One of my favorite pieces of music is an obscure orchestral piece by Charles Ives called, “The Unanswered Question.” Written at the beginning of the 20th century, it truly feels as though a solo trumpet is asking a question that can never be fully answered.

The trumpet hangs in the air, always waiting for the proper response.

My friend Carver’s question did the same to me for a moment. It’s a question I’ve been asked before. I’ve asked it of myself many times. I’ve asked God as well.

“Dean, do you think you would have struggled with all of that — gender identity, sexual identity, same-sex attraction — if your family life had been different?”

I let the question hang in the air a second. A thousand thoughts ran through my head, the same ones that had before: flashes of abuse, feelings of worthlessness, and echoes of harsh words resonated inside of me.

Normally, I would have given a vague response that would let the question continue. But something clicked inside of me, something that decided to end the question.

I gave a definite answer to the once unanswered question.

“Yes,” I replied confidently. “Yes, so much of my life would be different. I would have avoided so many mistakes, so many struggles.”

I can’t say for sure that I would have never had SSA. I can’t say for sure that I would not have still wrestled with my sexuality.

But I do know this: so many things in my life would have been better had I had not been abused by my brothers, emotionally neglected by my dad, or constantly been told I should have been a girl.

I know my self-image would have been healthier had I had a supportive family. I know my choices would have been different had I had brothers who took time to invest in me rather than try to destroy me. I know my view of God would have been different had my dad been a better reflection of my Father in Heaven.

I walked away from my conversation with Carver with a new view of my past. I have painted the past in vague tenses in order not to play the “what if” game. But to leave every door open has made this what if game harder to avoid. By acknowledging these important aspects of my life would have been different had my circumstances been different, I am left with fewer what ifs.

Again, I am pretty sure my life would have included SSA no matter what. I have written previously that, along with the nature vs. nurture belief, many things went into creating who I am today — SSA included.

And today I’m thankful that I have brought myself one step closer to ending the unanswered question in my own life.

Do you ever wonder if you would still struggle with same-sex attraction or any other struggle if things had gone differently in your life? How do you reconcile the life you could have led with the struggles you now face?

* Photo courtesy Forsaken Fotos, Creative Commons.

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