I’ve been a volunteer at the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) for the past three years, which allows me to hear world class leadership speakers. During the 2018 GLS, Marcus Lemonis, host of a TV show called “The Profit”, left a huge impression on me. He encouraged leaders to share their stories, the things you’ve been through in life so that others can see your vulnerabilities. Lemonis admitted that it can be difficult to unleash vulnerability, but the rewards can be fulfilling in terms of building relationships. And, I would add, being missional in sharing the story of Christ in our lives. So, with this in mind, I feel empowered to share my story.
I am the youngest of three boys and I earned the title ‘BRAT’ by virtue of birth order. With that title, I became a mama’s boy and I didn’t cut those apron strings until I was in my late twenties. My mother often expressed her disappointment that I wasn’t a girl. So, very early in life I began to fulfill my mother’s need for a girl, which led to years of mental anguish, thinking that all would be okay if I were a girl. My father’s inability to nurture and love me into manhood added more challenges for me, exacerbated by my mother using me as a sounding board for her own frustrations with him.
During years of conforming to my mother’s wishes, my father lived in his own intellectual world. Thankfully, he never physically abused or ridiculed me. Although a part of our household, he was pre-occupied with his own interests and never shared physical or verbal love. Consequently, I hated, loathed and detached myself from him.
In school I withdrew into myself holding my body in contempt. The constructs of same-sex attraction and dysphoria were plentiful – planted, watered and nourished by the dysfunction of my family as well as bullying from male peers in Junior and Senior High. I began detaching from my male peers while still longing for relationship with them. That longing, I strongly believe, led me to thirst after male attributes and to crave male intimacy. My social circle was comprised of girls. They offered safety and comfort; all-the-while, nurturing the idea and desire to be female. For someone like me – raised in a church where people often spoke disparagingly about same-sex attraction and gender uncertainty – wrestling with these things tormented me. Eventually I began to see my struggle as pre-ordained and felt powerless and hopeless over something that God wouldn’t take from me.
The lyrics of a contemporary Christian song titled ‘Dear Younger Me’ speak truth into the confusion that I felt… “If I knew then what I know now, condemnation would have had no power – my pain would never be my worth… If I knew then what I know now, it wouldn’t be hard to figure out what I would have changed if I could have heard… Dear younger me, it’s not your fault, you were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.”
During my early 30’s, a sermon on Peter’s denial of Christ, through actions and words, helped me relate deeply and profoundly to Peter’s dilemma. The truth that Christ loved Peter in spite of his brokenness, took hold of my life. And, at about the same time, I began realizing the corruptive nature of the fall and its tie-in to my personal culpability. Romans 5:15, “By one man’s trespass, many died; but, how much more has the love of God overflowed to many by the grace of one Man, Jesus Christ.” This spiritual awakening prompted me to seek God’s truth (hope) about who he created me to be and where my true identity belongs, which is in Jesus Christ.
For 35 years I’ve been living a changed life with a grateful heart – participating in God’s grace through His son Jesus. I am content in His day to day, moment by moment provision of cleansing from all unrighteousness. Does this mean I’m perfect? By no means! Have I been set free from temptations and fleshly desires? Not this side of heaven, but I’m committed to living in conformity to God’s word. Yes indeed, the One who started a work in me, will carry it through to completion.
Philippians 3:8-9, “What’s more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, but that which is trough faith in Christ – righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Published on 09/25/2019 @ 9:10 AM PDT