I’ve always felt spiritually connected through music; through the obvious channels like hymns, worship, and Christian rock, but also through secular stuff like Coldplay, Panic! at the Disco, and The Killers. Music somehow unlocks a part of my soul and makes me feel close to God, and regardless of the intended message of the songs or lyrics, God often seems to speak His own message to me through them.
The latest song to get me spiritually musing is “Dear Younger Me” by the band, MercyMe. The premise of the song is thinking through what one would tell his younger self if he ever got the chance.
Would it be some cheesy speech about enjoying every moment to its fullest? Would he warn himself of all the mistakes to come, even though those mistakes are now inseparable from the man he became? What would he say?
What would I say to a younger me?
In the painfully true lyrics of a different song by Relient K: “Who I am hates who I’ve been.”
I look back at my younger me and can’t help but focus on the negatives: my immaturities, stupid mistakes, and all the moments of weakness and sin.
I know this isn’t entirely fair to my past self; I had a lot of lovely qualities as well. But I did have my faults, and plenty of them. I was lost in a world of insecurities, and as my same-sex attraction (SSA) continued to develop, my insecurities and flaws were magnified a thousandfold.
I was afraid of not being funny enough, not being personable enough, not being attractive or “one of the guys.” In my desperate longing to be accepted by others and fit in (especially with other guys), I put up walls and barriers that pushed people away.
I pretended not to care about people, thinking that would somehow protect me from the possibility of rejection. Turns out the only consistent result was making other people feel unloved, pre-empting their possible rejection of me with my certain rejection of them.
I learned to wear masks, especially when it came to being SSA. As a Christian, I was terrified of what these feelings meant for my faith. I loved Jesus dearly, but I didn’t know how it was possible for me to have true faith and still be attracted to men.
I tried hard to suppress that part of me and did my best to separate my SSA-self from my Christian-self.
Suddenly, there was pure, innocent, “Christian Aaron,” and there was also “SSA Aaron.” Christian Aaron tried hard to forget SSA Aaron existed, and that gave plenty of freedom for SSA Aaron to go forth and sin abundantly.
I found myself caught up in porn, occasionally hooking up with guys, and generally not allowing Christ control over this aspect of my life. And why?
Because I believed this part of my life was untouchable by Christ. It was too dirty for the Christian part of me to deal with.
I felt unclean and unrighteous. I felt unlovable in my SSA. And so I turned to sin, rather than Christ, to try and feel loved. All the while being racked by guilt but still returning to sin “just one more time,” over and over.
Praise God that’s not at all where I am anymore, but what would I say to that Aaron of the past? What could I possibly say to him that would be helpful? I felt like a slave to my sin, so just going back and giving myself a firm talking to would have been wildly ineffective.
MercyMe’s song held my answer. Here is what the lyrics conclude:
Dear younger me,
It’s not your fault.
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.
You are holy,
You are righteous,
You are one of the redeemed,
A brand new heart,
You are free indeed.
Through each heartache you will see,
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be.
I tried so hard to carry my SSA anywhere but the cross, because I thought this was the one part of me the cross couldn’t handle. And so the one person who could handle it, Christ, was the one I wouldn’t let touch it.
My SSA, my insecurities, and my masks took hold of me because I didn’t love myself, and I didn’t truly believe Christ loved those parts of me. I believed Christian Aaron was holy, righteous, and redeemed, but not the whole of me.
Not the real me. Just one of my masks.
If we are in Christ, we are 100% holy, righteous, and redeemed. Our sin doesn’t change that, our insecurities don’t change that, our SSA doesn’t change that; however, believing we are truly His and that we wear His full righteousness because of it does have the power to change us.
It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), not His wrath. It is His kindness and grace that eventually led to my repentance in these areas of sin and my inability to love myself.
It’s His kindness that released me from the shackles of my sin.
Many times the Church did speak truth over me that I was holy, righteous, and redeemed in Christ, despite my sin. But I believed the lie that my same-sex attractions were the exception to the rule, and the Church never spoke on the topic of sexuality to convince me otherwise.
My younger self needed to hear these words spoken over me again and again, not just in the context of myself as a Christian but in the context of myself as an SSA kid, trying to figure out which way was up.
Thank God for His continued redeeming power, even when I felt completely unworthy of it.
And thank God that this truth was eventually spoken over me, even if only ever through a song.
What truths did your younger self need to hear? Have you also tried separating your “Christian” and “SSA” selves?