Thursday, 22 October 2015

If

“You are good, you are good, you are good, and your mercy is forever.”

When we got to the chorus, my heart stopped.

If God is good, why did He create me gay?

I could no longer sing. How could God be good? Yet He is. But I am gay. The questions in my mind bounced back and forth. It got to a point where conflict within me threatened to tear me apart - all this as the song was being sung. Thank goodness it ended soon after.

Still, the question remained.

I tried to pay attention to the cell group message that was being preached, and focused on interacting with the new person beside me to distract myself.

Right after cell group ended, I took a picture of the lyrics with my phone, and texted about half a dozen people (and texted even more people later):




Then I continued interacting and eating with my fellow cell members after that. I think I deserve an Oscar. Or have serious dissociation issues. No one asked me if I was alright, so I must have seemed fine. But I sure wasn’t. There was a major hurricane rampaging through my brain.

Later that night, I retreated into my study to try to pray and grapple with God. And ended up sobbing uncontrollably for about half an hour or so it seemed, unable to stop. I think the last time I cried so much was at the beginning of this year. The difference was that this time round, I was seriously doubting the goodness of God. A fundamental characteristic of who He is.


Eventually, I went back to my darkened bedroom spent yet unable to sleep and texted some good friends till 3am when I knocked out.

I woke up on Saturday feeling raw and surprisingly alert. I busied myself with work the entire day to distract myself from the pain. Bawling to God the night before was cathartic, but the fact that God wasn’t good was just too excruciating to bear. I wasn't even able to bring myself to pray because if God isn’t good, why would He even bother to answer any prayer request of mine?

I think it was by the grace of God that there finally came a text from a friend that lifted my heart.

Today, I can sing the following song and believe in it. If you’re on a computer, play it as you read what my friends texted me. 


If you are also struggling with the very same question I grappled with, I hope these replies help. Of course, like everything, some are more helpful than others. There was one that made me smile, one that made my heart boil, one that got me out of my crisis of faith. But they were all coming from a place of great concern and love regardless. That I am very thankful for. God has indeed put us in community for a reason.

(And I realised through this that I actually have a lot of internalised and pent up homophobia. Who knew?)

Once again I must say, I am so grateful for my friends.

Replies from my dear friends:

1. His power will be made perfect in your weakness 

2. Hugs Rachel

3. :( that's why I don't believe same-sex attraction is part of your God-given identity...though I do believe it is a very real struggle. Hang in there...stay connected to the God of hope.

4. Hmm, I don’t have an answer…what have you thought about so far? Why do you feel that “God is good” and you being gay are incompatible? 

5. I don’t have the answer to that Rach… :( but I know through it all He is still good and will be good to u…. Pray ur heart not be weary and will see the goodness of God… *hugs* 

6. Not sure. It’s not about you though. That I know for sure. He will help you. 

7. Help me to understand u a little better k? What about the lyrics that cause you to feel  :(? Are you doubting God’s goodness or His love or That you feel less than or Other reasons? Other days I find that you identify as gay with no issue but today why :( ? But I am praying for you now. For His love to cover you. No matter who what, He still loves you. God rejoices over you. 

Hugs.. Because you are gay that you equal God as not good? Then we have to answer 2 questions before we can say that. 

1) does God make people gay? 
2) is being gay bad? 

Your statement raised many other intriguing questions… I think Jesus must hate God a lot because He made him the messiah, raised him just only to kill him. Nothing more than livestock. Is God bad then?

I asked the same question before why did God make me gay? But I think I stopped asking this question after 2009..

I dunno if it were any consolation.. If you aren’t gay you wouldn’t be able to help me come to terms with my faith and orientation issue last year. If L. wasn't gay she wouldn’t have understood me and help me over my depression. If you aren’t gay you wouldn’t have reached out to E. If Justin lee and wesley hill and Julie Rodgers aren’t who they are they wouldn’t have mattered.

Anyway, I stopped asking the question why did God made me gay. Because answers to these questions bring discouragement, even the best answers do little to lift my spirit but raises more questions.

I like your honesty that you are able to say God is not good. Many christians can’t bear to utter their true feelings to God. 

8. Sigh.. I don’t have an answer either.. 

But I can ask this same question to God in many different ways.. If God is good, why am I born so unattractive? If God is good, why do I keep having such bad skin and so little hair? Why doesn’t He just answer my prayer and grant me all these seemingly simple wishes that others have in abundance and take for granted? 

And why does He put me in a family full of attractive and smart people which further magnifies my shortcomings? Why can’t I just be more like my family? 

There are other more serious issues too.. Like why is he born physically deformed, poor, sick, etc. I mean, if God heals us, delivers us, blessed us in those areas we struggle with, praise Him. But we will never know whether he will do it, in my physical lifetime here. 

So to me, sometimes believing that God is good is an act of faith in itself. I mean, I’ve experienced His goodness before, so that helps me in my belief that He loves me and cares for me. But I still struggle with many weaknesses / flaws / thoughts that have not been lifted from my life. And this daily struggle does make it difficult for me to reconcile with my knowledge of a good God when He doesn’t seem to be doing anything to alleviate my sufferings. But I guess for me I just choose to believe and trust that God is good.

And I believe because I live in a broken world, I guess nothing will be perfect. I think one day when we finally meet him, all these desires / thoughts / feelings will be inconsequential. 

9. Sadly I don’t have a good answer for u. I can only tell you the stuff you already know. That it is not god who creates the flaw but it’s a function of this fallen world. I dunno how to help you except to say that you can only find your answers in god and not in yourself nor me.

I find it hard to believe that too. Esp when we’re looking at it when we’re not having a great time. I think I find it harder to believe that god is good than that there is god. Just maybe a month ago when I was really struggling with this, I read a lot about the issue - if god is good why is there suffering. 

The grief observed by C.S. Lewis, one of the chapters in The case for faith, Philip Yancey’s Where is God when it hurts. And all of it made sense but didn’t convince me. Like yeah, it’s true but my heart feels so jaded and heavy. And I can’t believe that he’s good. 

But then I had a few times when the word really spoke to me and then I was convinced he was good (of course within a few days my faith would leak again and I would have to go and seek god again). Once I felt strongly that god was my father - Heb 12 says that he disciplines those he treats as his own son. Another one was that I felt strongly that he wanted to assure me of the depths and height and length and breadth of his love in Eph. And a few others. 

So you just need to look for god and find him for yourself. Although I have to say I still find it quite hard. Like I feel like god speaks and I’m convinced and then I swing back again to jadedness. Try and see if it works. 

10. God’s plans for everyone is different. Being gay allowed me to understand myself and the plight of the marginalised better. And to understand that this was His/Her plan, that is all out of my control. Instead of seeing it in a negative light, why not see it from another angle, another pespective? 

11. So basically you are saying, ‘God isn’t good because he created me gay?’ Well… if sexuality is your whole life then I can see how you would think that. God himself doesn’t think of you in a box if it helps at all. 

12. ((Hug)) Rachel, God created you to be a worshipper of Him. That is the highest call of every human being. To forsake all others and cleave only to Him - it’s big call. I don’t actually believe He made you gay, Rachel. 

13. Sometimes I think everyone of us needs a reminder to accept and love ourselves every day. Loving someone is a choice right? An action that we make. I think the same applies to our self. 


But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.      1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV             

I believe God loves you. I know I love you. Being gay or not is inconsequential to the love I have to you as my dear friend and sister. Perhaps that does not make living in this world any easier… Some famous person once said sth along the lines of how “your singleness explains you but is not the essence of you” I think the same is true of our sexuality. It explains us but it is not the essence of who we are, the essence of who we are is Christ and we identify as children of God. 

14. So that his glory and power could be shown in you! You’re amazing

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What is the conclusion of the matter? If you were to approach me and ask how I'm dealing with it today, I think I'd look you in the eye, smile, and declare that God is good, and that I am most fearfully and wonderfully made.

Cheers.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Counselling at Oogachaga

I'd been thinking about popping by Oogachaga for a spot of counselling for the inner conflict I have between my faith and my sexuality for some time now. One day, on a whim, I decided to call them up to make an appointment.

I was told to email someone, which I did, and was then directed to fill up a form after which a date was then set and a bank transfer of $60 was made.

Feeling a little down yesterday (it's probably hormonal), I trudged my way to Chinatown after gulping down a flat white so that I would be properly awake for the session.

Located near the exit of Chinatown MRT, I found the office rather easily and was ushered into Ginger Room which was nicely furnished and warmly lit. I was 10 minutes early and as I waited for the counsellor, I prayed a bit.

R. came in, was nice and polite and asked me what I was here for. I started off saying that "my psychologist noted that she noticed 'a conflict between my sexual orientation and my religious beliefs' " and he picked it up from there.

He asked appropriate questions where I shared my story and then he picked up where I left off. We talked about other related things and one hour passed really fast.

I was very impressed at the end of it all.

I think my main takeaway was that I realised that my conflict was not so much between my faith and sexuality, but it's based more on my expectations of how people might reject me if I choose to embrace my sexuality and act on what I believe. Honestly, I think God's got no problems with what I've got in mind for my future. He's given the green light for many things. I just wonder if I hear wrongly. What I'm probably more concerned with is with the opinions of others. What a difficult chain to break. This all I realised after talking with R.

I felt much happier after an hour of talk therapy and really gained from it. He remarked that we'd covered a lot of ground even though we'd only met for the first time. I guess people usually take time to open up, especially if it's the first time they are articulating their fears for the very first time. I, on the other hand, have spoken about this countless times.

I'm not sure if I'll go back for a second session, maybe after I process this for a while. But it was really helpful so I might just do so. I wonder what else I'll learn about myself. Hmmm....

Anyway, if you're thinking of counselling, do check it out, I think what I was most impressed about was how R. didn't force a pro-gay approach down my throat but helped me find my own inner direction even though Oogachaga is gay-affirmative. He was very understanding and engaged me on my own terms when I talked about God and all. (I'd also previously indicated that I'd prefer to speak to a counsellor who's preferably Christian. They indicated that they did not ask for the religious beliefs of their counsellors and would not be able to do so, but assured me that all their counsellors would be understanding.)

If you're a student or are under financial constraints but would like to seek face-to-face counselling, do let them know when filling up the form or emailing them and they can make arrangements for you. If you're shy, they have email counselling, a hotline and Whatsapp counselling at the following numbers:

Hotline and Whatsapp Counselling
Hotline: 6226 2002 Whatsapp: 8592 0609 Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7pm – 10pm, Saturdays from 2pm – 5pm.WOW (Women on Wednesdays)Hotline: 6226 6629Wednesdays: 7pm – 10pm.
These services provide an active listening ear for people who would like to share anonymously about issues troubling them, such as sexuality and relationship matters, as well as obtain advice and resources on safer sex and HIV/STI related issues. 
The hotline service was established in 2006, and the Whatsapp service followed in 2013. Calls and chats are handled by a team of specially trained LGBTQ and LGBTQ-affirming volunteers who will ensure the confidentiality of every call. The team is supported by experienced volunteers and staff, and everyone is expected to adhere to Oogachaga’s Code of Ethics for volunteers.
We apologise for these services being unavailable outside the publicised hours, and wish to highlight that the Whatsapp service is not able to accept SMS text messages.
Hope this is useful for you!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Jumbled thoughts from a mixed up mind

So this will be a mish-mash of thoughts about my current crush. You have been warned, it will be a topsy-turvy account of the stream of consciousness that’s plagued me lately.

My crush, my crush, my crush. Do you like me? Your dazzling smile completely besotted me that afternoon when you chanced upon me quite by accident. I replay that image in my mind again and again, looping it indefinitely.

This sounds like an awful gushing of a 16-year-old. But I shall continue.

Could it be? That God you’ve given the clearance? Am I hearing right? Perhaps I am wrong. I need some confirmation. But it doesn’t seem the wisest thing to put out a fleece, or even two. Could it be that You are with me? After all, You’re for us and not against us?

Is she the one? Perhaps she is intersex and just presenting as female? Or perhaps it’s my overactive imagination at work as I’m reading Megan DeFranza’s latest (Sex Difference in Christian Theology - Male, Female, and Intersex and the Image of God). If she’s intersex, would that make the problem somewhat simpler? But they’re so rare, 1 in 1,000 births do they occur. How can it possibly be?

Or perhaps she is truly female. It is unfair to her that I demand celibacy for myself then isn’t it? Most people in a relationship crave for physical affection don't they? Perhaps she is asexual? Haha, that would solve a lot of problems.

Darn, maybe she’s already got a partner. What is all this wishful thinking for then?

I am content to be her friend really. She seems like a rather nice person to befriend.

Lord, not my will, but Yours be done.

The end.


Thursday, 1 October 2015

It is well by Bethel Music - an excerpt

Through it all, through it all,
My eyes are on You. 
Through it all, through it all,
It is well. 

So let go my soul and trust in Him,
The waves and wind still know His name. 

It is well with my soul. 
It is well with my soul. 

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