Chapter 7 – Early Teens

The Courage to Be Seen.
The journey of reconciling my faith with my sexuality reached its zenith in a period of profound internal struggle. Each day, as I navigated this personal turmoil, the Holy Spirit’s presence became a beacon of light, offering glimpses of hope and love amidst the darkness. This divine grace began to sow seeds of confidence within me, a fragile yet burgeoning sense of self that dared to imagine a life lived openly and authentically.

Encounters with two individuals from my church, who confided in me their own struggles with same-sex attraction, cracked the veneer I had meticulously maintained. Their vulnerability laid bare my own fears and the immense burden of carrying a secret that had become too heavy to bear alone. In the solitude of prayer, I reached a breaking point, pouring out my fears, desires, and pleas for guidance and protection to the Lord. The prayer was a surrender, an admission that the path I had walked in isolation was no longer sustainable. “Lord, they persecuted you, and I fear they will do the same to me. Please protect me,” became the mantra of my heart, a plea for strength to face the unknown.

Buoyed by a newfound resolve, I took a step that would irrevocably change my journey. I composed a Facebook status, a declaration of my truth: “I’m actually gay and I’m proud to be…” This digital proclamation was my line in the sand, the moment I chose visibility over the safety of shadows. The response was immediate and overwhelming. Likes, comments of encouragement, and messages of support flooded in, painting my world with colors of acceptance and love I had never dared to hope for. For the first time, I felt seen, truly seen, by my community and the world.

The outpouring of support was not just a series of digital interactions; it was a profound affirmation of my existence. Each like, each comment of encouragement, felt like a brick being removed from the wall I had built around my heart. Among the messages was my declaration, a testament to the journey I had undertaken:

“This is something that I have held so close in my life for years. It’s something that I have to stand up for and be proud of who I am. This is something that is not going to go away just because somebody says ‘It’s a phase; you will grow out of it.’ Or ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And my favorite ‘You gotta try both sides before you decide…’. Well tonight I am being honest with you all from the upmost bottom of my heart. I’m actually gay and I’m proud to be, as some of you may know it’s been a hard path for me over the years, and this is something I have not shared before. So I ask that if you feel you want to leave a negative comment. Please remember that I was the same person that I was yesterday, and this is who I am!”

This moment was transformative, not just for me but potentially for others in my community. For the first time, my secret, held so close, was embraced by 25 people, a small but significant number in an environment that often seemed impenetrably against this way of thinking. The likes and comments of support were rays of light in what had often felt like an unending darkness. They represented a shifting tide, a crack in the longstanding facade of rejection and condemnation.

Yet, this journey was not without its shadows. Alongside the voices of support were those who sought to scold and shame. Some within the church, having known nothing of the depth of my struggle or the years of prayer and internal conflict that led to this moment, chose to see my declaration as a defiance of faith rather than an affirmation of God’s creation. It was during these times that the senior pastors of the church stepped in, not just as leaders but as protectors. Their interventions were not merely administrative but deeply pastoral, a demonstration of Christ’s love in action. They shielded me from further harm, pulling me away from those who could not see beyond their own judgments.

I am eternally grateful for those who stood by me during this time. Their support was a lifeline, a beacon of hope that guided me through the tumultuous waters of coming out in a faith community. They were the tangible manifestation of God’s love, a reminder that I was not alone, that I was valued and loved not in spite of who I am but because of who I am.

Reflecting on this chapter of my life, I am struck by the complexity of human emotion and the capacity for both great love and profound misunderstanding. My journey of coming out has been marked by fear, yes, but also by incredible courage—both my own and that of those who have stood by me. It has been a journey of learning to see myself through God’s eyes, of understanding that His love is not conditional, not a prize to be earned through conformity but a gift freely given.

This chapter of my life, while deeply personal, is also a call to others. It is a plea for understanding, for compassion, and for a broader embrace of the many ways in which we manifest the image of God. It is a reminder that our faith is not a weapon to be wielded in judgment but a bridge to understanding, a path to unconditional love.

As I move forward, I carry with me the lessons of this journey—the pain and the joy, the rejection and the acceptance. I step into the future with a resolve to be a beacon of hope for others, to share my story in the service of a world where love is understood as expansive, inclusive, and all-encompassing. This chapter, while closed, is far from the end of my story. It is, I hope, just the beginning of a larger dialogue, one that I am proud to be a part of.

Continuing from where we left off, embarking on a new chapter of openness and self-acceptance, the evening of my Facebook post presented itself as a trial by fire, a pivotal moment that would either solidify my place within my faith community or mark the beginning of its end. Despite the swirling storm of emotions, I decided to attend the night service at church, stepping into an environment that had always been a sanctuary for me, yet now felt like walking into the unknown.

The atmosphere in the church that evening was palpably different. The air seemed charged with unspoken questions and whispers of curiosity. People greeted me, their warmth genuine, yet beneath their smiles, I detected a flicker of something else—surprise, perhaps, or the remnants of hushed conversations held in my absence. It was a surreal experience, standing at the nexus of my old life and the new path I had chosen to walk.

Taking my place next to the senior pastors, I found solace in their acceptance. Their presence by my side was a silent testament to their support, a bulwark against the sea of uncertain faces that filled the room. It was in this moment of vulnerability, surrounded by my faith community, that the guest speaker paused his sermon, his gaze locking onto mine across the crowded room.

“You!” His voice, firm yet filled with an undercurrent of divine urgency, pierced the silence that had enveloped the church. “The Lord has given me a message to give you.” The congregation’s collective breath seemed to catch, a tangible sense of anticipation hanging heavy in the air.

As I made my way to the front, a thousand thoughts raced through my mind. What message could be so important that it needed to be delivered in such a public manner, at this of all moments? The guest speaker’s eyes met mine, a depth of kindness and understanding within them that eased my trepidation.

He took my hands in his, and as he spoke, his words not only reached my ears but resonated deep within my soul. “I see you preaching on a stage, your hands like fireballs of fire beaconing out into the crowd, two stories of this grand building are being filled with revival and their spirits revived. You are called to revival and let nothing get in your way from excelling in Christ’s gift in your life.”

The weight of his words settled over me like a mantle, a calling that seemed both impossibly grand and intimately personal. In that moment, any doubt that had clouded my decision to live openly was dispelled. The message was clear: my identity, my journey, was not a barrier to my calling but a vital part of it. I was not to be sidelined or silenced but was called to be a beacon of revival, a vessel for the Holy Spirit’s fire.

As I returned to my seat, the church erupted into applause, a sound that felt like the very heartbeat of the community pulsating around me. The encouragement and affirmation from the congregation were overwhelming, a balm to the wounds of fear and uncertainty that had marked my path.

This experience, profound and affirming, solidified my resolve. It was a divine confirmation that my journey, with all its trials and tribulations, was not just my own but part of a larger narrative God was weaving. I was called to serve, to speak, and to spread the fire of revival, regardless of the challenges that lay ahead.

The journey forward is filled with promise and purpose. As I embrace my calling, I do so with the understanding that my story is a testament to the power of faith, the importance of authenticity, and the transformative love of Christ that calls us all to live fully in the light of His grace. This chapter of my life, marked by a public declaration of my truth and a divine affirmation of my calling, is just the beginning. I am committed to walking this path with courage, serving as a beacon of hope and revival, and letting nothing stand in the way of the gifts Christ has placed in my life.

In sharing this story, my hope is to inspire others to embrace their truth, to seek their calling, and to remember that they are not alone. The road may be fraught with challenges, but it is also paved with moments of divine intervention, community support, and the unshakeable love of God that guides us through every storm. Let us walk this journey together, with hearts open to the endless possibilities that faith in Christ brings.

As we draw Chapter Seven to a close, and with it, the final pages of this installment of my journey, I’m filled with a multitude of emotions. Reflecting on the path traversed, the valleys navigated, and the peaks ascended, I’m reminded of the transformative power of faith, love, and acceptance. This narrative, laid bare for you, is not merely a recounting of events but a testament to the resilience of the human spirit when guided by the divine.

The very act of sharing my story, particularly the revelations and trials encapsulated in these chapters, has been both a challenge and a catharsis. It’s been a pilgrimage back through moments of profound pain and unparalleled joy, each step an act of faith in itself. To have arrived at this point, to have the courage to live openly and authentically, is a grace I attribute to the unwavering love of God and the support of those who’ve walked beside me.

The evening of my Facebook declaration, and the subsequent affirmation received both online and within the hallowed halls of my church, marked a pivotal moment in my journey. It was here, in the act of coming out, that I found not the end of my story, but the beginning of a new chapter—one characterized by living truthfully in the light of God’s love. The message delivered to me that night, foreseeing a future of ministry and impact, further solidified my resolve to embrace my calling, whatever form it might take.

Yet, for all the progress made and the battles won, this narrative is far from complete. The complexity of navigating faith and sexuality, of seeking acceptance within both religious and LGBTQ+ communities, is a continuing journey. It is a path I know many walk alongside me, often in silence, grappling with their truths in the shadows. My hope is that by sharing my story, I might offer a glimmer of light, a beacon of hope for those still searching for their way.

As we conclude “My Testimony – Early Teens,” I extend an invitation to you, the reader, to join me as I continue this journey in my next installment, “My Testimony – The 20’s.” The road ahead is filled with unknowns, but it’s a road I step onto with faith, hope, and the knowledge that I do not walk it alone. The presence of the Holy Spirit, ever clearer and more comforting with each passing day, assures me that whatever challenges lie ahead, I am equipped to face them. The support of those who’ve shown me love and acceptance strengthens my resolve to persevere.

To those who’ve walked with me thus far, through the pages of this book, I offer my heartfelt thanks. Your willingness to engage with my story, to reflect upon the themes within it, and perhaps to question and challenge your own beliefs, is a gift of immeasurable value. My story is but one of many, a single thread in the rich tapestry of human experience. Yet, it is my fervent hope that it might serve as a catalyst for conversation, for understanding, and for change.

Keep an eye out for “My Testimony – The 20’s,” where the journey continues, the narrative deepens, and the exploration of faith, identity, and love evolves. The path forward is paved with lessons from the past and dreams for the future, each step an act of faith, each chapter a testament to the enduring power of God’s love.

Until we meet again on the pages of my continuing story, I pray for peace, love, and understanding to fill your hearts. May we all have the courage to face our trials with faith, to seek our truths with honesty, and to love one another with the boundless, unconditional love that mirrors that of our Creator.

Farewell for now, but not goodbye.