He Has a Plan and Purpose For My Life
Mabel Sim (Chinese)
I grew up in a Buddhist family. Like most Chinese, my extended family is predominantly Buddhists or Taoists. I attended Buddhist Sunday School and graduated from Colombo, Sri Lanka in Buddhist studies with plans to be a teacher in this discipline.
Buddhist teachings gave me several life beliefs. First, I believed that my birth was the result of my actions in a past life. Second, I believed my present life would be guided by self-understanding, selflessness, and doing good and charitable works. I believed I was the maker of my own destiny, and that destiny would depend on my past and present deeds - what I sow is what I reap.
Until I was 10 years old, I was regularly caned and locked in a room by my father. This was supposedly because I was naughty or mischievous, but I was really no different than any other energetic child. No reasons or explanations were given for my punishments. My relatives constantly threatened me with, "if you don’t listen” or "if you are naughty, we will tell your father!” All this caused me to develop a deep rooted fear of my father.
My mother was a working woman. She was helpful and friendly towards relatives and friends but distant from me. Whenever the canings were over, she and my paternal grandma, who lived with us, would act as though nothing had happened. Life just went on.
I grew up with a lot of emotional hurts bottled up inside. I was teased, labeled, and called names like "tomboy.” I never took the opportunity to express myself, because my thoughts did not seem to matter. I would be caned whether right, wrong or indifferent. Eventually, I began to feel numb to pain, and I wondered, "Who am I? Does any good come from doing the right thing or trying to connect with people?” I concluded that something must be wrong with me, or I must have been born different due to deeds from my past lives.
My attraction towards girls started when I was about 9 years old. During my teen years, I struggled even more and was very confused in my gender identity. I felt different from my school friends. Attending an all-girl school brought many opportunities to be attracted to other girls. Soon, I discovered that I could gain their attention by excelling in sports. I was actually longing for someone to fill the vacuum in my life - to make me feel important, wanted and loved. However, I did not act on my attractions because I was too scared to reveal them in a place where such feelings were taboo. I hid my feelings, afraid that someone would call me a lesbian.
In my late teens, I tried to be "normal” by dating boys and acting like the other girls. At the same time, I searched for answers in my Buddhist teachings, psychology books and materials on topics related to homosexuality.
The more I tried to act "normal,” the more convinced I became that I was born to be different. I finally began to feel like I "fit” when I became good friends with an attractive lady in my night class. After the class ended, we grew even closer. She even accompanied me when I moved to London, England, to further my studies. After she returned to Singapore, we exchanged letters every week, called each other, and shared our deepest thoughts and feelings. A year later, she came again to London to visit me.
In my loneliness, I began searching for answers for my life. I watched movies, read, and listened to radio talk shows that encouraged a homosexual lifestyle. The message I received was that homosexuality was just an alternative lifestyle -- perfectly acceptable in a free country.
My friend and I moved in together after I returned to Singapore. I found a good job, and I thought I had "arrived.” I traveled in business class, ate good food, drank fine wine and had found my "dream girl.” She made me feel wanted and loved. She cooked for me and shopped for my wardrobe, while I functioned as her protector. We were so emotionally dependent with each other that we could not function as individuals. Every action was controlled by the thought of how the other would react to the decision. Even though she was controlling, I could accept her... I thought that was the meaning of commitment and loyalty.
But, the dream shattered. After 15 years, she betrayed me by leaving me for another woman – a mutual friend. I had been suspicious, but she had denied any involvement with anyone, and I had chosen to believe her. It was a terrible shock for me when they finally confessed.
I thought my life ended there that day. I could not imagine that someone I cared so much for could walk out on me like that. My life came to a standstill. I could not work or sleep for many months. Loss of appetite lead to a weight loss of twelve pounds in the first three weeks. The following months were very painful and held no meaning for me. Besides this, I suffered financial loss in my business. The pain felt like my heart had been stabbed repeatedly with a sharp knife.
In September, I accepted an invitation to take some photographs at a friend’s baptism. It was a Christian service and was not familiar to me. The singing, clapping and dancing did not interest me, and I was feeling rather bored. However, I could feel peace in that church. During the worship time, something touched me that made me cry and shake. At first, I thought it was the air-conditioning(!), but then I felt a peace and joy flowing through me. After the service I grabbed a cup of hot tea to compose myself before walking to my car. As I got into my car, I cried and cried and immediately called a friend of mine and said, "I think the Holy Spirit touched me!” As I was driving I said, "Lord! I give You my life.” At that time, I did not know what it meant to give my life to God, nor did I understand Who or What the Holy Spirit was, but I did think, "it must be a good spirit.” Beginning that night, I slept well by calling on the Holy Spirit to help me sleep.
This touch did not change my sexual orientation or remove my deep, piercing pain. In fact, if anything, I became very confused about what was happening. Finally, I confided in my Christian friend. However, I argued with her that the Bible was out-of-date and should be modernized to reflect the times. I told her that some places in the world even had gay pastors and churches, although we did not usually hear of such things in Singapore.
I started attending a home cell group but felt very out of place. "Who can understand me?” I thought. "If they do, they will probably try to knock some Bible verses into my head, and I don’t need that. I can easily read and understand them myself.” However, whenever I thought of leaving, I felt troubled.
One year later on a Sunday in December, I read a write-up in my church bulletin about a renowned pastor who would be speaking that day. This pastor, Sy Rogers, had formerly been a homosexual and transvestite. I thought, "God, you knew exactly when to send this person to speak.” But I also thought, "He won’t understand my problem. It’s not the same.”
When Sy Rogers spoke, I thought he sounded friendly and open to other views. For the next few weeks, I was in a dilemma - to call or not to call. I wanted to talk with him and hear what he had to say about my problems. Finally, I did call. A lady answered and said that there was help for those struggling with homosexuality. I went to hear what they had to say, because I was in such great pain and confusion and feeling unhappy with myself. That was how I started counseling and joined a support group. Incidentally, Sy Rogers started the Exodus ministry, Choices, for the emotionally and sexually broken people of Singapore.
The initial period in counseling and support groups was agonizing. At times, I felt like giving up. I felt it was impossible for me to change, and sometimes none of the things I did for recovery made any sense at all. Coming out of my comfort zone was extremely difficult. I was used to meeting my craving for the tangible, warm, loving touch of another woman with lesbian contacts. Learning to allow my needs to be met in a healthy, nonsexual way was very challenging. I experienced periodic breakthroughs when the going was good, but also had many setbacks and times of failure when the pain was intense. Through it all, God gave me times of refreshing and reassurance. The time finally came when He removed the piercing pain in my heart that I had carried over my former girlfriend. Previously, the mere thought of her or the breakup would trigger the pain. I now understand that my lack of maternal bonding as well as the negative male role model and lack of affirmation from my father were the major roots in my struggle. That does not mean that I blame my parents. It does mean that I am now able to stand tall and accept who I am. By God’s grace, my parents were baptized with me two years later.
In retrospect, it all seems like a miracle. It is awesome to know that there is such a thing as healing for the deep wounds within us. Slowly but surely, my mindset has changed as I have learned to replace my faulty habits and be in touch with and express my long lost emotions. I realize that God came into my life when I first asked Him, and this gave Him permission to do His work in my wretched life. Indeed, He has a good plan and purpose for my life.
To contact Choices, Singapore, Email: email@example.com. Internet: www.coos.org.sg/choices
To contact Exodus Asia Pacific, visit www.exodusasiapacific.org.
Sy Rogers was an Exodus missionary in Singapore. He is an international speaker, pastor, and musician. To visit Sy’s website, go to www.syrogers.org