Dear Forum Folk
I also have been on this journey but I have finally found a sense of peace with my orientation and relationship wth God and I hope that my story might give someone a sense of hope for a new beginning.
When I first came out at my church after I had met a woman I had fallen in love with (after 2 failed heterosexual marriages and 5 children) the church made me “feel very unwelcome”, stripped me of my offices in the church, and turned their backs on me ( and my children), hoping I think that this would encourage me to repent and see the ‘truth”. I received hate mail, some people wanted to have me exorcised, and several church friends tried to encourage my children to leave me, and go and live with them to save them from my sinful lifestyle. My girlfriend was devastated for me, as all I could do was cry. I felt so naive – I had no idea my decision would release such a maelstrom in my life! Anyway, my girlfriend in an effort to support me, rang many churches in my city to get someone to pray for me and many declined. She was a non-Christian and she was appalled. In one day I had lost my best friends, my sense of security and I was filled with shame. And after more than 10 calls not one Christian was willing to pray for me.
Interestingly, one lovely spirit-filled elderly minister opened his church to me that night and prayed for me. He said he had learnt grace when his youngest daughter had suicided in the Catholic church several years before and he had been wounded by his parishioners and friends response to his daughter choice to end her life. That night he told me God was more interested in what I did with my heart than my plumbing . Even now I am amazed by the grace of this wonderful man who had until then been a complete stranger to me.
I also got on the internet and sent an email to a straight woman from America (a wife of a well known pentecostal minister) who had been brave in declaring her support of gay people openly belonging to churches. She sent me a delightful message telling me that she absolutely believed that nothing could separate me from the love of God and that God still loved me. I wish I could say that I could hear these people’s messages, and yet, unfortunately I began a journey into the dark recesses of my soul as I could not shift the ideas about homosexuality I had heard in church.
For 3 years I walked without God and finally my relationship with the woman I had been with broke down and I was devastated. I wanted to commit suicide. I was empty and hollow and my life had become meaningless. At this time I rang the original elderly minister for some solace and he suggested I go and speak to a straight married chaplain at my university who had recently been stood down from her position in the church for expressing her support of homosexuals participating openly in church. That woman, who I had only just met saved my life, quite literally. She contracted with me to keep me alive and she walked with me and was the most remarkable source of love and support. We remain dear and close friends to this day.
After this I decided that I could only be alive AND in relationship with God. Slowly I started to trust in God and people again. It was a very slow process, and I often wondered where the truth was, whether I had only told myself things to justify my actions etc etc. I started to read more widely about Church ideas about homosexuality and realised that the pentecostal view of homosexuality was not shared by others. Many Christians I admired including Desmond Tutu and Philip Yancey spoke out against the hard line Christian doctrines and the interpretations placed on particular scriptures and I realised that there were churches and people who actually believed and lived the gospel of grace.
I have since reestablished my relationship with God and I can see daily proof in my life of his blessing and presence. I still find church difficult and I actively avoid going. I trust God but I must admit I still fear people’s judgement. His spirit has remained with me. Some of my old church ‘friends’ have seen this in my life and have been surprised by this I think. They have as a result reconsidered their own opinions about God. My God is not small and narrow minded. He is the author of everything I see, He loves variety, he loves to love me. He is what makes my heart beat, He is still what makes my heart sing. And I know, that every person on this wobbly planet including me, despite being imperfect, makes His heart sing when we enter into relationship with Him.
I do a tough job where I work with mentally ill and distressed teenagers and kids who have either lost their way or are having trouble finding it. I could not do this work without God. He is there in the room with me, flowing through me to them. When I walked those 3 years without God I was empty. My heart was cold and lifeless. I wish words could do this explanation justice. All I know is that despite my sexual orientation, where there is love there is God. When I pray he answers even if only to say hush, be patient, not your will but My will be done. My life now is full of meaning. However, it is not without its heartache, not without disappointment, not without pain. But then that is life. I just know that I am called to be Jesus’ hands, heart and care in this world just as those special emissaries who came to me when my life was hanging in the balance were called to be there for me. They are the true Christians. They gave me back my life and showed me what it is to be a true Christian in this world. God cares about what you do with your heart not your plumbing!
I pray that you will also find peace and the truth to know that nothing will ever separate you from the grace and love of God and that He will send you angels in disguise to support you and guide you every step of the way. Sometimes its only in hindsight, we can see His presence was always there, even in the darkness.
Follow your heart
“Forgiveness means giving up all hope of a better past”