Growing up, I always felt like I never belonged. It seemed that no matter who I would try to talk to, I would be met with disapproval, and disappoint. Even at a young age, this pervasive thought that something was wrong with me lingered in the back of my mind. I would try to grow close to people, to earn the love that I lacked, but each time came up short. While I would never have said anything about it, deep down I was lonely, and as I grew older that loneliness became a deep self-hatred. This feeling only got worse as I realized as a teenager that I experienced attraction to the other men in my life. Something that to me felt so normal, but in my upbringing knew was wrong. To me, it wasn’t just an attraction, it was something that only caused people to hate me more than they already did. For years, I tried to keep this part of my life a secret, holding in the hurt that it was causing me, while also experiencing bullying and abuse from anyone who had reason to believe that this difference I carried made me. By the time I entered high school, that self-hate manifested in lies, anxiety, depression, and eventually suicidal tendencies. I believed that because the attractions I felt, I was unworthy of being loved, and that I didn’t deserve to be alive.
This feeling stayed with me as I entered my first year of college. Free to create my own identity, I explored the interests that I wasn’t allowed to express in my small hometown. This, in turn, meant attempting to be more open about my sexuality, yet even in a more accepting atmosphere, still found people who would hurt me, and reject me for it. As I felt like I still couldn’t feel like myself, I started to become friends with men on my floor who attended a Cru Bible study in my residence hall. From their friendship, I slowly started to feel more open and secure with them, yet chose to keep my secret from them, too afraid of the rejection they could give me. It was after the end of my freshman year, that I decided to trust them enough where during a summer visit, I revealed to them this identity I had carried and the hurt it had given me. To my surprise, I wasn’t met with hate or rejection, instead being told that God would love me, regardless of who I was with. While I didn’t understand this, it was so different from what I had been told about God that I decided to seek Him out, starting a journey that after six months, lead me to decide to accept Christ into my heart for the first time.
From then on, I have gone under a journey of discovering my identity for the first time, breaking down the hurt and hate in my life, and learning to love myself as I began to see myself as a child of God. I began to see my sexuality not as a reason to be hated, but a way for me to begin to love others. The loneliness I had felt for so long eventually started to be lifted as I began to slowly trust others into my life, and to open my heart to the community God put into my life.
Just like you heard a story of a life changed by Jesus, This could be your story too and it begins by inviting Jesus Christ into your life by faith. The greatest story happened two thousand years ago when God sent his son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, and to die as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This righteousness of God is given “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22) so that we can have a personal relationship with God both now and after we die in heaven.
Your story could change in a moment. The Bible says “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This could be your story. You can receive Jesus Christ right now by faith. Romans 10:9 says “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” You can invite Jesus into your life right now by praying this prayer.