It was the spring of 1984. I stood at my office window, gazing out at the bleak, sunless morning. A familiar cloud of depression descended upon me; the same feeling I'd had hundreds of times in recent months. I had no choice but to endure its overpowering presence until it slowly lifted, leaving me with a sick, frightened feeling deep inside. I've wanted so long to be free, I thought, my eyes filling with tears. But I'm as empty as ever. Is death the only way out? I thought back on my childhood. My parents separated when I was four, due to Dad's excessive drinking. Their divorce came about four years later. As a result, I felt inferior around my peers. They all had two parents and "normal" families, while I lived with my mother and two older sisters.
With no father, I lacked a role model for my masculine development. I began feeling very inadequate in relating to other boys. In fact, I became so emotionally dependent upon my mother that I'd sometimes panic unless she was near. Homosexuality entered my life at any early age. From about age five, I remember being interested in the male body, especially at the local swimming pool. As I reached puberty, these attractions increased. Other boys seemed so confident, but I felt so insecure and afraid.
During high school and college, I suppressed my homosexual feelings. I didn't know anyone else with these struggles, and I never acted on my same-sex desires. I would have killed myself if anyone had even suspected this hidden side of my life.
I felt some attraction to women, and fell in love with a classmate whom I married. After nine months, my wife was killed in an automobile accident. She died without ever knowing about my battle with homosexuality. Two other close relatives died over the next three years. I started wishing that I could die, too. Maybe I'll be next. Then I won't have to live with this horrible struggle anymore, I told myself. Even death seemed better than enduring the continual torment of homosexuality.
I began escaping into the pleasures of the world. After spending some time in Hawaii, I got caught with drugs and had to return to the mainland. Pornography fed my homosexual fantasies, although I never got sexually involved with another man. I was too afraid that other people would discover my secret.
The happiest time of my life occurred after I accepted Jesus as my Savior in 1974. Growing up in a legalistic denomination, I had thought that if you lived right, you were automatically a Christian. Then several of my friends joined the Jesus People movement, and started talking about Jesus Christ all the time. Finally, one night alone in my apartment, I prayed a simple prayer. "Lord, if I don't know you yet, I really want to . I want a better life. I want help."
My life started changing after that prayer. I quit swearing and smoking marijuana. The Bible became alive to me. As I read it, I experienced a deep joy. For the first time in my life, I knew God really loved me.
My homosexual struggles subsided, and I finally felt some of the freedom which I desperately wanted. The more I sought God, the more release I felt inside. This healing process continued for several years.
During this time, I started attending evening classes at a nearby Bible college. One night another student named Beth shared her testimony, and I heard the Lord speak to my heart: "You're going to marry her".
Beth and I knew each other casually, but our relationship quickly deepened after that night. We were married four months later.
I was a husband again, and my homosexual struggles subsided a lot. I said nothing to Beth. But the roots of my struggle were still unresolved. Over the next several years, I lived with a constant fear of exposure, should the truth ever be discovered.
Then I started going through typical mid-life feelings, especially after two job changes. At age 35, I saw my body getting older and began fantasizing about sex with younger men. I was a perfect candidate for the enemy's destructive plan, and my downfall wasn't far off.
I became strongly attracted to a business associate, and we began spending several hours together almost every evening. Our relationship turned into an emotional dependency, then became sexual. Soon I was ready to leave my wife, my job and my God for this man. I knew in my heart what I was doing was wrong, but I had no strength to stop it.
My guilt turned to depression. I lost 35 pounds. "Are you sick? Do you have cancer?" people began asking. I felt ripped apart inside, and started drinking to ease the pain. I knew my marriage was falling apart. The more time I spent with my friend, the less I wanted to be with Beth. One night she received an anonymous phone call. "Your husband is seeing someone else", the person said, then hung up.
Later Beth confronted me, but I denied everything. "I'm just working late", I lied, my stomach churning. I was consumed with frustration. My once happy marriage was now a roadblock to my raging desires for the gay world.
Looking out the window that bleak spring day in 1984, I realized that the very thing which I had craved all those years had let me down. Finally I'm in love with another man, I told myself, and I wish I was dead!
Then came a phone call that changed my life. Julie, the wife of a former pastor, telephoned me from Boston. Knowing I was depressed, she had prayed diligently for me. Through the Holy Spirit, God revealed to her specific details of my struggles. "I have two words for you", she told me. "Homosexuality and suicide."
"Yes, you're right." I felt such a relief that my hidden sins were finally coming out into the open.
"What are you going to do about it?"
"I don't know", I sighed. "I just don't know."
Julie let me know that, no matter what happened, she still loved me. "I'll always be here for you", she promised.
After I hung up, Beth walked into the bedroom. "Do you want to tell me what that was all about?" she asked. "Well, you know we have just a shell of a marriage", I began. "It's a weak relationship, not even a friendship..." then I uttered two simple words that had been locked inside me for years: "I'm gay".
I told Beth what I'd been going through, and the next evening we had a long talk. "Do you love me?" she asked. "Do you love him more than me? If you want him, then go. If you don't, I'm here to work this through with you."
As she spoke, I realized that my great fear of rejection was unfounded. My deepest secret was coming out, and the people closest to me were responding in love.
Immediately God began intervening in my life. I had to face my friend almost every day at work, but then a job offer came from Oklahoma City, 150 miles south. The timing was perfect; I knew God was behind it.
Because of my strong emotional dependency upon the man I'd been involved with, both my wife and I felt the separation and new surroundings would be ideal. We put our house on the market, and I moved to Oklahoma.
After I'd been at my new job for six months, I went on vacation with my family. At a friend's house, I found the testimony of a former homosexual, Sy Rogers. I locked myself in the bathroom and read the tract three times!
After vacation, I wrote to Sy. He wrote back a beautiful letter, giving me some Scriptures and encouragement. We started writing back and forth, and he told me about The First Stone, a local ex-gay ministry in Oklahoma City.
Several months later, I went for a one-on-one session with a counselor, and knew immediately that this ministry was for me. I felt such love, acceptance and understanding, which I desperately needed.
I began learning about the vital importance of a moment by moment relationship with Jesus, which would bring peace and joy to my life. God showed me that I needed to know Him intimately, not just intellectually.
I realized that, in the years since I'd become a Christian, I had learned a lot about God, but I didn't really know Him. I knew about homosexual abstinence, but not about healing from my homosexuality.
As a Christian, I had to release the past, quit worrying about the future, and start concentrating on today, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to help me.
Whenever struggles would come, I'd go to my concordance and look up relevant Scriptures. I learned that my trials were allowed by God for my growth. As I resisted temptation, I matured as a Christian.
God showed me that nothing would come upon me that I couldn't handle; that He would provide a way out (see 1 Cor. 10:13). Homosexual temptations would come, that was certain. But, when they came, I could learn from them. God would use even temptation for my good.
I also learned how to control my lustful thoughts by submitting them to Jesus through prayer. When my eyes wandered, I would stop and begin making right choices, not allowing my emotions to go wild with lust.
I also had to start separating myself from people who would pull me back into sin. Slowly I learned the meaning of "taking up your cross" and following Jesus, denying the old desires of my flesh. Sometimes I didn't want to obey Christ. I fell into old habits, but I got up and kept going.
After a year and a half, our house was still unsold. I received another job offer back in Wichita, and the apartment where I was living in Oklahoma became unavailable.
God gave me a strong impression: "Go back to Wichita and begin a ministry to homosexuals". By the end of December, 1986 I was back home in Kansas. Four months later our first group meeting occurred and we have been going strong ever since. My own healing continues. God had brought me to the point where I no longer see myself as "gay". I don't relate to any part of the homosexual lifestyle. Although I experience homosexual desires from time to time, they don't control me. I can't explain the freedom that I now have inside, except by God's grace and power.
I am no longer consumed by overwhelming depression. My marriage is being brought back to the place intended from the beginning.
Jesus promised that we would have tribulations in this world (John 16:33). And my life still has its share of trials. But I am growing in my walk with the Father. My struggles no longer overpower me. God is my master. After years of struggle, I'm walking in His freedom-at last.
Michael Babb directs Freedom At Last in Wichita, Kansas. He and his wife, Beth, have three children. Distributed by Love in Action, P.O. Box 753307, Memphis, TN 38175-3307; 901/542-0250.