Having left the gay lifestyle over 8 years ago, I often look back and am amazed at how God has continuously worked miracle after miracle in my life. He has shown Himself incredibly faithful over and over again and it makes me excited to see what else God has in store. When I first started to tell my testimony, I was nervous, hesitant, and afraid of what people might think or how they might react. It was a very different feeling from being “out and proud”. How could I have been so bold and carefree as a gay man yet so unsure of myself as a new Christian? As I told my story, I assumed no one would really be able to relate to it. Maybe, by chance, God had orchestrated a divine appointment and someone struggling with homosexuality would be in the audience. Well, it would be worth it, I reasoned, even if there was only one. If I could provide hope to another person, it was worth me putting myself out there, dirty laundry and all. After all, God went after me, right? He left the 99 for the 1 – He does that often. It’s kind of His thing.
Sometimes no one, to my knowledge, was struggling with this issue. At least they never came up to me afterward and exclaimed they dealt with same-sex attraction too! Did I really expect that to happen? Pretty naïve I guess. Sometimes that did happen, but rarely. Maybe God was just showing that He could do anything with anyone He chose. Maybe it was an example that God was willing to do the impossible if people only gave Him the opportunity. Nothing is too hard for Him, right? Or maybe God just wanted to show a church culture that often disregarded Him that He was still alive and well. Or, maybe still, God knew that people were often bored with “church as usual” and, in order to keep people awake, a young man with an often unheard of testimony on a controversial issue involving sex was sure to keep people’s attention. I don’t know. The possibilities are endless, I guess.
Whatever the reason, I was giving my testimony – for the hundredth time – and realized that most of my issues really had nothing to do with homosexuality, or even sex for that matter. Although there were few struggling with homosexuality (to my knowledge), there were a multitude who were broken and in broken relationships. Many came up to me after I shared my story and expressed how grateful they were that I was open and honest about my life. Although they had never dealt with being gay, they admitted to feeling hopeless, lost, confused, lonely, tired, and frustrated in human relationships. Seeing me “get real” with God gave them hope that soon, mourning would give way to joy and faithfulness would lead to breakthrough.
I was often astounded (and sometimes a little confused) at how people would draw a link between my story and theirs and how they were encouraged despite us having nothing in common.
“Your story really helped me today”, someone would say.
“Oh, are you gay?”
“No, it just helped me with an issue in my marriage.”
Wait, what? My story was about me being gay. Wasn’t he listening? I always thought straight people never listened to me. This proved it. Actually, the more I gave my testimony, the more I realized that most everyone could relate to what I was saying. Weren’t we all in the same miserable boat of continuous sin and repetitive failure until Christ came? Aren’t there a number of things that people choose to stay “in the closet” about (I couldn’t resist) for fear of judgment? Don’t we all struggle to make Jesus Lord over every area of our lives? And do we not all resist the Perfect Love that gently nudges, draws, pokes, prods, and sometimes shoves us toward change so that we can be even freer? I find this is common, all too common in fact. These weren’t gay issues – they were fallen human ones.
Actually, most of my issues really involved me not loving my neighbor as myself. And to be fair, I didn’t love me or my neighbor. So God set me on a path, not to be straight but to follow Him. My goal wasn’t heterosexuality. My goal was, and is, Jesus. The more I love Him, the more I love me and those around me. The clearer I see who I am in His love, the clearer I see His love for you. I could go on, I’m sure.
I guess my point in all this is that sin is, well, sin. It can be ever increasing and all-pervading in our lives. But God’s love is that way too and where sin abounds, grace abounds more. The common denominator for all of us is that sin has wrecked and shattered us and no amount of self-righteous glue is going to put us back together. Brokenness comes in many forms, but Jesus is the great Mender. We’re more alike than we think, I guess.
Some music for this post: Watermark - "Mended"