Eric at Two World Collision has been reflecting recently on his journey, and on the things God has been showing him as he's gone through the process of reconciling his faith with his sexual orientation. Reading his story has, in turn, caused me to spend time reflecting on the path God has led me down over the last year and a half.
It's been less than two years since I walked through the doors of a local ministry (I refuse to label them as "ex-gay" because A) they'd never use that label for themselves and B) they're far more than that. They do maintain a somewhat-strained relationship with Exodus, but they don't deserve to be lumped in with all of the negative baggage that's become associated with that organization). At that point in time I was stuck - I was confused, lonely, hurting and more than a little disillusioned that I'd failed to achieve "change" despite the programs I'd gone through and all the "right" things that I had done toward that end, and I had no idea what to do next.
Entering this new environment (where I wasn't being given some structured, multi-step program) enabled me to begin examining what was going on inside, and I quickly encountered a huge well of pain that I'd managed to keep buried for a very long time. At the center of that pain was hurt and anger over a friend that God had brought into my life at a crucial time, and just as quickly taken away from me again. At the time I wouldn't have acknowledged how deeply I'd fallen in love with him, even if I'd been able to put that label on it (since being gay, of course, was all about lust and sex, and none of my thoughts about him had been sexual), but when he moved away and got married it ripped my world in two - a fact that I buried so that it wouldn't interfere with my ability to celebrate with him and his new wife (who I also liked very much). And then I left it buried, where it quietly grew and began to hamper my ability to connect with people.
By the time I allowed all of that pain to surface it took the better part of a week to let all of it out, first grief and then rage, but I did eventually reach the end of it. At that point the healing began. For the next several months I engaged in a back-and-forth dialogue with God, bringing him my wounds and grievances one by one. He never answered my many questions directly; instead, time and time again his reply was simply "I love you." On occasion he'd also remind me to trust him, but otherwise I never got more than that one, simple answer that I so desperately needed to hear.
Through that process I was gradually able to trust God on deeper and deeper levels, until the day I was finally ready to tell him, "no matter what happens, no matter how much it hurts, even if I'm stuck being this way for the rest of my life, I'm going to trust you with all of this."
It wasn't long afterward that the questions started. As I began to understand that I really did have value and that God loved me exactly the way I was, I could no longer ignore the incongruity between what God was showing me and what I'd been taught my entire life. I refused to assume that I was free to do whatever happened to feel good, but I nonetheless began asking a lot of hard questions, expecting nothing more than to come to a better understanding of why all homosexual relationships were wrong and why God nonetheless chose not to change individuals so that they'd be capable of honoring him through heterosexual marriage.
What I found, instead, was even more questions. But that's a story for another post; this is getting too long and taking too much time to write as it is.