10/27/2011 | Share this article:By Aphotic ~
From a young age my parents always took me to church. Eventually my dad stopped going because he simply didn't like it. Soon after that my mom stopped going, and it was always because of this reason or that reason, and so my sister and I stopped attending service.
Image by jesuscm via FlickrAbout a year after that, when I was eight and my sister was seven, we were playing in the apartment complex when two missionaries came up to us. We were excited by the idea of going back to church, and so we went. We took the church bus every Sunday, enjoying service, enjoying our teachers, and enjoying our friends. I, for one, never felt a stronger sense of belonging, up to that point, than from attending church.
When I was ten, my dad took me to get my ear pierced, and I had a little alien earring, and thought it was the neatest thing in the world. My pastor and my Sunday school teacher absolutely hated it, and told me not to come back to church wearing the earring. I was confused. My parents had told me the earring was okay, I liked it, my friends liked it, but I was told it was wrong and that God did not permit men to have piercings. I was upset for a day or two, but decided that the earring wasn't worth it.
When I was eleven, I went to grown-up service for my first time, and they were teaching the store of Adam and Eve. I listened intently, almost able to recite the story from memory, when something happened. What I was hearing from the pastor did not match with what I had been taught. I was always taught that Adam had eaten the fruit because he had seen that Eve had come to no harm, but what they were telling me was that Adam chose to eat the fruit on Eve's account. This absolutely shook me, an eleven-year-old, that had always been taught the Bible was the written word of God and only had one meaning. I left that church, and I found another one.
I loved my new church. They also had a bus, and they even took us on occasional trips to different amusement parks and we had church camp. I attended for around a year, and that's when I began to feel the tendencies. Sometimes I would look at the other boys as we dressed down in the locker room, and I began finding my way onto the internet. I asked my mom what homosexuality was and if God loved homosexuals. She simply said "homosexuals are an abomination to God".
After another year or so, the tendencies were getting stronger. I knew something was wrong, and I did everything I could to resist. This isn't right, I kept telling myself, am I broken? I prayed to God fervently nearly every day, but the feelings only got stronger. I tried finding people on the internet that would tell me how not be gay, and had no success. I tried and tried, and did my best to resist the urges, while reading my Bible and continuing to pray fervently to God. I can't recall how many times I "re-saved" myself, convinced that I just hadn't been properly saved. I got baptized, and still nothing could quell it.
All of this was destroying myself. I saw nothing but conflict in all facets of my life, convinced that, because things still weren't working, it was my fault. After all, God is perfect. I began rebuking myself, torturing myself over it, and overall just tearing little pieces away from myself one at a time in infinite succession, trying to convince myself that I could change. I withdrew from my friends, from my family, from my church. I did horribly in school, I was regarded as the loser, or the loner, and I was depressed. And this went on. For seven years.
I can't really say there was a singular turning point out of it all, one pivotal event that propelled me out a self-destructive cycle. A combination of things happened gradually over a period of time. I knew that I didn't want to feel that way anymore, I knew that I wanted to be comfortable with myself and understand what I could and couldn't change, I knew that I wanted to think for myself, and above all, I began to recognize that the dialogues I thought I was having with God were really just monologues. It was a painstaking process, but eventually I got to a point where I didn't hate myself when I woke up in the morning.
I look back, and the things I went through were horrific. I nearly destroyed myself emotionally. What I went through, nobody should have to go through. What I can say, though, is that it made me a stronger person. It's made me self-aware, as well as more aware of the world around me. It's given me a greater sense of value of my life. It's allowed me to think independently, unrestricted, able to make my own judgments, even if they're wrong, my OWN judgments, mistakes that I'm allowed to make instead of being confined into a dangerous mental space.
I finally rejected Christianity for myself when I was eighteen. I came out when I was nineteen. My parents don't approve on either account. I am now twenty-one, and there's still a lot of damage for me to undo, and still a lot of growing to do. One thing that's clear to me it's that I have a lot of work left. And I am absolutely sure that I am happier than I have ever been, even with all this disrepair, I know I'll make it, and I know that I'm strong enough to keep learning and expanding myself.
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