Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lesson One

Just purchased the newest Jars of Clay album on iTunes last night because it was on sale for only $6.99. Anyways one of the tracks really affected me. It is track 9 titled Boys (Lesson One). It is a song sung from a father to a son about growing up. It really made me an emotional mess listening to it. I wish someone taught me these things growing up. Maybe they did teach it but for whatever reason it did not stick with me. I just never felt like I could be honest about my struggles with my parents. I guess I still have alot to work through and alot of lessons to learn.

Boys (Lesson One)
by: Jars of Clay

Lesson one - do not hide
Lesson two - there are right ways to fight
And if you have questions
We can talk through the night

So you know who you are
And you know what you want
I’ve been where you’re going
And it’s not that far
It’s too far to walk
But you don’t have to run
You’ll get there in time

Lesson three - you’re not alone
Not since I saw you start breathing on your own
You can leave, you can run, this will still be your home

So you know who you are
And you know what you want
I’ve been where you’re going
And it’s not that far
It’s too far to walk
But you don’t have to run
You’ll get there in time
Get there in time

In time, to wonder where the days have gone
In time, to be old enough to wish that you were young
When good things are unraveling, bad things come undone
You weather love and lose your innocence

There will be liars and thieves who take from you
Not to undermine the consequence
But you are not what you do
And when you need it most
I have a hundred reasons why I love you

If you weather love and lose your innocence
Just remember - lesson one

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Please Let Me Off the Rollercoaster

Lately I just want to get off this roller coaster my emotions have become. I am just sick of it. One day I am feeling great and close to God thinking sure I will be fine and everything will work out. Then other days like today I feel its hopeless and I will be lonely the rest of my life. I just feel like its not fair sometimes that I struggle with this while others live a great life with a loving family. But then again I guess life is not fair. For whatever reason God seems to bless some with things like a wife and a family while others like me struggle with something as basic to their humanity as their sexual identity. Its hard to know why but I guess we wont know until we get to heaven. But I still choose to keep trusting God that He must have some kind of plan and purpose for me.

I am almost done with the Desires in Conflict book I have been reading. I have to admit at times it is painful to read as so much what he described seemed to be about me. Hearing his theory about SSA does make alot of sense but its painful to know that things in my childhood may have caused this. It makes me think if only misunderstandings about relationships had not occurred, if only I had more male friends and felt accepted as one of the guys. Maybe I would be married now with a family instead of lonely and confused. If only, if only, if only...

But there is no use wishing things had happened differently. They didnt and its a waste of time for me to constantly dwell on the past and wish I had done this instead of that etc... Plus maybe I would not like the person I would be if I met him today if everything happened different. Maybe that person would think he does not need God because everything in his life is great. Maybe when I get to heaven I will actually thank God for letting me struggle with this as it made me depend on Him when otherwise I would try to do things on my own? Maybe, but for now its a really hard struggle so I just have to keep trying and trusting in God day by day. I have to finally try to move forward and try to leave the pain behind. Its a hard thing to do since the pain has been with me so long of wanting to fit in but never being accepted by my peers, the loneliness, the feelings of guilt and shame.

Having said all that I actually had a good weekend last weekend though. I volunteered at church last Sunday to help set up the worship team. So I got to church around 7 am and we set up all the cables and instruments and sound system and stuff. Got to meet some other people and went out for coffee after we were done and before the service started. It was good and I felt like part of a team. I will have to do it again I think.

Lord please help me to be happy with what I have. Help me not to compare my life with others but just accept that some people have more struggles in life than others. I know its probably for my own good that you let me struggle with this even though its a painful thing and often its hard for me to understand. Please help me to trust You Jesus and to know that you only want whats best for me. Help me to form close relationships with other guys and finally feel accepted. I love you Lord and thank You for my life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You Are Faithful

Really love this worship song by Jesus Culture. Always inspires me to keep pressing on and to keep on trusting God.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why ask Why?

I am reading through Proverbs right now and the other day I came across this short verse that spoke to me so figured I would share it with you all. Proverbs 20:24 Here is the NLT version of it:

"The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?"

I took it to mean that life is confusing and we may not understand why we struggle or have hardships but in the end its for our good as the Lord is directing us and changing us into the person He wants us to be. So going through a struggle and trying to obey God is what we have to do even though we may ask questions as to why do I have to struggle with this when all my friends and family are "normal". They have their own struggles that we may not understand.

This is something I often struggle with. Over the years I have spent alot of time wondering why I struggle with SSA. I have thought over certain things that happened or did not happen that could have caused it. Wondered if only I had done this or did not do that then maybe I would have turned out different. But the truth is I will probably never know why I struggle with this. So I have to start just realizing the whys dont matter as much. As this verse says its not for us to understand the whys. Its just our job to try and obey and trust God that He will use even the toughest struggles, which sometimes this seems like this has to be one of the tougher ones, to direct our steps and draw us closer to Him and make us into the people He wants us to be in order to glorify Him in our weakness all the more.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Click Away

Wow re-reading my my last post made it sound like I am far from God. I just wanted to clarify that those feelings I mentioned in Question 5 of my last post are things I have felt from time to time and most of them things I thought in the past and not things that I think all the time! In fact In the past few months I have felt closer to God than I ever have before! I think its because I am finally really open with God and admitting everything to Him. All my fears, my pains, my hopes, my dreams. In addition to this blog I keep a journal. I write it as if writing to God and its been a great help to me. I have only been doing it for about 8 months or so. But its great looking back and realizing WOW God did answer me. If I had not written it down I may have forgotten. For instance in the weeks up to finding the blogs I had some really painful entries where I was telling God how alone I felt in my struggle. Well than I just re-read the entry after I found the blogs and it made me smile to see how happy I was to see I was not alone in this struggle. I am sure God smiled too and was happy to answer my prayers. I am really realizing He loves me for me as I am now. And because He loves me as I am now I am trying to follow His will for me to show my love back in some small way! I know I cant match His love for me with works but I can try to honor Him. Sure I will fail many times and without His help would fail ALL the time, but He knows whats in our heart.

Ever since I finally admitted on my blog that I have these attractions and talked to my brother and his wife it has been a freeing experience and I have felt Gods love like never before. I am so encouraged by all you guys who read this and your blogs. Seriously to see how God is working in your lives is amazing. It encourages me and I hope in some small way I encourage you all too. Sure we all have struggles and our walks may be harder than straight Christians and they may not understand us or our struggle all the time but of least we understand each other and can support and pray for each other. And even if others dont understand this struggle completely many will still pray for us and try to help as they can.

I sometimes in the past wished the internet had not been invented because it makes looking at porn to easy. But then I could not imagine what it would have been like if it was like the 1950's now with no internet. I never would have found any of you and likely would have thought I was alone with this struggle my entire life.
Like everything else in life the internet can be used for good and evil. Satan has found it as an easy way to tempt people with online porn that is a mouse click away but God also uses it and there is christian support a mouse click away as well. The question is where will we point that mouse? Isn't the support and prayers we give one another way better than the few seconds of pleasure we get from online porn? I think it is!

Anyways I guess I am just sort of rambling today. I am in a good mood. Going to be visiting some family this weekend and they have a pool and its like 93 degrees lol :) I am thankful for a new day. I am thankful to God for loving even me. I am thankful for you all. I am thankful to be alive!

Hey if you are ever feeling down read Psalms 103. Love that chapter it really shows the love of God and how eager He is to love and forgive us! I will post it here even though its kinda long:

Psalms 103 (NLT)
1 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

6 The Lord gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.

7 He revealed his character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
17 But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
18 of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!

19 The Lord has made the heavens his throne;
from there he rules over everything.

20 Praise the Lord, you angels,
you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
listening for each of his commands.
21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
who serve him and do his will!
22 Praise the Lord, everything he has created,
everything in all his kingdom.
Let all that I am praise the Lord." (bolded by me AJ)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Laying the Foundation

I am reading Desires in Conflict by Joe Dallas and chapter 4 has some questions he wants the reader to answer. Well I decided to answer them here for all the world to see. lol :)

1.What event or circumstance motivated your decision to repent of homosexuality? hmm tough one. I have never acted out my lusts and fantasies with another person so it was not a specific event with another person or anything. About 4 months ago I had looked at porn for the first time in months and I was so disgusted with myself afterwards. After I was done I like usual felt intense shame, disgust, and remorse. The next day I woke up bitterly depressed. I was sure I was the only one on earth who was a christian and struggled with this. I cried for a long time to God and prayed to Him for help and hope. Well God delivered and led me to the blogs later that very day! I finally learned I was not alone. Ever since then I have been really battling like never before to try and repent of my ways and change into the man God wants me to be.

2.What specifically will you need to repent of (turn from)?
-Lust of guys
-Online Porn
-Fantasies about other guys while masturbating.

3.List ways your sexual behavior has effected you physically?
hmm I am not sure I know what to say. I have never been with another guy so dont really know what to answer. Or maybe I am misunderstanding the question? I guess you could say I have always hated the way I looked and wished I looked like other guys does that count? Sometimes I feel like its not worth getting more in shape because I am like who am I trying to impress? Other guys? Girls that I am not even attracted to? I dont know thats all I could come up with. Maybe I dont get the question or it does not apply?

4.List ways your sexual behavior has affected you mentally or emotionally.
Well I have really low self esteem and look down on myself. I have alot of self hate and sometimes think of myself as a freak. I am shy and am often afraid to talk at social events as I dont want people to know what I perceive to be the "real" me. This all started when I first started having these feelings and attractions to guys as before then I was not so shy. I sort of built a wall to hide my shame and guilt so others could not see the "real" me that I was so ashamed of and afraid they would see if I let them in. Basically because of my SSA and the probably wrong ways I have been dealing with it I do not have really any close friends because of my shame and hiding. Sure I have acquaintances but I have never allowed anyone in close enough to be considered a real friend IMO.

5.List any ways your sexual behavior has affected you spirituality.

-I have felt far from God at times and like there is no way God could love me.
-Felt like I was an abomination growing up in a very conservative christian school.
-Did not understand how I could be a christian and have these feelings.
-Afraid to join small groups at church as I felt my sin was to great and I would be judged. Seeing others open up I did not know how I would be able to.
-Filled with incredible shame and guilt.
-Felt I was a hypocrite for praying for healing and then lusting soon after.
-At times as a teenager wondered if I would go to hell because of my attractions.

6.Describe what your life will be like 5 years from now if you dont stop this behavior.
It will be the same as it is now. An unhappy life filled with hiding, guilt, shame, intense loneliness at times, and not many good things to look forward to.

7.You just described what your life will be like if you continue this behavior. Is this acceptable to you? Why or why not?

No its not acceptable to me. I cant continue on this path if I ever want to find happiness. I want to live the way God intended before my sinful nature or whatever messed everything up. I dream of someday having a wife and family but most of all I want to LIVE. I have been so afraid of my shame and guilt I feel like I have never really lived at all but instead have been in hiding my whole life. I want to be free. I want close friends. I want christian fellowship. I want to feel like I belong and am loved and accepted for who I am. I want to trust God like I know I should and really let it sink in that He loves even me.

8. List 10 reasons for remaining sexually pure and list 5 more each week after for the next 4 weeks:

(I sort of mixed sex and looking at porn for my list)

1.I want to honor God with my body.
2.I dont want the guilt that comes with failing.
3.Im tired of hiding my sins
4.The anxiety of being caught is to great
5.The disgust I feel for myself after looking at porn is not worth the 10 seconds of pleasure.
6.Its a dead end street looking at porn with no love or friendship gained from it.
7.I dont want to live in a fantasy world anymore.
8.Dont want any STD's
9.I dont want the shame.
10.If God ever blesses me with a wife it will be an amazing thing for me to be able to tell her despite all my temptations and struggles with SSA I never had sex with another guy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'll keep trusting You

Stan who has a blog I frequent often sent me an email today about a blog post he thought I should read. Here is an excerpt from that blog post that I really liked:

"Once we come into agreement with one of Satan’s lies, we then start to live our lives and make decisions out of that lie. So let’s take one as an example: “I am gay and there is no way to be healed of homosexuality”. Let’s say you have come into agreement with that lie. How are you going to live your life? Are you going to seek healing? Are you going to seek out churches to love and help you through your struggle? Are you going to seek out groups of men to mentor you? Are you going to pray fervently for the Lord to walk you through your healing journey quickly?

No. It's highly unlikely you are going to do any of those things. What are you going to do? You are going to find a group of people who believe the same lie. You are going to seek out other relationships that are going to confirm that lie. You are going to have conversations with other people who are going to confirm that lie. You are going to separate yourself from anyone who doesn’t agree with you."

Check out the full blog article here. Its a great read and is all about the lies Satan tries to get us to believe. The article also gives ways on how to fight back against Satan's lies and for me of least the blog post was a really big encouragement to keep trusting God and to keep praying for healing and not to give up.

Anyways I had been feeling pretty discouraged about my struggle with SSA as you may have been able to tell based on that rather depressing song I posted yesterday. Just was feeling hopeless and depressed. In fact I did not even go to church yesterday. I just could not put on my fake smile and pretend I was fine.

I often wonder if change is really possible you know what I mean? I cant get a straight answer from anyone. Some say its a struggle that we must endure our whole life with little hope for healing. Others say after alot of intense therapy some measure of healing takes place and still others say they were healed instantly. Its all very confusing. I guess no one seems to know. Makes me wonder why God does not heal more of us instantly? He must be teaching us faith and trust by letting us struggle. Anyways I just read that blog today and I really liked what the blog had to say about not giving up on healing. We have to live like change is possible otherwise we will just give up and if we give up we are sure stay the same. That is something I really needed to hear! That is so powerful and true. Because if I think there is no hope for change I wont even bother trying. Which is what Satan would love. I needed to read this today.

I emailed my brother last night and told him the truth about how discouraged I am and how I feel hopeless and dont know if I will ever be healed. And he called me up last night and we talked for an hour. It was so awesome and he really encouraged me and told me not to give up. In my email I told him I feel like a freak and he said I am not a freak but just a sinner like everyone else. And he got upset when I said I wish I was normal because he said I am normal just because I sin and have struggles does not mean I am not normal and that everyone struggles with something. Anyways It was really something I needed and we talked about a bunch of other things like prayers and struggles and God. It was one of the deepest conversations we have ever had! So much better than the superficial conversations we used to have before he knew of my struggles. And he told me about some things he needs prayers for too. Basically we both were finally vulnerable and honest with each other! God is using this to bring us alot closer.

I now know why Satan tried his hardest to keep me from telling my brother for all this time. Like this article said Satan knew that my brother would give me support and courage so he kept feeding me the lies that my brother would reject me if he knew.

Anyways I am feeling better today than I did over the weekend and I am going to keep trusting in God that healing is possible. Dont know in what form healing will take place or when but I am going to put my hope in the God that I know loves me no matter what that He will transform me into the man he wants me to be.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Its Not

This song seems like the story of my life sometimes.

Its Not
By:Aimee Mann

I keep going round and round on the same old circuit
A wire travels underground to a vacant lot
Where something I can't see interrupts the current
And shrinks the picture down to a tiny dot
And from behind the screen it can look so perfect
But it's not

So here I'm sitting in my car at the same old stop light
I keep waiting for a change but I don't know what
So red turns into green turning into yellow
But I'm just frozen here on the same old spot
And all I have to do is to press the pedal
But I'm not

People are tricky you can't afford to show
Anything risky anything they don't know
The moment you try - well kiss it goodbye

So baby kiss me like a drug, like a respirator
And let me fall into the dream of the astronaut
Where I get lost in space that goes on forever
And you make all the rest just an afterthought
And I believe it's you who could make it better
Though it's not
No it's not...
No it's not...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wandering Thoughts for July 8th

Hey all just another one of my mini update posts with a mishmash of random thoughts all in one post! :)

First a mini review for The Broken Image by Leanne Payne.

--I finished reading The Broken Image by Leanne Payne the other day. It was pretty good. One problem was half the book was about lesbians and the other about male homosexuals so alot of it did not apply to me. Still I learned a bunch from it and she had alot of theories and ideas as to why people have SSA.

I dont agree with everything in it though as she seems to guarantee healing from homosexuality which I just dont know if I can believe. Although she does not really say what healing means. So maybe her idea of healing is different than what mine would be. She says she has a certain prayer that she does that works 100% of the time but its to stressful for the actual struggler to pray and try to change himself as he has spent years praying for healing and struggling and cant believe fully in Gods healing so a counselor has to intercede and pray for him and really believe it. Anyways she says that but then in the next sentence says the prayer only works after many sessions of intense therapy. So it made me question did the prayer work at all or was it all the intense therapy?

One chapter I really learned alot from was on masturbation and the dangers of creating a fantasy world. It gave me alot to think about and I recognized myself in alot of what she wrote. Also the last chapter was all about prayer and worship and I found that amazing too. Anyways overall I liked it and gained some insight about myself from it. Would I recommend it to everyone? No I dont think so but it could still be a help to some. It seems the book may have been written more for counselors than the actual SSA struggler as she describes her counseling sessions and seems to be talking over the heads of the struggler and to the counselors at certain points of the book. Still I found alot of really useful stuff in the book.

--I am now reading Desires in Conflict by Joe Dallas. Already I am liking it alot more than The Broken Image. He has a great writing style and just seems to get what this struggle is like as a struggler himself. I have only read the intro and most of chapter 1 but wow its like he was writing about me specifically in alot of what I read. He talks about how the Christian SSA struggler feels like he is the only one on earth who struggles with this and how he thinks no one in church could love him or understand, and that has been me for so much of my life. And that when SSA strugglers find others who share in the same struggle as them an enormous burden is lifted because you realize you are just a normal sinner and not some kind of super-sinner that is one of a kind that no one else could understand. That has been my experience. Since finding the blogs and talking to you all it has been amazing to not feel alone in this struggle with SSA! Anyways I will keep you updated on my progress in the book and let you know what I think when I am done. I have a feeling I am going to learn alot from this book.

--Two of my favorite blogs are closing down. :-( If you have not been to Karen's blog "Pursue God" or Jay's blog "Adventures of a Christian Collegian" check them out as they have a bunch of great posts and information about SSA on their blogs and be sure wish them luck on their new projects! I have learned alot from their blogs over the past few months.

--Really learned alot from a talk Dr. Mark Yarhouse gave about Sexual Identity and the Christian that Jeff posted on his blog. Check out the two part lecture if you have time I promise you its worth it! You can find the links to the lectures on Jeff's blog.

--And finally loved this post that Ody-Dan made on his blog posing the question Can SSA/Gay People Enjoy Straight Sex? How About Their Spouse? It is all about his life as a married man with SSA and goes into some very personal details of his sex life. These are things I have always wondered but likely would not ask someone so it was great to see how someone with SSA deals with these issues!

Ok thats all for now. Thanks for reading! :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Caught In The In-Between

When will I finally realize that God loves me how I am? I know that is the truth yet I always feel like I am a failure because of my SSA. I see the life of other guys at church who have wives, or GFs and they just seem so much more Godly than me. I know its not true and they have problems and sin areas as well but I dont know it just seems like they sin less to me. Of course I guess you can never tell from the outside. They could be struggling with things that I cant even imagine much like they have no idea of this huge struggle I have. I wish we all could be more open about our sins and weaknesses at church! I think if things were more out in the open at church it would really help people not feel shame for whatever sins they have done in the past or struggle with now. Why do we all wear masks and pretend we have it all together? Its like we are trying to impress each other and pretend we are better than we are which is ridiculous considering at church we are a gathering of Christians and God knows what we all are really like! If God who is perfect knows the real us, sins and all, and still loves us why cant we as weak sinful humans share our sins and struggles with each other and still love one another? Just something I have been thinking about.

This song I posted below has really been speaking to me. There are so many stupid things that at times I put before God. Even beyond SSA issues. Material things, electronic gadgets, and all the trappings of modern society that draw my attention away from the God who made me, loves me, and forgives me.

Love this line especially: "And we run, we run, to finally be set free
But we’re fighting for what we already have received"

The victory is already secure! Even if in this life my attractions never change at all I can be sure that I will be set free of these struggles eventually even if it is not until I reach heaven and God makes me new. Between now and then there will be alot of hard times and temptations, but there will be tons of good times too. I cant let this struggle define me as a person. Instead of worrying I have to put my trust in God who has already helped me so many times that I have lost count. I can either wallow in self pity about my struggles with SSA or live life and thank God for saving me and loving me. I choose to live life.

We are caught in the in-between but God has already set us free!

All The Pretty Things
by: Tenth Avenue North
We are, we are, we’re caught in the in-between
Of who we already are and who we’re yet to be
We’re looking for love but finding we’re still in need
It’s only what we have lost will we be allowed to keep
And we’re waiting but our eyes are wandering to
All this earth holds dear

Look at all the pretty things
That steal my heart away
I can feel I’m fading
‘Cause Lord I love so many things
That keep me from your face
Come and save me

And we run, we run, to finally be set free
But we’re fighting for what we already have received
So we’re waiting , but our eyes are wandering to
All this earth holds dear

Look at all the pretty things
That steal my heart away
I can feel I’m fading
‘Cause Lord I love so many things
That keep me from your face
Come and save me

We are, we are, we’re caught in the in-between
But we’re fighting for what we already have received
We are, we are, we’re caught in the in-between
But we’re fighting for what we already have received

Look at all the pretty things
That steal my heart away
I can feel I’m fading
‘Cause Lord I love so many things
That keep me from your face
Come and save me