My name’s Shawn. Can I chat with you for a moment?
I know you and I probably don’t know each other or follow one another on social media, but we actually have some things in common. Like you, I know all too well what it means to go through school as a gay teenager. I know what it’s like to walk through the halls among your peers, the fear of places like the cafeteria and locker room, and the struggle of fitting in and wanting to be truly known.
You were on my mind this morning, as I began thinking about my school days and what I wish I had known then that I know now. If you don’t mind, I would love to share some of these things with you. I pray these words resonate with you and fill you with hope – something I’m sure you’re desperate to have today, like I was back in the day.
First, know that God does love you.
If you need to really grasp this truth, keep reading that sentence over and over again. When I was in school, rarely did I hear from Christians that God loved me; instead, I heard that God hated me and regretted making me. This only fueled my hatred for God and for life all the more. It was a lie that almost cost me my life and future. A lie that kept God’s true presence and love far from me. A lie from hell, not from heaven. Truth is, God loves you so much that He was willing to trade His life for yours, and Jesus would do it all over again if needed. He made you out of love, died for you out of love, and desires to be in relationship with you out of love. Do not let anyone else tell you different.
Second, your life is valuable.
Because I was told by others that my life held no value and that I would not amount to much in life, I wanted to end the life I was given. I tried a few times. I thank God I never succeeded because then I would have missed out on the miracle my life has become. The same is true for you. As the late Rich Mullins once sang, “You’re on the verge of a miracle / Just waiting to be believed in / Open your eyes and see / You’re on the verge of a miracle.” You have purpose. You have value. Don’t let go of the miracle your life can become. Believe it or not, there are more people for you than against you. Just look around.
Third, give mom and dad some time.
When I came out to my parents, and they didn’t respond the way I had hoped, I convinced myself they hated me. But they didn’t; they just didn’t know how to respond. They had more questions than answers. Being a parent now myself, I want to protect my kids from the ugliness of the world. I don’t want them to struggle in life. I’m sure that’s what my parents wanted, and that’s probably what your parents want, too. But I can’t always protect my kids, and that’s frustrating. Sometimes I feel helpless as a parent; I feel that I’m failing my kids. I’m sure that’s what my parents felt, too, and probably what your parents feel now. Truth is, my parents needed me to be present just as much as I needed them to be present. Don’t give up on your parents, because they haven’t given up on you.
Fourth, trust Jesus; He will not fail you.
The Bible says that Jesus is the Light of the world. When the darkness begins to overwhelm you, The Light remains steadfast. He will not abandon you, ever. Discover who Jesus is, don’t just rely on what others tell you. Don’t forsake truth for lies. Even though it feels like Jesus is absent, He isn’t; even though it feels like Jesus isn’t speaking or listening, He is. When you can’t have faith for yourself, let others carry you with their faith. The death of Jesus brings faith, hope, love, and life to you. Even when you don’t fully understand Him, trust Jesus; He will not pass you by. He is always present.
Finally, let God be the one to define you.
God designs us all to be unique. Don’t allow yourself to be defined by one aspect of your life. Nothing defines you but the One who has made you. As you seek Him, God will reveal to you who He has created you to be. Embrace that over what the world says you have to be.
You are known and you are loved. You will get through this time in your life. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
I’m praying for you and with you – always.
P.S. Youth workers, please check out my book to better walk beside teenagers like me: “Ministering to Gay Teenagers.”