I can remember struggling as a teenager as I became increasingly aware that I was experiencing same sex attraction. I struggled with shame and guilt over it. I hated myself because of it. I grew up in a small town just outside of Vancouver, BC. It was a small fishing and farming community. It was also your typical predominantly white middle to upper class suburbia with a church on every corner. When describing this town to people I usually say diversity in this town is like trying to mix oil and water... it just doesn't work. Unfortunately, as a young person growing up struggling I didn't really find a safe community where I could honestly share openly about what it was that I was going through. So I did what every young person in this town would do. Keep it to yourself, don't talk to anyone, deny it, reject it, and be everything but... Call it being in the closet or in denial... call it whatever you want... it is what it was. Thankfully I had the mentors in my life I did. My youth pastor and his wife. Instead of a "coming out" party I began a "coming into" journey. Coming into the grace and mercy of our God and coming to know who God created me to be as a woman created in His image. I began to discover that I cannot be defined simply by my feelings and experiences. That's not to say that we should ignore our feelings and experiences because we shouldn't but how can we allow for something so subjective in our lives as our experiences and feelings to determine who or what we are?
A blog I've recently come across is called Letters to Christopher.
In a blog post of his - Is it healthy to be who you're not? He writes the following in response:
But here's the thing. "Who I am" isn't determined by whatever (or whomever) I think I am. I want to live my life in accordance with objective reality. That's the path to true freedom. My subjective inclinations or attractions don't tell me "who I am." ~ Letters to Christopher
In the same blog post he quotes Pope Benedict XVI who said this, "If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled." It is for these reasons that I do not identify myself as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, homosexual or heterosexual, or even ex-gay for that matter. These are only labels that place people in a box not allowing for people to be seen for who they really are and quite frankly, I believe such labels and definitions restrict God from what He can do and is willing to do in us and through us because in such labels we are in fact saying to the one who created us that we know ourselves better even though we are the created. Why then, if we are the created, why would we not look to the one who created us to give us that sense of purpose in life and speak into our true identity in Christ? It is more accurate to be honest about our feelings and experiences without allowing these labels to define who we are so that despite experiences, struggles, and the temptations we face we are able to allow the one who created us to be the one to speak into who we are. It is in this place we come to know our true identity as children of God.