I really want to write the first post of 2017 on my birthday. But I somehow don’t have the energy or the brains to do this after a long day of walking and talking.
I guess I am not so sure how I feel on this day. In my 32 years of life, I somehow think of myself still a kid unwilling to grow up. I look at where God has brought me, the people He has placed in my life. There is no other emotion than gratitude. I am constantly amazed at my lack of faith in God, but amazed at the grace and love He has shown me.
I pray that I will continue to reach for that passion for God when I first believed, and that in my darkest hours, I will hold onto God’s promises as He is holding onto me.
This will most likely be my last post of 2016. I originally planned for a long-winded essay about all I want to reflect on 2016, but I realised that it is unnecessary. Not because it is unimportant, but rather because what I have experienced and journeyed through will most likely stay with me for the rest of my life.
As I think about 2016, I believe there are three points that I can take away from the year.
It has been a year where I had to look at myself in the mirror and realise who exactly am I. I had to face the facts that there are some things in my life that may never change the way I want them to change. Namely my same-sex attraction. One of the more difficult realisations is about letting other people into this inner world of mine, a world I have tried for years to surpress and ignore. It is a world which made me realise that it is a part of me but it does not define me.
2. Thankfulness for friendship
I am blown away at the love that has shown to me over the past year. Never have I been so vulnerable yet so blessed to have people around me who geniunely care for me. In a life where I may never have a family of my own, I found deeper meaning and connection to friendship. It is because of friends who did not cower away in fear at my depression which had helped me to be able to start the road to acknowledging my mental state and reaching out for help.
There is so much which I had reflected on these past 12 months and nothing has compared to the profound experience I had in understanding the grace and love of God. He had not forsaken me in my depression or my same-sex attraction. And through it, I find myself drawing closer to Him. It has given me a fuller understanding of perserving in Christ and what it means to take up our crosses to follow Jesus.
So with 2016 drawing to a close, I am somewhat still confused at whether or not I made any progress this year. Yes, I believe 2017 will still bring about my feelings of same-sex attraction, and I will continue to struggle with depression. Yet, in the midst of the storm, I can see the light in the distance. I hear God calling out my name, giving me the hope to keep fighting for this life.
I wonder if we can really see the invisible. I know that sounds like a crazy idea but just think, if everyone started to fade away when they withdraw from people, would we be able to notice?
I often wondered how oblivious and ignorant we are to other people. We often have this perception that we can see what is in front of us, fully naked and vulnerable. Yet, when off to the side, we have no idea what people are going through.
Everyday, people get up and they put on a mask of pride, mask of happiness and a mask of compassion. They go out into the world wearing those masks. Do we really notice the subtle signs that people radiate from their hearts? Not the ones that say I am great, but the ones that say I am drowning in despair and hopelessness.
We are really invisible to other people, sometimes even to ourselves. We say something for long enough and eventually we believe it.
Sometimes, I wonder if it is worth it. If it is worth the fight to survive, to live. Sometimes, I wonder if I even know what it means to actually live. One of my colleagues asked me yesterday whether or not people can truly be happy.
I wonder sometimes how we define that happiness. I think about the meaning of contentment, but wonder if that really relates to happiness. I have never met anyone who is truly happy all the time. It is the reality that because of sin, true happiness is impossible in this lifetime.
I feel like the biggest hypocrite saying this. I talk about happiness yet all I can think about in my head is how hypocritical I am and how I cannot feel happiness at all at times.
I really want to say that counselling and medication has helped, but there are some things that I cannot avoid or cut out from my life. With that, I need to feel the pain, and the aching in my heart. It sometimes makes me wonder if it is worth it. For every step I take forward, I get knocked back two or three steps.
I felt so much tears needing to come out, sometimes I cannot control it and the waterworks flow out at the worst of times. I felt like I didn’t matter because I am not good enough. I felt like no one understands my pain because they are oblivious to it. Yesterday, I saw a colleague contempting and I had to ask her if she is okay. I had learnt to always observe others because I had felt the loneliness and the ignorance and didn’t want anyone else to feel like that they don’t matter.
Yet, I feel like a hypocrite, because I wanted someone to care and I wanted someone to drop everything they are doing to care for me. I feel like a hypocrite because I know that the more resentment I feel, the more I care and the more I wanted to cry out without humiliating myself.
Recently, I have been thinking about this issue a lot. As some of you know, this is an issue which is very personal for me, and very close to my heart. I have read some reviews of books which were liberal (or pro) in the subject, and some which were more conservative in their viewpoints. I am not writing this as an essay because I am not a theologian, not an apologist, not a scholar. I am writing about same-sex attraction through the eyes of someone who struggles with this everyday, who is a mere Christian trying to live a life pleasing to God. This is merely my experiences in bullet points.
1. We are born in a fallen world.
We are made in God’s image, but the fall of man meant that we are broken and the world is infected with sin and death. Our bodies, minds and hearts are therefore disoriented and broken. We sin, every one of us, and we who experience same-sex attraction are no different.
But when Jesus came to rescue us, He broke the bond that sin has over us. We still experience sinful desires and temptations because we are still living in a fallen world, but we received the spirit of God which gave us the grace and the strength to flee from temptation.
2. Our sacrifices are worth it.
We live in an egoistic society. People can argue all they want, but the rise of social media is all about the individual, how to self-market and how to make me happy. People have always told me that if same-sex relationships are making people fall in love and happy, how can it be wrong? How can happiness be wrong?
It really depends on whose happiness we are talking about. If we really want to please God, we should put His happiness before our own. The Christian life is not an easy road. It is full of suffering, of obstacles, and of sacrifices. Someone once told me that God is not really interested in our comfort. We do not grow by sitting in our comfort zone. We need to make sacrifices if we want to live a life pleasing to God or be more Christ-like. It will be painful but think about the hope of the new heaven and earth where all brokenness will be gone and we will live with God, that makes all the sacrifices and the giving up of temptation worth the pain.
3. Desires does not mean to take action.
I am satisfied that I have these desires that I cannot change or choose. However, I also know that it is not the desires that defines us, it is the responds to these desires that defines us. We can either give into our desires and let our emotions control our lives, or we can learn to manage them so we can raise above our desires and be more Christ-like.
1. Kitchen floor moments
As I try to live in a way that is pleasing to God, not all is daisies and sunshines. There are moments where I hit the kitchen floor, hide my face between my knees and cry about my struggles with same-sex attraction. These moments are the hardest, knowing that they may never go away and that I will never act upon them. It is painful and hard, and there are times when I wanted to give up Christianity just so I can satisfy my own desires. Yet, I cannot be so selfish and leave behind all that I have preserved just so I can be temporarily happy.
2. Healing may not come in this lifetime.
Sometimes, I struggle with the fear that I will need to struggle with this temptation all my life. Sometimes, I don’t know if I can hold off for a lifetime. But I am always reminded of 1 Corinthians where it says that God will never give us temptations more than what we can bear, and when He does, He will provide a way out. He will be with us, helping us to manage this temptation.
3. Rejection and ridicule
I am not talking about the Christian community. Actually, in this day and age, I am actually afraid of other people ridiculing me about my ways of celibacy, and telling me that it is wrong. I fear somewhat rejection from the world because they think of something different to my opinion. So obviously, my opinions are wrong. But God is worth the persecution because Jesus is counter-culture. I struggle but I am sure that God’s will in my life is better than the world’s ways.
1. Faith in God
The one thing that keeps me going is my faith that God is worth all the suffering of this life. There is no trick to it, just knowing that He will never forsake me.
2. Community in the body of Christ
Jesus came to save everyone. There is the church, the body of Christ, which supports and encourages us in our Christian walk. We cannot do it alone, and it is these people that helped me to get through the daily struggles, to be there alongside me and to love me as a Christian sister.
3. Realigning my will to God’s will.
One important thing that I will always try to focus on is realigning my will, the purpose of my life, to God’s will. His will is better and bigger, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds. But I can’t do it on my own desires. That will will eventually fade away, but God’s will will never be gone and He will give us more than what we deserve. It is because of His grace that I am here, and it is His will that I want to live out.
I hope this has been somewhat insight for you. This struggle has taught me that I am dependent on God’s grace but I also need to be willing to take up my cross to follow Jesus. It will be a long and painful journey, but God is with me and He gave me the precious gift of friendship to help me through the rock bottom points of my life.
I have this image in my head of a city where I am nobody, where no one knows me, the real me, and I can pretend to be someone else, someone normal.
I have this image in my head where I have a conversation with myself and it ends in me trying to strangle myself to death.
I have this image in my head where I do or say something stupid to someone I really care about, and they get angry at me for the repetiton of my actions, how I am depressed, how I am annoying them, how I am a burden, how I am taking too much of their time, how I am selfish and only thinks of my own problems. So they just leave.
I have this image where my emotions are so bottled up that they eventually explode like a volcano and I break into pieces.
I have this image in my head that I should not care, that nothing is worth it anymore and I should just quit.
I have this image in my head when Jesus returns to judge, I am so focused on my faults, weaknesses and mistakes that I don’t see grace.
How am I so blind, sending myself into a whirlwind of destructive behavior and thoughts that I can not see what God had done for me? I felt like grace had rejected me and love keeps leaving because I am not good enough. How wrong have I been? How much repentance do I need?
There is this vivid image that pops up in my head that I keep playing over and over again. It is the idea that there are people who comes up to the coffin at my own funeral, if I had one, and to tell me that they are sorry that they couldn’t save me. This image is complimented with another that involves my family and friends finding my suicide note and realised that they have completely missed the signs of which I gave out to stop me from taking my own life.
I had always wondered and reflected on the journey which I came to be here at this place and at this time. There were countless moments which I feared that ending my life would be much easier than living it. is it really a coward’s way out? I had convinced myself that sometimes, just the fantasy of contemplating it is enough.
Yet, there was something in me that tells me about a hope. A hope that is sure and perfect, but one that cannot be met if I had not lived long enough for it. How can I not push through each and every moment so I can see that hope, that living itself is worth the sacrifices. Jesus was the atonong sacrifice that He had made for my life. He exchanged sin and death with His flesh and blood. The sure hope that one day, He will return to bring the promise into its full plan.
When we desire that death seems like a better option than life, the sacrifice of that brings us perservance to keep on living, not for ourselves, but for God, for His will and for His glory. It is not about us. We were bought at a price. It is about submitting to God’s will and to allow Him to work in us, to change us, and to bring about the joy to go on living for Him. It will be painful and there will be hurt emotions and periods, but to look forward to the day when there will be no more tears and no more suffering, how precious will we be knowing that we perserved through to the end.