Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Surrounded by love  

I wrote about Todd last week. If you didn't read that post, read it now before you go any further.

Todd here. Curt has asked me to be a "guest blogger" for today. I'm a little stuck... What in the world should I talk about? There's a lot on my mind, and a lot in my life that I could share.

As my wife and I were talking about Curt's post, we realized that he left out a really important part of the story, something that would give you a little more insight into the reality that she and I find ourselves in. Yes, I struggle with homosexuality. Yes, I would consider myself a sex addict, and I have continued to battle pornography and masturbation. But even more devastating to my marriage is the hard reality that I had a sexual encounter with another man several years ago, its damage has been incalculable. That might help you to understand why this whole thing has been so hard on my wife. It's not only that I have homosexual desires, but also that I have broken the bonds of sexual fidelity with another man.

From a very early age, I knew I was somehow "different" from other boys. Around the age of ten, I realized that my "different" feelings had a name: homosexuality. I was in an evangelical Christian environment, which was certainly not a safe place to struggle with feelings like this... I always prayed that God would change me, and, well, He never did.

For many years, deep down, I knew what I had to do. I can't tell you the number of times I sensed God telling me to just tell someone! I consciously told Him no. I promised Him that I would do anything, go anywhere He asked... Missionary to Mozambique? No problem. Where do I sign up? But I swore I'd never tell this. I'd go to my grave with this.

James 5:16 says "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." For me, it wasn't until I opened up and let someone else in on my secrets that I began the journey of healing. It was utterly terrifying. I had been hiding for 20 years! I'm married and I have kids. I knew that if I opened up and told the truth about my struggle... the adultery, the porn, the masturbation, not to mention the homosexual angle, I'd lose everything: my family, my reputation.... But God gave me the strength to finally do it, and within about 6 weeks' time, I had told my wife and five other trusted friends, including two church leaders. It was wretched and glorious, all at the same time. (Those simple sentences can't begin to describe what it's like when you're on the edge of the cliff, trying to work up the nerve to jump. I knew that God was with me, and that no matter what I had to lose, I would always have Him, but "knowing" that information didn't make it feel any easier.)

When I did finally jump, I found amazing grace, love, and support. It was like God himself was loving me through my amazingly grace-filled wife and my precious friends. What a miracle that He put me here where I could heal and be restored in safety, surrounded by love. With the help of my friends, with some intense Christian counseling, and through the ministry of an awesome organization called Desert Stream, I am learning God's plan for gender and sexuality. I am learning to stand up in the truth of who God created me to be. I am learning to be a man! And I know that as a result of my struggle, I will be a better husband and father... certainly better able to handle difficult things. I know that spiritual chains were broken off somehow in heavenly realms and that my children and my grandchildren don't have to struggle like I did because I've (finally) been obedient.

My wife and I still have really hard times, especially when I screw up and look at things I shouldn't... I've gotten a little bit of "Geez, man... Stop it! Look what you're doing to yourself and your wife!" and I know, believe me. But like Curt said, sexual addiction is as strong as an addiction to cocaine! I've been in the process of laying this sin down for a year and a half now, but it's still really hard sometimes. I've come a LONG way, but there's still so far to go. I have become acutely aware of my own sinfulness. For so long I was a Jeckyl/Hyde character: Good church boy on the outside, raging gay sex addict on the inside. Now at least I'm one person instead of two. I may be broken, sometimes so badly I feel like giving up, but at least I'm myself. No one can claim I'm living a lie.

Well, enough rambling. Why am I even bothering talk about this in a public forum? Because I know I'm not the only one in this situation. I know I'm not the only one who has damaged his marriage. And I want everyone to know that broken relationships can be fixed. If ever there was a hopeless situation, it's mine. But God is bigger than our fears. Bigger than our biggest problems. Bigger than our sickest secrets. He is able to heal and change and forgive and restore. And, let me tell you, it's a heck of a ride.

If you want to talk, I'd love to hear from you. Write me at todd-at-atimelikethis-dot-net. I'd be happy to pray for you or just read what's on your mind. If I can be of any encouragement to you, it would be a privilege.