By Joey (not his real name), a Courage member
I was a typical cradle Catholic who was active in church throughout my youth. I kept my sexual orientation secret. Only a few close friends knew. I prayed often but kept my sexuality and its longings away from my faith, even from God. That was how silly I could be as I compartmentalized everything I thought I knew, even before my Creator.
As I slipped into adulthood, compartmentalization became a tool which helped me to hide from God. I learned to bargain with God. I would work hard in my professional life and serve the parish even as I succumbed to sexual trysts here and overseas when I had the chance. Part of me wanted to be accountable and transparent before the Lord but a part also felt burdened by the secret life I led, which I could not really reconcile on my own. Shame, guilt and secrecy became mainstays in my interior life even as I devoured books related to the same themes. I was struggling to integrate who I am with what the Lord has already redeemed in me.
Joining Courage was nothing less than the Holy Spirit’s prompting. I joined with the expectation that I might meet someone whom I could relate with and know at a deeper level. It was a cry for companionship that at last, this ache and life of contradiction might end for good. I had to undergo seasons of pain and hurt during my time in Courage. Some days I felt like leaving the group as expectations crashed and dreams were left to drift further into unknown waters.
With the help from the Lord, I drew strength from a solid community who never left my side. Over time, I learned to care again, without conditions or expectations. The Lord also gave me a sense of purpose as an intercessor who shoulders people’s crosses without asking for anything in return. The stories others confided in me humbled me further. Daily, I had to offer my friends’ struggles back to the Lord because He knows best. I also received much counsel and grace from the community and the Lord in how to better manage my own issues. I experienced greater openness to God who led me to a deeper level of faith I have never felt before.
Gradual conversion to God and to living in God’s ways came in little moments like these.
Throughout this time, I also discovered that my relationship with the Lord was based on nothing but a set of bargains: ‘Give me this and I will do this for You, Lord.’ I discovered the difficult truth that I have always arm-twisted the Lord in my prayers. Because of this realisation, I struggled a lot to confront what it means to be in a genuine relationship with Jesus, before I could even be in stronger, chaste relationships with people.
Joining Courage was the call to greater honesty within myself and with Jesus who has already redeemed me. Only then did I learn how my relationship with other people could take on a greater freedom to love and care chastely that God desires, and no longer tied to conditions or expectations that I wanted for myself.
In my time with Courage, I had to lean more fully into Him who knows me better than I know myself. I had to confront the bargaining relationship I built before God and how it became a façade I maintained all these years. It was not the intimacy God desired for me. It will never be the kind of intimacy I longed for with others until I put my cards down, so to speak, and learn to be more transparent with Him.
My community in Courage would bear witness to this pain over time. Several members have been instrumental in helping me recover the faith and restore the integrity that was lost in my walk with the Lord. I had to confront unhealed parts of my relationship with God on this journey I am making with Him daily.
Many graces have come my way since I began at Courage. This was not of my own doing. I have come this far because many people prayed for me. Today, I’ve learned to pay it forward by interceding for others in turn. This process continues to humble me. Today, I listen better and I receive and return with open hands, no longer grasping for what was not meant to be.
* * *
Joey is a Courage member who enjoys sci-fi movies and long walks.
The opinions and experiences expressed in each entry in the Reflections page belong solely to the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Courage Singapore. Some entries have been edited for length and clarity.