When you’ve been set free, you want to shout it out!

Written early January 2010

 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

The first chapter of John’s Gospel is gold to anyone who is learning biblical languages. As opposed to the drudgery and complications and difficult language of the first 3 Gospels, John writes in language clear and concise — easy to understand, but not so easy to believe. I have a hard time comprehending the fact that the darkness cannot overcome the light — it goes against everything I experience in my own life.

But my story is not about belief, rather, something far more carnal. I tell this story only now, knowing that I have been set free.

For a couple of years now, I’ve struggled with sexual temptations, but not the type usually perceived for a 20 year old kid from out in the country. At the end of my freshman year of college, I drunkenly gave in to those temptations — twice sleeping with a guy friend of mine, who was more than willing to educate me in the ways of the world. Did I know it was wrong when I did it? Of course! But we’ve all been there; we all know how easy it is to give in.

Shame is a nasty beast — once you start to experience it, it starts to consume you. And I let it. I ignored the advice of my pastor to go see a counselor about dealing with my guilt, too afraid to let anyone else in on my secret. And I knew that although one day I would have to confront my shame, I thought it would be far enough in the future that I could ignore it for a while.

Boy was I wrong.

8 months later, I went to a weekend retreat at the seminary I was planning on attending. There my sin confronted me, right on the Admissions Application under the section of questions that would disqualify a man for ministry: “Have you ever had sexual relations with another man?” I remember falling to the floor, weeping, praying that God would not hold my sins against me. I eventually lied on the application, continued lying to myself.

The darkness kept winning, waging war with my soul. So I found a church body that asked no such questions; whose mission is to preach the transformative love of God that forgives all sins, heals all wounds, and restores all souls. I’m now in the discernment process for seminary, with the promise that I will not be turned away for struggling with sin.

A few months ago, a friend of mine contacted me about a project he’s spearheading about bringing openness and transparency to the Body of Christ. He offered me his blog to put to put some thoughts down, and out came a version of what you’re reading now. It was the first time I’d ever acknowledged my brokenness on paper, and it put me on the path towards healing. I started meeting with my priest about overcoming my shame and self-deprecation, and was strengthened through the prayers of righteous men.

As proof that God’s timing is impeccable, during that time of healing, my past came to light through my political activities. And although I’d been playing the game for a while, the dirty politics still tore me apart – forcing me to be honest about my past with my family, friends, and people I’d never met (a major challenge, since I’d only told 4 people before that). But thanks be to God – because if the Spirit hadn’t led me to healing, if the timing had changed just one bit, I couldn’t have handled it. The pain and heartache and shame would have returned stronger, and I would have fallen away.

I’m here today because I cannot keep it to myself anymore – I must proclaim the greatness of Him who conquered my sins and the sins of the whole world. God, out of love, chooses to take me — a wannabe priest who suffers from homosexual temptations — and grant me restoration and peace. He has given us the gift of brotherhood (a gift we’d be foolish not to use), and has promised us that to those who endure, He will give the crown of life.

We cannot do it alone, so we put our trust in Christ, who IS the light — and he, in his mercy, will conquer the darkness on our behalf.

(Title quote from my father, a former drug addict and alcoholic)

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