I’m the youngest of 5. I grew up in a loving Christian home. We certainly had our rough spots groing up, but what family doesn’t? I can’t really remember a time when church wasn’t a big deal in my household. My dad taught Sunday school, all my siblings went Awanas and youth group, and I started youth group way before I was allowed. We practically lived in church most of the time. Even so I didn’t really have very many friends growing up. I’m not sure if it’s because I was too shy or if something else attributed to that. I also began home schooling in middle school which didn’t really help with the no friends thing.
My sister was the black sheep of the family and I was the typical youngest child. I could do no wrong and many thought I was a perfect kid. Everyone wanted a kid like me. I had my own issues though, and honestly, when people would call me perfect it would drive me insane. Little did they know how imperfect I felt. My dad was absent for what I consider the most important years of a young man growing up. As I was going through puberty and even before that I was very curious. I was also a rule follower. The combination of these two things made for an interesting time. Even in elementary school I was fascinated by the human body. I couldn’t get enough of it. In that stage I turned to the trusty internet to learn more about the human body. Again, I think not having my dad around was a key point here. It didn’t help that in our family we don’t have serious conversations…about anything. The good ol’ trusty internet allowed me to learn all sorts of things. It was brought me to my first addiction, porn. When I first started looking at porn it felt “innocent” (don’t you love how the devil can play with you like that?). I told myself that it was just images, and these images were of guys, I am a guy, nothing wrong with that.
During this time I also discovered masturbation.
I didn’t discover it in a normal way, it lead to a lot of confusion about what the heck was happening, and again I decided to turn to the internet. Here’s where I started to “learn” so much more. This learning would eventually lead to my demise (not to say that something else wouldn’t have taken it’s place). During all this time I didn’t tell anybody about the things I was “learning” or the feelings I was having. To me I still thought I wasn’t doing a whole lot wrong. I still remember the day I ended up going to a seminar with my mom about pornography (the worst) and she couldn’t believe that they thought kids our age were getting into that. What she didn’t know is I was engulfed in it. That porn addiction continually grew and grew. I thought nothing of the fact that all this time I was looking at gay porn. I think I knew in the back of my head that this was even more abnormal, but I chose to ignore this fact. I was also ignoring the fact that a lot of feelings I had developed over the years were towards guys. I can still remember wanting nothing but to see friends in elementary school naked. I still played this off as being curious.
Fast forward several years and I’m still experiencing a crazy addiction to pornography, am going into a deep depression, and feeling like the whole world is against me. It’s interesting to me that during all this time I’ve developed a very superficial, almost non-existent, relationship with God. Sure I went to church, but that’s a heck of a lot different than having a personal relationship with Him. I also accepted God at a young age and hoped this would change everything, it didn’t. Obviously this lack of a relationship with God was playing into a lot of my issues, but I didn’t think anything of it. During this deep time of depression I also finally realized that I was “gay”. I wouldn’t use that word because I hated it (not to get into semantics right now). I just finally realized that I certainly wasn’t “normal”. My family, especially my parents and brothers, would talk about gay people and how terrible it is to be gay. I just knew that couldn’t be me because of the way they’d talk about it. My family could never see me that way. I finally decided to invest a little bit more into God, and things slowly started to change, but still not the way I had hoped.
God, won’t you remove these desires from me? God, why can’t I be normal? I can’t tell you how often I cried this out.
He never answered those cries, at least not in the way I wanted, but He answered in other ways eventually. During my time of investing a little bit more into God is when He finally brought me two good friends. I’ll never forget that day. I’ll never forget meeting them. These were my first real friends (and I was in high school at this point). I did everything with these friends, and grew particularly close to one of them. I ended up telling him about my struggle with porn, but left it to the idea of it being straight porn. To me this was so scary, I hadn’t told anyone this, and I was leaving out the most important part. It still felt so good to get it off my chest. I assumed this was the moment he would tell me he also struggled with porn, but he didn’t. He says he never has. This left me feeling even more depressed after the high of the weight being lifted wore off.
Am I really this bad? Does no one else struggle with this? Am I alone?
Shortly after telling this new-found friend about my struggles with “straight” porn (liar), I was able to stop for a little while. Then I heard about something different, and something even more intriguing…video chat. This was yet another demise of mine. Up until that point I still felt like a lot of what I was doing was “innocent”, that constant lie that Satan would remind me of. Video chat ended up turning itself into both a blessing and a curse. I ended up feeling like I was giving a lot of myself away, which led into more depression, but I also found something great in it. Enter Kalibrate. I never imagined that in the darkest of places, I would see an “ad” of sorts.
“Are you a male Christian struggling with sexual identity issues?”
Those may not be the exact words, but it’s the premise. I skipped over it the first time. It came up again. “Are you a male Christian struggling with sexual identity issues?” All I could think of is, “go away”. I continued to ignore it. Wouldn’t you know it came up again, and I started to think about it. I think that’s me? What does this mean? Yet, I still skipped it. Then it came up again. What the heck?! This thing is annoying. At that moment I broke down. I couldn’t take it. I was a male Christian, and I was struggling with serious sexual identity issues. This same ad had a contact at the bottom of it. Being the shy guy I am I was super hesitant. I really wanted to contact this guy, but really didn’t at the same time. Funny thing is I was more concerned about people finding out about this random guy talking about sexual identity issues than I was about being caught in the act. None the less, I contacted him.
That is the day I found out that I am not alone. What an awesome day that was.
God really came through on that one. After several conversations, I felt great. It was like a whole new me. My Kalibrate Navigator would constantly mention to me how important it was to bring my sins to the light. I always hated this because I wanted to keep everything as dark as possible. Little did I know how much healing was found in bringing things into the light. I eventually, with his help and God, was able to tell two of my friends about my struggle with same sex attraction. One of them, the one who I was extremely attracted to, had no idea how to handle it. I can’t begin to describe how good it felt to bring that into the light even though he didn’t know what to do with it. Honestly, I had no idea how he was supposed to react. The fact that he stuck around and didn’t leave was enough for me. He knows the deepest part of me, yet he still chooses to accept me. Remind you of God’s love for us?
Another thing my Navigator kept reminding me of was that the most important thing to focus on was building my relationship with God. It wasn’t about trying to get rid of all my nasty junk, but it was about growing closer to God, and then everything else would fall into place.
My Navigator then introduced me to this lovely group of like-minded folks through Facebook. I was again terrified by someone finding out about this group that I was part of, but it was and continues to be one of the biggest blessings God has given me. It’s taught me so much and has shown how I truly am not alone. Skipping back a little bit, I was always “proud” of myself for not fully acting out on my desires. Satan was able to twist the idea of, “I’m not alone” with “You haven’t gone that far”, which would lead to even more heartache. I began to learn that I enjoyed pushing the boundaries. How far can I get without going “that far”. At this point I ended up doing the unthinkable, I met up with a guy. We did what at the time I would call “innocent” things, but frankly it was too far still. I eventually turned this into a habit. I still felt like because I wasn’t going all the way this was somehow an all right thing to do.
I would find myself constantly figuring out how to push the limits without going past them.
What I didn’t realize is that my limits were moving. I eventually realized that I was super far away from where God wanted me, heck, I wasn’t even thinking about God and His will. This is when I hit rock bottom. I was numb, I was scared, I was so many things. I became even more quiet than I usually am, and it started affecting the people around me. I didn’t know how to get out. I didn’t know how to escape.
How did I get here? Who I am? What have I done? Did I really do that? It was at this point that I could feel God tugging on me, but I certainly wasn’t listening. I slowly started to hear His reminders…Grace, Mercy, Love.
I continued to ignore these silent but mighty reminders. I remember thinking about how weird it was that these things kept popping up in random situations. It wasn’t until a Sunday morning that I broke. The worship band was playing all sorts of songs about God’s Love. I fell down in tears. I felt God take a hold of me and tell me that He still loves me. He reminded me that He never left and that He would do anything to have me back. I knew about God’s love before, but it wasn’t until this moment that I understood it. I began to immerse myself in that Love. I started to understand that the focus wasn’t about what I’ve done, but what His love has done for me. The deeper I grow in His love the more obedient I want to be. He shows His love through Grace and Mercy, while we show our love through obedience. What I was told so long ago was finally hitting home. I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I’m not perfect. I still struggle, I still have my faults. I continue to try to make it seem like the things I do are “innocent”, but you know what? He still loves me. He still accepts me. I am a child of God and my identity is found in Him.
I hope that one day someone will read my story and realize that they aren’t alone.