Okay, well…I just wrote out my testimony for someone, so I thought I might as well post it here as well. I posted a 6000 word epic in January 2009 (http://perseveringalltheway.xanga.com/689332799/chris-the-prequel/) which has a lot of detail about the early years, but a lot has happened since and I’m thinking differently these days, so this has a lot of later stuff.
I grew up in a Christian family and always went to church and believed in God and started reading the Bible every day when I was pretty young.
I realised I was dealing with gay desires when I was about11 or 12. When I was masturbating I was thinking about a naked dude and I thought, ‘hmmmm, I don’t think I’m meant to be doing that,’ I didn’t realise there was a label until some friends at school were talking about ‘gay people’ several months later.
I was quite discouraged to realise I could be described as gay and didn’t really deal with it at all. I don’t think I said the words, ‘I’m gay’ out loud for a couple of years. For the next eight years being gay basically meant that I had intense emotional crushes on particular guys and I dreamed they were gay and thought about them heaps. I masturbated a lot and looked at porn on dial-up when I could be bothered. Sometimes I tried to find gay guys to talk to to share my inner emotional pain with but they either wanted me to have highly sexual conversations or they would just stop writing back after a couple of emails.
I did have some respite from sin when I truly became a Christian at age 15. After sinning as usual, I think this time when I said ‘sorry’ I actually meant it and actually understood what God had done in forgiving us.That was a wonderful time. Then SSA wasn’t really my big issue for the next couple of years as I had depression and also felt bullied a bit by certain people in Year 11 who happened to be friends with the guy I had a crush on at the time.
During my teenage years I continued to pray to God and read my Bible every day and built a strong foundation of relationship with Him.
At the age of 19 I finally started to deal with SSA in ways that went beyond just fighting sin. I started doing the Doors of Hope – setting captives free course on the internet (I recommend it if you haven’t done it)one winter break. At the same time I was working on fences on my dad’s farm and it was this amazing God season. I was doing hard man work with my dad (who previously I hadn’t got along with so well) during the day and then coming home to the computer and being soaked in truth. I must admit that before doing this course I was very prideful about my SSA. I didn’t want anyone to know, because they might think I was weak. And I blamed God for it and basically had the attitude of ‘God let me be this way, so he should change me otherwise he shouldn’t be too unhappy if I’m a dodgy Christian’. This course showed me some of the emotional roots of my struggle.
I feel in some ways I didn’t really start to deal with SSA until this course showed me how even though it wasn’t my fault I had SSA I had chosen to use it for a lot of sin. One thing that still sticks out to me from the course is a verse from Jeremiah where God says his people have forsaken his streams of living water and tried to fill broken cisterns that would not hold water. It highlighted to me that SSA was as much an emotional void that I wasn’t letting God fill healthily.
From doing this course I told my best mate at the time about my SSA and then my parents and sister and a few more friends found out. I also started going to an SSA support group around this time, which was helpful to reduce my shame as I was with other guys who struggled similarly. Though it took me literally years until I was okay with what I struggled with and actually felt almost relaxed at these nights and weekends.
One of the big things God did in my life when I was 20 was help me know more about Him. I read a book about evangelism that just had so much truth about God in it that I saw him as truly awesome and worthwhile to be following, and then I trusted him more and then a lot of things in my life were easy. After this I started listening to Mark Driscoll sermons and it was a kind of God-soaked preaching I had never heard before. It helped me love and trust God more too. Driscoll also preached on what it was to be a man. This was truly amazing to me; to know how I, as a guy with a male body, was meant to be male in my actions and thinking. No one had ever said ‘here’s how you be a man’. And it turned out I was already a man to some degree.
I guess you can see that my early dealings with SSA were all defensive. Don’t masturbate. Don’t look at porn. Don’t let anyone know. Now I was attacking. Telling people. Working on being a man. Trusting God.
In the past few years I can see that God has been highly involved in my life. It was as if there was so much junk and pride and roots of sin He had to clear away before He could start building me as a man.
Like God has seriously placed me in houses and with people to build me up. Like through apparent randomness I spent three years living in all-male households and at work there were a couple years where it was basically six guys in my department. There was actually a year there were I didn’t havemuch to do with any women at all, and I was seemingly soaking in manliness.
Oh man, God has truly being doing so much in my life with SSA and masculine issues. I know this is getting long, but I don’t want to leave out some of the things he has done. (Also should say that SSA comes and goes to people in a hundred different ways, so what were issues for me might not be for you and that’s fine. God knows yours and will surround you with what is needed to deal with them when you are emotionally ready to receive).
I used to have body image problems. I have oversized hips and was embarrassed about this, and knew it made me look a bit unmasculine. But over the years I’ve done a bit with dumbbells and exercise, and my shoulders grew and I thought I want to take my shirt off like all the guys I admire. So I did. For a couple of summers I took my shirt off at every opportunity and Istill don’t have the best body, but I grabbed my place among men as I guy who did things men did like take his shirt off. Right now, I feel fine keeping my shirt on, but my experience showed me that I was a man with a man’s body, and that was healing.
I have always hung around the nerd guys and the less intimidating men. And I saw the footy players and the guys with 10 hot mates they got drunk with on the weekend as other than me. And God has worked on this with me a bit in the past couple of years (ages 24-25). I went boarding with a family for about a year and a young, football playing guy was there. I was scared of him. I thought here’s the kind of guy I never get along with and it’snot going to happen now. But to the extent that it could; it did. A few times we would sit in our shorts in an outdoor spa and just chat about life for a couple of hours, and it turned out this guy who I was jealous of had pretty much the same insecurities as me about life and people. It was mega healing.And then the next year there was a similar kind of guy at work and I was able to go one step further and try to be helpful in his life. (I kind of ended up with crushes on both those guys, and I’m hoping soon my emotional needs will untangle a bit more from my SSA desires).
I also got a girlfriend during this time. I was a bit attracted to her and it seemed like the right thing to do. We dated six months and I basically learnt that I am a selfish prick. I didn’t have much attraction to her, but it was a good time. And I know now that if I wanted to get married and have kids I could definitely do it, attraction or no attraction, as long as I wasn’t so selfish. But honestly girls haven’t been on the radar the past year since we broke up. Though sometimes there are inklings of attraction or desire for a companion and I’m wondering if it’s something God is going to hit me with one day. I’m not going to force it now.
This is not to say I still don’t have low periods. I am still struggling for long term victory over porn and masturbation. But my thinking on it has changed. When I sin in those ways, I’m basically frustrating the work God wants to do in my life. I need to have my real emotional needs exposed, through not attempting to meet them via sin, so that God can bring people and things into my life. A lot of God’s work has been about me seeing myself as a man and acting as a man as opposed to just dealing with sin.
I’ve got a few ideas about where God is taking me now. First thing is embracing my sensitive guy nature and seeing that as manly. He’s recently shown me a sensitive, straight guy to speak to me about the beauty ofbeing a gentle guy. I actually got a bit too interested in this guy and I was able to have an honest conversation with a friend about it in a café where others could hear us. That’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do a couple of years ago and it’s been because I’ve become less ashamed and more broken through talking to people on the internet and in Perth. I think God and I are also going to be doing stuff about my fear and failure in group situations. Ithink my time of sitting back and observing at these times rather than participating is coming to an end. Women of course are going to come up again one day too.