So, there’s this guy I know called Garth. He wants to be called Bob on this blog, but that’s not happening; my apologies, Garth. You’ve already heard me mention him. He is my new coworker whom I shared with my SSA struggle and who then encouraged me to go to my current pastor. He’s a great guy.

Garth and I first met as I interviewed for the job I now have. I was visiting for the weekend doing my final interview, and he and I had scheduled a breakfast meeting. I had already “met” him via phone calls and FaceTime and Facebook, but I had yet to meet him in person.

Honestly, my first thought was that he was kinda cool. I wasn’t sure how we would get along, but I knew it would be important for he and I to have good chemistry.

The night before our breakfast meeting, we somehow got to messaging each other. What began as confirming meeting times turned into sending each other hilarious pictures of ourselves dressed up for church events. I dared him to wear his CHiPs uniform while he requested my creepy sunglasses.

At this point, I knew we would get along great.

Our breakfast the next morning could not have been more awesome. My wife was with me, so she got to meet him too. Another of my potential coworkers joined us as well. Between jokes about waffles and church, I left with a great feeling about Garth.

Fast forward a few months to when he and I were sitting down to lunch together. We had a natural flow to our conversation when it turned serious and we began discussing homosexuality.

Now, I had not yet mentioned my struggle to anyone up here. I’d strongly considered it, as I knew it would most likely come up some time in the future anyway. And — as I’ve now discovered — people don’t necessarily like being surprised by giant secrets from your past.

So, when Garth began asking a question or two about how to reach out to those who are wrestling with same-sex attractions, I was faced with a decision: I could play ignorant — my secret would be safe and none would be the wiser — but I also wouldn’t be able to help my coworker / new friend at all.

I don’t know what made me say what I said; I can only assume it was God. But I began gradually.

I first directed Garth to my friend’s blog and book — he’s a Christian who struggles with SSA and has chronicled his journey. I then mentioned that this same friend might even be putting together a blog with other Christian men walking similar journeys. I told Garth to be on the lookout as this blog would be launching soon (spoiler: it now has).

And then I stopped. I didn’t want to say anymore. I didn’t feel that I should have to. I had helped, Garth was on a good path, and my part was done.

Yet I felt this twinge inside of me; it said I wasn’t done. I was reminded of something a pastor said many years ago in a sermon that helped change my life: “God sometimes uses your greatest weakness for His greatest works.”

I wanted to keep this whole SSA part of my life hidden, but I knew that, in doing so, I would be refusing to let God work through me.

So, as Garth and I got in the car to head back to work, I quickly released the information. I’m pretty sure it sounded something like: “I’m attracted to men and used to identify as gay, but now I don’t, but I don’t identify as anything, but I’m married to a woman who knows all this and still loves me” — all said within about one second.

Since I was driving, I didn’t see Garth’s facial reaction. I’d like to think he didn’t grimace. Knowing him, he probably just nodded his head a few times like he does almost every time I begin talking to him these days. I think it’s his way of silently asking me to be quiet so he can say something better.

Either way, he was encouraging after my word-vomit. And I felt slightly more at ease.

Since then, Garth has taken time to hang out with me for lunch every so often to see how I’m doing in this process. I’m involved with so many new friendships now, having just moved hundreds of miles away from home for a job, so it’s refreshing having one that seems to be going well.

Garth also keeps up with this blog. So, hey, Garth — this one’s for you! And sorry again for not calling you Bob.

Have you ever “word-vomited” on someone about your struggles? How did they react, and how did you feel afterward? Have you ever felt convicted about holding back and not letting God work through you and your struggles?

* Photo courtesy Andreas Klont, Creative Commons.

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  • I can’t say I have word-vomited (gross expression btw!) concerning the gay thing or whatever. I guess that’s because I was in the closet so tight (even I couldn’t find the door, lol!) for so long, and then when I finally came out, quite recently and so late in life, I was determined now to hide no longer, so if it comes up somehow, then I simply say (haha – is it ever simple?), “I’m gay, btw.” (Did you notice that rhymed! Lol! Sorry – just more word vomit! Haha!) I don’t go around telling every one, but only when it seems important to do so. I’ve had mixed reactions for sure, so you very fortunate that Garth is such a sweetheart as to value your friendship more than anything else. Though, of course, you are in the camp of “dealing with the issue” as far as Christianity is concerned, and that is always more acceptable to Christians, whereas I am in the camp of “living the lifestyle”, which is mostly totally unacceptable. Boy, that’s what really gets Christian folk going. You haven’t tried that have you?
    How I am letting God work through me is by just being me, and being gay. I am helping a young, straight guy at the moment, and I am hoping he will see that gay guys are really quite normal in all respects, except for their sexual orientation (which really doesn’t need to be other people’s business, though it always is!) He seems totally fine with it which is great.

    • Thank you for sharing, Jeremy. I’m thankful that you are allowing God to use you though you and I have chosen different lifestyles. No matter what, the Gospel should be preached- that’s the most important message to spread. I’m glad you are still pursuing that.

  • Good decision on opening up to Garthbob and good post. Last year my wife and I were at a local bakery and a former pastor walked in. He shared some struggles his church was having in responding to a teen leader who had just come out. I was convicted to share my experience, and it encouraged him. Prior to that another pastor at our present church shared how leadership was responding to a lesbian couple who had begun attending. I was convicted to share again. This time I responded with word vomit. That one did not go so well. I think we have talked briefly one time since. And I swear that I now get unusual looks from others in the quad after service. I know I was supposed to share each time though. Conversely, I have been convicted that to this point I should not share with my best friend of many years. My wife confirms this. It is a little confusing.

    • Sadly not everyone will receive you well. Always seek counsel and wisdom from wise sources, your wife being a key player in all of this. As for your best friend, perhaps in time God will call you to tell him. Be ready if that happens. Until then, keep seeking wisdom!

  • I’ve opened up about my ssa to my current pastor and men’s group. The pastor has been very gracious and I don’t feel any hesitation from him around me. The men’s group at first was accepting and treated me well. But, it seems like the guys have kind of backed away. Probably just me being sensitive. I recently shared my story in a much larger setting with about 60 or so men in the room. Scary but it’s my story. Was warmly accepted afterwards. Also am in a small group with several of the men in the large group and they have been the most welcoming before and after I shared with them. Even the guys who are like ultra straight! They still hug me just like before.

    • Sharing is always a little scary it seems- bravo for having the courage to stand up in front of so many! And I’m thankful you were received with such love and care!

    • Yes Mark, (I know I wasn’t there) the men’s group might had a bit of shock at an unconscious level so they may have felt a bit guarded. In that case, I would be patient and give them time plus in that time help them be edified by your insight. I, however, am hesitant to reveal myself to my friends and family. I am afraid I’m going to severely disrupt the relationships I’ve had over the years. I am fearful my dear father with excommunicate with me. Yet at the same time I don’t want my family to know because they already know another personal secret of mine (that I never revealed here) and they ended up disclosing it to their friends IN FRONT OF ME. I just don’t want my SSA to be another subject of conversation or gossip. So I’m divided.
      Personally speaking I am envious of you Mark. Envious of the fact that you managed to reach to others around and they responded in love and not retribution. God has blessed you sir. I am also envious that you managed to find “support systems” around to aid you in this struggle. Recently, I’ve been trying to find support groups for this struggle in my own area so that I can have a refuge and channel my inner turmoil with others. I wish you the best in your journey. Peace and love brother.

    • I had a similar experience when I opened up to my men’s group and even talked about it during a “story night” my church does every 6 months. It was easy during story night, but difficult in my men’s group. No one asked me about it after that and no one said anything (this is the format of our group). I don’t know if it was helpful, in the men’s group but there were definitely people who identified with my shame when I shared with my Church. I think more so it affected me in that it was the impetus to start a YouTube channel and talk about my experiences with SSA and talk about my relationship with Jesus. Sometimes letting God use me is a process, not necessarily evident in each individual act, but a series of acts that lead to something else. I did find great healing like you when I am accepted by other men and loved just the same. I think that has been the most significant kind of healing for me so far. Like Eddie below, I am impressed with your courage to disclose and to take a chance on the possibility of being loved just as you are. So many people do not take this risk and find a positive outcome, but then again without sharing, there is no chance of a good one. It sounds like you have had both. Would you do it all over again the same way?

  • The very first time when I told my best friend about my SSA it was really scary. He loved me, hugged me and our relationship never changed…
    I feel that I was being obedient to God’s word to do so. James 5:15-16 tells us to confess to one another and pray for healing. God took away my shame that day I shared it with another brother. Today I have told almost more people than I can remember. I have never had a negative response from a Christian brother or sister. On the contrary, I think that my honesty and vulnerability has brought me closer to these friends.
    I wouldn’t be opposed to making a public statement about my journey, but my wife has fears that this could backfire. So for now, I select friends I trust. Every time I share what God has done for me, I believe it is a testimony and glorifies Him.

  • I’ve shared some of my story with the church, a little more in a para-church ministry I used to help in, but this last year or two of life has been kept more private. I did “word vomit” in an e-mail sent to two pastors in my church just after I got my HIV diagnosis and felt it necessary to step down from leading anything in the church.
    Almost everyone in the church, the para- church ministry, and the pastors have responded in grace. I’ve had a few acquaintances reject me over the years as I’ve shared. I now find myself asking how much can I share in my secular workplace. Guys at work think of me as the religious guy, and occasionally come to me with questions. I try very hard to honestly answer their questions, but still feel the need to protect much of my secret. As an ssa guy in a mixed orientation marriage with 3 kids, I have alot of camouflage to hide behind. Still I put pieces out there. I want to be real. I want to be honest. I want to be known. Unfortunately, my work environment ultimately is not a safe place to be vulnerable. They don’t know about my ssa or my HIV. I roll my eyes or quietly disengage when they make gay jokes or jokes about having AIDs or HIV.
    I want to let God work through me, and with discernment I strategically share with others.

    • Thank you so much, Aaron, for sharing what you did here. It has blessed me to hear your story. I can’t imagine that the battle you have fought to let God work through your story. I pray you continue to use that discernment. Our stories do not always need to be shared completely and openly- but there is a time and a place for it. Seems like it’s always hardest when it’s most needed too. I pray God continues to give you the wisdom and discernment you need. And I pray you continue to pursue Christ above all else in your life. Thank you again for being so vulnerable with us here today.

    • God bless you and walk with you, Aaron. You talk freely here of your HIV diagnosis. I lost a brother to AIDS in 1994, back when it was basically a death sentence. Treatment has come a long way since then. After he passed, I harbored a fear that I might have contracted it through him (he took advantage of me), but subsequent tests for me were negative. Appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I know what it’s like to word vomit and want to tell someone….ANYONE who will listen.

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