Chronicles of a Recovering Leper

So it has been one helluva tough week for me.

 

I don’t even know how to adequately express myself without giving you an insanely long recap of the secrecies of my life and the hidden parts of my heart, but hey, you already have been faithful to reading about my struggle with bipolar disorder, suicide, sexual abuse, and faith. So here’s a brief prologue to where I am at in life currently.

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

  1. Much of my life, my biggest struggle has been with a distorted sexuality and gender identity, likely stemming from the sexual abuse I experienced from my step-sister (which you can read about here) and being fueled by men rarely, if ever, affirming my femininity, my father teaching me that women have no worth aside from her role as a sex object, and finding that much of my worth was affirmed by others when I took on the “boyfriend role.”
  2. I spent many years hiding this struggle from others, determined that with enough will-power, I could fix myself. However, I simply couldn’t fix myself. At a young age, it had been carved in my mind that my only worth came from being masculine, and carved into my heart that I wasn’t feminine enough, beautiful enough, or girly enough. To make the situation even more complicated, I had been called into ministry and had experienced the Father’s love in a very real and intimate way. If the Church has failed at anything, it’s been at handling two main issues (both of which I happen to struggle with): issues of sexuality/gender identity and mental illness. Because of this, I hid even more from others, from myself, and from God.
  3. I struggled a lot throughout middle school, high school, and much of college with not only the symptoms of bipolar disorder, but also with the symptoms of forcing oneself to become invisible because of sexuality and gender identity issues. Suicidal ideation was no stranger to me. I remember begging God during my freshman year of college to “kill me or change me because I can’t live like this anymore” only to leave that prayer room the same—just with a really swollen face from crying so hard.
  4. Since my freshman year of college, the Lord has always spoken over me that my healing laid in the counseling center. However, I had become a professional at hiding. There was no way I was about to be found out. Confess this struggle with a stranger? Hell no. According to the Church, it is the worst sin imaginable, and anyone struggling with it is dirty and disgusting and horrible and fully wrong. There was no way that I, someone who had been called into the ministry, was going to subject myself to that much embarrassment, shame, uncomfortability, hypocrisy, etc. Plus, the Church’s response was simply: that is a sin, so stop doing it and you’ll be fine… you are willingly choosing to do this, so just stop… which is really hilarious because I never chose to have a fucked up sexuality nor to choose to see myself as a male; I also never asked to be sexually abused, bullied, or made to feel as if who I am isn’t good enough. I spent a lot of time trying to “just stop.” I spent a shit ton of time not only praying to be changed, but also trying to change via willpower. None of it was working. This obviously wasn’t a choice of mine.
  5. Nonetheless, healing laid in the counseling center, according to the Lord; and I wasn’t gonna go. Until I got diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which was a long time coming. I knew I was bipolar all the way back in the eighth grade, but the doctors hoped it was just a hormone imbalance or PMDD or insanely fucked up periods cause puberty is a bitch, but I knew it was bipolar disorder. So with this diagnosis came my ticket into the counseling center. I would rather flaunt having bipolar disorder around the counseling center than flaunting my sexuality and gender identity struggles, primarily because therapists eat that shit up. They have no clue how to help with bipolar disorder (I mean, they say they have some sort of grid for helping out and I have had an amazing counselor, but let’s be honest, the first words I heard from the psychiatrist after he diagnosed me was, “We don’t actually know anything about bipolar disorder because everyone experiences it differently, and there’s no way to really know how to rightly treat it.” And you can ask anyone who has bipolar disorder and they’ll tell you that figuring out the meds and shit is no walk in the park. Basically, I think they just try to give us sedatives and knock us out cause hey, if you can’t stay awake and do anything, then you can’t jump out of a window or have the energy to hurt yourself. Geeeez.)
  6. So there I went. To the top of the waiting list and meeting with the counselor that is “reserved for the most extreme cases” for a few weeks, even though he was already overbooked by five patients. Not sure if I felt honored or just a lot crazier than I thought I was, but in hindsight, I did express that my suicidal ideation was pretty much at its worse and that this diagnosis was like putting a few nails in my coffin and burying me alive. Nonetheless, there I was. In counseling. And I finally got bumped down to a different counselor, which was good cause I felt a lot of pressure to keep the other counselor thinking I was super crazy just so I could keep him.
  7. During a chapel service, we read about a man named Naaman. He’s the dude in 2 Kings 5 that had an “incurable disease,” namely, leprosy. He went to the prophet Elisha and asked to be healed, and Elisha was all like, “Aight, I gotchu, bruh. Go down to the Jordan and dip yourself in it seven times, and you’ll be good to go, fam.” And Naaman got real pissed cause he expected that the prophet could just wave his hands all around, call down fire from Heaven, and heal him. So Naaman went away real mad. His servant was like, “Sir, you were all about going and having something extravagant happen, but you can’t even do this simple thing of going to the river and hoppin’ in a few times?” Then Naaman was like, “Oh, you’re right, lil servant dude.” So he went down and dipped himself in the river seven times and his flesh was restored like that of a young boy.
  8. Naturally, I was like, “I have an incurable disease—bipolar disorder. Too bad there isn’t a river for me to find and dip myself into.” Then I shrugged it off and went on with my life. Later that day, however, the Lord brought me back to that passage and spoke gently that my incurable disease wasn’t bipolar disorder, but rather my sexuality and gender identity issues. AND that my healing still laid in the counseling center, and that after seven dips (seven trips), I’d be healed.
  9. So I went on a journey. One trip after another I found healing, intimacy, freedom, and identity. We examined the sexual abuse I experienced as a kid. We dug into my past manipulations of others to find some form of worth. We went deep quickly and it hurt like Hell, but truly, it was, by far, the most beautiful season I’ve ever experienced. My seventh dip (trip) was on April 5th, and since then, I’ve stepped into new levels of femininity, womanhood, and freedom than I had ever experienced. I’ve experienced a reality with the Father. I’ve experienced grace and kindness in a beautiful way.

 

That is the majority of the story before the story.

 

WHATEVER COMES AFTER PROLOGUES

 

Now, I’m here. Away from my support group back home, with nowhere that I can truly be alone with the Father, and in an unfamiliar country… with strangers. And it’s hard.

What has presented itself as being particularly hard has been that a guy on the trip has come out to me as being gay, and after sharing my story with him, his first words were, “Yeah, I assumed you were a lesbian. I just get those vibes from you.” Shit, that hurt like Hell.

Then throughout my time with these people, they have made reference to me being masculine or gay, so that has really been fun to deal with.

 

However, don’t mistake this as a pity part post because it isn’t.

It’s clear to me that I’m in a season of warfare. I don’t identify in my heart or mind as a male or homosexual anymore. I actually spoke with a friend today about how I have to intentionally step into alignment with lusting after females now because it doesn’t just “come naturally anymore,” and when I do it, it’s for one of two reasons: I am seeking familiarity or I want to feel something because I’m in a depressive/apathetic episode.

I have come a long way and I am fucking proud of myself. Granted, I haven’t done shit. Rather, all I did was let the Lord heal me. Like Naaman, it wasn’t an extravagant thing that healed me, but rather simple obedience, which wasn’t really a difficult form of obedience. I just had to put myself where the healing was.

 

This is where it gets tricky though.

Because of this healing, I think that people suddenly assume that I am the all-knowing wizard of healing others from homosexuality and gender identity. But I’m really not.

That’s like with anyone with leprosy that saw that Naaman had been healed. He could be like, “Yeah, go dip yourself in the Jordan seven times, and you’ll be set,” but the Jordan isn’t what healed Naaman. It was God. I’m sure tons of people tried going to the Jordan for healing before and after this miracle, only to come up short and disappointed and likely questioning the love and existence of the Father.

I wonder what Naaman did when people came to him and showed him their skin knowing that he had been healed, while they kept suffering. I wonder if he was ever asked what he did to earn the Lord’s favor, since he clearly loved Naaman more because he decided to heal him. I wonder if Naaman ever lie in bed at night wondering what to say or do when the other lepers came to him for advice, and all he could do was recount a story that held no answers for their own healing. I wonder if there was ever a day when Naaman got a rash from some sort of irritant, blisters from working hard, or peeling from a sunburned and questioned if his healing hadn’t stuck, and his leprosy had returned.

 

That’s where I find myself.

I don’t know what to say with the struggling homosexual or gender confused individual that is on the brink of suicide. I don’t know how to respond to someone who tells me that they have done everything I have done and have found no results.

 

But this is what I do know:

-The Father is a personal and intimate Healer. He knows just what to do. Just as he knew that Naaman needed to be healed in the manner he was healed, he knew the manner in which I needed to be healed as well. Many of the miracles in the Bible, regarding healing, aren’t repeated by the same means. The Father is committed to our hearts, so he is committed to a process of making us new and beautiful. I don’t know how he wants to heal you or from what he wants to heal you, but whatever it is and however he does it won’t be a quick Band-Aid slapped on your brokenness. He’s too committed to you for that.

-Right now, I’ve got a peeling sunburn, some blisters from working hella hard, and maybe a few rashes from irritants, but that doesn’t mean I am a leper. I’ve been healed. People may keep pointing out the blisters on my hands and the peeling skin on my shoulders and my eczema on my forearm, but their ignorance to my condition doesn’t negate my healing. Dem bitches ain’t doctors, and they’d like to say that all things are leprosy. But I’m not a leper. I’ve been made new.

-I’m seen and known by a Man who fights on my behalf. That’s all I need to know.

 

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