You think if a wound goes real deep that the healin can feel just as bad as what caused it? -Percy, The Spitfire Grill
This quote is from a play about redemption and believing the Truth about yourself, rather than the lies of man. It resonates with me because for years Ive believed the lies that I heard from others growing up — lies which said having relations with other men would enable me to feel more like a man; promises that it would give me acceptance in a world of masculine men where I had not been accepted before. Also, having been molested as a teenager by two different ministers in my life, I believed the lie that no man would want to be close to me unless he could have me sexually.
As a little boy I loved the arts, but I believed being in theatre, enjoying singing, or displaying an artistic side meant I was different or sexually broken and would never be free from the thoughts which enslaved me. I thought I should just give up trying because I believed what Id heard my entire life: thats just who I am.
My story began very similar to a lot of people growing up in small Texas towns. I was raised in a family who loved the Lord and I became a Christian when I was 9 years old. I was brought up in the church, received incredible instruction and training in righteousness, and learned all of the ways to have a fruitful Christian life. However, just about the time my God-given desires and gifts for the arts began to emerge, so did my desire for things I knew were not right to talk about in church.
As a sensitive boy growing up, I wanted to please everyone from my parents to my Sunday school teachers. I knew that if I were honest about my homosexual temptations, I would be condemned, looked down upon or asked to leave our youth group. Looking back, I would have loved the opportunity to see how ministry might have taken place if I had been brave enough to confess my struggle and be honest about my brokenness. However, I decided to bottle it up and go on as if everything was great — after all, wasnt that what people wanted? Wasnt that what the Lord expected of me? Yet another lie I believed. I moved on to college where I received a musical theatre degree, and then to New York to pursue theatre professionally, but the struggles did not go away like I had prayed they would.
My secret struggle began to grow and it was harder to keep it under control especially living in New York City, working with people who embraced this gay lifestyle, and seemed relatively happy doing so. I began seeing success in my career. I booked a national tour, then a Broadway show, and enjoyed going from gig to gig; living for the Lord as much as I could, but still struggling more than ever. I slowly began acting out with other guys who I knew would not say anything, and then finally began acting out with people I didnt even know – not really caring if I hurt others or myself in the process. In my mind I had identified this artistic side that God had given me, with sexual sin. And as God does when His children are running, He allowed me to reach the end of my rope. I considered suicide many times, and even prayed God would wreck my car so I wouldnt have to deal with my internal turmoil any longer. The Scripture is not speaking in metaphor when it says our sin leads to death. However, as Beth Moore says, At the end of myself, I came to the beginning of an intensity of relationship with an invisible Savior. Through prayer, brokenness, and my best friend and accountability partner telling me to move down to Texas to join Living Hope, I decided I could not find healing by myself. I needed help! Within a week, I moved to DFW with no job, no prospects, but a hope and a dream that God could lead me out of this hell I was living and redeem my life from the pit.
Even though I knew Jesus as a child, I didnt know how to reconcile my beliefs about God with the thoughts and feelings I truly believed was my identity as a gay man. Through Living Hope, God began to reveal how to reconcile my conflicted life. I started seeing my story through the lens of the Bible, and God began replacing the lies I had believed with His Truth — Truth which meant I could be free from the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for me. (Heb. 12:1) I also began to see where my true identity is in Christ; that I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), chosen by God, (Col. 3:12), and an adopted son of the King (Eph. 1:5). I began feeling like St. Augustine did at his conversion experience,
How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me, You who are the True, the sovereign JOY. You drove them from me and took their place, You who are sweeter than all pleasure.
God is continuing to show me the life He has for me is so much better than the life I would choose for myself. What I once thought was satisfying is no longer satisfying at all, but completely empty. However, serving, loving and pursuing Jesus brings me life, joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. I resonate with President Shepard in the movie American President when he says, People dont drink the sand because they are thirsty. They drink the sand because they dont know the difference.
I had been drinking the sand for such a long period of time, but finally I see where true, life-giving water is found: through loving Jesus more than I love my sin. Some people ask me why I believe that so many people who are gifted artistically struggle with the homosexual lifestyle. I am sure that being born with a sensitive spirit, as most artists have, is part of it. But people have perverted their ideas about those gifts and labeled them as more feminine characteristics. However, we need only look to the Word to find extremely masculine examples of artists — Artists like David, who God said was a man after Gods own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14). If we see our identity in Him rather than the world, God will replace the lies we have believed with His truth and the world will be amazed at how His glory will be seen in us. God has started that redeeming process in me. I have seen how He can use this struggle that once held me captive, as a ministry to serve others who have yet to experience His unfailing love. I am so blessed to get to do what the Lord has gifted me to do, and serve Him daily in it, even though I still wrestle with struggles and temptations. However, Ive learned that as His children, we fall forward, not backwards. Christ picks us up, dusts us off and continues alongside of us in this grand journey of faith. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound; grace that is greater than all our sin. For He says to us, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness. And like Paul, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christs power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9). If anyone has room to boast about his weaknesses, it is I.
I think that Percy was right in her statement. Yes, sometimes the healing can feel just as bad as what caused the wound, but the healing Christ brings allows us to walk in freedom, experiencing His joy, His grace, and getting to be a part of His story!