to meet Vanessa on a quirky coincidence in which my U2 trip with Jennifer led us to the same city in Michigan where Vanessa was on a business trip (Forrest and Vanessa live in North Carolina). I've talked with Forrest over the phone and I am so excited they are coming to the Gathering!
They give their reasons why they are coming:
This whole journey for me has been both maddening at times and liberating at others, and ultimately my hope is to be at peace within my own heart towards the relationships that are very meaningful to my wife. I've attempted to be as honest about my own struggles and feel a sense of healing when I'm able to relate those struggles to others who have either been down the same path or at least a similar one. But I also experience a validation of sorts when I hear others speak regarding similar relationships and stories. Ultimately I want the Kingdom to come in my own heart and this path has exposed places in me that are filled with deep pain and fear... so it seems that Jesus would have me go to those hard places and trust.
Prior to reading Dan Brennan's book on Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions, I had never been exposed to such an open encouragement of community through the gift of cross-gender friendship. Sure, I have been exposed to encouragement of friendships, and community, and diving deep into people's lives, but truly embracing meaningful connection between a man and woman outside of my spouse, never. That was taboo. That was "dangerous territory". That was an "emotional affair".
Before my exposure to Dan (and now others I've found) who encourage that the gift of cross-gender friendships can actually exist in a non-threatening manner to my marriage, I might otherwise have run or not known what to do when I experienced meaningful connection with a male friend. My husband and I are still navigating our experience and views on the subject. I am attending the conference to surround myself with others who are deeply interested in the topic. From my experience, it is much easier to find believers who will caution me on all the dangers. I'd love to have a dialogue with others who are willing to challenge the traditional views of the church. To have found a group of people that are coming together to talk exclusively about that subject for an entire day, wow, that is a gift. Let's go deep.