If you read my first post you may know that I grew up in a Christian home. I also grew up in a very conservative church. When I was about 10 years old I started to realize I was attracted to men. This was a terrifying realization to me. I did not want to be gay. I feared rejection from my friends and family. Even though I was not out, walking into church I felt guilty. I felt a weight walking through those doors.
I also felt a disconnect in my friendships. I feared that if people knew what I was dealing with, they would not like me anymore. For this reason I kept a barrier up with my friends and even my family.
Through my teen years I prayed for God to change me. I remember crying myself to sleep asking, “If I have to have some sort of struggle in life, can it please be anything else? I’d rather be anything but this!” Nothing changed. But what I heard from “church people” was that God “hates gays” and “gays go to hell.” I did not want to go to hell. I did not want to be gay. So why would God not just zap me and take it away? Years later I finally came out to my family when I was 19. I was angry with God and very confused. So I stopped going to church and I cut God out of my life.
I would never wish this on anyone. If I could, I would love to be straight. It would be so much easier! But that’s not the hand I was dealt. A lot of my insecurities, depression, anxiety stemmed from my struggles as a kid to understand myself and fit in.
If it were not for my best friend, who is also named Alex, and her husband Forrest, I would have never renewed my relationship with Christ. They showed me unconditional love. And they introduced me to a new church where I felt comfortable for the first time in years.
After returning to church and renewing that relationship, I finally realized the purpose for my struggle. Because of my experiences, I knew what it was like to feel outcast. I had a greater ability to empathize with others, specifically as it relates to their feelings towards “church.” I would not have had this ability had my childhood “wish” been granted. I have a unique position now to be able to use my position to help the church be more welcoming. And to speak with people (gay and straight) who might not listen to most other christians.
That may be the biggest perspective change I have ever had. It’s only been a couple years, but I’ve already been able to connect with so many people that I otherwise never would have connected with. I’ve had opportunities to share my story in front of thousands of people. I’ve spoken on the radio, very briefly, but none the less. I’ve gotten to connect with others one-on-one and see tremendous impact. And this is still just the beginning. I’m going to use my story to touch as many people as possible. I went from hating myself, to using my position to help others.
I’ve had a lot of ugly times over the years. I’m sure you have too. But its what we do with those lessons that is important.
Every lesson, especially a difficult lesson, is another brush stroke on the painting of our life.
So you had another Monday. No one likes Monday’s. It is hard to get back into the routine. Work was trying and you had another argument with you boss. A client was rude, again, and you can’t seem to get past it. You’re working multiple jobs just to keep up on the bills. Life looks dark! But how many Monday’s have you made it through so far? (hint: the answer is all of them) How many difficult days have you actually reflected on and asked, “What did I learn?” Take the time to reflect and look for the beauty in the midst of turmoil. Zoom out, how did you get to this point? And what could you possibly learn from it?