by Colton, 24
The words of others can affect our lives in both positive and negative ways. From the lies spoken over me by the world to the truth I hear every week at Living Hope, words have greatly impacted my life.
I grew up in a very loving home and probably have the funniest parents a person could ever ask for. However, as a little boy, I couldn’t shake this feeling that I was different. Rather than being rooted in anything real, this sense of difference came largely from societal stereotypes. As a child, I was a performer. I had a quick-whip sense of humor and I would sing without limit because I wanted to put smiles on peoples’ faces. Even from that young age, I knew that no matter what I did professionally in life I would always want to incorporate a little dose of entertaining people. So, I pursued music and theater as a boy because I enjoyed the thrill of being in a live production, pretending to be another person, and having the privilege to tell that character’s story.
Unfortunately, when a boy chooses music and theater over sports, people automatically label you as gay or at least not straight. I had people pick on me endlessly because to them being in a play or a musical was feminine. To me, though, it was an opportunity to use the gifts God gave me. But instead of finding joy in exercising my God-given talents, I began to grow angry at God for not making me “normal.” My self-esteem plummeted quickly and I carried a lot of self-hate. I began to believe the lies of those who bullied me that my life was worthless and that I wasn’t normal but rather a freak.
When a boy chooses music and theater over sports, people automatically label you as gay
I carried those frustrations and lies into my life at home. I was terribly disrespectful to my parents and would say the vilest things because I was angry and hurt. I didn’t feel like I had the ability to stand up for myself without getting beat up. That sense of helplessness puts you in an incredibly dark place to the point where you contemplate suicide. Thankfully, I never had the courage to commit that type of act, but what I did begin to do was believe the lies people were speaking over my life. I began to look at things online that were not feeding my mind and heart spiritually. I began acting different around people, which only exacerbated their perceived notions about me. I began putting myself into situations that weren’t healthy mentally, emotionally, or physically for me. I believed that affection from the same gender would bring me something I felt like I was missing: love and acceptance.
This perpetuated my anger not only toward the world in general, but it also fueled the resentment I felt toward my family specifically. My relationship with my Dad was so rocky that at times we couldn’t even be in the same room with each other. I fought so much with my parents that I almost cause them to separate. They were trying to help me with my problems at school, but because I wouldn’t let them know what was really going on their hands were tied. Based off my actions, my Dad would always ask me if I was gay and was just too afraid to admit it. Then my Dad learned about what I had been looking at online, which caused both my parents and me to have a long in-depth conversation about what was going on with me. Everything just came pouring out. Everything from people bullying me, my low self-esteem, and questioning who I was. Everything was now out in the open.
This conversation allowed my parents a window into my soul. It allowed for my stress to be released, emotions to be validated, and my thoughts to be processed. It also permitted me to finally vocalize the truth that I myself never felt I was supposed to be gay. I came to this conclusion because anytime I was in a situation where I could act on misconstrued thoughts and desires, I never could. In those moments of temptation, I felt this feeling that I shouldn’t be doing what I was doing and that I needed to flee from the situation. I took that as God intervening in my life. My flesh is sinful and selfish, so for me to be completely resistant towards these actions was all God.
Even with everything now in the open, I still faced the daunting task of having to mend the scars and bruises in my life. I had to learn to forgive people and, most importantly, forgive myself. I had to give up a lot of freedom in order to remove harmful influences in my life. I stopped hanging out with certain people, removed internet access from my phone, and deleted my social media accounts. I needed to fully remove myself from everything that was posing a threat to my spiritual walk and identity. The journey hasn’t been easy because once you give the enemy a foothold he will continue to use it against you until you choose to force him out.
Living Hope has given me a better understanding of who I was meant to be and given me the opportunity to flourish in my relationships…
am so thankful for Living Hope Ministries because they have offered me the opportunity to find answers to questions I’ve had for a long time. I now understand that my attraction towards my same gender comes from a desire to possess what the other person has instead of me wanting to be sexual with that person. If I recognize someone else’s intelligence or athletic abilities, I should thank God for making that individual gifted in those areas instead of romanticizing those attributes because I really wish I had them.
I am so thankful for Living Hope Ministries because they have offered me the opportunity to find answers to questions I’ve had for a long time. I now understand that my attraction towards my same gender comes from a desire to possess what the other person has instead of me wanting to be sexual with that person. If I recognize someone else’s intelligence or athletic abilities, I should thank God for making that individual gifted in those areas instead of romanticizing those attributes because I really wish I had them.
I am thankful that I get to learn from Ricky because each week his sermons give me continued hope that I am on the right track, which is to grow closer with God and allowing that growth to transform my heart and mind. I am thankful to grow alongside other guys seeking to be transformed by God while they are walking through their own journey. I appreciate the Living Hope staff for their sacrifice in being obedient in growing this ministry. Most importantly I am thankful for all who have made this ministry possible. Living Hope has given me a better understanding of who I was meant to be and given me the opportunity to flourish in my relationships with my family, my girlfriend, and most importantly, my God.