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,

Set apart,

A brand new heart,

You are free indeed.

Every mountain,

Every valley,

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.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

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?

  • I relate to so much of this. For so long, SSA Matt and Christian Matt coexisted, often oblivious to the other. I could (and can) be so self-righteous, the Christian version of myself forgetting the SSA version existed. But then at other times, I would be overcome with guilt and shame, unable to pray or worship.
    For me, it took telling a friend about this struggle to finally merge these competing identities. Now, instead of being overwhelmed by shame, I see clearly God’s mercy, his forgiveness and kindness, not just his wrath, plain before me. It has made worship even sweeter. If I could tell one thing to my younger self, it would be that opening up to a close friend can be liberating; vulnerability doesn’t have to be such a bad thing.
    Thanks for sharing, Aaron!

    • I agree with your last sentence: opening up is liberating. I was wating for so long, too long, to finally open up to someone, fearing that I may get hurt. Courage is needed here because fear can be really paralyzing, and it can last for years…

    • Absolutely! Sharing with one friend at a time is what allowed me to finally have the community and support I needed to strive toward celibacy. It’s so incredibly freeing to have people who know the real you, and not just a mask. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Love the post (and that song!). Thanks for being vulnerable about this duality, Aaron. If I could go back and tell my younger self something, it would be to step out with other people (men) sooner. That I’m not as isolated or messed up as I think. That we’re all struggling with stuff and the strong ones are actually the ones who admit it, confess it to God/others/self, and work through it.

    • Thanks, Tom! For real. I dragged my feet far too long with coming out. Wish I could do it over, but also incredibly grateful for where I am at in life now.

  • “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.” – This is exactly what I’ve been doing and am still doing. I hope I’ll find a way out…
    Thanks so much for this post, Aaron!
    Edit: Just listened to the song and love it!

    • One day at a time! Its a hard habit to break, but its always possible. Vulnerability comes one conversation at at time, so just look for little opportunities every chance you get.

  • Thank you Aaron for sharing this! I can relate alot of what your mentioned! As your title says “Jesus love all of you”, including my struggles and He wants to be apart of that! When I allow God into my life and struggles, I get a since of how big God is and how small I am. I can live more in grace and confidence because of that.
    My younger self would not dare to discuss my struggles with anyone for the fear and shame. I was choking myself to death! Thankfully God intervened and place certain before in my life that I can go to and not be shame!

  • Dear Younger Me, get over the gay thing. You are same sex attracted. It happens. Don’t blame God. Don’t blame yourself. Don’t blame your parents. Instead, live by faith. Give it to God and be willing to forgive yourself. Accept yourself, let go of the guilt and live. Do not let it interfere with friendships. Do not isolate. Be willing to talk about it.
    Do not allow a man to live rent free in your head. He is your friend, not your possession. Be a friend. Say no to a fantasy that will never happen. Stalking is against the law
    Finally, be willing to help others that struggle as you do. Be strong. Be in community. Be God’s son. I love you Sergei .

  • Aaron, this is great and I throughly relate. I’ve been listening to Drew Boas podcasts on healing the boy within and they have been tearing me up. You see, I’ve been mad at that young guy for so many decades because he actually caused my SSA (not really, he was a victim of being molested at 5 and 7 and finding his Dad’s porn at 9). But through counseling I have been able to love that little boy and have compassion on both him and that teen guy that masturbated so much to men. But, I realized that I haven’t been able to grieve over what that little boy went through, the pain, the abandonment by his parents. I found myself sobbing over his pain a week ago sitting next to my wife, grieving over what he had to face and endure. But grieving is a good thing in this case.
    Also, I relate to the “Christian” guy and the “SSA” guy personas. There were two of me for so long, but since finally confessing a year ago there is just one of me. And, I am getting some healing.
    Thanks again Arron for a very insightful blog!

    • I’m glad you can relate! Grieving is an important part of all this, and I am happy you have been able to do that. I think its a first step in healing.

  • Hey Aaron, I’m not familiar with the song, but I might need to find it online. Another excellent post! Like you I hid a major part of myself in the shadows, thinking that all the shame and disgust I felt was how God saw me. But I finally discovered that was just another trick of the enemy. I am trying to be much kinder to my younger self as well as my present self. Thanks to God’s infinite kindness, I sometimes succeed. Keep up the great writing!

      • Hey Alan! Thanks for the comment. It has been a long while. We moved to WA state and now own a cabin on ten acres of pine, fir, and tamarck. I enjoy working in the forrest almost every day. We are going to be starting a ministry this month mentoring SSA couples and providing a restful AIRB&B-like experience (no cost). Say a prayer for us and the couples.

          • Alan, what a great lady! Thanks for introducing us, bro. I appreciate it. But please don’t skip
            the Bigfoot joke; I can’t get enough of ’em.

          • How about
            I’ve always wondered if it was easy to catch Bigfoot.
            I was relieved when my doctor told me it wasn’t a disease.
            I had to look that up, not a lotta Bigfoot sightings here in Jersey 🙂
            Hey man, seriously, I’m pretty sure I said thanks, not so sure I said sorry. You deserved truth, not someone dealing with stuff badly.
            I’m not sure if Washington has beaches like California, but ya gotta catch a sunset at the ocean.

  • Hello, Aaron.
    Can you please pray for me? I recently sinned. I feel God’s forgiveness, but it’s hard to love myself. To be honest, I feel like hating myself. I want to love myself but it’s so hard. I’m so mad at myself! I’ll just come out and say it. Yesterday, I watched gay porn. I had been free from porn for 4 whole years thanks to God, and then yesterday I threw it away and went falling back into porn. I had a moment of weakness, and I broke. Instead of running to God, I gave in. And now I’m burning mad at myself. And it hurts. I don’t want to be mad at myself. I want to love myself. Why can’t I just get along with me? Please, pray for me, and if anyone here has something loving to say to me, please, say it. I want to love myself. I need to love myself. I must love myself, but it’s hard. I confessed my sin to God, but I still feel guilty. I’m furious at myself to the point that it’s unhealthy. I’m tired of the internal hatred. It’s so weird, I love others, but seem to hate me. I’m so angry at myself. I don’t want to beat myself up anymore. I don’t want to focus on the negative in me anymore, l but I need help finding the positive. Thanks. God bless.

  • Aaron

    Financial professional by day and SSA author by night, I have the privilege of discussing people's most private affairs: their money and their sexuality (though typically not at the same time). When I'm not discussing people's darkest secrets, I am a reader, gamer, and enjoyer of the outdoors. For those who care, I am an ISFP and Enneagram Type 6; for those who don't, suffice it to say I'm easy-going and enjoy both time alone and with friends. Jesus is the author of my story, and I look forward to sharing His work in my life!

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