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God's strength in my weaknesses

My parents remember well when I woke them up in the middle of the night, a small child stricken with fear. I had dreamed that I died and went to hell, and I barged into their room so they could help me repent and put my faith in Jesus. Of course, trusting in Jesus as a kid, and growing up in a Christian home, came with burdens and blessings. Lately, I have been fascinated with how God is making blessings from the things I have considered to be burdens, struggles, and plain old bad decisions in my life. Wrestling with sinful desires for romantic and sexual relationships with women is the consummate example. Yet when I look for His hand in my past, I can see in everything how He has been working for His glory and my good. Essentially, God has used my experiences to deepen my gratitude for the incredible grace He has given me.

Raised as a warrior

I had many opportunities to learn about God and serve Him because I grew up in a Christian home and was active in my church. In addition, I knew I was accountable for how I invested these gifts. The parable of the talents in passages like Matthew 25:14-30 still sobers my spirit. Moreover, my parents raised me and my brothers in light of Psalm 127:3-5, which describes children as “like arrows in the hands of a warrior.” My dad told us he hoped we would become warriors, arrows that could contend beyond his reach and stand up for Jesus Christ as the world becomes more and more corrupt. I took Luke 12:48b seriously: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (NKJV).

Then I started to recognise that I had a certain “bent” towards homosexuality. I tried to deny it through all of high school. I knew better than to fall into this sin, but a part of me wanted it badly. My conscience held me prisoner. I felt like a massive hypocrite. At worst, I believed I was a failure. When I was at a county government meeting, those were my thoughts, giving a speech against the public library for hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour. On the outside, I looked like I was fulfilling the vision of being a fighter for the faith in my community. Then I saw the local secular humanist chapter on the left side of the room, and I felt like I had no right to stand at the podium and tell them that their actions were wrong. I did not act on my temptation, but I still felt like I was disappointing God, my family, and my church by desiring it. As painful as it has been to witness LGBTQ+ philosophies change my hometown, I am grateful for God’s protection during my youth by raising me in a home that was filled with faith and truth.

God gave me a little more light every time I obeyed

Admitting my weaknesses

Naturally, the hardest part of dealing with same-sex attraction has been admitting to others that I am broken. Until the second half of my time at college, I felt okay with keeping my struggle between God and me. Then I fell in love with my roommate. When she started dating her future husband, I felt like I was losing my mind with jealousy. God got my attention when my state went into lockdown for COVID, and my roommate had to move out the day before my birthday. I sank into depression and made a plan to commit suicide as I started to see the consequences of perverting a good friendship with lust. During this time, I cried out to God, “Can You not only forgive me but also restore me? Can You make peace between the friends I’ve wronged, and me? Is it even possible for me to have healthy relationships with women?”
I knew that God is in the business of changing lives, and He is the best one at it. I wanted Him to do it for me so badly. I read through the entire Bible in a couple of months, gobbling up whole books in a sitting because I was desperate to know that Jesus could salvage my sin-craving heart. As I poured into Scripture, the Holy Spirit exposed the world’s assumptions that I unconsciously accepted about sexuality, orientation, and identity. I never want to go through that season again, but I am deeply grateful for how much closer I am to Jesus because of it.

Finding strength in God

While I read the Bible like my life depended on it, the Lord confirmed the truths I was reading through other believers around me. An older lady came alongside me and has continued to be a mentor and friend to me. She has comforted me without getting too emotional, and she is discerning and wise without being purely analytical. Also, she has given me resources and advice, but she never told me what to do. TFT’s virtual “Never Alone” conference occurred during the pitch of my depression, and what a timely gift it was! I got to meet brothers and sisters who encouraged me that a faithful, godly life is not only possible, that healthy intimacy is not only possible, that choosing Jesus over sinful desires is not only possible, but that it is absolutely worth it. Closer to home, my friends continued to pray for my roommate and me, holding me accountable and encouraging my spirit. As for my roommate, I am astounded that she never gave up on me. She really believed that Jesus forgave all my sins and that I could live freely, even though I would still struggle. Her continual forgiveness, compassion, and generosity helped me believe that God also felt the same way towards me. Eventually, I confessed to her fiancé. I knew my roommate had already told him about me, but he deserved the respect of me apologising to him, face to face. He forgave me. But that conversation seared into my heart the devastating consequences of lust and the heavy cost of forgiveness. I felt deeply humbled, honoured, and grateful to bear witness to their wedding. I did not deserve to be there, but they said it was a privilege to extend grace to me, as God has given grace to them. Friends, that’s how amazing the gospel can be.

These are salient examples of how God has used my experience of same-sex attraction to bring me closer to Him and the body of believers. I still want to be a faithful warrior for Christ, but now I am starting to understand what Paul means about boasting in weakness. I have been forgiven much, and I am profoundly grateful (Luke 7:36-50). The Lord set me free from a destructive grip of my heart, and I have peace with God again. In the depth of my troubles, my ways were dead set against His. But He gave me a little more light every time I obeyed. I thought I had a world of expectations to meet, but Jesus’ burden is light and free. And His generosity will catch you by surprise.

This article was originally published in the winter 2021 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.

Download the winter 2021 edition of Ascend