Oh, coming out. Such a trend these days. I remember the times when I didn’t even know what “coming out” meant or that it was a thing. How life has changed since then.
Last month, I wrote about my botched attempt at sharing my story at a church for the first time. Since then, I realised, I’ve never really reflected back on my comings out. Taken a birds-eye view of things, processing the other times I’ve communicated my sexuality to other people.
Until today. #triggered #blessed #jesusdoestherest
My next series of posts will be stories from my stages of grappling with sexuality and communicating it with others.
So, grab a tea, coffee, or Jamba Juice, cause it’ll be a long one. Special brownie points if you read till the end, or should I say scone points if you’re having tea?
Here we go!
1. Coming Out of Inadequacy
Small group tomorrow, guys! Daniel and Jake will be leading. Don’t forget to do your quiet time! I pray that God will guide you tomorrow and give you the Holy Spirit to lead you guys! God bless! 🙂
It was my second year of college, or University, depending where you’re from. I started getting more involved in my church’s campus ministry back in Manila. Growing up in church, I’d automatically been considered one of the leaders of the growing ministry.
I got added to this secret Facebook group for leaders and was asked to lead one of our Thursday Bible studies. I knew the drill: I’d been leading Bible study discussions as one of the class activities in my Christian school.
I accepted the role, though something in me felt inadequate about becoming a leader — disqualified to facilitate Bible study discussions, actually lead people, and be a person to whom people look up. I even questioned if I were decent enough to attend these Bible studies, let alone lead them.
This feeling of inadequacy had been on my mind for quite a while, but it was never really something I wanted to delve into. It was better off brushed aside to a little corner whilst I went about my daily life.
But this time, for the sake of the people I’d be leading, I felt like I had to confess and talk to someone about it.
I texted Jake, the person assigned to co-lead with me. I asked him to meet up for coffee before our Bible study the next day. He was taking up engineering, and I was studying computer science. I figured we’d be two geeks who could relate to each other. So, I asked him to be my accountability partner; he said yes.
The next day, we sat over coffee and I quietly listened as he started talking about the things for which he needed accountability: the rough patches he was going through with his peers, his school projects, and the girl he fancied.
Meanwhile, I just stared at him trying to figure out how to express what was in my heart. I didn’t really know how to go about it.
Two hours passed, and we ran out of time. I headed into the Bible study with a big sense of guilt whilst he was able to let his heart out.
The next week, I scheduled another meetup, but a couple hours earlier this time so I could collect my thoughts and muster up the courage to communicate. The last fifteen minutes, I was finally able to open my mouth.
“I’m having homosexual temptations,” I said.
This was the first time I came out to someone. The first time I ever communicated what was bottling up inside for years — in just four words.
Honestly, I don’t remember what he replied. All I can remember was a lack of empathy or any good advice — on that day and throughout our accountability partnership. We continued as accountability partners for a year or so, until I had to cut our friendship.
Coming out to Jake felt like a waste of time, stress, and energy back then. I still felt inadequate, and his lack of a decent response didn’t help.
But then what was I really expecting from him? We were just two 18-year-olds trying to navigate the world together.
Now being able to look back, coming out to Jake was actually a seed. A small step of coming out from the barrage of lies that I’d believed about my identity and my worth. A small step towards discovering my identity in Christ.
2. Coming Out of Requirement
My church offered a series of events and courses for people who wanted to advance in their Christian walks. One such event was a two-day weekend retreat; being a leader, I was ever so slightly encouraged to attend.
From what I’d heard, it was an intense, packed weekend. You’d be compelled to tackle your faith-struggles head-on and release spiritual bondages.
Before going on the retreat, one requirement was to fill out your spiritual profile. Basically a two-column, back-to-back sheet of paper with different types of sins and bondages listed. You’d check the boxes beside them if they applied to you.
Before signing up, I wanted to see what was inside that agitating piece of paper. Would the topic that I was trying to avoid all my life show up? Would I have to talk about it in front of the whole congregation? Would I be kicked out of church?
I found a copy of the spiritual profile, and to my surprise (not really), I saw this:
I learned that the only person who’d see your spiritual profile was your small group leader. On the second day of the retreat, you’d have a one-on-one session with your leader and go through your spiritual profile.
After your session, you’d have to destroy the paper as a sign that you are no longer bound to the things on that list.
I reluctantly signed up. Being one of the leaders of our campus ministry, I had the privilege of having our youth pastor as my small group leader.
I figured he’d be the best person to navigate through homosexuality with me and give me advice. After all, he went to pastor-school or something.
The first day of the retreat was amazing. They held different sessions that tackled specific struggles, sins, and spiritual bondages.
At the end of each session, those items from the spiritual profile were listed on a big piece of paper and literally nailed to a wooden cross. It represented what Jesus did: the freedom we receive from His resurrection and the empowerment we receive by His Spirit.
It was shaping up to be a great retreat so far. What made that first day great for me was just being there, listening and reflecting.
The second day would be the real battle — where I had to confront my personal struggles, including homosexuality.
I came into church the next morning with a blank spiritual profile. I didn’t want to answer it yet, especially if it would be lying around the house where my parents could see it. But I didn’t have a choice. It was time for the one-on-one meeting with my pastor.
I quickly went through the profile and made sure I checked some of the things I considered “lesser sins” so the focus wouldn’t be exclusively on that one particular topic. Right before entering the room, I checked the box that said homosexuality.
It was as if I’d forgotten all the things we’d tackled the previous day and the fears started coming back in.
I went into my pastor’s office and sat. He was on his laptop working, and I hesitantly placed my spiritual profile on his table, waiting for him to finish.
He closed his laptop and gave me back my spiritual profile, asking, “So, what’s the one thing on this list that you’re struggling with the most?”
My heart sank. I wouldn’t be able to drive the conversation towards other things that I considered the “lesser sins”!
I opened my profile and pointed to that thing. I didn’t even want to say it.
“Homosexuality?” he asked.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No,” I replied.
“Do you want to have a boyfriend?”Confused by his question, I replied, “Uhhhhhh. No?”
“Then you already know what to do,” he concluded.
That was the only conversation we had about homosexuality, and we ended the session in prayer. It was my second time coming out.
Coming out to my pastor felt like a big disappointment. I had to go through a wide range of emotions: fear before coming to the retreat, encouragement after the first day, anxiety before my one-on-one session, and then disappointment after coming out of that session.
This was the time I realised and decided not to depend on other people to fix me or solve my problems. To take responsibility for my own growth and work on what it means to actually have a personal, direct relationship with God himself and not one through someone else, especially my pastor — frustratingly.
Yes, people play a very important role in helping point me the right direction as a support. And some do a better job than others.
But ultimately it will be Jesus who fixes me if I need to be fixed or gives me new eyes to see my true identity and self-worth through the lens of grace.
I still didn’t know which thing Jesus would give me at that time, but it was another start.
To be continued . . .
So, those were the first two times I unveiled my sexuality to another person. They were both disappointing. But little did I know that with Jesus, disappointment is never the end of the story. Ever.
Kudos to you if you read this blog till the end! Can you believe? See you next month to collect more brownie points!
Have you experienced disappointment in coming out to someone? What were your primary motivations in coming out to people for the first times?