Exodus Asia Pacific

A Today Different From My Yesterdays
Jacob's Story

Exodus 12:2 says "This month shall mark the beginning of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the first year." At a glance it just seems to be another random date but look closer and the words "beginning" and "first" will jump at you. These words in this verse reveal something of the questions humanity asks:

Can there be a new beginning for me?
Is it possible to wipe my slate clean and start again?
Can there be a tomorrow different from my today?

This text from Exodus is about enslaved people having a new beginning; about people being freed; about people having a new day, a new month, a new year, a new tomorrow that is different from their today. Because God is always about a new beginning and a new creation, we therefore have hope.

My story bears testimony to such a God who celebrates new beginnings and creates new possibilities out of my old, broken and messy ones.

One dreary day, I remember waking up in an unfamiliar room and a more unfamiliar face was sleeping quietly beside me. I tried to recall the details of the encounter but they were hazy. Somehow they didn't seem important or as urgent anymore. All I wanted to do was to leave and go back to my "normal" life and have a hot shower. Somehow I felt that the water would help scrub away the darkness that clung deep within my bones. I woke him up and left. I remember asking myself the same question I asked myself time and again after each casual sexual encounter: How did I get this far?

I came from a big family. We're all loud because in order to get what you wanted you had to get noticed first. There was not much attention to go around from mum as there were seven of us kids. Dad was mostly absent and emotionally distant. Most of the time, he went into fits of anger that scared me a lot. It's only later in life that I came to realize that dad was haunted by alcoholism and a host of other demons in his life. I used to feel anger for him but these days I've come to see him as man broken by circumstances and my heart goes out for him.

Growing up was difficult. I copped a lot of emotional wounds. I was a sensitive child and was subject to a lot of teasing. My dad and I were very different and we fought a lot. The more we fought, the greater the distance grew between us. In the end I got so tired of it, I just shut him out of my heart, not knowing that perhaps I was shutting myself to certain aspects of my own self. When I was around six, I was sexually abused by a female cousin.

When I was eleven, I was groped by a 30 year old neighbor and had to run away before he could begin to abuse me. A few months after that, another man tried to touch me inappropriately. I pushed these memories aside so as to live a more "normal" childhood but the damage has been done. At that young age, I began to believe that the world is an unsafe place to be in.I was introduced to the world of sex when I shouldn't have been and it taught me and opened me up to things that I didn't have the emotional and intellectual maturity to contain within me and I began to get in touch with a big hole in the depth of my being that clamoured to be filled

As a child, it seemed like I lived a raw, chaotic and broken existence but I found that God is at home with all that. God is at home with chaos; with my chaos. At an early age, I had developed a keen sense of the spiritual. At seven years of age, I consciously said I wanted to have a relationship with Jesus - whatever relationship looked like to a seven year old. And God honoured that prayer. When I was twelve, I had an intense experience of the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues. I was met by a God who is alive and active in my day to day life. I swear that in that season of my life, there were days when I could smell God. God felt so near, closer than breathing.

Put all these in the mix: the effects of my background of abuse, my deteriorating relationship with my father, my sensitive nature and my loneliness as a child, and you'll understandably end up with a broken-hearted child. My broken-heart was compounded by this secret longing in me to be accepted and loved particularly by another boy - that normal best friend kind of thing. The problem is that I felt dirty, I felt unacceptable and that felt that I should make excuses for my own existence so I kept away from people. Besides, I already had come to the conclusion that people can't be trusted. So, I didn't really let anyone come close. It was an emotional shutting down on my part, not realizing that the same barriers I'd put up to prevent myself from being hurt were also the same barriers that prevented love from coming in.

My pain was not about homosexuality. It was about relationship, about loving and being loved in return.

It was not until I was fourteen years old, when the hormones started kicking in, that I felt I just wanted to take all my clothes off and run around. That's also when I had my first homoerotic dream. I don't know anything about homosexual behaviour at that time but the dream was pretty pornographic and even then I felt that it was a crafty demonic seed planted in the ground of my weakness. I was sixteen when I had my first casual sex experience after being seduced by an older guy. At nineteen, I had my first and only same-sex relationship which lasted for a year.

This was all happening in the background, while I was also a committed Christian, rising in various ministries. The irony of it all is that I came to the church to find a safe place for disclose but when I arrived there, all they taught me was to hide and build a religious facade. The structures of religion didn't hold any healing power for me. This double life almost drove me insane and the most painful thing about it was that I missed the closeness with God that I had in my younger years. At one graced-moment, I found myself breaking down and coming clean to a friend. He introduced me to a God who heals the brokenhearted and there began the journey to healing and change.

I never really identified myself as gay man. I had enough sense to know that there's more to me than my sexual orientation and God used that to fuel hope and change. To be honest, I never really set out to change my sexual addiction and same-sex attraction per se. I set out to have an intimacy with God and in doing so change began to happen. I am not able to give you a formula or even pinpoint a time when I said: Aha! That's when I was healed.

I don't think it works that way. It has been a journey for me rather than an event in time, a journey that is still continuing and evolving. This journey has seen a lot of stops and starts but there are key moments and key decisions made along the way. The most important one is that of resolving to walk the road towards God whatever it takes. At times it felt like I was walking backwards but because of the resolve I have made, I can rest in knowing that at least I've been facing the right direction and God can be relied upon to come through for me.

What is healing? What is change?

I have two images for healing:

One is when our wounds become less like scars and more like character; when they start to close up and disappear. The other image is when we still carry the same wounds, the same pain but our hearts are transformed, it becomes bigger. Yes, we still limp and it still aches and perhaps we will carry pain this side of heaven but the wounds are no longer festering or dark or destructive because they are now in the light, and submitted to God they've now become fountains of grace for others.

I will say that most of my healing, most of my change belongs to the second category. I limp and still get attracted to other guys and but more and more my wounds no longer sting and are becoming sources of comfort and hope for others. I am more and more secure in the fact that God is faithful and because of that my tomorrows need not be like my depressing, messy and broken yesterdays. The same hope is yours as well.