Emily Timbol

I Got “Spirit Coached”…and it Was Awesome


There are two possible explanations for why I continue to have a vibrant, passionate love for the gay community. One explanation is that after my best friend of fifteen years came out to me, God led me on a spiritual journey which ended with my belief that LGBT people deserve better treatment from the church and law.

The second explanation is dessert.

Specifically, this dessert.

Jeff Squares

Now, this is the chocolate version, but what you’re looking at is called a Jeff Square. It’s a brownie like dessert, best served a la mode, warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. When you’re eating it, your eyes roll back in your head and Meg-Ryan-in-Harry-Met-Sally type sounds escape your mouth. It’s incredible.

And it’s the invention of the man on the left of this below picture, surprisingly enough, named Jeff. I met Jeff close to three years ago, shortly after my best friend came out. At the time, he and the man on the right, owned Three Layers, a small neighborhood coffee shop that I fell in love with the moment I stepped inside.

The other guy in the picture is Shawn, Jeff’s husband. Jeff & Shawn were the first married gay couple I ever met. The fact that they were kind, warm, funny, and made ridiculously delicious desserts, made me feel comfortable enough around them to truly listen when they spoke. I’ll never forget the conservation we had where Jeff said, “I wish more Christians realized gay marriage isn’t all about sex. We’re married-we aren’t spending every night having sex-we’re fighting over who takes the garbage out!”

It was a funny statement, but one that showed me how sad it was that so many people would only see sex, when looking at this couple I loved.

Recently, they sold the cafe, and Shawn decided to pursue a career as a “Spirit Coach.” I’ll admit, when I heard this, I rolled my eyes. And not in the way I do when I eat Jeff squares. I rolled them in the condescendingly judgmental way.

“Spirit Coach,” I scoffed, “What a load of hippy-dippy bologna.”

Last week when Shawn sent me a tweet, saying he wanted me to call him about “something” I had a hunch what it was. He wanted to “Spirit Coach” me. ME. The person so practical, she makes spreadsheets to calm herself down. People who enjoy color-coding spreadsheets do not have Spirit Coaches.

But since I love the guy, I relented, and called him up.

After a short greeting, and letting him know how much time I had to chat, he got right to the point.

“So Emily, I just want you to know that I’m not looking for more clients, and I’m not in the practice of calling people up just to give them my services. But God has put you on my heart recently, and I feel that he wants me to share something with you.”

I’m such an asshole. I thought. I can’t believe how judgmental I was, before even talking to him.

“Sure,” I said to Shawn. “Share away.”

We ran through some simple exercises  where he would ask me to do word associations, or answer simple questions like, “what season would you say you’re in.” I answered truthfully, but didn’t take much stock in what I was saying.

“So what words would you use to describe the process of publishing?”

That threw me for a loop. I had just answered a question about my desk lamp.

“uhm,” I said, “well, I’d say it’s awful. Stressful. Depressing. Demoralizing. Fruitless. Soul-crushing.” I paused. “Oh also, failure. That word comes to mind too.”

I stared at my fingernails while I waited for him to respond.

“Then why are you trying to get your book published?”

Another shock I had to recover from. Good question.

“Well, I’m trying to get this book published because I feel like what I have to say is important. It can help people. And I am sure that God gave me a gift for putting things into words, and wants me to share that with others. I didn’t write a book just for me, I wrote it for other people to read.”

“Exactly,” Shawn said. “So why then, do you have such a depressing, heavy perspective on publishing?”

I started to feel my defenses creep up. Because I’ve had thirty-five freaking people tell me I’m not good enough to publish, that’s why. 

But I didn’t say that. I don’t really remember what I said. But I remember Shawn’s response.

“Emily, I asked you to call me, and I asked you all those questions, because I wanted you to see the importance of perspective. I see all the things you post on Twitter and Facebook, about how much it sucks and is horrible trying to get published, and I see this weight you’re carrying around. What I want you to see, is that this is just your perspective.”

I began to interrupt him but stopped.

“Here’s another perspective you could have,” he continued, “one of trying to get this book published, knowing the whole time that God is behind you and with you, and wanting you to succeed.”

Huh. Well. Hadn’t thought of that. 

“Oh,” I said.

Shawn laughed, a friendly, not mocking chuckle. “Do you think being depressed the whole time will affect your chances at all of getting published?”


“Then why are you?”

“Ha!” I said, “I have a good answer for that! Because I’d rather be prepped for failure, expecting the worst every day, then be optimistic  and be totally crushed when my dream of getting published never happens.”

“So you’re telling me,” Shawn said, “you’d rather spend months being constantly depressed  because of a failure that hasn’t happened, instead of experience that depression just once?”


“I don’t have an answer for that,” I said.

“That’s OK. But do you see now, how perspective can affect you? How you don’t have to view this process as an awful terrible thing, but as something God is carrying you through?”

“Well now I do yeah.”

I thanked Shawn, and hung up the phone. Sat there on my bed for a moment, flabbergasted. Not only had I been “Spirit Coached,” but I had LIKED it. No. NEEDED it. Right before jumping off the bed to go join Ryan for my quickly cooling dinner in the other room, a thought hit me.

Of course I would get this kind of godly spiritual wisdom from a gay spirit coach. How other way was God going to get a message across to me that I would actually listen to?

Later that night, I fell asleep thankful for two things. 1) Shawn, and 2) A God who loves and and knows me so well, that He knew to speak to me through the only person I would listen to.

A gay spirit coach married to a man who created my favorite dessert.

It doesn’t get much more divine than that.


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