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The Song of My Deliverance

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  • The Song of My Deliverance

    or, how 23 years of shame were broken down in 3 days.

    As I’ve prayed over writing my testimony this past month, hundreds of introductions have come to mind. Out of them all, though, the first is the only one that rings true; the very thing that I kept hidden for 23 years: I was first introduced to sex when I was 4 years old. From that point forward, thoughts of lust were pretty much always on my mind. Along with that came feelings of guilt, shame, fear and inadequacy, to name a few. It wasn’t until God’s intervention over the three-day period of April 18-20, that I was able to see what a massive lie I’d been fooled into believing.

    Before I can go forward with the good news, though, a little history is needed. As I said before, I was first introduced to sex when I was 4 years old. I was staying the night at my cousin’s house, just hanging out and having a good time (he was a whole year older than me, so I thought he was pretty cool). Now, my cousin most definitely did not come from a good home. His father, my uncle, was an abusive man. I know for a fact that he physically abused my aunt and cousins (my aunt is now legally blind and deaf, due in part to his actions). What I didn’t figure out until much later, however is that he most likely sexually abused them as well. I’m fortunate that he never did anything to me, but his actions still left an influence on my life.

    It was early afternoon, and we were watching Friday the 13th on TV (wonderful movie for kids, don’t you think?). I have no idea where my aunt and uncle were, but my cousin and I had built a tent out of bedsheets and were sitting underneath watching the movie. We were talking about all the usual stuff little boys talk about, when he brought up the subject of sex. I had no idea what he was talking about at first, but he was the cool older cousin, so I was fascinated with everything he said. It wasn’t just talk either, there were actions that went along with it. I still don’t know for certain how a 5-year-old boy knew the things he showed me, but this is why I strongly suspect sexual abuse from his father. After that experience, I don’t remember if he told me to keep it a secret or if I just knew it instinctively. What I do know, however, is it was the first real secret I kept from anybody.

    In the following years, we only saw each other 3-4 times a year. He lived 30 miles away, so it wasn’t all that convenient for me to see him. I can’t think of a single time when we met that didn’t include some talk or (more often) action regarding sex. As I grew older and more aware of the culture around me, I began to see what a bad thing it was that we were doing. I developed an attraction to men somewhere along the way as well, which I kept fiercely hidden. Small Texas towns are not exactly known for their acceptance of alternate lifestyles, so I was convinced that terrible things would happen if anyone ever found out the truth about me.

    As I grew older, I became a master of disguise, putting forth the image of a strong, silent guy with everything together, all the while feeling positively terrified on the inside. I discovered pornography at the age of 13 or 14, which only fostered this double-life. I could go to school, be tough and make all the “gay” jokes that the other guys did, then go home and look at porn. Afterward, I would feel overwhelming waves of guilt and shame, convince myself that those feelings were God’s way of giving me the punishment I deserved, then bottle it all up and go on about my life.

    College came, and along with it, the freedom to torture myself in brand new ways. By that time, I’d convinced myself that I was bisexual, if not entirely gay. I despised myself because of it, but I’d pretty much decided that there was no changing who I was, no matter how much I wanted to. I kept my porn habit going, but also discovered the world of casual hookups. These were few and far between, usually fueled by times of depression, times when I felt like I was all alone and had no real friends. I’d get a quick rush out of them, feel better for a little while, then sink down lower than ever before. By Christmas of my freshman year, I was on the brink of suicide. If not for the thought of what it would do to my family if I did, I very well might have gone through with it.

    Fortunately, shortly after that miserable Christmas, God made His first divine intervention at that time (the first one I noticed, at least). I started going to church with a friend that spring, and within a year, had given my life over to Christ. My life as an early Christian was amazing, filled with learning, excellent mentors and awesome growth. The depression I’d faced before was gone, and replaced with a hope I’d never felt before. The sin and lust even withdrew for a while, in a manner of saying. They were still there, I knew, just waiting for an opportunity to come out. I thought that if I just went to church long enough, prayed hard enough, and acted the part of a good Christian, they’d eventually go away, though. I never told anyone about my struggles, though. I thought I had control over them, and there was still that terror of what people would say if they knew the truth. Would people really believe that I was a Christian if they knew that I still struggled with homosexual attractions?

    Eventually, I fell back into my old habits, along with the shame that came along with them. I was still convinced that the shame was a good thing, though, that it was through the shame that I would eventually be freed. Every time I fell, I prayed to God with as much shame as I could muster, sure that that was what He wanted. If I could just attach enough shame to my acts, surely I would stop doing them, right? I was even able to convince myself during that time that just about every bad thing that happened to me was a result of the bad things I was doing behind closed doors. After all, God surely wanted me to suffer for my misdeeds, right?

    When I joined my current church about two years ago, I noticed a different spirit than I’d ever experienced before. People were open and loving with each other, people cared about each other, and there was a real sense of community that I’d never felt before. In time, I made friends, began serving the congregation, and really allowing the Spirit to minister to me. It was during this time that the thought of coming completely out in the open to somebody entered my mind for the first time. I quickly squelched the idea, though. My favorite excuse was, “I’m really involved here, and people look up to me and respect me. If they knew who I really was, what would they think of me?” By this time, I’d grown so accustomed to hiding who I was that coming up with these excuses was easy. The enemy knew all my greatest fears, and had no trouble whatsoever in using them against me.

    Flash forward to April 17, our spring men’s retreat. We had two men come and speak to us, named David and Marc. During our first couple of sessions, I felt an immediate connection to David. Like me, he was kind of quiet and reserved, but had suffered from some pretty serious fears and doubts through most of his life. Eventually, the Lord snapped him out of it, and he was able to find freedom through confessing to others and seeking help. “Good for him,” I thought, “I’m glad he got the help he needed.” The other speaker, Marc, seemed like my polar opposite. Tons of energy, heart on his sleeve, one of those who had lived a wild and sin-laden life of drugs and debauchery until the Lord called him into something better. Quite honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to him at first. He was emotional, I was reserved. His dad built strip clubs, my dad was an economist. Surely, I could learn a lot more from quiet, reserved David than wild, emotional Marc. On the second day of our retreat, though, Marc came forward and said something that absolutely floored me, “I was introduced to sex when I was 5 years old,” he said, “and from that point on, I never once had a pure thought in my head.”

    Talk about pierced to the heart; I was riveted as I heard him talk for the next hour. He told of how when he was 5, he saw his father reading a Playboy. Rather than be ashamed, though, his father told him that it was okay, that God had made the female body to be enjoyed. He grew up with a very distorted view of sex, losing his virginity at age 12, and sleeping around as much as he could until God finally led him into freedom. While our stories really had very little in common, the fact remained that here was somebody who, like me, had carried a burden of lust with him from a very young age. Not only that, but he was sharing his story in front of 40 guys he’d never met. I saw a freedom in him that I’d been craving for so long, and saw for the first time that that freedom really was available to me.

    After Marc’s session, there was a time of invitation for all men to come forward who were having struggles with lust. I stepped forward, as did about 20 other men. We split off into pairs with the objective of confessing our faults to one another and praying for each other. I already knew the guy whom I paired up with, although not very well, so I knew I could trust him. When it came time for me to confess, though, I still found myself holding back. I confessed almost everything, that I had been introduced to sex when I was 4 years old and that it had been a burden for me ever since, but stopped just short of confessing the target of said lusts. Despite my desire for freedom, I still couldn’t quite get over that fear of letting someone know absolutely everything about me. Nonetheless, it felt freeing to bring out as much as I did, and to realize that I was still loved and accepted for whom I was. I walked out of that session feeling physically drained, but also pretty darn good.

    As I was driving home the next day, I resolved that I wanted to call up our pastor sometime in the next week or two and bring everything out in the open to him. I was finally convinced that confession was what I needed to heal, but I figured it was alright if I waited a little while before I did it. God had done enough in me over the weekend; surely, it was alright if I took a little break first. It turns out, though, that God had other things in store. At church later that morning, our pastor called one of the guys up to the front to tell the congregation a little about our men’s retreat. He gave a little spiel about what we did and was just wrapping up, when he said, "I'm sorry, but I have one more thing I need to say. Something that God just placed on my heart for one of the men who was at the retreat." Our church is very responsive to these messages, so he proceeded with the following:

    "You have heard a voice of shame in the past that you thought was Me. I want you to know that that voice has never been Me. You are my beloved son, and I have prepared for you a robe of royalty, not one of shame."

    After that, our pastor called for whoever the message was for to stand up and receive prayer. “Seriously, God,” I thought, “I’ve already confessed my lust, now you want me to confess my shame too?” I sat in my chair for a good minute or two, waiting for someone else to stand up, but knowing all along that it was supposed to be me. Finally, I realized that God (and our pastor) would wait all day for someone to stand if need be, so I stood up and braced for the worst. I don't know what I was expecting to happen, but I was stunned by the response. Rather than a look of surprise, our pastor just said my name, as if we were in class and I'd just raised my hand to answer a question. He asked for people around me to lay hands on me and pray for me, but I soon realized that I had friends from all over the congregation stepping over to pray with me too. Afterward, I was greeted with more hugs than I think I've ever experienced in my life. There was such freedom in what I experienced, I was just stunned. I walked out of church that day with new joy in my life, resolving that I would call the pastor later that week and make an appointment to talk things out.

    The next morning, I came into work feeling great, like I could take on the world. Two hours later, I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Sitting at my desk, putting forth a friendly face, all the while knowing it was all a façade finally became too much for me. It became apparent very quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to move forward in work or anything else until I had everything out in the open. Not just some of the things I’d been facing, but all of them. When I went to my boss to ask for the afternoon off, he saw right away that there was something seriously wrong, so he had no problem with letting me go home. I tried calling our pastor to meet first, but he wasn’t going to be free to meet until Thursday. I knew I would be a total basket case if I waited that long, so I called the leader of our men’s group instead And arranged to meet later that evening.

    “Am I really doing what I think I’m doing?” I kept asking myself as I waited for our meeting. “This guy isn’t just a pastor, he’s a friend and mentor to me. What’s he going to think when he finds out the truth about me?” By this time, I knew that he wasn’t going to reject or denounce me, but I feared the “awkwardness” that I knew was sure to follow. I deeply respected this man and valued his friendship; the last thing I wanted was for him to stop seeing me as a friend and to start seeing me as a parishioner in need of guidance. What it boiled down to in the end, though, was that I couldn’t hold it in any longer. If I had to lose the friendship of a Christian brother in order to experience the freedom I saw over the weekend, I was willing to do it.

    When we met, after a little awkward conversation, I spilled everything to him. My past experiences, my fears, my doubts, everything. I can honestly say I’ve never been so terrified in my life. Confronting all of the fears laid on me for 23 years was no easy task, let me tell you. I could tell by his actions, by his body language, by everything he did, though, that he was genuinely grieved to know that I’d experienced the things that I had in my life. Throughout it all, there was never a hint of judgment or condemnation. When I was done, the first thing he asked was, “Do you really believe that your sin is worse than any others out there?” I told him that mentally, I knew that wasn’t true, but down in my heart, it sure seemed that way. After a few more questions, he said point-blank, “Man, you’ve been believing a lie for 23 years!” He went on to tell me that I wasn’t this horrible person that I thought I was, but that he’d seen God working great things through me ever since I joined the church; things that the worthless person I thought I was would never have been capable of doing.

    I’d received praise from others before, but I’d always convinced myself that they wouldn’t feel that way if they knew how I really was. To hear these words of affirmation from someone who had just heard my deepest, darkest secrets had an incredible effect on me. I began to realize that maybe I wasn’t such a bad guy after all, that maybe God was happy with me, and that people really would like me if they knew everything about me. My whole world had been turned upside-down as a result of someone’s love for me, and I was free from a burden that I’d grown so used to carrying, I’d forgotten it was even there. After he left, my mind was racing, so I went for a walk and try to sort things out. As I was walking and praying, I felt overwhelmed by such joy, it was indescribable. I felt strong, good, pure. So much of my energy had been devoted to carrying that burden, to keeping up false appearances, that I literally felt as though now I could move mountains! I finally understood what I’d been hearing all along: that God’s love for me really is unconditional, and that Christ’s death on the cross really did wash clean all of my sins.

    It’s now been about a month and a half since that fateful weekend. I would love to say that the physical attraction I had to men is gone, but I can’t. It’s still something with which I struggle, and something from which I’m still praying deliverance. What I can say, though, is that I feel a hope like never before. The grip that lust had over me for so long, fueled by shame and fear, has been broken. While I still struggle at times with keeping my mind on-track, physical sin (porn, masturbation, etc…) has ceased entirely. I’ve shared my story with three other men since then, and have plans to share it with others when the time is right. Each time that I’ve shared it, I’ve been met with the same love and compassion as before, never with a single lick of condemnation. On the contrary, one man even confided his own struggles in me shortly afterward, struggles which he had never shared with anyone before. We have since entered into a covenant of 100% transparency, accountability and support for one another.

    One thing is certain in all of this; I refuse to go back into that pit of shame and fear where I lived for so long. One day in God’s freedom was enough to convince me of that. I can honestly say these last several weeks have been the greatest of my life. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m happy with whom He made me to be, and I’m thrilled to see what He has planned in the days to come. God’s taken me on quite a rollercoaster ride these last few weeks, but I’d gladly go through so much more to experience the freedom I’m now living.
    Last edited by lbeaty1981; Jun 9 2009, 01:35 PM.
    We long to be known and we fear it like nothing else.
    Most people live with subtle dread that one day,
    they will be discovered for who they really are,
    and the world will be appalled.
    - Curtis, Brent and John Eldredge,
    The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God


    The joy is not in hiding, the joy is in being found.
    - David Terry

    My Testimony

  • #2
    That was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing it! I've been learning some of that same freedom myself after having dealt with the 'if they only knew' fears. God is so good.
    I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrus...

    All children left unattended will be given an espresso and a free puppy.

    Comment


    • #3
      Just wanted to give a quick update, today marks 6 months since I confessed to the leader of our men's group and began receiving healing. I've got to say, they've been the craziest, most blessed 6 months of my entire life! Just an overview of a few of the highlights:
      • I've shared my testimony with my Bible study small group (around 5-6 guys).
      • I've also shared my testimony with our Thursday morning men's group (around 20 guys, something I never thought I would do).
      • I've received some serious healing of past shame and guilt through theophostic prayer ministry.
      • God has begun placing other people in my life affected by homosexual attraction, to whom I've been able to minister.
      • On several occasions, Satan has tried to blindside me with sexual temptations. God has been faithful, though, and got me out of them without succumbing.

      I know I've still got a long way to go on the path toward healing, but I know God's not done with me yet. While I haven't been 100% successful in my walk (there have been a few times where I fell to the temptation of pornography), the difference between my life now and my life before is like night and day. There's a hope and a joy in my life now that's beyond description. God's been so good to me these last several months, and I know he has lots of good things in store for me in the months and years to come as well. Thanks to all who have offered encouragement and prayer for me, it is all much appreciated. The freedom found through God is truly beyond comparison!
      We long to be known and we fear it like nothing else.
      Most people live with subtle dread that one day,
      they will be discovered for who they really are,
      and the world will be appalled.
      - Curtis, Brent and John Eldredge,
      The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God


      The joy is not in hiding, the joy is in being found.
      - David Terry

      My Testimony

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you for sharing your testimony. It's really a blessing.

        This is exactly the kind of life that I was living. The only difference is that I haven't told anybody (real person) yet about my struggle with homosexuality. I still don't have that courage.

        Comment


        • #5
          I won't lie to you, the first time I shared my story with someone, I was scared absolutely to death. The freedom and peace that came as a result of that was unbelievable, though. I'd strongly recommend praying over this and seeing if God shows you someone who you can talk with about this. It can be a touchy subject, but nothing is outside of God's grace.

          Feel free to shoot me a PM or instant message sometime if you want, I'll most definitely be praying for you.
          We long to be known and we fear it like nothing else.
          Most people live with subtle dread that one day,
          they will be discovered for who they really are,
          and the world will be appalled.
          - Curtis, Brent and John Eldredge,
          The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God


          The joy is not in hiding, the joy is in being found.
          - David Terry

          My Testimony

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you for this. I think I missed it the first time, and to see your update was wonderful too, brother. I've also known a similar struggle and the freedom in Christ that broke me out of it, and because He lifted me out of that, my life's so different in so many ways. I'm so glad yours is, too!

            All the glory goes to Him.
            -- Your ~sister~ in Christ.... a "Kaffinated Kittykat"!!

            ROMANS 5:8. Forgiven. Freed. Humbled. Amazed. Grateful. Relying on Christ.

            Love is not a place to come and go as we please
            It's a house we enter in, then commit to never leave
            So lock the door behind you, and throw away the key
            We'll work it out together, let it bring us to our knees.....
            Warren Barfield



            Comment


            • #7
              Thank you so very much for sharing this.
              It will help me support and understand a friend who is facing the same as you did.

              Comment


              • #8
                Praise the Lord for Faithful Servants!

                Praise the Lord for your deliverance....Praise the Lord for worthy church family and friends...Praise the Lord that you give HIM all the praise, glory and honor. God is sooooooooooooooooooo awesome. HE loves us beyond understanding....

                May God continue to use you to assist others with the same strongholds. I pray to our Heavenly Father that HE continue to equip you daily so that you can be bold and strong in your Faith....to help others defeat the lies of satan through the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior!

                God bless you
                John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that HE gave HIS only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in HIM should not perish, but have eternal life.


                My testimony: http://bibleforums.org/forum/showthread.php?t=137007

                Comment


                • #9
                  It seems that I have just seen this post tonight. I don't remember seeing the original post in June. It's wonderful what God has done for you and is continuing to do. I don't have any "wise" words, except Praise the Lord.

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