The elderly man towers over the strong young woman. The sound of dripping water from a leaky faucet is the only audible sound as he waits for her to carry out his command. Wordlessly, she turns and begins to prepare dinner. Her eyes, devoid of hope, stare blankly at the torn floral wallpaper above the stove.
To the casual observer, one would think the girl could easily knock the frail man to the ground, victorious over his feeble dominion. Yet inexplicably, he holds absolute control over her life. His ice-blue eyes follow her every move, calm but menacing.
I’ve seen this scenario play out time after time in literature, the media and in lives of friends. Each time my sense of justice wells up within me. I want to shout, “Wake up! You don’t have to live this way.”
Ironically, people ask me why it took more than 40 years to come to grips with being gay. It seems like a really long time to live in hiding and fear. Tell me about it! I, of all people, know the pain it’s caused me and my loved ones.
No Good Answer
Until recently I didn’t have a good answer why I couldn’t find the courage to make a stand years ago. I’m only just now beginning to be able to put into words why it took such a long time.
It’s funny how the brain processes life. I’ve had to witness control and abuse of others in other situations at just the right time when my heart was receptive to begin to allow pieces to fall into place for things to make sense in my own life.
The young woman in my story was held captive by the threat of extreme physical harm and death of those she loved. Any rebellion or refusal to comply were calmly met with an ice-cold stare that promised devastating follow-through. After enough trauma the young woman stopped trying for freedom.
In much the same way, as a young child, I was held captive by the threat of the loss of eternal life. Those I looked up to and respected taught me their view of scripture. My little soul crumpled under the trauma, believing there was no possible way for me to go to heaven unless I tried to be something I wasn’t.
The Effects of Trauma
When one experiences repeated trauma, the mind stops looking for freedom and seeks to find a way to just survive. The trauma and inability to question or reason on my own, spiritually, is something I carried into adulthood.
Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” God invites us to sit and reason with the divine. What an amazing concept. And yet, the spiritual abuse I suffered through the years made it impossible to imagine sitting and reasoning with anyone, let alone the One who made me.
For decades, I was afraid to stand before God and really look at who I am. It didn’t matter what Jesus said in John 3:16 or Luke 4:18-19. I was blind to scripture’s incredible good news because I believed I was broken, damaged goods. I kept my head down and just tried to survive.
Survival autopilot worked as long as nothing rocked my boat. Storms of life events eventually disrupted my survival mode and forced me to make a choice. In that moment, I could not deny the existence of God and I couldn’t deny how I am created either. That’s when I decided to take a stand.
I stood before God and said, I believe you’re the God of love and I’m choosing to believe that you love me just as I am.
What a radically different mindset than what kept me frozen for so many years. For so long, I believed the accepted theology around human sexuality because I had been traumatized into a position of not thinking for myself. When light finally began to flood my suffocating closet, I found it so freeing and affirming to stand and reason with God.
When I began to feel courageous enough to stand before the Divine and truly listen, this is what I heard. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19, ESV).
For the past three years, I’ve been writing a column titled “From Where I Stand.” It’s a title with great significance for me. I no longer wonder and worry whether I will have eternal salvation. It’s a priceless feeling to be able to stand and feel confident that God loves me unconditionally. No conditions. No qualifying statements. It’s an unalterable fact.
What About You?
What has you trapped, unable to thrive? From personal experience, I can tell you we were never intended to live in in survival mode anxious and fearful. I spent more than forty years that way unable to truly stand. We are created to thrive and to have an abundant life!
Will you take that courageous step and stand in God’s light and experience true Love? I pray you find courage to stand with me.