Friday, August 28, 2009
An interview from HERE.
I have dealt with homosexual struggles since I was three. About one year ago, I finally became tired of its hold on me, and I decided enough was enough.
Now for the first time in my life, I am truly happy, at peace, and finally have the joy of the Lord in my heart. This is all a new experience for me. It feels as though I am in the process of being set free from a lifelong curse.
I first became aware of my same-sex attractions when I was three. At four, I was molested by two older boys who were brothers. I loved it and I wanted it to happen again. Finally, some attention from males! To my disappointment, this was a one-time occurrence. I was an effeminate and sickly child, and I lived with a perpetual obsession for the bodies of other men, especially men who had large biceps.
My relationship with my father was always distant, as he was ashamed of his unmasculine son. My mother kept me too close to her. In fact, except for a period of 14 years when I was out of state, the two of us lived together until her death at age 91.
Neither my father nor mother ever told me that they loved me, and I was never held or kissed. I also had a very distant relationship with my sister, my only sibling.
I was baptized when I was fifteen. I remember it well because I found the young handsome minister to be very appealing. The boy who influenced me to come to the church, Paul, was someone I was actually "carrying on" with sexually. That conversion experience didn't seem to have any impact on my teenage homosexuality.
Paul and my other high school friend eventually went on to marry and have children. I never did, but was always haunted with feelings of loneliness and emptiness.
Never during my life did I ever find the attention and love I was seeking. There's nothing "gay" about the gay lifestyle. Even a sixteen-year, monogamous homosexual affair brought no satisfaction. Then I was celibate for eleven years, and was so proud of myself.
However in 1996, I met my nemesis---a man twenty years younger than myself. I thought I had finally found someone who loved me; at least, he said he did. But the relationship was shortlived. He broke it off after three months, and about the same time, my mother died.
Then I became very ill with pneumonia and my ex-lover was having trouble with his housemate. I asked him to come and take care of me, and he agreed. He then became insistent that I move back with him to Atlanta's gay community.
But I didn't want to leave. I was already desperately depressed because of my illness and my mother's recent death. His complete rejection of me when I refused to move to Atlanta was the straw that broke the camel's back. I tried to take my life.
God mercifully spared me. He knew I had a story of healing and hope to tell. I knew after this horrible incident and a month's hospitalization that I had to take charge of my life and make some changes---pronto.
I wanted to deal with this lifelong curse I had endured from a thoroughly Christian perspective. So I contacted a ministry in Atlanta and began seeing a counselor there on a one time basis. I also joined a counseling group for men coming out of a gay lifestyle.
Today, lust no longer has a tremendous hold on me. There are occasional difficult moments, but they are the exception, not the rule.
The most rewarding part of my homosexual recovery has been that I am finally making close male friends. This is a new experience for me. Wouldn't you say it's about time at age 65? Having been rejected by men all my life, it's simply grand to know that many men really do like me. I can like them, too, with no sexual attraction to distract me. I am creating healthy relationships with males about whom I don't fantasize, with whom I don't fall in love, and for whom I do not have lust.
Recently I was in a prayer circle with a man on either side of me. I handled it with no sexual arousal whatsoever. That's a first. Can I say I'm proud of myself and still be humble? I feel like I'm "one of the boys" for the first time ever. And I have become less reliant on my numerous platonic girlfriends.
In seeking out male companionship, I have had to take the initiative. Even though I've feared rejection, I've gone ahead and made the first move, and haven't been rebuffed yet. I find most heterosexual men are open to Christian fellowship. I'm not a sports enthusiast and never will be, but we still have plenty to talk about.
A man recently started coming to my congregation who's macho and sixty; we hit it off immediately. I've even spent the night with him and his wife with no problem. I swim daily and have become good friends with several men at the pool. I also occasionally ride my bicycle with men from my neighborhood.
I get a weekly massage, which I had always preferred to have done by a woman; now an outdoorstype man does it, and there is no problem on my part. He is a wonderful Christian married man, and we've become good friends.
I also have a great time with the fellas in my ministry group. It's great to have a place where I can be completely honest and in which there is a giving and sharing atmosphere. I have desperately needed Christian male companionship with men who can identify with my struggles. I had been looking for a support group like this for fifteen years. I don't drive at night or on the expressways, so a kind young man from another town who attends the ministry group takes me to the meetings. I'm the grandpa of the gathering but feel I can bring a different dimension to those seeking help.
My counselor has shown me that it will be a long, gradual walk out of the lifelong anger, disappointments, frustrations, and shame which inhabit perversion's path. Mine was a life of never ending selfhatred and shame, but I actually feel better now than I did when I was forty. My emotional and physical health have never been better. I have a wonderful place to live with some delightful neighbors. I have the most wonderful group of friends I have ever had. I am active in volunteer work. Most important, I have a church where I am loved well and prayed for, and where I participate actively. I have renewed my friendships with my two closest college buddies. None of this was possible while I had the everpresent blot of homosexuality preventing me from forming healthy male relationships.
I had always believed my homosexuality was primarily a problem in dealing with women. However, I now see that that is not where the difficulty lies. My relationship with men has been the issue all along. I could never have a genuine friendship with a man, because I would always fall in love with him! At last I understand why. Now, I'm no longer afraid to talk to men. I can even hug them with no sexual thoughts trying to take over. This is progress!
I always did try to live a good life and have been actively involved in church activities and ministry, especially to the elderly. Yet there was always that dark spot of homosexuality that haunted my every move. Through the help I have received from counseling and an ex-gay ministry, I am thrilled to find that there is a way out, as well as plenty of people to help me on the way.
The gay lobby is very influential, and they have pretty much convinced the average American that our struggles are genetically induced. According to them, there is no hope of change. They are wrong.
I've discovered that you're never too ingrained in a habit, or too old to change and begin anew. It's a thrilling adventure. Join me!
Help for Homosexuality:
National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I gave you life, but cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.
I can allow you freedom, but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to Church, but I cannot make you believe.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice, but I cannot take it for you.
I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.
I I can teach you, of course, to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you about kindness, but I cannot force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sins, but I cannot make your morals.
I can love you as a child, but I cannot place you in God's family.
I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you eternal Life.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Thank you so much to Aussie Coffee Shop for giving me this award - I feel very privileged.
I'd like to pass this award on to:
Faith of a convert
Homilies from Australia
And say that Therese is a loyal friend of mine too on my blog, a special thanks to you!
Thank you all for leaving comments regularly and your friendship.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
From: Bo Sanchez
What is draining you - Get Rid Of It If You Can.
What person, thing, activity, group, habit, situation, and places in your life drains your joy and life and energy and holiness? What sucks your happiness?
If you can get rid of that draining thing, do so!
By doing that, you’ll grow up and have more life and energy for the right things that God wants you to do.
In other words, I’m asking you to set your boundaries.
Let me list the probable “draining” things in your life…
1) TAKE CARE OF YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH.
o I spend a lot of time with “emotional vampires” — people who are so dependent on me, or those who are exceedingly negative, or those who emotionally manipulate me…
o I still hang on to a dead - end romantic relationship
o I don’t have close friends
o I watch too much TV
o I don’t have time just to rest and reflect, to read and plan
2) TAKE CARE OF YOUR FAMILY LIFE.
o My relationship with my spouse and kids is shallow
o I have a long-standing conflict with a family member
o My home environment is chaotic
o I feel I’m not a great mother (father, son, daughter…)
3) TAKE CARE OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE.
o I don’t enjoy my job
o I feel that I’m not fulfilling my mission in my job
o I feel that my core gifts can be used elsewhere
o I can no longer work with my co-workers
o I don’t see a future in my career
4) TAKE CARE OF YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH.
o I don’t eat the right food
o I don’t sleep enough
o I don’t exercise enough
o I have a vice that’s robbing me of my health
5) TAKE CARE OF YOUR FINANCIAL HEALTH.
o I let “parasites” depend on me instead of letting them stand on their own
o I have huge debts
o I pay my bills late
o I don’t know where my money is going each month
o I don’t have savings and investment plan
o I know I won’t have enough for my retirement and old age
6) TAKE CARE OF YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH.
o I’m in bondage to an addiction that’s draining me spiritually
o I focus on my sin, not on God’s love for me
o I don’t spend time with God
o I lack a faith community of friends to support me
o I feel I’m not following my own moral compass
o I feel I’m not serving God and others
If you checked any of the items above, do something about it! Ask for help.
But don’t get drained to the point that there’s nothing to give anymore.
* REMEMBER - it is never too late to change your old habits that don't help you get to Heaven!
Molly has generously tagged me for this meme. Thank you so much, and I will do my best.
1. I love family - esp my husband + children.
2. Holidays - especially the beach.
3. Warm weather + the Sun!
4. Chocolate, curries, licorice, coffee, roasts, fruit.
5. Swings + Hammocks.
6. Fun/scary rides at theme parks.
7. Nature, silence + God:)
Friday, August 14, 2009
Continuation of a talk from: Bo Sanchez
4) TRUST YOUR NEEDS
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been taught by my brand of religion not to trust my feelings — and not to trust my needs as well. Because I figured my desires are most likely from the flesh, not from the spirit.
The message I received was this: “Fear yourself. Fear your desires. Fear your selfishness. Don’t trust yourself. Instead, trust God. Trust your group. Trust your leader. Trust the system…” (This is the reason why there is so much spiritual abuse happening in religious groups.)
Oh, what a terrible thing to believe!
Priests, preachers, and pastors love to emphasize this message: “Don’t trust yourself!” Directly or indirectly, they will ask their members to simply rely in the leaders’ wisdom and decisions. Unintentionally, they produce people who are infants in their emotional and spiritual growth.
Instead of freedom, religion shackles us to immaturity. (God calls us to be childlike, not childish.)
God Trusts You
* When Will You Learn To Trust You?
Instead, we need to hear a new message.
What message? That You’re made in the image and likeness of God! That you’re not just good. You’re very good! So trust yourself because God trusts you. He trusts you by calling you His child. He trusts you by planting His Kingdom in you. He trusts you by dwelling within you. He trusts you by commissioning you to be His presence in the world. He trusts you to love the way He does…”
Wow! (Believe me, when I pray, when I read the Bible, when I listen to God’s voice in the depths of my heart, I say “Wow!” many, many times.)
And one way of trusting yourself is to trust your needs.
Not your sinful needs. (That’s what you need to deny.) But your legitimate, valid, and God-planted needs.
Meet those needs. Even your need for joy.
Some people view all pleasure as bad. Their unwritten motto: “If it feels good, it must be bad.” That’s not true.
I believe life was given by God to be enjoyed to the full. To be savoured with delight. So taste. Breathe. Relish. Dance. Sing. Live!
When we enjoy life, we allow others to enjoy as well. (Ever wondered why some religious people are so stuck-up, they don’t allow anyone to enjoy life?)
Continuation of a talk from: Bo Sanchez
3) FEEL YOUR FEELINGS
A long time ago, I didn’t feel my feelings. I didn’t bother with them. If they became intense, I shunned them.
To me, all desires were sinful. And all emotions were just part of the “flesh”, not of the “spirit”. Feelings were the enemies of God. At the very least, they were bothersome things that distracted me from doing God’s will.
No wonder I was in such an internal mess!
Because when we don’t feel our feelings, we treat ourselves with disrespect!
I was acting very rudely towards myself.
My Love Tank was empty because I wasn’t loving myself enough to even listen to my feelings. Remember: Feelings are the windows of the soul. When I wasn’t feeling my feelings, I didn’t have a clue what was happening inside me.
Again, self was an enemy of God, so why bother?
Just focus on God’s Word, and viola, everything will be solved, right?
How wrong I was.
Because God was speaking to me through my most negative emotions, and I wasn’t listening.
* Identify Your Feeling;
And Identify The Source Of Your Feelings
Sometimes, I can’t even identify what I was feeling.
I just knew it was a bad feeling — that’s why I was running away from it.
I didn’t know if it was sadness or fear or worry or anger.
But when I run away from my bad feelings, I run away from myself.
Today, I know what to do.
I sit down, be quiet for a while, and identify what I feel. I don’t just go rushing about in my busy day.
When I identify it, then I feel the feeling. I feel it before God’s Presence.
I also try to identify the source of these feelings.
Why am I feeling this way?
Is there any action that I need to do?
Sometimes, this first step of “feeling my feelings” is all that’s needed. I don’t have to do anything else.
By feeling what I feel, I respect myself.
By feeling what I feel, I heal myself.
It may take time for the painful feelings to pass, but ultimately, I rise from it whole and peaceful.
Sometimes, I have to do something else. Perhaps I need to surrender to God. Perhaps I need to do something concrete, like talk to someone or solve a problem.
In the End,
* You Still Do What God Wants You To Do
No, I’m not supposed to follow my feelings blindly.
That’s from the crazy guys that preach, “Do what you feel. If you feel like punching someone, then punch a pillow or wall. If you feel like screaming, then go inside your room and scream like hell. If you want to get drunk, then drink…” I don’t buy that strategy.
I didn’t say, “Do what you feel.” I said, “Feel what you feel.”
When you feel your feelings before the Presence of God’s love, in the end, you still do what God wants you to do. But you allowed yourself to feel your painful feelings, to validate them, and to listen to its inner messages.
This is a very important step of loving yourself.
Remember what I said about the immediate cause of our addictions? Because we want to escape our painful emotions.
But by entering into our painful feelings with boldness, we realize that they’re not as terrifying as we feared them to be. After awhile, we no longer need our addictions. Because we no longer need escape routes from our painful emotions.
My next post will discuss, Trusting your Needs.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Continuation of a talk from: Bo Sanchez
2) ACCEPT YOUR WEAKNESSES
What’s the difference between forgiving yourself and accepting your weakness?
Answer: We only forgive ourselves for our sin. We don’t forgive ourselves for being weak. Because being weak isn’t a sin. It’s part of being a human being.
Let me give you an analogy. I know of some parents who scold (note: scream) at their kids for being noisy and playful. At moments like these, I want to intervene and say, “Mother, listen to yourself. You’re actually angry at them for being kids?”
That’s what we do too to ourselves. Because we are our harshest critics.
If you want to love yourself, you need to celebrate who you are—your strengths and weaknesses combined. Especially your weaknesses!
* Fire Your Inner Parrot
Let me tell you a story.
On her way home, a woman was walking on the sidewalk. She saw a parrot in a pet shop window. Upon seeing her, the parrot said, “Lady, you are really ugly!”
Shocked, the woman walked away in a huff.
The next day, she walked again on the same road. She saw again the parrot peering through the pet shop window. And sure enough, when the parrot saw her, it said, “Lady, you are really ugly!”
The woman couldn’t take it anymore. She barged in the pet shop and told the owner, “Your bird outside has been telling me that I’m ugly. You better do something about that parrot. When I walk here tomorrow, and that bird says the same thing about me, I’ll sue you!” The owner was very apologetic and said, “It won’t happen again, Ma’am.”
The next day, she walked home on that same road. Once again, she sees the parrot, and the parrot sees her. She stopped and with an icy stare asked, “Yes?”
The bird, strutting back and forth, cocked, “You know.”
* You Don’t Have To Be Perfect To Love Yourself
Friends, many of us have an inner parrot that tells us, “You’re ugly.”
We have an inner parrot that we carry around within us, cruel and rude. We actually don’t need the devil anymore to accuse us and damn us to Hell. Because we do it ourselves.
These feelings of shame drive us to our addictions.
Friend, fire your inner parrot. (Better yet, fry him with olive oil, a little garlic, and chilli.)
Start telling yourself the truth: That you’re God’s child and beautiful beyond imagination. And that God will use even your worst weaknesses.
Remember: You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
* Your Weakness Is A Gift
In the Bible, St. Paul boasted of his “Thorn in the Flesh”.
It was his weakness. Bible scholars don’t know what it was, but here are some intelligent guesses:
* sexual desires
* physical appearance
* eyesight trouble
* chronic malaria fever
But whatever it was, about this weakness, he said these immortal, mind-boggling words. “At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”
* How can your weakness be gift?
Your Weakness Blesses You In 3 Great Ways
First, my weaknesses humble me. It makes me depend on God even more. And I see how He uses me mightily despite all my weaknesses! That is why the Bible says, God chooses what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful.
Second, my weaknesses make me more merciful towards others. I believe that someone who easily judges others hasn’t yet accepted his own weaknesses. If he had, he wouldn’t be judgmental. But because he hasn’t, he projects his self-anger towards other people.
Third, my weaknesses bond me with others in a way that nothing else can. When I share the story of my past and my addiction to someone else, I disrobe my defences and become vulnerable to him. In this way, I also give permission to that person to disrobe his defences as well.
Friend, thank God for your weaknesses, your struggles, and your problems.
They are great gifts that will bless you and others.
My next post will discuss how to Feel your Feelings.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Continuation of a talk from: Bo Sanchez
1) FORGIVE YOURSELF
For years, I would fall into habitual sexual sins. And when I did, I had a hard time believing that God would still forgive me. I was filled with disgust. I was so fed up with my sin, I figured He was fed up with me too. I projected onto Him my disgust and imagined that He was tired of forgiving me again and again.
Yet every time I prayed, something in me would say, “God isn’t like that.” And deeper in my heart, I would hear His voice say, “Bo, nothing you do can ever diminish my love for you.”
These words burned within me. I searched the Bible and found these words and claimed them for myself.
For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Ultimately, it was this incredible love that healed me of my addiction.
* Can You Be As Forgiving To Yourself?
In one large gathering, a young woman came up to me and asked, “Can you hear my confession?” I shook my head, “I’m sorry, I’m not a priest.” But I saw desperation in her eyes as she told me, “But can I still confess my sins to you?”
“I can listen to you, pray for you, but I can’t absolve your sins,” I said.
She said, “That’s fine. I just need someone to talk to…” We walked to a corner of the hall and she poured her heart to me, sharing her guilt to me. As she did so, I felt an urging from God to tell her, “My dear friend, God loves you more than you can ever imagine,” and she began to cry almost uncontrollably.
She said, “Bo, I know God loves me. But I don’t love myself. I know God forgives me. But I can’t forgive myself for what I’ve done.”
Through the years, I’ve met many people like her who already asked for God’s forgiveness, but can’t seem to forgive themselves. Even if the Bible says, Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful, it’s funny how people aren’t merciful to themselves.
So I told her, “Then you’re very proud of your sin.”
Her eyes bulged, obviously shocked.
“What did you say again?” she asked.
* Are You Proud Of Your Sin?
I told her, “You fall into pride on three counts. First, you seem to think that your sin is bigger than God’s love for you. That’s pride. Friend, God’s love is bigger than your sin…”
“And second, you seem to think that your moral standards are higher than God’s standards. That’s pride. Allow Him to love you in your brokenness. And give yourself permission to love YOU. And third…”
“Did I hear it right? Give myself permission to love me?”
I knew that those words were new to her.
“Yes! And third, all this time, you’ve been focusing on your sin. Am I right?”
“You think God wants you to grieve and wallow in guilt? You’re wrong. When you focus on your sin, you’re not focusing on God. Focus on God. Focus on God’s love for you. Or you fall into despair.” I began to think of Judas and how despair killed him.
The Bible says Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
How do we fall? Let me count the ways…
* What Happens If You Don’t Forgive Yourself
If you don’t forgive yourself, you may have these problems…
* You’ll have unresolved guilt nagging you
* You’ll always be recalling past failures
* You’ll be pessimistic and negative, or even suffer from chronic depression
* You’ll be seeking revenge toward yourself at different times
* You’ll manifest self-destructive behaviors.
* You’ll be disrespectful towards yourself
* You’ll be indifferent toward yourself and your needs
* You’ll be defensive and exhibit distant behavior towards others
* You’ll be controlled by your fear of failure, rejection, and non-approval
* You’ll have an emotional vacuum in which little or no emotions are shown
* You’ll be suspicious about others’ motives when they’re accepting of you
* You’ll experience chronic hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism
It is a sad life!
Make a decision now to forgive yourself now.
Before Anything Else, Discern:
* Are They Real Sins Or Imagined Sins?
Before we even forgive ourselves — or even ask forgiveness from God — answer one question. Have you really sinned against God? Or have you just failed someone else’s standards?
Sometimes, we can set up our selves for big-time guilt by making lots of rules that God never wanted us to make.
For example, in the 1980’s, I used to teach my community members this spiritual regimen: To pray one hour a day, read the Bible one hour a day, and read other spiritual books one hour a day — for a total of 3 hours a day. I also encouraged them to go for daily Mass, daily Rosary, and an hour before the Blessed Sacrament. I was still a young teen then, and I could certainly do all of that, but I was oblivious to the fact that my members had jobs and kids to take care of. Boy, did I set them up for a very long guilt trip! (Forgive me, Lord.) None of them could ever measure up to my standards. But those rules that I made were just mine, not God’s rules. (Leaders need to be careful not to set people up to discouragement, or we rob them of joy in their life with God.)
I also remember a woman who felt guilty for disappointing her husband again and again. She would constantly ask for forgiveness from God for being a terrible wife. But when she described her husband to me, I instantly knew that he was the problem. He wanted his clothes to be pressed in a particular way, his egg cooked in a particular way, his newspaper laid out on the table each morning in a particular way. And if his wife will not do it in this particular way, he labelled her as a disappointing wife. Not true! I told her that she has not sinned and there was nothing to ask forgiveness from God.
But if we have indeed sinned against God, then let us take these next two steps…
* Forgive Yourself Now!
Place your hands on your chest.
Step #1: Ask God For Forgiveness
Lord, forgive me now, in Jesus name. Forgive me for all my sins and failures. I believe You love me. I believe that Your love is bigger than my sins and failures. Today, I receive your forgiveness. Thank you for loving me!
Go to confession!
Step #2: Forgive Yourself
Today, I make a choice to forgive ME. I know that God has forgiven me. I don’t have to be perfect for me to love ME. I am a very good person because God made me very good. As God loves me, so do I love ME. I no longer need to condemn me. I am forgiven by God, and I forgive ME, in Jesus name. Amen.
My next post will discuss Bo's second step of loving yourself - Accept Your Weaknesses.
Monday, August 10, 2009
A talk from: Bo Sanchez - How To Get Rid Of Bad Habits Now! Love The Sinner And The Saint Within. Love Yourself.
Don’t focus on your addiction.
Because when you focus on your addiction, you end up in despair.
And despair is the end of the road.
Like Judas, many people commit some type of suicide. They may not kill themselves physically, but in their despair, they kill their dreams, or they kill their relationships, or they kill the blessings that God wants to give to them.
You need to acknowledge your addiction (don’t deny it), but you don’t have to meditate on it. Your eyes should be on God’s love for you.
Focus on God’s dream for you instead.
And you can do that if you love yourself.
Loving yourself means loving the sinner and the saint within you.
You’re a mix of the good and the bad, and you need to love that mix.
Unless you love yourself, you jump from one Hidden Addiction to another.
Unless this happens, your addictions may never go away.
When we don’t love ourselves, our love tanks cause painful emotions to rise. So we may stop one addiction only to replace it with another, perhaps a more hidden addiction.
I know of some former drinkers and smokers who, after removing these vices, unconsciously replaced them with more acceptable addictions, like workaholism and religious legalism, or a food addiction or TV addiction.
If you want to get rid of a destructive bad habit, you need to love yourself.
How should you love yourself?
How should you love the saint and sinner within?
Let me share with you four powerful ways of loving yourself that will change your life forever:
1. Forgive Yourself
2. Accept Your Weaknesses
3. Feel Your Feelings
4. Trust Your Needs
I will share these with you one by one - in my next post:)