“Do you struggle with same sex attraction?”

Her question ran me over. It was one I had refused to ask myself and now I couldn’t escape it.

It started in eighth grade. I was in a new school after several years of being home schooled, and I felt horribly out of place.

I tried making friends and while I wasn’t completely shunned, I can’t say I was welcomed either. I didn’t know what a hair straightener was or what it was like to kiss a boy. I wasn’t ready to be a teenager.

After eighth grade, my parents placed me in a new school hoping things would get better, but they didn’t. I was bullied by my peers and angry at my parents. I withdrew completely, only talking when I had to and hardly leaving my room.

One day while I was emailing a friend, I stumbled across a website that had pornographic material. At first I was horrified, but I soon began “accidentally” going to the site again and again. Soon it was more than one site, and looking up porn accompanied by masturbation became my primary after-school activity.

I knew what I was doing was wrong, but those girls were beautiful. They had their lives together. They knew how to dress, act, and say to get exactly what they wanted. They knew who they were. I was fascinated.

Eventually my parents discovered the internet history and I was not allowed anywhere near the internet, but the images were in my head and had already seeped into my heart.

I became hyper aware of all the females around me, caught myself staring at girls in the locker room, and blushed whenever a girl gave me a hug.  It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make my thoughts pure.

“We should round up all the gays and shoot them,” my English teacher said one day. While everyone else laughed, I remember feeling like I’d just been shot.

I quietly excused myself to the bathroom where I began sobbing, but couldn’t figure out why. Was her statement harsh?  Absolutely.

“But why is it hurting me so much?” I thought. “I’m not a lesbian. Well…no! I can’t be. I’m a Christian. You can’t be a Christian and struggle with homosexuality.”

I carried this belief with me throughout all of high school. But I decided college would be different. Senior year I had seen God start to restore my mind, and while every mention of homosexuality sent panic through me, I dismissed it.

I decided Corban would be a fresh start where I could finally figure out who I was without having to let anyone know my past. That’s why my friend’s question surprised me so much.

“Do you struggle with same sex attraction?”

Saying yes to that question was one of the scariest things I’ve been through, but it marked the turning point for me. As I opened up to a few people, I was shocked at how they still chose to love me, and showed me that God still does too. They accepted me where I was but kept me in accountability.

For the first time I understood vulnerability and the importance of godly community; two principles that I want to share with as many believers as I can. I was also touched by the way the question was asked. “Do you struggle” not “Are you a homosexual?”

Realizing that what you struggle with is not who you are is a truth that has changed how I view myself so much, and a truth I wish to communicate with as many people as I can.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 has been dynamic in my spiritual growth lately. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a struggle.

Keeping my thoughts pure and seeing other girls as my sisters in Christ instead of body parts isn’t something I always succeed at. But I’m no longer a slave.

I’m clean, and I’m in the process of being restored. The biggest challenge I’ve overcome is one I didn’t even want to admit I had. It’s nothing I’ve done, but through God’s redeeming work in me that I am wonderfully and inexplicably free.

I hope my story will be a possible start of freedom for others.  To God be the glory.