TWO years ago, a young man sent me a letter of sorrow and despair to which I responded. Some of you have written asking “whatever happened to that young man?”
Since that day, the two of us have continued to correspond. His life has blossomed into a beautiful testimony. Below, I have reposted our initial correspondence, followed by a letter he recently sent me.
The reason I’m writing you is because I don’t know what to do.
[I’m a guy] in mortal sin I think, because I have a boyfriend. I knew I would never go into this lifestyle my entire life, but after many prayers and novenas, the attraction never went away. To make a really long story short, I felt I had nowhere to turn and started to meet guys. I know it’s wrong and it doesn’t even make much sense, but I feel it’s something I’ve gotten twisted into and don’t know what to do anymore. I just feel lost. I feel I’ve lost a battle. I really have a lot of inner disappointment and regret and feel I can’t forgive myself and that God won’t either. I’m even really upset with God at times and I feel I don’t know who He is. I feel He has had it out for me since I was young and that no matter what, there’s just no chance for me.
I don’t know what else to say right now, I guess I’m hoping you might be able to say a prayer. If anything, thanks for just reading this…
Thank you for writing and expressing your heart.
First, in the spiritual world, you are only lost if you do not know that you are lost. But if you can already see that you have lost the way, then you know that there is another way. And that inner light, that inner voice, is God’s.
Would God speak to you if He did not love you? If He had written you off a long time ago, would He bother to point a way out, particularly if it leads back to Him?
No, the other voice you hear, that one of condemnation, is not God’s voice. You are locked in a spiritual battle for your very soul, an eternal soul. And the best way for Satan to keep you away from God is to convince you that God doesn’t want you in the first place.
But it is precisely for souls such as yours that Jesus suffered and died (1 Tim 1:15). He didn’t come for the healthy, He came for the sick; He did not come for the righteous, but for the sinner (Mk 2:17). Do you qualify? Listen to the words of a wise hermit:
Satan’s logic is always a reversed logic; If the rationality of despair adopted by Satan implies that because of our being ungodly sinners we are destroyed, the reasoning of Christ is that because we are destroyed by every sin and every ungodliness, we are saved by the blood of Christ! —Matthew the Poor, The Communion of Love
It is this very sickness of the soul which you have described that draws Jesus toward you. Didn’t Jesus Himself say that He would leave ninety-nine sheep to go look for a lost one? Luke 15 is all about this merciful God. You are that lost sheep. But even now, you are not really lost, for Jesus has found you all tied up in the brambles of a lifestyle which is gradually wasting you away. Can you see Him? He is beckoning you this moment not to kick and run away as He seeks to free you from this web.
The sinner who feels within himself a total deprivation of all that is holy, pure, and solemn because of sin, the sinner who in his own eyes is in utter darkness, severed from the hope of salvation, from the light of life, and from the communion of saints, is himself the friend whom Jesus invited to dinner, the one who was asked to come out from behind the hedges, the one asked to be a partner in His wedding and an heir to God… Whoever is poor, hungry, sinful, fallen or ignorant is the guest of Christ. —Ibid.
You are invited to the banquet of Christ precisely because you are a sinner. So how do you get there? First, you must accept the invitation.
What did the good thief beside Jesus do, a criminal who had spent his life breaking God’s commandments? He simply recognized that the only one who could save him now was Jesus. And so with all his heart He said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Think about it! He recognized that Jesus was a king, and yet he, a common thief, was bold enough to ask that when Jesus rules from Heaven to remember him! And what was Christ’s reply? “This day you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus recognized in the thief, not a spirit of presumption, but a child-like heart. A heart so immersed in trust that it discarded all reason and logic and threw itself blindly into the arms of the Living God.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Mt 19:14)
Yes, Christ is asking you for such trust. It can be terrifying to trust God in this way, especially when everything in us—those voices of condemnation, the lusts of our flesh, the loneliness of our hearts, the arguments in our head—all seem to be saying “Forget it! It is too hard! God is asking too much of me! Besides, I am not worthy…” But already the light of Christ is working in you, because you know you cannot forget it. Your soul is restless. And this restlessness is the Holy Spirit who, because He loves you, does not let you rest in bondage. The closer you come to the flame, the more it seems to burn. See this as encouragement, for Jesus said,
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him.” (John 6:44)
God loves you so much that He is drawing you to Himself. Indeed, who did Christ draw to Himself while on earth? The poor, the lepers, the tax collectors, the adulteresses, the prostitutes, and demoniacs. Yes, the “spiritual” and “righteous” of the day seemed to be left behind in the dust of pride.
What must you do? As modern men, we have often been conditioned to believe that to run is to be weak. But if a building were about to fall on your head, would you stand there “like a man,” or would you run? There is a spiritual building collapsing upon you—and this one will destroy the soul. You recognize this. And so, there a few things you must do as soon as possible.
HOPE… IN THE PRACTICAL
I. You must run from this lifestyle. I did not say you must run from your feelings. How can you run from that which you cannot seem to control? No. Every person, despite his gender inclinations, has feelings or weaknesses which seem stronger than himself. But when you find these feelings leading you into sin, then you must take action to not let them enslave you. And in some cases, that means you must run. By this I mean you need to cut off this unhealthy relationship. This is painful. But just as surgery is painful, it also brings the lasting fruit of good health. You need to rem ove yourself immediately from all forms and temptations of this lifestyle to which you find yourself chained. This may mean a radical and sudden shift in your living arrangements, relationships, transportation etc. But Jesus put it this way: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” And in another place, He says,
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? (Mark 8:36)
II. Run straight into the confessional, as soon as you can. Go to a priest (whom you know is faithfully following the teachings of the Catholic Church) and confess your sins. If you have done step one, then this will be a powerful step two. It will not necessarily put an end to your feelings, but it will immerse you directly into the rushing current of God’s mercy and His healing power. Christ awaits you in this Sacrament…
III. Seek help. There are some tendencies, some addictions and proclivities which can be too hard to overcome on our own. And this could be one of them… When Jesus raised Lazarus,
The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” (John 11:44)
Jesus gave him new life; but Lazarus still needed the help of others to begin walking in that freedom. So too, you may need to find a spiritual director, support group, or other Christians who have been through this journey who will be able to help unwrap the “burial bands” of deception, habitual thinking, and inner wounds and strongholds which remain. This will also help you to deal with the “feelings.” Ideally, this group or person will lead you to Jesus and deeper healing, through prayer and solid counseling.
I encourage you to visit this website as a starting point:
Lastly, I cannot stress again how much Confession and simply spending time before the Blessed Sacrament has brought immeasurable healing and freedom to my own poor soul.
There are likely two things which will happen as you read this letter. One is a sense of hope and light pouring into your heart. The other will be a dead weight about your soul saying, “This is too hard, too radical, too much work! I’ll change on my terms when I’m ready.” But it is at this moment you must step back with a clear head and say to yourself, “No, the spiritual building is collapsing. I want to get out while I still have a chance!” That is smart thinking, for none of us knows if we will live from one moment to the next. “Today is the day of salvation,” say the Scriptures.
Lastly, you are not alone in this struggle. There are many good souls out there who have struggled deeply with this, and who are not damned. There are several men who write me regularly who have also dealt with same-sex attractions, in some cases for many years. They are living chaste lives, are obedient to Christ, and are living examples of His love and mercy (some of them have even gone on to have healthy and happy heterosexual marriages and have had children.) Jesus is calling you to be such a witness. Remember, God made us “man and woman.” There are no in-betweens. But sin has twisted and distorted that image for all of us, in one way or another, and sadly, society is saying that it’s normal and acceptable. Your heart tells you otherwise. It is a matter now of letting God untwist it. And with that, you will begin to see who God really is, and who you really are. He is out to get you, yes—to be with Him for all eternity. Be patient, pray, receive the Sacraments, and run when it’s time to run—good running, not bad running. Run from the sin that would destroy you and run to the One who truly loves you.
Whatever the future holds for you, with Christ, it will always be safe, always hopeful, even though it may mean having to carry a heavy Cross. And He who carried a far heavier one two thousand years ago promises that if you carry it with Him, you will also receive an everlasting resurrection.
And the sorrows of this day will be forgotten…
TWO YEARS LATER…
I just wanted to write you and give you an update of everything that has been going on since I first wrote you about my struggles with same-sex attraction. Back when I wrote you about mortal sin and the struggles I was experiencing, I really disliked everything about myself. I’ve since learned that God loves us unconditionally, and have accepted my Cross. It hasn’t been easy, but with Confession and fighting the battle for purity each day, it’s all worth it for God’s glory.
Shortly after I wrote you, I left my job as a photographer of antiques and was inspired to volunteer and start working in pro-life work. I started taking the focus off of myself and putting it into God’s work. I went to a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat with a friend of mine that lost his child to an abortion—the same friend I now run a crisis pregnancy center with—and we are beginning our second event of peaceful prayer and protest at a Planned Parenthood clinic (40 Days for Life.) We also met up with a nun in a laundromat, and she introduced us to some friends of hers that are immigrants and refugees, and we are now branching out to work with immigrants and refugees in our city supplying clothing, food, work, and health care. I have also started volunteering at our local jail as a counselor…
I’ve really learned that by giving, volunteering, offering up struggles, taking the thoughts off of myself and surrendering to God each day more and more, that life becomes more meaningful, purposeful, and fruitful. The peace, joy and love of God becomes clearer. The commitment I’ve made to Mass, Confession, Adoration, prayer, and trying to fast, have also been strengthening and encouraging in my ongoing conversion. I met up with the visionary Ivan from Medjugorje recently, and he shared that our conversion is lifelong, that our relationship with God is a real one and we must never quit. I don’t always understand everything, but faith is about believing in what we can’t prove—and God can move mountains that seem unsurpassable.
Messages of hope: