Six months prior, the night before my wedding, I had made out with my best man Elias. I’d ruined our honeymoon and our marriage, lost some of my closest friends, and nearly lost my wife, my family, and my faith — all in a manner of weeks.
I experienced longer and worse panic attacks than ever before, some lasting for hours at a time. I couldn’t breathe, eat, or sleep, broken by a deeper shame than I’d ever felt. I had fallen so low from the pedestal I’d placed myself upon that I could never hope to climb back up.
The idol of my spiritual superiority crumbled, and the falling pieces hurled themselves at me as biting questions with no answers:
Should we divorce because it was justifiable biblically? Where would I live then? What would I tell people? Could I ever tell people?
Could I ever talk to anyone about sexuality ever again? Had I lost that right completely? Could I ever again have a close friendship with a man? Did I even want a woman? Am I actually just gay?
Was I destined to be lonely or under the punishment of God for eternity? Does God keep his promises? Could I continue to follow the cruel deity who had led me to such an abominable place? Why would he do this to me?
Why am I alone in all of this?
Six Months Later . . .
I walked along a rock wall with my wife and good friend Jonathan, singing, skipping, and throwing cheeseballs at each other before we got kicked out. Each week, my wife and I invite wild groups of people over to laugh or cry on our couch. Our nights are full of worshipping together, watching The Chosen, and listening and weeping with those who are hurting and broken, giving comfort where we can.
Somehow, our house has become a refuge. My wife and I are enamored with each other, truly in love like the movies, and neither of us could dream of being with anyone else. Jonathan is here, and we can still talk through the nights and hold each other, weeping until we drift into sleep.
I’ve had a deep conversation with a different person about sexuality nearly every week for three months. I’ve shared my entire story more times than I can count, something I never planned to do, and I am watching in real time as God takes my deepest shame to show his love, his grace, and his redemption to people lost in the darkest woods of sexuality.
I hear words like, “I don’t know where I’d be if you hadn’t been here,” and my brain can’t help but scream: I am unworthy.
If I think about Jesus for more than a moment, tears form and a loud hallelujah bursts from my lips. I trust him more than I ever have. I trust myself less than ever, and it feels wonderful!
I am surrounded by people daily — not just some of my closest friends who did not leave me when I was at my worst, but also dozens of broken, vulnerable, gay li’l Christians trying to find their way through life just like me.
This is the story of healing I never thought I would tell . . .
Marriage Was Hell
Needless to say, cheating on your fiancée with a boy the night before your wedding is no recipe for a healthy marriage. Yikes.
Our honeymoon was a collection of sobs, silent car rides, panic attacks, and — hey, praise the Lord — some seeds of redemption. My wedding night was a humiliation that I’ll discuss in a later blog. The next day, my wife choked on a candy in the hot tub, and I had to give her the Heimlich. We both wept, realizing how fleeting life is.
My marriage could have ended the day after it began with nothing to show for it but a broken vow and the corpse of a beautiful, betrayed woman I had failed.
Praise the Lord for his grace upon grace.
For nearly four months, my wife and I tried to pick up the pieces. We smiled in public. I tried to joke along when other guys talked about sex, too ashamed to tell them we still hadn’t done it.
Things grew cold between my wife and me. We tried to love each other, but we each held deep anger that wouldn’t relent.
She was angry at me for what I had done (obviously). I was angry at myself for what I had done; angry at God for not stopping it; angry at my wife for walling herself off and breaking my trust, too.
I wasn’t adjusting well to sleeping with my wife — someone who wasn’t a man. And I was angry at God for making her warmer and twitchier than any of the men I had slept with.
I had built a case against my wife, and even the idea of wanting her more than a man felt repulsive.
My Burnt Offering
On my wife’s birthday, I stood in our kitchen while she was at work and screamed at God for how much I wanted to sleep with my best man and not my wife. I yelled that I wanted to cross the country and speak in churches saying, “I love Jesus … and I love my husband!” as Christians cheered and “woke up.”
I wanted him. Anywhere. Everywhere. I screamed at God because he had promised this wouldn’t happen. He had told me to marry this woman. He had changed my heart and made me burn with passion for her until right before we could consummate our marriage. It was cruel.
I opened my Bible.
I opened to King David’s taking the census God had asked him to take, only for God to get mad at him for it. Exactly how I’d felt after kissing my best man, which I now realize was just my blaming God for my ignorance.
Instead of whining about his situation like I had done with mine, David made a burnt offering; so, I did the same.
David said his sacrifice had to cost him something, so I gathered some of my favorite letters ever received, and even my favorite shirt, and I put ’em all in a pot . . . and burned ’em.
As I watched the flames consume these precious things, I looked to heaven and said, “I will burn whatever you ask me to burn, Father. Even if it’s my relationship with Elias. I’m holding onto him because I’m afraid what he’ll do if I let him go: I’m afraid he’ll fall back into the life he used to live.”
I felt a quiet voice reminding me that his spiritual health was not my garden to tend. “Just promise me you’ll take care of him then,” I said to God as I stared at the stars.
A week or so later, life grew too unbearable. I blew up at Elias for not being there for me, and he left. I didn’t get any closure — just a cold shoulder and deafening silence as the man I’d grown to love so much cut me out with the simplest of ease. I will never understand how it can be that easy for some people, how they don’t rip open inside when they lose someone — even someone who was hard to love.
I started getting emails, calls, and texts from family members and friends, and not words of encouragement. Everyone condemned how I was handling everything: my wife and I were getting counseling; I was surrounding myself with people I trusted to speak into my life; I had all but cut out every man in my life who wasn’t a spiritual mentor; and I had even given my wife the blessing to leave me.
What more could I do?
Well . . . turns out there was one, painfully obvious thing I hadn’t yet done.
Spend time with Jesus. And I mean spend time with him.
I realized that in the past four months, I had barely sat with Jesus at all. Sure, I prayed, but my prayers were only chances to beg him to solve my problems. I had made zero effort, as if my source of love had been cut off.
I tried to bring my own love to people during this time, but that love is cheap — that love had decided making out with my best man was a good idea.
No, I could neglect Jesus no longer. I bounded the stairs to our attic and locked myself in for five hours. I read three full books of the Bible and a dozen psalms. I prayed, shouted. I was angry, but at least I felt something again. The chapters I read all seemed to say the same thing:
“I am God, I take situations that seem impossible, and I flip them on their head. I REDEEM.”
The words brought torrents of tears as I considered how misguided I had been. I finally realized how I had cut out the spiritual advice from others who “just couldn’t understand something as nuanced as SSA,” and made myself an unaccountable, isolated, spiritual island. My own prophet. Leader of the Cult of Christopher.
As I sat weeping, I finally saw all I had done and expected to feel shame. But I didn’t. Instead, I felt . . . joy and sorrow. Like both had crossed paths and married in that instant.
I saw the patterns throughout my life: the laugher and the tears. I realized how joy and sorrow were tied together, and I couldn’t have one without the other. I could look at all the high points and ignore the bad ones, look at the low points and ignore the good ones, or look at both at once and worship!
I chose to worship. My Abba knew the depths of my pain, and he knew it would all be turned around, and now I knew it too. Finally, just from sitting and listening to him, talking to him, and praising him, my life was changing. I knew how to love again.
I realized he had been my example of husbandhood my whole life. I began to reach out to people, slowly but surely, and pick up the pieces, and I could finally love my wife! And I mean love my wife.
Healing Without Heartache?
It took several more months for us to fall fully back into love, but when we did, we did. We started sharing a deeper foundation of love than I ever could have imagined.
We’ve seen each other at our worst, and we’ve decided to stay. Trust was broken, and that makes us trust Jesus more than we could ever trust each other!
My brothers, I thought my first stories of marriage would be easy ones to tell. I thought I would say, “Hey, it all worked out! Everything’s great! Praise God!”
Instead, I felt a deeper pain than I’d ever felt. Until Jesus changed me, and my mourning turned to dancing.
My brothers, I wish I had different words to tell you. I wish I could promise you healing without heartache, but it is not the story of healing I have to tell.
However, I can tell you this: I now have a deeper joy and a truer peace than ever before, as if lifelong shadows have been rolled back and I can finally see clearly. And healing didn’t happen until I accepted my deepest trials and chose to face them. No more running.
So, I will say this: if you’re ready for healing, ask him. But ask only if you’re ready.
Your Father is waiting for you on the tumultuous sea. It will be harder than anything before attempted, but he walks on the waters, and he calms the sea with a word. I know it’s scary, my brothers. It’s the most terrifying thing in the world, and I’m sorry.
But there is healing. I know there is healing. If my story can help you at all, I pray it shows you that even the deepest hopelessness is only a shadow, and the third day will come. Simply ask.
I love you, my brothers. We ride these storms together.
Go in peace.
Have you experienced hopelessness either in marriage or singleness, with a spouse and/or a dear friend? Have you experienced any healing from deep wounds, or do you still await such healing? Does healing of any sort feel possible, or does healing feel impossible?