Click Part 1 to read from the beginning.
Like so many young people wrestling with sexual and gender identity, it took a crisis for Justin to gain the courage to share his same-sex attraction (SSA) with his parents. He was desperately lonely and isolated. Justin recalls, “I would come home from school every day and go into seclusion. I felt very depressed. Increasingly, I had no reason to live.”
During a particularly painful three day period of searching, he gained few answers and little hope; it only amplified his suicidal feelings. While he never planned to take his own life, the feelings of wanting to die were enough to crush him. Realizing he could not go on like this, Justin finally told his mom and dad just shy of his 18th birthday.
“When I told my parents, I really was at the end of myself,” he says. “I knew that every way I had tried to fill the void inside me had failed. I also knew that the things I had done (pornography, desiring other men) were wrong, but I did not know how to overcome these desires. My faith said ‘this is wrong’ but my body said ‘this is right.’ There was a tension or disconnect – I could not reconcile my desires to what I know the scriptures teach. Thankfully, I never thought the solution was to accept a gay identity.”
I was curious to know what it was like for Justin to face his father – the senior pastor – with this news. Justin answered, “Having a dad as a pastor probably made me more afraid to share this secret with him, yet I knew my dad was gracious. I had watched him encounter people facing difficult challenges with true grace – countless times. More than that, I just knew my dad loved me. So all this fear was not realistic: it was within me; it was my perception.”
I finally asked Justin: so what was it like to actually go through with it – to share such a deeply held secret with mom and dad? “I had come out of this 3 day period of soul searching feeling suicidal. It pushed me over the threshold; it gave me the courage I needed. One evening as my parents were about to go to bed, I walked in to tell them good night. I just said it: ‘Mom and Dad, I need to tell you something.’” Justin’s parents already knew he had struggled with pornography, but taking this extra step was difficult. “In a barely audible voice, I told them about my attraction to guys – maybe even telling them that the pornography struggle was about other guys.”
Justin recalls the love and acceptance he felt from his parents. “I remember my dad said something like, ‘Son, it’s ok. This is not that big of a deal.’” As Justin cried, his dad looked up reassuring passages about God’s love. “It was his way of saying: ‘Son, you are my child – and you are God’s child. We will make it.’”
Justin’s parents did not break down. “I am sure they had their moment of private grief, but they knew I was in such a tough spot. They knew a babysitter had once exposed himself to me. They probably noticed I never really had any girlfriends. They knew about the pornography. I am not sure exactly why, but they were very calm. They gave me a hug and told me how much they love me.” Changing his tone excitedly, Justin added, “Honestly, it was pretty simple looking back. It was just another day; and another way that families bear each other’s burdens.”
Join me tomorrow for the final portion of Justin’s story. If you need guidance in sharing your own struggle with your parents, contact me. I can walk you through the process of disclosure. Whether you are a PK or not, read my For Pastors’ Kids (PK) series. You will make it with God’s help and the support of those who care about you. If you are suicidal, it is important that you reach out for help immediately. God bless.
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