I came to know the Lord at 5 years old and even then, I felt out of place. While at recess, I was watching the boys play basketball and thought, “I can’t go up there; I don’t belong.” I see now that was the beginning of my developmental problems. I understood that Jesus died for me, and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Him, mom, and grandmother. My dad and his side of the family were abusive and not into church. Traveling back and forth between these worlds left me feeling tossed to and fro without a real sense of stability. The Independent Baptist School became my grounding from K- 12. My view of God was as I saw my father, an angry dad, and never pleased no matter how hard I tried. One day at about nine years old, my dad dropped me off after a weekend with him and said, “You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if you grew up to be gay, because you have been so influenced by those two women.” I did not understand what that meant, but knew it was not good. That statement only solidified the view I had of myself—an inadequate, sorry excuse for a son, who would never be the boy my dad desired.
I spent the next five years trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I know in his own way he loves me. He would take me fishing, hunting, camping; give hugs, and tell me he loved me; he was funny; however, I believe there was something in me that was so much like my mother that he hated. During those pivotal, awkward years in middle school, I found a sense of worth in my performance. I would spend hours on school work and studying, along with trying to be the perfect Christian…after all, was that not what God wanted? Eventually the exhaustion of trying to be the best “everything” got the best of me and at thirteen I no longer wanted to live. I do not think I really wanted to commit suicide but just wanted the pain to end and to stop crying behind a closed door, only to walk out and pretend like everything was okay. I lived life with a mask on. I prayed God would take my life quickly so my dad would realize I was a good son. I just continued on though, dealing with the pain of having disappointed him and also with teasing from peers, self image issues, loneliness, and anger.
When I was almost fifteen, abuse and contention between my father and I had taken a toll and things came to a head. I decided to step away from the environment I hated yet loved. I left my dad, stepmom, grandparents, and two stepbrothers and really haven’t had a relationship with any of them since. I believe God allowed me that distance so I could begin the healing journey. Even though I began to walk in more freedom as some of the chains were being loosened from me, I was finding myself exhausted from all the performance driven, perfectionist lifestyle. I also began to accept the fact that I was dealing with same-sex attractions. I knew I needed help and with the help of my mom, sought a counselor at my church. After working with him for a while, he referred me to the local Exodus member ministry in my town. I began seeing the counselor and vividly remember showing up with my mental 10-point plan of what I wanted to accomplish and how long it would take ME to “fix” this problem. I was not so rudely awakened—as she gently helped me understand it was more about coming to truly know my Heavenly Father and surrendering to Him daily than about my purposes and plans. Slowly things began to change.
I cannot tell you today that I am not tempted with same sex attractions. I cannot tell you that I will never make any sexual mistakes where this area is concerned, and though God has protected me from the scars of acting out physically, I know that God still heals those who have been in the darkest of places. I continue to surrender daily to His grace and stay focused on Him, no longer with a perfectionist attitude, but with an awareness of the awesome love He has for me and plans for my future. Every day is a battle I must engage in, but every day is not a struggle. I am at peace knowing there is no condemnation for me. God is my true Father and I am His righteous son!