Preface: I first met Matt in 2003 at a college event that ultimately fueled the formation of Lead Them Home. His story will bring you face-to-face with the impact of bullying on identity formation. I am very proud of this young man – 21 when I met him; now 28. Click Part 1 to read the beginning of his story. Here is Matt sharing the rest of his story.
My childhood with tough. Losing my mother left a hole in my life. Enduring the teasing and taunting of other boys left me empty, lonely and hurting inside. My entire identity was lost. Then, God changed everything.
In college I met a group of Christians who saw value in me. They nurtured this quiet, scared 19 year old back to the happy, exuberant person I was afraid to let people see. I was raised in the church and gave my life to Christ in third grade, but my every indication from church and the Bible was that God hates homosexuals. This led me to keep my sexuality a secret, because surely others would hate me if they ever found out I was attracted to men.
As I tried to hide, anxiety grew and tore at my insides. I could no longer take the pressure. One afternoon at lunch with a friend, I spilled the beans: “I think I am gay, and God hates me.” My friend’s response has stuck with me forever: “I figured as much, and God doesn’t hate you. We can talk, seek God, and figure this out together.” At last, I felt a deep sense of freedom! Secrecy would never hold me captive ever again.
As I discovered God and He encountered me, I began to see a world where the identity I had grown up with was crumbling to pieces. God did not hate me; in fact, He created me. He gave me my passions and gifts and knew exactly what he was doing when He formed me. My past perceptions of myself and personal mistakes had not disqualified me from the destiny that God had planned for me. I discovered that my sexuality was not my identity, and this realization helped me to see that “the man I was attracted to” was not the man I was made to be.
I was made to be all the man that I have become, and this freedom has permeated my sexuality. My journey is not finished, but I am armed with the knowledge that God values me, my gifts, and even my attributes that some might consider feminine. I am a man, designed to be with a woman, and will not relent until the completion of God’s plans for me. As Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
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