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This piece is a response to “Would you like some iced tea?” from the March 30 edition of The Clarion.
By Nick Lira
I want you to understand one fundamental and unwavering thing: everyone is loved without stipulations, conditions, or qualifications.
In the past, my understanding of love came from human validation. That taught me to have self-deprecating thoughts, and to always be in a state of fear. This malicious voice preached that my sexual orientation was directly correlated with my inability to be loved by God or anyone. I believe that my lack of faith, in the past, caused my insufficiency to “pray the gay away.”
I felt that my sexual orientation was disgraceful to both God and humankind. I once thought I was a mistake and a flaw.
But now without a shadow of a doubt I can tell you that “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it has hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15: 18-19).
This tough journey of rediscovering my self-worth sparked a beautiful transition in my life. I was finally able to be truthful to my friends, family, God and self without feeling shameful. I realized that I was made in God’s image and was created perfectly imperfect to follow Christ.
I soon began to doubt my doubts, question the credibility of those who passed judgment, and figure out who God has made me to be. I refused to blindly accept teaching from authority figures who do not understand that identity and orientation are not synonymous. The use of “us versus them” phrases only complicates, creating divisions that are neither biblical, complimentary, or conducive to a healthy Christian lifestyle. The body of Christ is filled with a diverse group of multifaceted and multidimensional people.
This tough journey of rediscovering my self-worth sparked a beautiful transition in my life. I was finally able to be truthful to my friends, family, God and self without feeling shameful. I realized that I was made in God’s image and was created perfectly imperfect to follow Christ. I rediscovered that the love God has for me is unconditional and is never-ending. Love is promised to anyone and everyone who has decided to accept it. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). The love that I received from God was more powerful than the superficial love that I had previously experienced.
This journey allowed me to not only restore my faith but to finally live it out as the man God intended me to be, causing me to be a stronger Christian. I realized that people who told me I was unable to be loved did not have my best interest at heart. I now do not require, desire, or seek human acceptance because my spirituality is grounded in Christ. My interpersonal relationship with God is my own, not determined by anyone else but me.
This is how I am able to say proudly, that I am loved.