Jeff

I am moderator of the online men’s forums at Living Hope. Many of the men forum have read my story and have offered tremendous support and encouragement over the past two years that I have been a participant in Haven. I offer my story again, not only for other readers, but also as a basis for my testimony and my current relationship with Christ.

I can trace my unhealthy sexualization back to family dynamics, especially a distant relationship with my father. My family was very unaffectionate and I felt very little support from my father. Additionally, topics of a sexual nature were not discussed. The “talk” with my father consisted of “If you play with it, you will go crazy.” I remember maturing at an early age and being made fun of by the other boys for being so mature. From adolescence to adulthood, I sought acceptance from and had a longing for close males in my life. I say all of this, not from a blaming frame of reference, but from my healing in putting all of the pieces together.

I have struggled with same sex attraction for over 20 years and actually lived in a relationship for about 2 years. I ultimately met the woman of my dreams and we married. I felt that our relationship was very solid and felt that we would be together for the rest of our lives. I lived a heterosexual lifestyle for many years and we ultimately had two great children together. We were the worldly picture of success; nice home, successful professions, great kids, multiple vacations, and community respect. Unfortunately, my “struggles” surfaced again and I began living a secret life apart from my marriage.

My same sex attraction struggle manifested itself in addictive, anonymous encounters with other men. The frequency and intensity of these encounters varied over the years, but ultimately led to my arrest on a public indecency charge while cruising for an encounter. Due to my profession and role in the community, this arrest became the focus for the local media for several days and I placed myself in the care of a stress treatment facility. During my stay in the stress center, I was asked to sign paperwork resigning my position. Even though my wife had filed for divorce over a year prior to the arrest, we had still continued to live together as a married couple. Two weeks after the arrest, she again contacted her attorney and asked for a final hearing on the divorce. Due to my loss of employment and other circumstances, I ultimately had to file for bankruptcy.

I share all of this to not gain sympathy or to place blame; I am responsible for my own actions. I share this to provide a basis as to the healing that God can do in one’s life. You see, in the course of a year and a half, I was arrested, lost a prestigious job, was divorced, and filed for bankruptcy. One evening, as I wrote “goodbye” letters to my two kids and started laying the foundation to end my life, I realized that I couldn’t bear to have my two kids stand over my casket asking themselves “Why?” Even writing this brings tears to my eyes as I think about what that action would have done to two precious lives.

Fast forward to September 2006; through the grace of God, I am in the process of rebuilding my life, and my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, is stronger than it has ever been. I wear a bracelet around my right wrist with reference to Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.”

How did I get from that place of deep despair to today?

Allow me to share an analogy that often helps me in understanding God. Picture yourself in a rowboat without oars that is tied to a dock anchored to the shore. When you let go of the rope, you eventually drift farther away from the dock. How do you get back to shore? You grab hold of the rope and pull yourself back in, only to sometimes let go again and drift away from that shore. God is that dock; never changing, never moving, always there. Our lifeline is that rope: the lifeline of prayer, God’s word, devotions, faith, grace and mercy. We pull on that lifeline and we draw nearer to God. We let go, and we drift farther away. He is always there and anchors us to the shore. What a sense of calm and reassurance that provides for me. Even when that “shore” seems so far away, we know that the lifeline is always there for the taking.

Here’s how that analogy relate to my life. I realized that I had reached the bottom and I began to seek out individuals that could help me. I began regular meetings with my local pastor, where he probed me about my salvation, my walk with Christ, my devotional time, and my understanding of Biblical principles. I began attending church again on a regular basis and not being afraid to cry at the altar. I spent many Sunday mornings weeping at the foot of the cross; not embarrassed that I was there. I also began worshipping more freely during service, using that time to praise God for what I had instead of mourning what I had lost. I began a process of setting aside more time to read the Bible and other devotionals; sometimes just reading the same verse over and over again. And lastly, I began to seek God through relational prayer. I spent time on my knees daily, not asking for things, but just sharing my heart and where I was. For me, this was probably the most critical piece. I began to talk to God not as this distant Person that granted things I wanted, but as a feeling, emotional Being who understood how I was feeling. I shared my heartache, my anger, my resentment, my pain, and my confusion in an audible way. These tools became my lifeline that pulled me closer to that shore.

When feelings of desperation and discouragement creep over me like they sometimes do, I rely on these tools to help me move through. I still mourn the loss and Satan will play enormously on my sense of guilt and shame. When these times occur, I push through and sometimes just get on my knees and thank God for his blessings. It is not always easy, but always beneficial to my emotional and spiritual well being.

As the moderator in Haven, I sometimes hear others questioning where God is in their lives. I have done that many times, and sometimes still do. But I have learned that He is there for the asking and He will do amazing things in one’s life if we will just allow Him to do so. It is not always on our timetable and it may not be in the way we want. I never dreamed that I would be moderating a forum for men struggling with same sex attraction, but it has given me the opportunity to interact with many wonderful men and to walk with them during their struggles. I never dreamed that I would be writing an article for a newsletter and sharing my personal struggles to be read by a multitude of readers. Not what I had planned for my life, but it is where God wants me right now and I am learning to trust that he is always right!

Do I still struggle? Yes, I do. Am I able to set healthier boundaries? Yes, I can. Do I have a better understanding of sexual addiction? Yes, I do. Am I still growing in my relationship with Christ? Yes, I am and always will be. Spiritual growth is a process, not an end in itself. Living Hope Ministries has provided me an avenue to process my feelings and to find comfort in others’ dealings with similar issues. I am thankful for that opportunity. But more importantly, I am thankful for God’s healing power, for His never ending grace and mercy, and for His forgiveness. I pray that each one of you reading this will grab hold of that lifeline and work on pulling yourself to that shore.