There is more than one reason I have started talking more openly and more often about my struggles:
1) I just got tired of hiding it. Wearing a mask gets old and wearisome. After a while, you can't even remember who you are, for the mask has become such a part of you.
2) It is freeing. When you bring something out into the light, it loses the hold it has on you.
3) I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me.
4) To let others know they are not alone.
# 4 is the focus of this blog post. Imagine that you have a secret struggle or issue: SSA (same-sex attractions), childhood molestation, depression, pornography addiction, abuse, or something else. Imagine that you have never heard about or known of another person ever dealing with the same thing. How would you feel? Most likely you'd feel hopeless, despair, alone, an oddity, and you'd feel that no one could ever understand or relate. The chances of you confiding in someone would be slim to non-existent. The likelihood of you seeking help would pretty much be nil. That was me years ago. I felt so alone and sure that no one in the church, or raised in the church, had ever dealt with this.
Now imagine that there are several people you have heard of who deal with or have dealt with this issue. Imagine there are ministries and counselors who have personally dealt with it. There are people in your own life who have dealt with it. Can you realize the difference that would make?
If no one ever told their story, if no one ever took their mask off and showed the world what was underneath, most of us would never have the hope that comes from knowing others have been where we are. Most of us would never confide in anyone or seek help. Most of us would go to our graves carrying our secret, bound and held back from being everything that we could be.
There are some brave people out there. There are men and women who have come forward and talked about being raped, being molested as children, abuse, addictions, depression, and more. They tell how they got help, and how to get help. They tell how God has worked in their lives and helped them overcome. By telling their story they give hope and courage to others that they too can overcome what they have gone through and are going through.
It can be scary and uncomfortable to tell your story. You may not always get the reactions you hoped for, and you may lose friends, and have people avoid you. And your story may not be one that everyone needs to hear.
If my life was a physical book, I would gut it and remove pages, chapters, and whole sections. There are sections I'd never want anyone to read or know about, and there are parts I'd like to toss aside and forget ever happened.
Yet everything that would be written there is part of me and my story. It is all part of what makes me.......me. As much as I wish I could change the past, I cannot. I can learn from my mistakes and use them to help and encourage others.
There may be others who need to know my story:
1) That they aren't the only ones who have struggled to believe God loves them.
2) That they aren't the only Christians dealing with depression
3) That they aren't the only ones who have felt insecure, worthless, ashamed, or like a failure.
4) That they aren't the only ones attracted to the same sex and having no clue how to handle it.
5) That they aren't the only ones feeling they don't belong anywhere.
6) That they aren't alone in thinking no one likes them or wants to be their friend.
7) That they aren't the only ones crying in bed alone wishing they could marry and have a family.
And there are more..... for another time...... or not.
I look at what I just typed, and am amazed at how much God has helped me in these areas.
#1 isn't an issue anymore
#2 is still an issue, but not as bad as it has been
#3.... I am working on those things, but they aren't as bad as they used to be
#4 I know how to handle it, and God has truly worked a miracle in my life. Yes, I am still attracted to the same sex, but it isn't much of an issue anymore.
#5 Not so much anymore, but the feeling pops up more than I like
#6 Not much of a problem anymore. I know a lot of people like and love me, but sometimes wonder why. Seriously. And sure, there are people who don't like me, but to know me is to love me.....
#7 I secretly still wish I could be a father. Well, not so secretly now...... but I don't cry about it anymore. Yeah, guys CAN cry. I have come to peace about being single, and don't think I could stand being married even if it ever worked... I like solitude too much and don't like to share everything I am thinking.
Now you may have read through this and wish that I hadn't been so transparent........ but this is me. That is my story, my struggles, my scars.....I am not the only one in the church, in MY church, or in your church who deals with these things. Some of those people aren't telling anyone because they fear reactions, they fear losing friends, of being un-Christianized, of being kicked out of the church.....and more.
No matter what your secret is, no matter what you are struggling with.....other Christians have been there.....are there.
God has helped me, and He can help others with all of these issues and more.