Many of us know what it is like to come to a spiritual dead end after a long journey when we finally discover that we have stretched God’s “latitude of grace” much farther than he intends. What we often forget is that our born again experience commonly begins with a different kind of surrender: what I call Front-End Surrender.
In my life, this happened at age 24. I had tried to be the “good” boy. I had tried to outrun, hide, smother or hold at bay my sexuality. I felt the heat from religious voices; the fear of conditional acceptance from family; the pain of peer rejection; and the anxiety of denial and repression. I was a bit suicidal and barely functional. In this place of desperation, I realized I could no longer be the “good” boy. Something had to give. It did…
One night, I faced my fears and came out to my parents. They were hurt but they cried with me. In the embrace of their love, twelve (12) years of pain and heavy emotional weight melted away. I had carried this too far and too long: to the point of break down. All the easyisms, quick fixes, false promises and moralistic demands had consumed me and left me dry as a bone. Until that night, I had become an empty shell of a person constantly trying to make myself in the image of others’ expectations. Nobody knew the real me.
As I went to bed that night, I literally felt the weight lifting. This was not as good as being born again, but I am telling you: it was good. I did not sense God coming inside me, but I did sense his love for me. This was not a spiritual surrender: it was more a personal surrender. I gave myself the freedom to finally be me. I made a decision to reclaim my broken psyche: from this point on, I would determine how to live my life.
Some readers may interpret this kind of surrender as rebellion. To those that have experienced coming out, we know it is more a reclamation of personal value. In granting a “reasonable self-determination” policy for inclusion of LGBT+ people in evangelical churches, I will explore in my next post why this front-end surrender is a critical part of life and why young LGBT+ folks need our love and support through this process.