This post comes from a very brave and Godly young man at Netcast. I commend him for his incredible honesty and faithfulness to the Lord.
All I Need is You, Lord”...Really?
I grew up in a Christian home with loving parents. I went to church every Sunday and attended a Christian school. Like all the other boys, I enjoyed sports, Legos, and long days in the backyard with my friends pretending we were police detectives who could travel into outer space. I even had crushes on the pretty girls in my class and in my neighborhood, but was always too shy to admit it!
Adolescence hit around the 6th grade and that’s when the sexual feelings started. Although, oddly enough, my focus was not on the pretty girls, but rather on the handsome boys. It didn’t really bother me at first. I had just discovered my body’s newfound, um, abilities, and I was curious if any of the other boys had found them as well. “It’s just a normal thing. Every boy is curious,” I tried to convince myself. To confuse matters, it wasn’t until 8th grade that my parents told me about the “birds and the bees”. Well, they didn’t actually tell me. Mom left a book on my pillow and hoped for the best.
Apparently this issue was just too difficult or embarrassing for them. Of course, by that time, I had most of the facts of life figured out already. As I entered high school (A good Christian high school, of course), I finally began to become a little concerned that maybe I was gay. My interests still hadn’t changed. It was still the boys I thought about when I was in bed at night. “Maybe I’m just a late developer,” I thought. “If I pray hard enough, God will make me interested in girls. Then I will be normal.”
I met a great girl and we became best friends. She really liked me. We had similar interests and a similar sense of humor. She had been raised in a “good Christian home” like I was. I loved being with her. We had so many inside jokes together that when I saw her down the hall, I’d just start cracking up. We would have made a great couple if I had had the slightest interest in a romantic relationship with her. I kept checking myself... Nope. Nothing. Dang.
High school came and went and it was off to college. Christian college, of course. Now, I’ve heard tons of college stories where the guys in the residence halls enjoy being naked for no good reason. I was disappointed when I found out that my floor was nothing like that. Even the showers were very private with double curtains! So my homoerotic curiosity continued unsatisfied. I’m embarrassed to say that I would occasionally try to sneak peeks at my roommate when he returned from the shower just to see what a naked man looked like. (These were the days before internet porn was there to satisfy every curiosity in its own destructive way. But that’s somebody else’s blog post!)
Now, at this point, I need to rewind my story a little bit. Ever since I was a young child, I have been painfully shy. My father loved me, but was emotionally distant and didn’t do put much effort into raising a son with confidence. We didn’t do much together. And the older I got, the more difficult it became to interact confidently with people. The teasing in middle school (that everybody goes through) really did a number on me.
When adolescence hit, I started getting depressed because I wasn’t getting any attention at school. I felt completely invisible. When high school came, I started internalizing it so much that I started feeling worthless. When college came, I knew “for a fact” that I was worthless. Especially with my struggle with homosexuality on top of everything else. I lived in a world of self-pity. But the people in college were not like the people in high school. They were kind. They were friendly. And for the first time in my life, I made true friends. It was, without a doubt, the most excited I had ever been about anything in my life. I had friends! Maybe I was worth something! That feeling didn’t last long.
All my newfound hope crashed down when I had to withdraw from school to take a mental break. I was now out of my friends’ everyday world and they were out of mine. I tried to visit the campus and reconnect, but they were getting to know new people and seemed very, very busy. In my mind, they didn’t want me around anymore. To make matters worse, I had just gotten fired from my job. And that’s when I hit rock bottom. It’s hard to know what rock bottom looks like until you get there yourself. It’s a place of absolute hopelessness where you despise every minute of your existence during the day--and the night is even harder because there is nothing to distract you from your thoughts of despair, loneliness, and self-loathing. It was all-out, full-fledged depression and I really didn’t have anybody to talk to about it. Even my prayers to God seemed to bounce off the walls. But “rock bottom” was also when my relationship with God changed. I was a lonely, sick, broken young man and I was desperate for hope.
Up until now, my faith was just “going through the motions” of what I had learned from my mother. But now, it was becoming real. In a very small way, I knew that He was listening. It was time to get serious with Him because I needed Him so badly. One weekend, to my surprise, one of my former floormates gave me a call and wanted to fix me up on a group date with a friend of his girlfriend. “I have to try it,” I thought. “Maybe there will be something there.” I went on the date. There was nothing there. Nothing but awkward. College came and went and it was off to pursue a career. Now reality was setting in. I was gay. There was no denying it. Every single one of my sexual fantasies was about the male form.
The pain that this realization caused was excruciating. First there was the pain of being different. Then there was the pain of being in a people group that society generally looked down upon. And finally, there was a crisis of faith. After all, I was supposedly this fine Christian young man. I can’t be gay. “Homosexuality is forbidden in the Bible!,” I thought. I will never forget the night I “came out” to my friends. It was absolutely the scariest night of my life. I got the college boys back together for a little reunion and we went to one of our favorite outdoor hangout spots--a cool seashore spot covered with huge boulders that the waves crash into. Hanging out on a huge rock overlooking the ocean, I finally told them, without actually saying the words, that I was gay. To my surprise, I was met with nothing but love and acceptance. Telling people got easier after that. Many years later, I was even able to tell my parents. But living with this “condition” didn’t get easier. It was time to fix things.
I went online and checked out Exodus International and Harvest U.S.A. and got myself checked into a local support group. I got involved in a church and had godly men in my life. I read the books that were published at the time, all explaining how I can be freed from homosexuality and fall in love with a woman and get married and live happily ever after. I did all the right things, but nothing happened. I was still a homosexual. Nothing I could do--and no amount of prayers--was changing that. But God had begun His work on my heart--calling me to draw close to Him. To trust Him in my circumstances. To allow Him to be a companion when I was lonely.
It was a very slow road to fully accepting His reality and his care for me. He did begin to answer my prayers for companionship, and through some odd circumstances when I was in my mid 20’s brought me to an amazing church where I became part of a family. God used these people to give me a sense of belonging. I quickly got involved in various ministries and a sense of purpose began to grow within me. I learned more about God’s love for me and got excited about joining God in the things he was doing on our planet. I learned to live outside myself and see what it was like to serve others instead of constantly being focused on my own needs and shortcomings. New life was rising out of the ashes of brokenness.
I did ministry in that church for twelve years. It wasn’t always without complication. In fact on a few separate occasions, I essentially “fell in love” with certain men in the church. These guys were my friends and we had bonded emotionally. And that led to physical desires as well. But each guy was straight, so nothing happened--except for the emotional torment of desiring somebody I knew I couldn’t have. This was just as painful, if not more so, than when I hit rock bottom during college. I ended up having to go on anti-depressants because my heart was so hungry for love (or what I thought was love) and so distraught that my desires could never be met. But even through those excruciating times... even through the times I was literally screaming mad at God for making me this way. He never let me go. I wanted to walk away. I wanted to give up. But I couldn’t. His love for me and His call on my life has been so unmistakable that I could never live without Him.
I still struggle with same-sex attraction today. I have made the choice to not enter into a gay relationship based on what I believe God’s will for me is through study of scripture. (Other gay Christians conclude their study differently.) But He is making me stronger and more confident in who HE is. Who I am is becoming less and less important. My story is becoming less and less important. I’d rather be a part of His story. And I’m learning from my married friends that a spouse doesn’t meet you in the deepest places of your soul’s longing. Only the pure love of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit can do that. The love that was displayed for all to see when he stretched out his hands and died for us. The love that made a way for us to be with Him in perfection forever. The love that washes us clean of everything we’ve done wrong. It’s an amazing love. It’s an undeniable love--not always with our emotions--but with a deep-seeded satisfaction that it’s the truth.
I will probably never get married. I will probably never have sex. I will probably never have a romantic kiss. I will probably never hold somebody’s hand. Isn’t that sad? NO! Because there is greater freedom in walking with my heavenly Father and following his best plan for my life. Instead of putting my hope and trust in the love of another person, I’ve had to put my hope and trust in Him and Him alone. In the Father, I’ve found a nurturing dad who wants me to grow up big and strong. A dad who has big plans for his son, who is priceless, not worthless! In the Son, Jesus Christ, I’ve found a friend who never leaves me, even when I come home to an empty house. A confidant who knows what it’s like to face struggle, loneliness, and temptation. And a partner and guide on an adventure to change the world! In the Spirit, I’ve found an indwelt intimacy that surpasses the love of any man or woman. He is continually inside of me representing the abolition of my worst fears and lies about myself. When I turn to Him, my spirit unites with His, and His power becomes my own. I am empowered to view this life not as a series of difficult struggles and circumstances, but as a specific plan that was drawn up by the Father.
If you have same-sex attractions, being alone for the rest of your life might seem an impossible, heartbreaking outlook. But with the nurture of a caring Father, the example of the Son, and the spiritual intimacy of the Holy Spirit, anyone in my situation can go forward into tomorrow knowing that your life has a purpose, a plan, and the support you need to make it a rewarding journey. At some point you need to accept the fact that your story doesn’t look like everybody else’s. But that doesn’t make it less valuable. Sure, you might occasionally feel very alone, but remember that your alone-ness was His call to make, not yours. Because the truth is that you’re not alone. Surrender your life to Him and realize that He is all you need. Trust Him to bring people into your life who will encourage you and keep your focus Him and not yourself. There is so much freedom to be found when we can shift our energy from what we want to what He wants.
Scripture that has encouraged and strengthened me in my journey:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:1-4
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10