Answering the Call to Greater Love
Growing up in an all boys ' school, I found myself (then aged 11) being fascinated by the physique of my guy friends.
As I was slightly less than athletic, I had idealised the perfect male physique that I envisioned for myself. I wanted to be like them, with a tapered V-shaped back, angular shoulders and washboard abs.
Fuelled by a growing fascination (and addiction) with pornography and masturbation, my desire for men became sexualised. So that's how I knew I was gay from an early age. Or so I thought.
My parents had a troubled marriage. Mom had a domineering personality and wore the pants in the household. My dad couldn't care less. I was distant from my father, and there was no role model in the family to look up to. So I grew up as an independent kid, taking things in my own hands. With the estranged relationships in my family I recall thinking that the institution of marriage is a waste of time and rubbish.
Under the guise of youth and innocence, one doesn't think much about the moral and spiritual ramifications of indulging in pornography and masturbation. Not me, anyway. It was a never-ending cycle of carnal pleasure, guilt, reluctant confession, repeat. I did not realise that I was further deepening my downward spiral into addiction.
Time and time again, I sought out the Lord's graces through healing rallies and praying over. I stood before the Lord and my intercessors, and confessed the deepest, most shameful parts of my soul. Lord, if it is Your will, heal me and take this cup away from me. Once, I fell to the ground and rested in the Spirit. After going without the porno-masturbation for weeks, I rejoiced, thinking I was healed. But celebrations were premature ... old habits die hard.
Slowly I learnt the Christian art of surrender. The Lord has great plans for me (Jer 29:11) and wants the best for me. And His will for me is the best way forward in ALL circumstances. So from these past failed attempts at begging for healing, I recognised that SSA (same sex attraction) was the cross I had to bear. This heavy cross enabled me to pray for and intercede for others with similar struggles. I grew into a man of compassion, learning to love myself and others around me. I was especially comforted by the thought that God chooses his strongest soldiers for the toughest battles. My struggle for purity and chastity, in the midst of SSA was one such battle.
Come one day, I got tired of my own excuses and said "Enough!" I was sick of running around in circles. I had enough of rejecting my sonship and jettisoning my inheritance. Like the prodigal son, I came running back into the arms of our Father. That day, I prayed a prayer of Surrender:
"Lord, I have cheapened myself
sexually so much
that I don 't feel like
I'm worthy of your love.
I believe in the grace
that the Father has poured out
for the prodigal son
and I claim it as my own.
Help me to trust
that you have a plan for me.
With your grace, I commit to
purity and chastity.
If your will for me is singlehood,
or any other state of life,
I will embrace that with love and obedience.
Let me share in the
splinter of your cross. Amen. "
With that, my pride and insistence on being healed melted away. My resentment for being 'born this way' transformed into an immense comfort of being loved and taken care of by my Papa in heaven. It did not matter what life had in store for me. It was sufficient that I had the Lord, and the Lord had in me in his arms.
Through it all, God never gave up on me. So many times, I had wanted to leave the Catholic Church and just resign myself to a life of debauchery and sordid affairs but God provided a way out for me. The third way - through embracing my cross with courage and faith.
I don't know the reason why I have these attractions, nor could I understand it if I tried. And the wonderful thing is that I don't have to. My desire for love and fulfilment was found through accepting myself and receiving God's love for me.
Each day of struggling to uphold chastity is an invitation from the Lord to partake of His suffering and offer it up as a prayer. I do still fall to sexual sin occasionally. But that doesn't define me: being His son does. I am not alone, I never was. I am accepted and loved for who I am. If there is hope for me, there is hope for those struggling with anything at all.
By Zach Lim
*Zach is a pseudonym.
Brought to you by Archdiocesan Commission for the Family, in conjunction with the launch of Evangelising Families, a monthly series of reflection and prayer in preparation for the Synod of Bishops on the Family in Oct 2015.
The ACF is organising a symposium on the Church's teachings on Divorce, Separation and Annulment on 25 July 2015. Visit acf.org.sg for more information.
Individuals or families who feel the need for counselling can call Family Life Society at 64880278.
Related article: Called to Greater Love