This one might just be a “duh” item to even mention. It’s hard to get through anything in life without friends! But hopefully this post won’t be a reiteration of the obvious – I’ll try to include a few insights that might be encouraging & useful.
I remember being excited and nervous to meet in person people who had “been there” – others who had struggled with homosexual desires and had come to a point where they found a sustainable heterosexuality. What deep spiritual truths did they know that I did not? Would they seem to have arrived at some seemingly unreachable, rich maturity? Would I be able to rise to the challenge that they had faced and overcome?
As I came to spend time with these individuals, I realized that – they’re all just regular people. Entirely plain, ordinary folks. Quite approachable. That was a bit disappointing, to be honest. It seemed that it didn’t take any special qualities to get there from here. Faith, repentance, worship, seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and in deed – the same type of things I’d seen as essential to anyone’s pursuit of life with Christ.
Although it was a great relief to finally be able to talk to people who “got it” – whom I did not have to be fearful of knowing this part of my life – they didn’t have any magic keys to unlock the doors for me. They could empathize, and share what they’d been through and how God helped them through it. And those were tremendously encouraging things. But it was up to me to decide how to move on from there.
It was finding that I could be honest before Jesus, and discovering that He was more than willing to walk alongside me as my greatest Friend, that made the most significant difference.
I remember a day when I was letting go of a relationship with a woman that I loved and was attracted to. I was grief-stricken – sobbing, it felt as though I was tearing apart. I turned a bit, and in my mind’s eye saw the Savior there – and was astounded to find that He was crying, too. He knew that this was painful, and shared in my grieving – even though it was something sinful, something I knew He had paid for with His own life. He came alongside me and wept, just acknowledging the loss was a real one, and His presence and understanding was a great comfort to me.
It reminded me of the scene in The Magician’s Nephew…(those of you who have read that book may already have had it come to mind)…where Digory asks for help for his Mother, who is deathly ill:
But when he had said, “Yes,” he thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out:
“But please, please – won’t you – can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.”
~ C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
What was surprising is that among my earthly friendships, I found the ones I have had with those who have never “been there” to be the most helpful.
The people I envied and feared were the ones I was surrounded with every day. Jealous of the seeming ease with which it they could interact with one another. Fearful that I would be found out as someone who did not fit in, who was different. I tried very hard to blend with those around me. Making an effort to laugh the right way at the right jokes, faking interest in things that I didn’t understand, attempting to find the balance between the authenticity I longed for and avoiding the risk of revealing too much.
So it was with quite a bit of fear that I started opening up to some close friends and relatives about my struggles with SSA. The people I was sure already knew, actually had no idea. And it turned out that others whom I had been sure that I’d fooled had known, or had made decent guesses for a long time.
I had thought that, if I was blessed enough to not have them reject me, that being honest around my friends would be of some help in this journey. There would be less pressure to pretend, maybe there would even be some people that I could pray with. And this turned out to be the case, yet there was also much more. My good friends were willing to listen and to walk alongside me. The energy and effort that I had previously put into hiding could now be used in learning.
Looking back, the ability to bounce ideas and questions off of my ever-straight friends helped far more over the long-term than even the insights gained from those who had been involved in homosexual relationships. Just spending time with them pointed the way to where I wanted to be – a thousand little subtleties that most people just take for granted were gleaned in the every-day, mundaneness of life.
I’m very thankful for those who have walked alongside me, who have taken the time to listen and pray for me and with me, and who were willing to just be themselves around me as I grew along the way. And for those who continue to do so!