“..for He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
I grew up with childhood depression. I cannot remember a time when I was not depressed. Sure I had fun like other people, but underneath was a darkness that I didn’t know how to navigate. You see, I was molested at the age of five. It happened again when I was seven. Both of my abusers were male.
As a child, I did not consider myself abused. That understanding came later. I was processing all of it with a child’s intellect and had no ability to discern what was going on. As far as I knew, I was asked to engage in something and was choosing to partake in it. It’s amazing how powerful that lie was. Something was being done to me and I thought I was a willing participant. I had no idea what I was being led into.
It must be told that sexual stimulation—even for a child, is exciting and pleasurable. But in the truest sense of the word, it “perverted” my natural development. A child is never meant to navigate through the stimulus of sex.
An emotional undercurrent stirred inside me. It was a palpable darkness. I believe this is how confusion came over me; a confusion that led me to places very far from God.
I understood that men were attracted to women and women were attracted to men. As I took stock of what was going on inside me, I concluded that I must be a girl. The events of my childhood emasculated me so my behavior started to mirror my inner thoughts. I started to behave like a girl. Throughout my childhood, I was even mistaken for a girl.
Many people spoke words that stung, slinging insults at me with great ease. It was not easy to hear them, however. I had no idea how to navigate around them. I found myself getting angry and then I internalized the anger. I found that food could soothe the poisonous tide inside my soul.
With my expanding girth came increased softness, and the insults only got worse. Faggot. Homo. Queer. Sissy. You’re going to go to hell. They shattered my heart. I figured if they saw me smiling, they would know that they weren’t getting to me. Just behind the smile was a boy ready to break.
I had grown up with a religious background. I heard that God loved me. But somewhere along the line, I had heard that “God hated fags.” When I was about 18, I assumed that’s what I was and that’s what God thought of me.
When I was in the gay lifestyle, it was common for my friends to jump into sexual relationships and then try to build emotional relationships out of them. They rarely worked. I always wanted to have a friendship first then build a relationship, but that never happened. My friends would say, “It doesn’t work that way.” They would encourage me to hook up.
My idea of a relationship was not found in the gay lifestyle and although I didn’t know it, the words of God that I heard earlier in my life were actually at work. I knew He wanted something very different for my life.
I found myself rejecting the homosexual life, but never told anyone. Out of convenience, I stayed in the culture. I couldn’t fathom being rejected from one more group of people. Even so, I struggled with the darkness that was inside of me and still kept smiling through my depression.
To kill the pain, I turned to crystal meth. It was as if I had finally found what I was looking for—something to make me feel happy and optimistic. The darkness had been replaced with light¬, or so I thought.
One day, I was doing some meth, but I couldn’t get high. I did more, but once again...nothing. I did all I had…nothing.
I went about my day and all that was stuck in my nasal cavity dropped into my nose and made its way into my system. Suddenly, my heart began to beat violently. I tried to ignore it.
Later that day while working on my friend’s backyard, my heart was pounding nearly out of my chest. I was terrified—death seemed to be coming over me like a quickly moving shadow. I started to panic and told my friends. They chalked it up to having a bad trip and ignored me.
I felt as if I was at the edge of the abyss about to fall from this world into something unknown. My life flashed before my eyes.
I remembered all that I had done wrong. I had become aware of how off-course my life was. I did not want to go into this unknown world with so much sin...those burdens, deeds, impulses. Something within me wanted to pray.
I hurried over to my mother’s home and told her what I had done. She saw the seriousness of my condition and, by what I know now to be a directive by the Holy Spirit, she grabbed her Bible and began searching.
By this time, I was very weak and my voice was very soft. She fumbled around the scriptures and came upon Psalm 119. She read and I repeated. “Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart…”
Something came over me. What happened next can only be described this way:
Imagine a light bulb is giving off heat, and depending how close or how far your hand is to that bulb, that is how much heat you feel—the closer, the more heat. The further, the less heat. In the same way I felt “something” drawing closer to me: it was the Holy Spirit. As it drew closer my voice went from a labored whisper to full throated and confident. I continued to repeat what my mother was reading while God filled the room with His presence. Then He touched my heart with the knowledge that He was real and interceding in my life.
I burst into tears of joy. God had shown me that He was real.
At that time, I was on fire for the Lord. I wish I could say that my sexual confusion had left me. It didn’t. But now I knew I had His Spirit guiding me.
I began reading my Bible and going to church. I attended for about 18 months, but I fell away because the churches I attended still couldn’t help themselves from making judgments about me. Harsh words had not just been a component of my past, but had shaped the perception I had of myself. I had to come out of that even if it meant running away from the church. It turned out that church was just as unsafe as a crowded high school hallway. It was no different than the world.
Looking for truth, I began to read everything I could get my hands on—anything that even hinted at having answers to my sexuality. Psychology, comparative studies on religion, philosophy, mysticism, witchcraft, biology, prophecies, new-age reading, self-help. You name it, I have read it.
This went on for 17 years.
I believe God allowed this time in my life to train me to discern truth, because bit by bit, every word I read started to feel increasingly hollow, especially in contrast to the Word of God. God’s Word was alive. Everything else was desperate men grasping at the light.
On Sept 11, 2001, the Lord spoke to my heart. “Now is the time to understand what I have said.”
With this, God delivered to me a miracle, it was just what I needed—like an ointment to tend to the thousands of wounds sustained over a lifetime. It came in the form of the Agape Ministry, the Rock Ministry that reaches out to people who struggle through same-sex attraction. They did for me what other churches couldn’t or were simply unprepared to do—reach out with truly forgiving arms. The Agape Ministry made it acceptable for me to be transparent about my sin and shame. I could voice all of my struggles and fears and confusions.
On some days, I could not believe the progress I was making—I was experiencing freedom. I was actually speaking the emotions I had buried for so long. Everything that was hidden and tucked away in shame was now coming out. It felt like love. I came to find out, that’s exactly what it was. I started to feel boldness about the person I was growing to be. And who I was, who I am, is a child of God; loved, accepted and forgiven.
That is where I am today. Now, here’s the part of my story most Christians would rather I did not include. But I will speak it because it is the truth: I still struggle.
I lay myself at the Lord’s feet daily. There are days that I fail. But He is faithful.
He has cleansed my heart of many things that plagued me in my younger years, but the process is not over. I know I will continue to fail Him, but God and His love and His forgiveness are my inheritance.
I have come to trust Him with my life. I have no choice.