Walking in Faith
There was a time when I lived a gay lifestyle, but that all changed, very gradually, when it became clear that God wanted me to live differently, as a celibate man. Through His grace, God has sustained me in that commitment. Now, looking back, I can see just how the Lord was working in my life, getting me to the stage of acknowledging him as my Lord and Saviour, giving my life to him, and walking with him in faith.
Having to leave home
My father was a vicar, and I was brought up in a very religious environment. However, God seemed a million miles away. I knew of Jesus Christ, but I didn’t know him in the way I do today.
Throughout school and college, I felt tremendous unhappiness, loneliness and depression. I carried the burden of knowing I was gay, while also so fearful of how my parents would react if I told them.
At the age of twenty, not being able to keep this burden to myself any longer, I told my parents. Sadly my parents didn’t take my confession, and they suggested psychiatric help to take away my sexual tendencies. I didn’t agree with this and so my parents found me a bedsit near to Hastings. The loneliness that I felt in those first few months away from my family haunted me. I felt abandoned by my parents and left only with questions.
Needing to pay my way, my mother found me a job working as a Health Care Assistant at a hospital, caring for those with intellectual and physical disabilities. It was a very austere building, in that it looked like a prison. Being so young, this job was a real eye-opener to me and a humbling experience. After a year or so caring for these patients, I began to pine for a different life beyond these grey walls - perhaps something to do with art. Within a matter of weeks, I had found a job working as a tracer for a building company in Hastings Old Town. Looking back now, I strongly believe that the Lord was reassuring me that all will be ok.
While there I was invited to a party and I met someone called John who was a vicar, having his own parish in London. We got on well and became friends. Unfortunately for me, I was made redundant from my job. Although I was devastated at the time, I can now see how the Lord moved me on. Everything seemed to be closing for me in Hastings, and so I decided to move to Brighton for a fresh start.
Moving to Brighton, aged 23, I was filled with hope for a new life. However, it was not quite as I expected and my new venture was full of difficulties and challenging times. Living on sparse wages, the accommodation I found in Brighton was unsatisfactory and so I ended up moving from one bedsit/B&B to another. With so much moving around, and a chaotic life, I lost contact with John and I thought that our friendship was lost too.
I soon became disillusioned with the gay scene in Brighton and the people I met. I was hoping to build a good and meaningful relationship with someone I could love and share my life with. What I discovered was that the gay scene seemed to be shrouded in promiscuity, which was a big issue for me, something which conflicted with my values. There seemed to be no ability or desire to be faithful. There were some exceptions, but they were very rare. So much seemed to conflict with my life values and finding a lasting relationship seemed impossible. Moreover, I had strong feelings that being a practising gay man was wrong, and many years later I began to realise I was compromising the word of God in living my gay lifestyle.
The Lord’s intervention
Aged 31, I met someone who made a tremendous impact on me and with whom I fell in love. But soon it became clear that it was never to be and that it had come to an end. Having to deal with homophobic comments in the job I had at that time, and the end of my relationship, resulted in me having a breakdown. Everything was spiralling out of control. Because of the mess I was in, and not wanting to continue living, I did try to take my own life. I was crying out for something to ease the pain I felt. With developing clinical depression, I eventually lost my job. Keeping up with my mortgage payments was difficult, and everything seemed hopeless. One day, however, making my way to a nearby store, I saw someone crossing the road towards me. To my amazement it was John. I couldn’t believe my eyes I hadn’t seen him for nearly 10 years and I didn’t think I would ever see him again. I hugged him in such relief and joy. John had moved to be based in Hove, and his new parish was only a stone’s throw from my flat. I was to realise and believe that it was the Lord who brought him back into my life as my friend and support.
Being so unwell, I had to sell my flat and cut my losses. John kindly offered for me to stay at his vicarage until I was well again. My clinical depression lasted for 5 years and I have no idea what I would have done without his care and support. Gradually getting back into work, I worked my way up from cleaning rooms at a hotel to working as a waiter in the bar, serving afternoon teas. Looking back, I could see the way God was guiding me on to eventually becoming a Crown Court Usher, building me up with experience for that role.
Some time later, through a colleague, I applied to join the Crown Court as an Usher. After the interview, as I arrived home, I received a call from the manager to say they would like me to work for them.
So, at the age of 45, I began my career as a Crown Court Usher. The Lord began to make it clear that my vocation was working there, assisting jurors, victims and defendants, and showing care and compassion.
For many years, I would pray that the Lord could find me someone to love and to share my life with. There were times I would cry from loneliness, and times I would pray to God to release me from this life. Living a busy life, I was by no means hidden away from meeting people. But for years those prayers were not answered. However, it became clear to me that it wasn’t God’s plan for me to have a gay relationship.
Getting to know Jesus Christ
I began getting a very strong urge to read and study the Bible. I wasn’t reading it with any real conviction, and I certainly knew of Jesus Christ, but still at that time I didn’t know him personally. However, that was all about to change. I experienced what it was like to become a ”born again” Christian. This incredible experience of suddenly feeling more connected to Jesus Christ I call my “epiphany”. I had two weeks leave and I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to watch some sermons online. There were many times in those two weeks I could feel the Holy Spirit moving me to tears, tears of connection, joy and hope for my life that had seemed lost. Since my “epiphany”, all the negative things that burdened me, such as loneliness and isolation, were to fall away through God’s grace and love for me. This filled my life with a sense of purpose, joy and peace. Through God’s love and support, it became apparent that I could live a single celibate life and be happy, keeping faithful to the word of God. The Lord showed me that I could also forgive my parents, taking away all the hurt that I felt for so many years. For the last two years, I have been able to enjoy building a relationship with my parents.
It was like a jigsaw puzzle gradually falling into place, revealing a clear picture of so much, and having more understanding of my life. All of this has made me realise that I am one of the most fortunate people alive, being able to have a relationship with Jesus as a child of God, and being grateful for all that God has promised and given me. It is true to say that there are still moments when I feel a loneliness or sadness that I’m not physically sharing my life with someone. But when I hand those feelings to the Lord, they begin to be lifted from me, like a heavy fog being dispersed. These feelings are then replaced with feelings of calm, peace and reassurance that the Lord is very much in my life.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Spring 2020 edition of Ascend