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A-Letter-To-The-Man-of-Few-Words

A Letter To The Man of Few Words

Written By Jasmine Koh


Dear Dad,

It is late October. I am seven and barely 90 centimeters tall. You seem like a giant to me. I reach out to hold you and my tiny hands are engulfed by your smooth and strong palms.

It is late October and I am 17 years old. I close the door behind me while uttering a muffled goodbye, not bothering to wish you a good day as I used to before. You say a quick goodbye, too, typing away on your desktop on a Monday morning, neither of us trying to bridge the distance created in the span of 3,650 days. I leave and return to the same flat on the seventh floor every day, as if my home was a hotel. Your nagging and your silence have tired me out.

It is late October and I am 19. I have just attended the funeral of two of my peers’ fathers. I don’t know if I am thinking too much, but I am afraid of your passing, too. Someday, when you go, I don’t know how different life will be. How different I will be. They say that we only remember the presence of someone when they are no longer around.

Every now and then, I rest my eyes on your silhouette. Sometimes from behind the desktop screen, sometimes when you take a breather at the sofa. Looking at the white hairs and the spots surfacing on your skin, it dawns on me that you are ageing.

In the time I spent pestering you to bring me to the playground, catching movies after classes, starting my new part-time job, and entering university, you have gotten old. You still leave your unwashed mug on the table, shout at mum when she doesn’t turn off the switches, and nag me for coming home too late. But you are my dad—and no nagging or silence can ever change that.

It took me a long time to see you for who you are: a figure of strength, tenderness and silence all in one man. It took me many more years to realize what truly mattered to you—how meals together and taking heed of your words meant so much to you. You have worked tirelessly to raise us up. Although a man of few words, you are a man of fatherly love.

Thank you, Dad. You remind me that imperfect beings like us can still love in big and small ways. I don’t always say I love you, or Thank you, but you have truly played a big part in making me the person I am today.

Happy Father’s Day.

A-Letter-To-the-Man-of-Few-Words-(4)

Letter-to-My-Past-(Gay)-Self(1)

Letter to My Past (Gay) Self

Dear Raphael,

I am you in 10 years’ time. Before I say anything else, I want you to know that you’re deeply loved by God and you’re very precious to Him. You are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8).

I know you don’t feel this way right now—not when God just told you to stop pursuing a gay relationship. You feel like your only hope at happiness has been crushed. There’s pain in your heart and you’re crying out, “How can something that feels so right be so wrong?”

I get it. It does feel right and natural. Since you started having romantic and sexual desires, it has only ever been for guys. It’s all you’ve ever known, and it feels like a natural part of you. It feels like acting on these desires can lead you to a wonderful relationship that will finally make you happy.

Oh yes, I remember, Raph. How can I forget the first major crush you had in junior college on that guy the minute you laid eyes on him? Your heart would leap whenever he so much as glanced in your direction and you’d long for him to hold your hand one day.

I remember your first boyfriend, whom you met four years later. I know how happy you felt with him.

So you’re wrestling with lots of questions now. You’re asking, “How can all of this be wrong? Why would God forbid me from pursuing happiness? How can God be so cruel? What kind of God would tell me to deny something that’s so natural to me?”

You will find this hard to believe right now, but I want to tell you that it’s precisely because God loves you that He’s calling you out of homosexuality. Far from being cruel, your Father is acting out of His love, grace, and mercy for you. He cannot bear to see you wrecked by a life of sin and brokenness.

Please hear me out. I finally saw the truth of what God was doing after 10 years, and I want to share with you what I’ve learned—what you will eventually come to see for yourself.

Being gay is not who you are. When you became a Christian, you became a child of God. That’s the deepest truth of your identity, and that’s how your Father always sees you. He calls you “son”. Yes, you experience attraction towards guys, but that’s what you have, and not who you are: you have gay desires, but you are not gay. You are—first, foremost, and forever—God’s beloved son.

I know this attraction feels natural to you. They still do to me. But God showed me—as He will show you—that these desires aren’t as natural as they feel.

Remember how you always wanted an elder brother to show you the ropes of life when you were growing up? In upper primary, you looked up to this older boy in your class as a kind of big brother and wanted his attention. Do you also remember how you hated your secondary school years because of how much you wanted to fit in with the guys in your class, but couldn’t? You didn’t think these two things were connected, did you? Well, God showed me that they both stemmed from a longing to be taught by a man on how to be a man.

It wasn’t a coincidence that just when you were struggling intensely with not belonging with the other boys, you started to have crushes on some of them. Your desire to be like these boys, during the sexual awakening of puberty, turned into a desire for them.

In recent years, God helped me to understand that what I really craved was male identity and intimacy, which I should have received from Dad when I was growing up. What you long for, deep down, is Dad’s attention, affirmation, and affection. I know he wasn’t perfect, but he was the best father he could be. (We’ll talk about working on a better relationship with Dad in another letter.)

And because your gay desires aren’t a natural part of you, pursuing a gay relationship won’t actually bring you true happiness. In fact, it would bring you further away from your real needs. What you actually need is learning how to develop a secure masculine identity and to receive male intimacy in healthy—non-romantic and non-sexual—ways.

This may all sound rather abstract and foreign to you at the moment. Maybe I can put it another way. You know how you’ve been looking for that perfect relationship with a guy, but never seemed to find it? How you’d think a guy you’d met was the one, but when you got to know him better, one thing or another would make you feel he wasn’t the right guy? How your heart was broken over and over when your hopes were dashed again and again? It all seemed so elusive, didn’t it? Have you ever thought that maybe the reason no guy ever seemed to be the right one was that a guy is not actually what you need?

In fact, hasn’t that search thrown you into frustration and despair many times? In your moments of intense loneliness and longing for intimacy, you’ve often turned to alcohol to numb the pain, and to one-night stands. You knew they gave you little more than short-lived comfort and a shadow of what intimacy was, but you desperately wanted whatever scraps you could get. Then the guilt and the shame would come, and you’d plead with God for His forgiveness and promise Him you wouldn’t do it again. But it wouldn’t be long before you fell into it once more. I understand the pain you felt going through that cycle, and how deeply regretful you were each time. I know you’re so sick and tired of going down that spiral again and again.

How about the many nights when you’d cry yourself to sleep? I remember that one night when you cried so badly because you were struggling so much with loneliness. You just couldn’t see how you could be happy. Do you remember what God said to you that night? He said, “Trust Me.” I know that for years after that, you didn’t think He could be trusted to bring you the happiness you want. I’m here to tell you that God is faithful. He came through on His promise—just not in the way you think. He who knows better will give you far better.

God will show you that there are many other Christians who have gay desires, but who choose to obey Him by not acting on these feelings. There is a better way to live. He will also bring into your life Christians who can walk with you in this journey. I assure you that, even though there will sometimes still be struggles, there is much joy and peace in living a life being obedient to God and His life-giving ways.

He wants to bring healing to all those broken places in your heart that ache for love and intimacy. Getting into a gay relationship will not make you feel complete; it will only deepen the wounds you have. Trust me, I’ve been there. So I recognize now that God is merciful and gracious when He calls you to stop acting on your gay desires—because when you do, you’re only hurting yourself. How can a good Father do nothing and let His child keep throwing himself into what will bring him more pain?

Instead, God wants to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds (Psalm 147:3). But in order for Him to do that, you have to stop injuring yourself and stay still long enough for Him to bandage you up. Be still, and know that He is the God who forgives and heals you (Psalm 46:10, Psalm 103:3).

Yes, I’m still attracted to guys, but I’ve decided not to act on my same-sex desires anymore. I don’t have to always give in to them helplessly. But you know what? I am much happier and at peace now than I was back then, when I was looking for a gay relationship. You do not understand this yet, but believe it. Or at least, believe me; I’ve gone through this long enough to know. God is very trustworthy, Raph. Trust in Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. When you acknowledge Him in all your ways, He will direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Hold on to God, because He holds on to you. In the coming days, you’re going to feel like Jacob as he was wrestling with the angel of God (Genesis 32:22–32). Don’t let go of the Lord. Don’t let go even when you feel overwhelmed by the struggle, not even when you feel so weak that you want to give it all up. The wrestling will be worthwhile. As God did with Jacob, He will also bless you through this struggle.

As you hold on to God, you will get to know Him up close and personal. You will come to know that God isn’t uncaring and unreasonable, but He loves you so fiercely that He wants to pursue you relentlessly. He cares for your well-being and wants to give you His best. He’s a loving Father who is willing to let you, His precious child, hate Him for a season when you didn’t understand His ways, so as to save you from more pain and anguish.

So don’t misunderstand God’s heart. He isn’t cruel at all. Through His divine intervention in your life, He is actually showing you His love, grace and mercy by calling you out of brokenness into wholeness, out of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).

Will you trust the Lord? Will you hold on to Him? Will you let your Father bless you?

 

God’s faithfully,

Your Future Self

To-the-man-who-takes-my-place

To the Man Who Takes My Place

Written By Rachelle Windham, USA

I knew from the moment my question went unanswered. Up until that point, what I had to say always got her rapt attention above anybody else’s (you know, besides Jesus).  For the past nine years, we’ve been inseparable. Nothing earthly knows her better than I do, but I’m starting to realize that this won’t always be the case.

And so, my words hung in the air as she caught your gaze from across the room and everything, including myself, faded into the background. I won’t lie—it stung in that moment, but can I blame her? You’ve been the perfect combination of Cary Grant and Walt Disney. I mean, your chivalry will make her forget how to open a car door, and your creative date-planning skills would turn the heart of the worst man-hater to mush!

Accepting Change

When a best friend dates and begins to date seriously, it’s natural for things to shift. Change is part of life, and she and I have prayed for this particular change throughout most of our friendship. Now that those prayers have been answered, my moment of possessiveness sounds ironic. That emotion was fleeting. But in all honesty, it will likely return. You know what a catch she is, and can at least somewhat understand how difficult it might be to surrender some parts of our sisterhood to make room for an outsider.

Even though I can’t compete with hammocks under the stars and fancy dinner date nights, I think I’m still MVP*, at least for now. It’s a role I don’t take lightly. It’s a role that you shouldn’t take lightly, either. Here’s why: we are sisters. If I saw any red flags, she would consider them. If I had any reservations, I would have her full attention. Well, so far, no concerns have surfaced. In fact, I’m convinced that besides the work of Jesus in her heart, you might be the best thing to ever happen to her.

You seem to have figured out her quirks and broken down walls in record timing. The giggles and laughter that ensue whenever you call echo through our apartment. Sometimes, after coming home from a great date the night before, she’ll actually wake up cheerful—and she’s by no means a morning person. There’s a new level of exuberance in her countenance, and I can’t help but notice that the transformation began right around the time that the two of you started talking.

Most important among your merits is that you claim to know Jesus. And the fruit of that claim seems to be evident in how you love and serve others, even complete strangers. But a bestie needs more assurance than that. A bestie needs to know that her sister will be well taken care of, should you one day ask a question that will dress her in white. I’ve narrowed it down to the three things that I want you to have in order before you get down on one knee.

The Requirements

First of all, I need you to be fearful of loving her too much. That sentiment might fly in the face of everything our culture tells us about love, but let me explain. She might make a great girlfriend. She is, without a doubt, wife material. If God blesses her with children, she’ll be a fantastic mother. The one role she’d be terrible at is taking the place of God in your life. She’s a wonderful human being, but her flawed humanity is unable to carry the weight of your cosmic expectations. So don’t ask her to. Fight hard to love Jesus more, and tremble at the thought of anything less so that my dear friend can be appropriately treasured, not idolized.

Secondly, cultivate godly male friendships. Allow older men in the church to speak into your life. Trials will come. Temptation will knock. And if you don’t have flesh and blood safeguards who can offer counsel or a straight-up kick in the shin when needed, you risk steering your family off the narrow path and my friend into heartache.

Last but certainly not least, you need to understand that one day, you will find yourself in a similar position to the one I’m in—you will find your role partially diminished and taken over by a more capable man. I don’t mean to be morbid, but should you change my friend’s last name, death will eventually do you part. On that day, you will cease to be her husband and she will cease to be your wife. She will take on her permanent place among the rest of us who are eventually called to our eternal home with Jesus. You need to realize this now because she is only on loan to any of us.

How will this point make a difference? This mindset will aid you in points one and two. If you understand that she isn’t yours forever, Jesus will keep His rightful place in both of your lives. If you understand that you will be surrendering her fully to Christ one day, you’ll step up your game in caring for her spiritually while she is yours. You’ll include those safeguards to make sure you don’t fail your Savior.

Passing the Baton

I honestly couldn’t care less about how big a house she sleeps in or how financially stable your budget is. Life gets tough, marriage is no piece of cake, and there’s too much Kingdom work to bother with building too many earthly accomplishments. So before you pledge your earthly life to serving my friend and take my place as her closest companion, I need to know that her beautiful soul will be well cared for in the days to come. I will accept nothing less because I love her that much.

 

 

Sincerely,

MVP

 

*Most Valuable Player

The article was first published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.

A-Letter-to-My-18-Year-Old-Self

A Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

Written By Ana Chavarria, USA


Dear Ana,

You’re an 18-year-old walking on air.

You’re in a place where you’d probably never be again. Don’t waste it. It’s probably the most beautiful time, with great moments to treasure. It’s unlikely you’ll experience them again.

You’re praying, reading your Bible, attending Bible study meetings with friends—everything seems to be easy and routine. You are just worrying about school work, reading all those books you have on your shelf, journaling almost daily, and dreaming about great and crazy things.

There is a lot going on in your head, though. Things that you can’t make sense of for reasons you and I know. It’s okay. Don’t get stressed out or frustrated; soon you’ll find a shoulder to lean on.

You dream about a future life—with a career, family, and friends. You can’t imagine where you’ll end up in five years. Well, let me tell you: It’s going to be a wonderful life, full of opportunities, experiences, and lessons that you’ll take with you forever. The God you read about in the Bible will be so real to you that every single day, you will be surprised by how much He loves you.

But I also have to tell you that the road ahead is going to get rocky and steep. Right now, you have a lot of friends—friends that you love and whom you can’t live without. You are shocked whenever you hear about stories of betrayal and people being alone. You think to yourself: “That will never happen to me.

I hate to tell you this, but it will happen to you. It will happen and in part it’s going to be your fault. You are going to mess up and people will judge you. There will be no one to have your back. And there’s nothing you can do to avoid those years of solitude.

Yes, it’s going to hurt so bad that you’ll get sick and you will not be able to sleep. It’s going to be horrible, and you will feel so alone. You’ll lose people and things that you love dearly.

Just hold on, though, because it is going to be worth it. Even though it’ll seem like it’s the end of the world, it’s not! There is hope. You will find strength that you never thought you had, if you seek God wholeheartedly. He will guide you through everything. You can trust Him always. He will not judge you or condemn you. He loves you now and will love you forever.

You’ll learn so much through these painful times. You’ll grow stronger; you will be inspired to do new and different things. God will change your mind and heart, and He is going to increase your love and compassion for people so much that you will not mind if you have to go out of your way to help someone feel better. You’ll laugh more, you’ll speak your mind, you will not be scared of trying new things and having new friends, and you’ll fight so hard for what you want in life.

No matter what you go through, just know that your pain is going to be worth it, as you’ll soon have abundant joy again.

Be strong and don’t take anything for granted. Appreciate everything, even the little things in life. You’ll be surprised how often God gives us beauty every day.

Be cautious. Enjoy life. Love God and others, forgive, and keep smiling.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

Your Present Self

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: What would you write in a letter to your past self? Would it be filled with words of advice, encouragement or warning? Share with us.