The journey to marriage has been an incredible one: Jesus freed me from all the junk and false identities I had, and made me God’s man, His son, an Heir to Heaven, and trusted with the most precious of God’s creation: woman . . . Sarah.
If you know me, or have heard my story, you know me as Joyful Joshua. It was a name tenderly given by the folks at Living Hope for the amount of issues I’ve had to wade through during the pursuit of knowing Jesus, and the joy I experienced in that difficult journey. When God called me back to him at the 2007 Exodus Freedom Conference, I didn’t know if I could be straight, I didn’t really know if I wanted to stop being gay, but I did know I wanted a relationship with Jesus.
That’s where marriage starts — in fact, that’s where any healing starts. It’s determining that we don’t have it in us to do any significant changing, but that Jesus will do the changing in us when we’re ready. Healing hurts. It’s like God does open heart surgery and needs us to be awake for most of it, because we have to come face to face with the screwed-up portions of our lives, His holiness, and His patient, tender grace for the most soiled individuals on earth.
God first introduced Sarah and me over 8 years ago in college. We dated for 3 years, after which I broke her heart to embrace my confused homosexual identity. God sustained and helped her during that time as she watched her friend destroy himself.
God blessed Sarah’s patience so she was there when God restored me to relationship with Him! In May 2008, I moved to Texas to join Living Hope, and I knew no one here except Sarah and her family.
Jesus was the one who delivered me from demons, healed me from my feminine identity, restored my hidden masculinity, and helped loosen the bonds of my Same Sex Attraction. SSA shrank from the intimidating size of an elephant to an annoying gnat (that occasionally interrupts rocking intimacy with my wife). Jesus helped me struggle through addictions, comforted me in loss of jobs, car, and abundant grief.
Back during that first year in Texas, neither of us was sure God would restore my attractions to her. I had pretty much given up on heterosexuality, but God had other ideas. By August 27, 2009, Sarah and I were courting, and by April 3, 2010 we were engaged — much to our surprise. Apparently, our attractions were obvious to everyone else but us.
During engagement, we had another pleasant surprise: my attractions returned, and we had to set up some pretty radical boundaries to preserve purity. Those boundaries hurt, and some people thought we were ridiculous, but we both had known too much to jeopardize the wonder God was setting us up for.
Let me tell you: consistent boundaries before the wedding night — totally worth it.
We have our struggles, everything from the definition of burnt toast (once again, she was right, it tasted very good), to interior decorating (think about us), and who tends to pull the sheets off whom, to family issues, spiritual warfare, and household maintenance. Totally Leave it to Beaver, right?
Sometimes the gnat of those SSA memories decides to buzz, especially during intimacy. She has struggled with letting me lead in decisions, everything from our schedule, driving, prayer, and spending time with my guy friends. I’m learning to listen, to hold her, to be her protector, guide, and friend, and to serve her as Jesus has served me.
There are times when I see in Sarah’s eyes such unconditional, overwhelming love, it scares me. It terrifies my heart down to my soul, because I am forced to ask the question that harkens back to the inner fear of every man, struggler or no: Am I good enough? Is my love enough for her?
She is God’s princess, His beloved daughter, whom Abba Dad entrusted to me and I realize: God’s love is enough to fill me so I can give her what Jesus gives me. The result is something beyond what words can capture.
When I hated Jesus, the church, and was living as a gay man, Sarah once said to me, “If Jesus can love me, He can love you.” The same principle applies — heart deep, founded in knowledge, that Jesus loved me when I was horrible to Him, and asks me to love Sarah with the same love. How can I do anything less? She is truly the most beautiful and wondrous, unearned gift I have ever received!
…and besides, when we worship, it’s amazing — and all about Abba Dad’s epic love.