Help me, but PLEASE don’t
I first met Franklin about a year ago, when he introduced himself to me on Facebook. He’s Christian, African American, in his 20s, with same-sex attraction. His father has been absent from his life for some time and he currently lives with family members who consistently put him down.
He’s become withdrawn and hardly attends church. He is constantly driven by workaholism in a desire to prove himself, though privately he hates it. More than anything, he wants to be rid of same-sex attraction: his addiction to porn only brings shame and a heightened sense of self-loathing that drives him forever away from God. His prayer life is almost non-existent and when he prays he chronically doubts that God will – or wants – to answer him. And why not? So few others (especially his father) have ever stuck around to listen to him, appreciate him, and give him what he wants when he’s asked for it. It’s driven him to such a pit of despair that he doesn’t even think he’s saved.
Franklin has, like many others, come to me for help with his problem and has been very open with me about where he’s at. The problem is when he opens his heart there’s little else he wants anyone to do about it. When I and others have tried to ask about the deeply painful stuff that undergirds the surface problems (anger, lust, bitterness), Franklin runs away. Whenever anyone tries to comfort him, he sabotages the attempts with angry, cynical asides about himself and others. Or he tells those trying to help him to not ask questions or give advice but to ‘just listen’. Or with others he tells them he doesn’t want to think about the deeper stuff, but just wants someone to ‘discreetly’ give him hugs; if those demands aren’t met he feels put out, pushing away and ‘dumping on’ those who have patiently tried to help. Or the advice to trust God with all the pain just gets far too personal and difficult, and so he grasps at what he knows by trying to find comfort in others.
Sadly, people like Franklin are very very common in the world of helping those with unwanted same-sex attraction. So often they claim to seek help, but only want that assistance on their own terms. I only worked in a ministry role for 2 years and 2 months, helping those with unwanted homosexuality and in that time I’ve had two people suddenly storm out and end sessions because things became so emotionally difficult.
One even moved away to another city and was never contactable again, and ironically he was someone who had been asking for help numerous times from others, suggesting that he never settled down with anyone to help him for any real considerable amount of time. Little wonder he wasn’t progressing in his holiness journey. Once upon a time with my own counsellor I would do the same thing: tell him I had every intention of making another appointment time and then never getting back to him. (Praise God he was wise to my schemes and kept bringing it up, as much as it embarrassed and infuriated me.)
For those trying to help sexually and emotionally broken people this kind of behaviour is not uncommon. How often do they get people asking for ‘support’ and when you reply to make a time and motivate them to walk the hard journey of change and then they don’t reply? Then in about 6 months’ time, they contact you again and the pattern resumes? Or the journey constantly stalls because the suggested work isn’t done and every meeting is as though you’re starting from scratch again?
It’s not likely that those seeking support actually intend to do this but it is frustrating and slow-going. I know when I started dealing with my own issues I was very much doing the same thing with my counsellor, which I now wish I hadn’t! My own experience with healing is that I was stopping myself because I was crippled by fears that the healing process would kill rather than help me.
For those reading this post and who are seeking change but are finding themselves stuck or not progressing, chances are you’re slowing yourself down. It’s so important to admit this and confess it, and stop living in self-denial; otherwise you’ll only frustrate yourself and others will genuinely wonder if you’re really serious. It’s also advisable to not put a concrete timing on your healing (I’ll only do this for 9 months and if I’m not healed by then …).
It’s so important to ask God to examine your heart and truly reveal what’s going on so that you will be free from self-deceit (Psalm 139:23-24) and to pray not doubting God’s power or willingness to answer (James 1:5-8). Where there is doubt, you can bring that to God that He may forgive and help your unbelief (Mark 9:24). God is very willing to answer those prayers and the reality is that it is not Satan really who often prevents us from progressing: it’s usually ourselves. But like Franklin we often have understandable reasons for sabotaging our journey and pushing God away: because that’s all we have known from others who’ve abused us. But the great news is that God is not like that, and nor are all others even though our past and our circumstances might tell us otherwise.
There, then, is another prayer: that God will show you His true kindness and that of others, so that the sabotaging self-deception will clear away so that you will grow and regenerate. It IS hard (especially at first) to do this and be consistent, but if you keep it up you will notice God answering the prayers and you will start to delight in him they way a prisoner serving a life sentence is told that he can go free.
The question I ask of those who are double-minded in their healing is: What do you really really want, and what are you prepared to sacrifice if that’s what you really want? The answer to that question usually makes all the difference.
But if God is for us, then who on earth?! (or under the earth, in the earth, or above the earth) be against us? That being the case, let go and let God. Christ be with you with all the phileo (brotherly) love in the world, and big hugs to you.
(This post was originally written in mid-2014).