Breaking Through Discouragement: When a Loved One "Comes-Out" Again.
Many, if not all of us have experienced a friend, mentor or loved one, after years of living chastely or identifying as “ex-gay” make an announcement on Facebook that he or she is “coming out” again and even worse apologize for doing harm. Some (especially those in Churches who have no training and who focus on shame and fear rather than love and truth), may have caused harm and they should apologize. But others brought much hope to us. It can bring confusion to us as we see them embrace the very life which they said brought much pain and misery. This is especially true when we experienced that misery ourselves or have seen our loved ones in that pain.
My heart is broken, and I feel much sadness because it has occurred once again in my life. As this continues to happen, many of us struggle with wanting to show our love, respect their decisions and God-given free will, while at the same time feeling an overwhelming sadness both for the person and for us. As more and more people either give up on God or on the fullness of His truth, it seems as though there are few of us hanging in there. Some of us may have even questioned ourselves and wondered if we are wrong. Some of us might even be tempted to go back to living the LGBT life as well. This is what makes scandal so dangerous. All our emotions are normal, at the same time we need to be cautious that our thoughts remain in truth and not be based only on emotions.
Although, to my knowledge scripture doesn’t speak of this: I can’t help but think that there were some of the many that were healed by Christ, who decided to go back to old ways or at least were tempted to. Jesus healed many people both emotionally and physically. They were human as we are and had to deal with life on life’s terms just like we do today. I believe at least some of those who were healed by Christ himself, may have turned away from God as Judas did. And if this is true, then the disciples of Christ may have felt similar emotions to us as we see our friends “re-coming out” on Facebook.
The truth is, we have been asked to pick up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Him. And this will not be easy for ANY of us regardless of whether we have same-sex or opposite-sex attractions. We all have our crosses. We all have our pain. And we are all asked to deny our selves and look to Him.
My favorite event of Christ recorded in Scripture is when the apostles were terrified of the storm while in a boat and Jesus was asleep. In fact, I have referred to this in my blog post, Finding Peace in the Storm. Pleases allow me to refer to it once again, with a different focus. The lightning, the crashes of thunder, the darkness, the strength of massive waves and much water filling the boat must have been terrifying. We all have massive waves and thunderstorms in our own personal lives. It would be much easier to just jump out of the boat rather than trust Jesus.
It was much easier for Judas to not repent as Peter did. Both betrayed Christ and both felt immense sorrow and guilt. Peter chose the more difficult path, but one that brought peace. The easy way out is not the best way out. Carrying our crosses is like working out at the gym. Instead of building physical strength we build tremendous spiritual strength of trust and virtue.
God, (Jesus) was asleep in the boat. Nothing was going to happen to them and if it did it would have been okay because the creator of the universe was with them in the boat and in control, even while sleeping. The same goes for us as we are in our own boats, battling our personal hurricanes. Christ is with us in the boat. Let us focus on Jesus and choose to trust Him.
But it’s so hard to take a deep breath, relax and trust Christ while the chaos of the storm is terrifying us, isn’t it? I cannot blame my brothers and sisters who have jumped out of the boat. I have at times in my own life jumped out of the boat as well. Each time I almost drowned, but I thank Christ for his always ready outstretched hand and for pulling me back in the boat when I reached out. I also have had other temptations to jump out because again it would be easier to trust in me rather than God. But I also know that trusting in me leads to pain, misery, and death whereas trusting in God leads to life.
Earlier, I mentioned that it seems there are fewer of us. But this simply isn’t true. It seems that way when those who were alongside us on this journey have chosen a different path and are no longer walking with us. But look around. The reality is that we are growing while new people daily embrace the Hope that Christ offers. I just saw an article of 400 Christian Millenials who left homosexuality. The made it clear that it wasn't about becoming "straight" it was about going from being lost to found. It sounds like they are embracing and striving for chastity. In addition, the Lord is calling more people to be a voice of hope. There are testimonies of young people with same-sex attractions, who in their early twenties, are on fire for the Lord and embrace the beauty of the Catholic faith. Instead, of taking on the LGBTQ identity, they embrace their true identity as men and women made in the image and likeness of God. Two beautiful examples of this are Avera and Emanuel. I have been blessed to meet them personally and I am so excited to see what God is doing in their lives and how He is using them.
And finally, there is Courage Intl which is a beacon of hope for men and women who experience same-sex attractions and strive to follow the Church's teachings. Their website, couragerc.org, is filled with testimonies, articles, videos, podcasts as well as opportunities to meet others through groups whether in the diocese, Facebook, phone or listservs. The families of those who experience can also obtain the same kind of help at the same website which also hosts their sister apostolate, EnCourage.
Let us keep our eyes on Christ during this storm. It’s easy to focus on the negative and so easy to forget the positive and the many beautiful moments of consolation that He has blessed us with. If we focus on the storm clouds, we are focusing on distractions and lies. We are missing on the reality of Christ’s truth, authentic love and hope. Along with this, we are missing on the reality that more and more people are being called and accepting the invitation to Christ. Let us be that beacon of hope by allowing Christ to shine through us offering His Truth, authentic love and hope to those who are thirsty for Him.
And finally, let us not give up on our brothers and sisters who have chosen to jump out of their boats. Let us not despair and not take it personally. Instead, let us pray for them and entrust them to Christ. Let us follow the words of Padre Pio as we “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry.” May God bless each of us and give us all the strength we need to stay in our boats with our eyes on Christ. More importantly, may he shine through our hearts and use us to help pull people into the boat when their hand is outstretched and are asking for help.