Sorry for not posting about my big night of sharing sooner. Ok here it goes.
Ok so that night I was sort of hoping my small group leader had forgotten that I had asked to share that night lol. But he emailed me a few hours before the meeting to ask if I still wanted to share so I was like oh man this is it I am really sharing. I was now in panic mode a bit and was like wow this is really happening. I then just spent a few quite moments with God telling him I am going to obey and do this even though it is very scary and that I trust Him that its for my good.
So I get to my small group and I am a nervous wreck. I just say hi to everyone and try to act normal. We sang a worship song after everyone was settled and I could not really even focus on it. Not sure what song it was. Then the leader asked if so and so wanted to share. I thought it was going to be me but no someone else wanted to share something too. So while she shared I was hoping that the time would run out or something and I would not have time to share lol. It was a cool story but I could not focus to much on it as I was to nervous about me sharing very shortly.
After she was done sharing the leader was like "AJ did you want to share something?" Gulp here it is! I replied softly yea and got written notes out of my pocket that I had written to read to the group since I knew I would never be able to be coherent and explain everything right without writing it down. Everyone seemed excited I was sharing as I am a pretty quiet guy and they have been interested in knowing more about me.
I got pretty emotional right away. Before I even started sharing. I told them how hard it was for me to share this but that I felt God wanted me too. And that I have never told anyone else about this struggle I have. So the first 2 paragraphs were about my history and about this being really hard for me to talk about and something that I have never shared and has filled me with shame. So I got through those and then got to childhood stuff and how I have always been sensitive and shy and had not many male friends and could not connect with guys and have had a lonely childhood.
Then I got to paragraph 3. This was the big one where SSA was mentioned and me having to say the words that I have kept hidden from everyone my entire life. I broke down again and they passed me the tissues :).
I recovered and said the words that I have dreaded saying my whole life it seems. I was like "I struggle with SSA and have since I was 12 or 13. I quickly glanced up to see if anyone had a horrified expression or whatever. But all I saw was love, care, and concern on their faces. So I continued and read the whole story. I told about all the pain and confusion I had growing up. The overwhelming shame and guilt. The wondering if God could love me or if I could even be a Christian and struggle with this. The loneliness. Everything. I threw it all out there. Of course I got emotional many other times while reading it.
And then the last page or so was about the ways God is working in my life and I told them all about that too!! And how I know God never abandoned me and how he gave me courage to share tonight and the truth I am learning about how much he loves me and how he choose me even knowing I would struggle with this. I mentioned getting support online from fellow SSA strugglers and how God used them to help me realize I am not a unique sinner beyond His love but just a sinner like everyone.
I then ended it saying I am sharing this because I want to be real for the first time in my life and hope to gain freedom by sharing. And that I would love to be able to count on them for support and prayers when I am feeling down. That I want to let them in and learn to love them better as Christ loves us and that I want to accept their love and not hide my struggles anymore.
Anyways to say there was a good reaction to my story would be an understatement! After I was done reading everyone just was sort of sitting in stunned silence for a few seconds. I saw several people where crying themselves at my story. Anyways then they all came over to me and hugged me one by one. Even the guys. I was afraid they would not do that once they knew but they hugged me longer then before they knew!! And it was so amazing and it was like God was hugging me when they all showed me Christ’s love like that.
Needless to say the rest of the meeting was about me. So we all talked and they asked me questions and they told me they love me and it has no effect on how they feel about me. One person even cried and apologized to me for the way the church treats people with this struggle and how its not right. I was like wow its not your fault but I appreciated her doing that and caring so much!
And one of the guys was like I love you even more now that you were so vulnerable and shared your story. That was a pretty crazy thing to hear. I am sure I teared up yet again lol. In my story I had mentioned I had pretty much accepted that I wont be healed of this the way I hoped and the leader after told me not to give up hope and just getting this in the open is a huge thing and God rewards those who take risks. He agreed with me though that its likely I will of least struggle with temptations for it even if I do someday experience some healing much like an alcoholic still struggles with being tempted to alcohol.
They all said how brave I was to share this and how inspiring it was to see someone be so vulnerable and honest. The leader said this is what Christian community is all about and that I was an amazing example to others in the group about being real and honest and vulnerable. Was so funny to hear him say that since my whole life I have been the opposite of real. And now suddenly I was an example to others on how to be real! Wow how one night can change everything.
After all that they then all prayed for me and laid hands on me and just spoke Gods love to me and how I am not a mistake. It was very healing and amazing!
Later that night afterwards several of the people from my group texted me later and thanked me again for being so vulnerable and real and said how proud they were of me and how my story actually encouraged them! And how it showed them that maybe they have to be more honest with the group about their own struggles. It challenged them to be more vulnerable and real. I was like wow who knew my own story could affect others who have totally different struggles? I guess thats why God asks us to share and be real so we can encourage one another on our journeys. Glad I finally obeyed God and did what He wanted. It was the scariest night of my life but also among the best too as I felt Gods love for me through his people.
I admit that several times since sharing I have felt rather weird or exposed you could say knowing that a rather large group of people know about me now. But I think that’s just Satan trying to make me feel shame again so I have been shaking it off. I know God is proud of me for sharing and it was the right thing to do! I am finally free with this group of people which feels amazing. No need to hide anymore they know all about me now and still love me not the same but MORE!! Satan had me convinced for so long they would judge and reject me. The truth was the opposite happened. He really is a master liar and deceiver. Thankful God broke through my shame and allowed me to see the truth!! And also amazed that my own story challenged and encouraged others who have totally different struggles.
So ya I dont know whats next but hopefully I become closer with them through this and learn to be honest when I am feeling down and get rid of the "everything is fine" mentality that I had for so long and just learn to be real. Its still a process as already at church when I saw them and they asked how I was I immediately went back to "Im fine" but I did manage to catch myself and said more after that. It does feel weird to be known struggles and all and I felt rather weird at church when I saw them wondering what they think about me. But those feelings passed quickly and so far its been great to be real. Will keep you all updated on things!