Last week, I shared about the day that I lost my innocence with my best friend at the time. From that point on, I longed for healthy friendship with men. But achieving this wasn’t easy for me because of the years and years of walls that I had built up around my heart for protection. The Lord at different times, brought friends into my life to help me break down these walls and undo what had been done earlier in my life.
FRIEND #1 – The Mentor and Healer
When I was in my mid-20s, I met this friend because of a shared ministry context. Let me first say this to get it out of the way. This friend is 15 years older than me…and he is also same-sex attracted. Many hold the belief that it is not wisdom in any circumstance for two people that are same-sex attracted to be close friends, much less there be a mentor type relationship. What if they…you know!?
There is a place for wisdom and accountability for any friendship/relationship but I believe that this response comes more from fear. Just because we were both same-sex attracted, it doesn’t mean that we were attracted to one another(neither of us ever remotely felt that). My friend also had been out of the LGBT Community for over 20 years when I met him. Because he had already made a lot of headway in working through stuff and had experience walking with others, he actually had a lot of maturity and wisdom to offer me. It would have been foolish for me not to learn as much as possible from him.
After years and years of being bound in shame and silence, this man became the first that I was able to talk to about my struggle. I finally had someone that I felt safe with, though it did take time for me to trust. I went through a very intense season, lasting for many months, that God divinely orchestrated. This time was focused on dealing with healing past wounds, wrong thought patterns, lies, and insecurities. There has never been another time in my life to-date that I have ever felt God so near! At times, God revealed truth to me by His voice and Word…at other times, He used my friend. I feel that I also must mention that in this same season, I had two ministry interns living with me. They both had roles to play because one of them I viewed as the stereotypical popular muscular jock and the other was the caring empathetic sensitive creative musician. The former would consistently unintentionally trigger my fears and insecurities while the latter would be present to offer prayer and lots of good long comforting hugs. These two helped greatly in their own ways to get me through this season.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
FRIEND #2 – The Shameless Best Friend
Shortly after moving to Kansas City, I met this friend and we instantly connected with ease. He also has same-sex attraction, but is married(to a woman) and has children. He isn’t attracted to women in general. But he is attracted to his wife. How does that work, right? Well, there is no formula for how God chooses to lead people into holiness. For some, they get an instant power encounter to never deal with same-sex attraction again or it’s temptation. For others, God gives the grace to exercise self-control and mastery over a desire that once had control over them. I don’t think one is more holy than the other- both are valid and powerful!
In our friendship, his perspective was always a little different than mine because of his life experience with marriage and maturity. I also appreciated this one great aspect of our friendship – vulnerability with no shame. I’ve never experienced in any friendship the same degree of trust and honesty that I have with him. I remember early on that when I would share or confess things, I would always wait expecting a shocked look, stern rebuke, or rejection. But time and time again, I was always faced with love, forgiveness, compassion, and truth. Sounds a lot like Jesus to me! I am confident in our friendship and that I can always share anything with him. This friendship has taught me a lot about the Lord and how He delights in mercy. He is so eager to forgive and restore us. He not only understands our weaknesses but sympathizes with them.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
FRIEND #3 – The Brother
The last friend that God has used in a major way is a straight friend. It’s one thing to feel comfortable sharing details of my struggle with one that relates. But it is an entirely different level to trust the same vulnerability with a male friend that has no grid or personal experience. So you can imagine my hesitation…
I’ve also experienced various friendships completely come to end or become really awkward after mentioning SSA. I’m always very aware of how people in casual conversation comment about homosexuality, gay marriage, same-sex healthy affection, etc. Hearing how people talk and even act in response to such things is always a gauge to me whether they are trustworthy and safe.
One thing that greatly helped me trust and move past my hesitation in our friendship was his natural overflow of love and affection. He was one of those that some might call touchy/feely. But it never was inappropriate or overwhelming for me; I gladly received his love he freely offered. This was actually a huge way that God used to heal areas of my heart and the way I processed and saw others. Receiving non-sexual touch and affection was very important to help my perspective change. Prior to this, I only equated emotional closeness(intimacy)with sexual touch and affection; it’s all I had ever experienced really. So now through this friendship, God was able to reroute and cleanse thought patterns so that I was able to see other guys purely as brothers rather than with lustful desire. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a brother. He was able to give me quality time, heart to heart conversation, and lots of tight hugs lasting more than a few seconds. There were also times that God powerfully manifested His presence when we hung out and my friend just held me while speaking truth and love into my core.
I am greatly thankful for these men that have forever left a mark on my life. And I am grateful that God orchestrated our paths to cross when they did. He is perfect in timing and perfect in how long these seasons lasted. I wouldn’t be the man that I am today without their friendship and love.
LEAVE A COMMENT – SHARE YOUR STORY
How have friends helped you grow closer to the Lord and to truth? Out of these 3, which do you feel like you need in your life now? Is God prompting you to be a friend to someone around you in need?