Tag Archives: Identity

SSA: Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing Part 1

I’m a bit behind on posting; a new semester has begun with the subject matter of Senior Counseling; Women’s Studies & Feminism; and Human Sexuality. The latter two courses especially have got me thinking–those along with some conversations I’ve had over time with “church people” about confusing feelings and what they often identify as lust, particularly as related to authority figures or leaders. Given those conversations, it’s evident sexuality has become (or always has been) a topic too important to remain completely private within the church or elsewhere.

Now is as good a time as any to move past our blushes, bring it into the open, and do a miniseries on this topic. To start it off, I’ve asked my friend John Spencer to guest post. I  appreciate and thank him for his transparency and courage as he shares his experiences and perspective. I hope you will too. While readers may or may not agree, I  ask that we respect his journey and beliefs. Our hope is by bringing some of these issues to light, that some might benefit. Here’s John.

**Content warning: this will be an honest account of some of my sexual struggles during my life and may not be appropriate for minors nor for those of a sensitive nature**

I never felt affirmed as a man.  I felt that I was a disappointment to my father and didn’t measure up.  My father-in-law also didn’t see me as a man and whilst I remember joking in my wedding speech that “it’s not so much losing a daughter but gaining a womanly-bloke” the truth is I didn’t feel like a “proper” man.  Getting married didn’t fix that.  Nor did becoming a father.  I felt the constant need for approval of a father-figure that I never received growing up.

During my early marriage I acted out by looking at pornographic images of women. I knew it was wrong and I hated myself for it.  I used to take out my anger on my wife.  Often as a defensive mechanism because if she got too close she would expose who I really was and I didn’t want that.  So I’d make out that it was her fault. However, whilst early exposure to pornography and subsequent masturbation had hardwired my brain to women, the yearning for manly approval grew and became more sexual.

I started fantasizing about kissing certain men when I was talking to them.  I needed to feel loved and wanted by these men.  But I knew that this was wrong too*.  And I hated myself for it.  I tried to suppress it but it kept coming back.  Just like the way I projected my self-loathing onto my wife due to my pornographic addiction, I projected my self-loathing about my same-sex attraction onto gays.  I would see homosexuality as the unforgivable sin and loathe them in my heart.

Some will interject now and say “you need to accept these desires as natural and reject this outdated religious bigotry”.  However, to quote CS Lewis:
“He (Satan) always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites.  And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse.  You see why of course?  He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.  But do not let us be fooled.  We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both ‘errors’.”

Instead of denying my desires or just accepting and acting on them, I expressed them to Jesus.

I honestly told Him about my struggles.  As I admitted the truth, I brought these desires into the light and that was when the transformation began.  He opened my eyes to the fact that it was only men in authority that I wanted to kiss.  It was because of my feeling so unmanly, so unworthy, so useless that was the root of my desire to be accepted and loved by authority figures.

Jesus has all authority (Mt 28:18), he is above every power and authority (Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-10) and he loves me (Jn 15:9,12).  As I have been receiving the approval of the ultimate authority I have become more whole.  As I have drunk deep of Christ’s masculinity I have become more manly.  As I have received the Father’s love and approval my desires for men have simply faded away.  I have become complete and whole in Him who is my all in all (1 Cor 15:28).

GK Chesterton said “Everyone who knocks on the door of a brothel is searching for God”. God has made us creatures of desire and Jesus is the “desire of the nations” (Hag 2:7) – the only one who can truly satisfy our longings whether they be same sex attraction, pornography addiction, paedophilia, food, smoking or simply the desire to be famous or rich. No finite thing can satisfy our longing for the infinite. Stop drinking out of broken cisterns (Jer 2:13), and return to the source of living water (Jn 4:13-14).

* It’s not the purpose of this article to defend the traditional Christian view of homosexuality.  Others have done that adequately elsewhere.  Any plain sense reading of passages such as Rom 1:26-27 and a correct understanding of hermeneutics will support this.  However, we mustn’t get pushed into the false dichotomy of if I don’t agree I must hate gays.

John Spencer is a child of God, a husband and a father of six children (four on earth and two in heaven). He writes about his journey into wholeness and how parents can communicate a godly vision of sexuality to their children at godlysexuality.org.

NOTE from LifeTree: all comments are moderated but please, do add to the conversation, even anonymously. Discussion helps others come out of hiding and heal.  John was kind enough to revise his original article which you can find here:

https://godlysexualityblog.com/2016/06/17/an-alternative-ending-to-the-orlando-shooting/

Gold Dust, Wonder, and Healing

Gold dust, Wonder & Healing

  The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, How are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!  Lamentations 4:2

I saw him glance at me out of the corner of his eye when I passed by; as I returned the look he glanced away. I perceived he “knew something” about me in that moment. He had “the look” people have when they get a word of knowledge (a supernatural insight or knowledge about a person that couldn’t otherwise be known). 
Looking ahead I searched for my friend who had invited me. I hadn’t been sure I would come, but curiosity and maybe even indignant rebellion against  intimidation and bad memories rose up in me. So I went. But with a mixed jumble of ambivalence. 
This was the church I’d grown up in, that had been home. It was also the church of my suffering and shame. 

Bittersweet

Coming back again was challenging; even though I had grown so much, it was difficult crossing the threshold through the doors, and greeting the old saints and new people as I passed by. 

I didn’t know much about the guest speaker either, only that my friend seemed excited and she was leading worship, so heck ya, that was reason enough.   
The service closed with an invitation for prayer and to receive from God. I was so eager to “get some” that I jumped up before most of the people who regularly attended there and inadvertently half stepped on the gal’s foot I had to cross over to get out of the pew. 

The microphone was left on so everyone heard what was said, but it didn’t matter because whatever men can be to one another, God had been more than faithful to me… I trusted Him. And I couldn’t have imagined what was about to occur. 

“Put your hands out.” I did as he said thinking he’d take my hands to pray. “Turn them palms up.” I did. Curious. 

“Do you see that little bit of gold on your hands?” My eyes flicked to my palms and back again, searching his face uncertainly. Did he mean my gold wedding band? That little bit of gold? 

I looked at him intently. He looked back just so.  I looked at my hands again. 

Then he began to tell of my pain and shame I had experienced through the religiosity of the leaders and some of saints there, more than once, past and still fairly recent. He began to speak of the value I had, of the wealth and worth God placed in me, of identity and honor. 

I looked again at my hands-I could see faint sparkles on both palms where I hadn’t seen anything moments before. I drank in all that was being spoken, a bit dazzled that Dad would choose to redeem the damning experiences and my self worth in this manner. 



Wonderstruck, I returned to my seat to soak it in and listen for God to expound on what He’d just done. The lady whose foot I’d stepped on grabbed my closest hand and pressed it to her cheek, eyes closed,  a raptured look on her face. Then she released it and quickly apologized. I smiled and assured her I understood completely! This was not something any of us had experienced, and only few had even heard of. 

There was this one niggling nagging thing though. I had worn a glittering gold powder on my cheeks that night and I knew I had touched my face with my palms. So… was it makeup on my hands or real glory and gold dust from heavenly realms?  It bothered me because I’m a truth seeker. Just give me the truth- beautiful, plain, raw or ugly-just don’t lie or trick me. Here lay an opportunity both men and devils seek-the kind that lead to faith or disbelief. 

I didn’t want to doubt, or have this blessing fade from my mind as it would from my hands, so I whispered to Father, “You know I just want truth- is this gold dust or makeup? At tomorrow night’s meeting, I’ll wear powder that’s matte, no hint of sparkle anywhere, and if this is really gold dust, would you do it again Dad? Let my palms be misted with gold again tomorrow night.” 
I made extra sure to wear matte make up and washed my hands doubly well. No trace of sparkle anywhere-checked and double checked. Standing in the worship time I glanced at my hands. Nothing. Disappointment edged closer, looking for a little place to call home again. Hope deferred had too often visited my heart.

A little bit later I looked again and my heart leapt! My palms glinted and twinkled just as they had the night before. Gold dust! Every word that had been spoken to me the previous night was established even deeper. Words of worth, words of love, faith and hope. 

What is better,  is time and time again Dad has affirmed me with love and honor where men and women have maimed, blamed, or shamed. He knows who we really are, and He loves to tell us. 

I’ve read somewhere that man was originally made of gold particles, rather than dust; gold dust, if you will. I’ve done word searches and haven’t found that exact interpretation; it appears to render as clay. A wonderful thing about clay is it’s re-moldable. If it becomes marred, it can be refashioned by the potter’s hands, even remade into more noble vessel for honorable use. 

Whether the material He used was common clay or gold dust, everything Dad touches turns to Gold and He declares several times in His love letter to man kind that we are precious, worth more than gold, and He has promised every testing will bring out the gold in us. 

If you’ve been marred in identity and purpose, know that Dad sees the value in you, He fashioned you in His heart before He knit your soul and spirit to your body in the womb. Whatever your life experiences, your life is of great worth. He will reveal the truth of this to you again and again. Jesus came because you have value, you are priceless to him. And given your “yes” He will renew  your whole being-spirit, soul, and body. Transfiguration is awaiting you…

Turns out, we are fashioned with gold…

http://www.gold-traders.co.uk/gold-information/how-much-gold-is-found-in-the-human-body.asp

And on an interesting side note: Until very recent times gold was used as a heart remedy, … Homeopathic doctors still use it in this manner in high dilutions and regard it as a remedy for depressive or suicidal conditions: a ‘total eclipse of the heart’. Its distribution within the human organism reaches its highest concentration in the region of the heart. Gold is used by doctors to diagnose heart problems. As the highest concentrations of gold in the human body occur around the heart, a radio-isotope of gold has been developed (the Au-195 isotope), which can give an image of the blood-containing structures within the heart, a process called ‘heart-imaging’. Gold gives a heart image! In Britain this new technology has been developed in St. Bartholomew’s hospital, London. One expert described the gold used in this way as ‘a very convenient medium for rapid assessment of changes in cardiac function’ (3,4). ~Nick Kollerstrom
Image credits to Pinterest and Megapixel