I grew up in a Christian home and was a pastor’s son, and I was immersed in the church. I was at church on Sunday mornings and evenings, and I was there on Wednesday nights. And I knew the love of God, at least intellectually, as it was ardently preached and taught. However, I never really experienced the loving embrace of the Father until I was much older. As a young boy, I never felt completely loved and accepted. I was very insecure, desperately lonely, and lacked much confidence in my true identity as a man of Christ.
In the beginning of my childhood, most of what I remember is spending a lot of time with my mom and maternal grandmother. I would go to my mom when I needed comfort and companionship, and I would very frequently spend the night at my grandmother’s, which is where I spent a lot of time cooking and baking. On the contrary, I did not do a lot of things with my dad. I always remember him being verbally harsh and stern, and that prevented me from really connecting or attaching to him. In fact, because of my dad’s exacting discipline, I was unable to see the truth that many of the things he did for me were out of the motive of love, and I withdrew from him.
This propensity to spend time with the opposite gender continued in elementary school. I was never discouraged from spending time with my maternal figures, so as I continued to bond with my mom and grandmother, I treasured the new relationships I made with my female teachers. Yet, I continued to distance myself from my dad, and I didn’t spend a lot of time with the boys in my classes. One of the only memories I have about anything involving a boy is being held down by a fellow kindergartener and scraping my knee on the ground, after repeatedly begging him to let me go.
Throughout this time, even though I continued to withdraw from dad, he was the one who led me to the Lord when I was eight. In fact, part of the reason why I have the faith I have today is because of the love and steadfastness my dad had for me when I was younger, as well as his insistence on the fact that God loves me and is jealous for me. But, even though I made this commitment to the Lord, my life remained, for the most part, unchanged. I remember my dad giving me a Survival Kit in order to help me at the beginning of my spiritual walk, but I didn’t like going through the devotional, and I hated the fact that one of its requirements was to memorize certain scriptures. It was my failure, though, to realize that memorizing those scriptures and developing an intimate relationship with God was exactly what I needed to overcome the struggles that had plagued my childhood and would continue to plague my adolescence.
It was in middle school that I have the first distinct memory of feeling different than and unaccepted by the other guys. I did not like the times I had to go to P.E., but I observed that most other guys enjoyed it. And what further increased my distaste for going to the gym was that a few guys treated me very badly. After noticing that I didn’t like being physically active in P.E., some of the guys in my group made fun of me and called me “Teletubbie.” One guy even spit on the back of my neck while I was using the restroom. Also, I remember that once in one of my classes, when we had a substitute, everyone decided to sit in the wrong seat. I think I was the last one who walked into the classroom, and after seeing that everyone had done this, I protested and wanted everyone to sit in the correct spot. However, everyone refused and ridiculed me. And never did I once invite a guy over to my house in middle school.
All of this to say, I felt incredibly unlike the other guys. This feeling increased in high school. Other males did not tease me at this time, but I never hung out with anyone from school, except for a few girls I had befriended. Along with this feeling of being different, I developed an intense desire to be like one of the guys. I started dreaming about how it would be if I could fit in and have friends with the same sex. And it was because of this that, when I started going through puberty, I developed attractions to the same sex. I don’t remember having these attractions until my junior year of high school, which is when I started watching homosexual pornography. Watching the pornography articulated the feelings and desires I had. Before I developed these attractions, however, I did have two significant spiritual experiences. While I was in the ninth and tenth grades, I went on two mission trips, the first to Romania, the second to New Zealand. While on both trips, it was required to have a daily, one-hour quiet time with the Lord. I had never experienced this type of deep relationship with the Lord before, and along with the quiet time and doing dramas and one-on-one personal evangelism, my love for and intimacy with the Lord grew.
Even though I experienced this intimate closeness to the Lord, I was not able to develop the spiritual discipline of having a quiet time, among other disciplines, on the home-front until just recently, within the past couple of years. It was when I first started having a consistent quiet time that my bout with pornography ended. Also, becoming involved with small groups in the church over the past two years has helped to increase my sense of self-worth and acceptance, as well as my confidence in my identity in Christ. I’ve never acted out on my same-sex attractions, and I believe that my involvement with the church has majorly contributed to keeping me from doing so. I’ve also been receiving individual counseling as well as group therapy from Truth WNC, where I meet in a Christ-centered support group with other Christian guys who have the same struggle. Along with reading books and watching instructional DVDs about homosexuality, all of these things have greatly helped in my healing. However, even though I’ve experienced significant growth and have begun the sanctification journey, there are still many areas in which I still struggle. I have a hard time feeling like I’m a part of the guys, the brotherhood, even when I’m at church and small group, and I still wrestle with same-sex attractions although not on a daily basis anymore. I’ve battled with emotional codependency too. And I’m a bit afraid to tell people of this struggle because of how they will respond. But, sharing this struggle is my effort to be more transparent so that I can be fully known and loved. I have faith that this step will take me closer to the healing that I so deeply want and need. Most of all, I am trusting in the Lord that He is with me every step of the way on this journey, and that I am truly his beloved, and that He is mine.