The Search is Worth It
Letter from Rachel Wong
It’s been three years now since I realized I’m attracted to the same sex. It hasn’t been a smooth journey at all and it still isn’t. In fact, just recently, I’ve started to question some of the Church’s teachings on it again. Sometimes it seems like it’s a loop, sometimes it seems like all the questioning gets me somewhere.
My personal conviction of God started at the age of 13 where my faith life never seemed to be better. I was progressively finding my way towards knowing and loving this God more. Yet everything came crashing at 19 when I could no longer deny the feelings I felt for my female friends.
See, I would once go all out in defending the institution of marriage but at that point, I found myself questioning my very stance. It took a very long time for my inner conflict to find peace as I struggled to get my head and my heart to meet. I didn't know what to do so I started searching for answers and speaking to other Catholics about their views on homosexuality in hopes of being able to get an answer that I'm happy with, not what the Church says. I never knew where to land because everyone was saying different things.
Many people now are ascribing to relativism, which basically says to live your own version of truth and do what makes you feel good. This actually brings in a lot of confusion for me especially as a young Catholic with same sex attraction who is searching for what is right and wrong, what is good and evil.
I tried running away, stopped serving in ministry for a while, and eventually even joined theatre to distract myself from what was going on in my heart. Yet every time I moved one step further away from Him, God took double the effort to pursue me. Because I constantly had to battle that inner conflict, I often spoke to my close friend who was also the youth pastoral worker in my Church then. She never once tried to force the truth or stance of the Church down my throat but instead, she would journey with me and gently guide me every step of the way. This has allowed me to truly seek and find answers in my own pace and time.
Aside from the physical companionship, I found myself attending mass and adoration much more because my heart was restless and I had nowhere else to go to release the pain. Each time, I would go to Him either angry or sad or even both. Yet God never failed to provide me with His unexplainable peace. He kept reminding me that His love is greater, that His mercy is greater, and that nothing can ever change the fact that I am still His daughter. During the course of time, I would cry and question God a lot. Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months.
Before long, I knew I had to stop running from who I was. It was tiring and it took a toll on my happiness too, to deny God and to deny my attractions. I knew I had to go back to the basic truth of what love is especially when it was obvious that I had already fallen into the world’s idea of love. Because I grew up in the Catholic Church and the teachings have grown to be a part of me, I can never shake off the part that rationalizes the way I feel. It’s as if God is holding on to me, telling me to give Him a chance to hear Him out. And so in 2016, my tumultuous journey in discovering my identity in Him begun which has caused me to fumble, retreat and found my way back on to the path towards Christ again.
In fact, just a few weeks ago, I felt myself sliding backwards again. It was triggered by a story about a friend of a friend of mine who is getting married in the UK with her partner sometime this year and also the fact that one of their spiritual director was going to be present. I was struggling to see how the teachings made sense when these people were also trying to make sense of their love for God and their feelings for one another. I couldn't shake off the feeling of unfairness and I could feel my thoughts going down a dark path.
Coincidentally, I was given the book “Made To Love” by Fr. Mike last Christmas when that all happened. I hesitated reading it at first because I was already finding it hard to stomach some of the reasonings made by Edward Sri in his book “Who Am I To Judge” which I had just finished at that time. I tried so hard to debunk the truths presented because there was a part of me that wanted to find a way out from the law.
Yet after reading both books and really taking time to digest them, it has gotten me to see how the laws in our religion helps us to grow in love in a different perspective. See, I’ve always seen love and law as two separate things, which was why it was so easy to get tempted to use love as a justification to exempt myself from the law. Something that stood out from both books was about how the decisions we make will always affect those around us and how God, who made us and understands us, gave us guidelines to show us how to live in a way that will lead to happiness. To me, that made sense and was enough for me to move one step forward from all the questions I had. Ultimately, the law helps us to define what is right and wrong, it gives us the objective truths and moral outline when it comes to making decisions based on love.
Most of my struggles and questions all boil down to this one question: why can’t I be in a relationship with a girl I love? If I don’t overthink it, I find the answer right in front of me. It’s a question of what am I really searching for because there are many different types of ways to love and and with that, I can still choose to love her as a friend through philia, a pure and sincere affection between friends, but to want it in the context of a relationship, eros, only means one thing which is to seek physical and sexual companionship aside from emotional. And being aware of that, should I choose to go down that route, it will only lead me further away from God because one day, I might have to reject Him altogether in pursuit of what I think will make me happy in life.
If I really love God and all that He stands for, wouldn’t I want to follow His plans for me though I may not understand it? After all, His whole being is based on love and nothing beats the goodness He has in stored for me. So as much as it’s so seemingly easy to throw it all away to pursue a life of “freedom” as the world may call it, I cannot bear the reality of what it would be like to lose Christ. Amongst the no’s that I’ll have to give up, I’m also saying yes to a lot of things like the joy of being a Catholic, the Eucharist, the mass, being in Christ centered relationships, and of course, the constant love of my Heavenly Father.
Fact is, I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling the pain of pining for someone I know I could never get into a relationship with, or the times when I feel extra lonely when everyone around me seems to be in a relationship but I also know that in times like these, my Daddy God wraps me tight in His embrace, reassuring me of His infinite and fulfilling love. He places people in my life that I can never stop being thankful for, people who are reflections of His love. These are people who constantly show me the greater meaning of what love is and how to love others through their words and actions. Sometimes, He sing songs of reassurance to me be it through a worship song, or the daily reading, or even through a YouTube video that pops up in my suggestion list. Other days when it’s tougher than the rest, I get myself to church and sit in front of the huge portrait of the Divine Mercy, pouring out my sorrows to Him and allowing Him to come into my pain.
I am at a position now where I am challenged to simply love; to appreciate God’s beauty in others and not allow my mind to fantasize about them, to have physical touch with female friends without turning it into something sexual, and to enjoy the presence of others where a deeper love can bloom.
Perhaps my struggles may seem like a relatively short time for some of you who’ve had to journey with this for the longest time, and maybe for some of you, it’s something new and raw. Yet I want to tell you to never give up. There may be times when it’s harder than most days but I want to ensure you that God’s love triumphs all sufferings.
Through my own journey of finding my way to the heart of the matter, I can honestly tell you, sisters, that the search is worth it. Time and time again, I wrestle with the answers, I argue about it, I cry about it but then when it finally settles into my heart, I understand why it has to be the way it is. Everything points back to Love Himself and until we let that take shape in our own hearts, no answer will ever be satisfying.
I am certain now of my identity as His daughter though I my constant strive for holiness amidst my same sex attractions is something that is a lifelong journey. I have a personal mission to go out and share my story with many others who may feel ostracized by the Church or their family, that God loves them and is waiting for them to come back with open arms. Sister, I want to thank you for reading my letter. I’ve never been courageous enough to speak it at this level of openness to the world but you have inspired me to do so. I have hope that through this prompting of the Spirit to send in my letter, even if it may be one of you that responds to this calling, that I have done my part in watering the seed.
Maybe you’ve already read hundreds of articles about what the Church says about people with same sex attractions in hopes of finding your place in it but I am here to tell you again (no matter how many times you’ve heard this already) that Jesus loves you. Nothing will ever change that.
And when you learn to love Him back, you will find that you’ll see the strings of no’s and don’ts a little more differently.
Sisters, I encourage you to meet Christ face to face in adoration during those tough times. He yearns to be with you in that pain of yours. Even when everything seems to be falling apart, know that you can always retreat back into that special place with Him and allow His love to surround you.
When you’re lost, seek Him. He’s there.
When you’re angry, shout at Him. No one relationship is ever a bed of roses.
When it seems like the darkness is never ending, look to the Cross in hope. Allow His light to pierce through with time.
About the Writer: Rachel Wong
Rachel Wong is a daughter of Jesus, a youth leader and a junior UI/UX designer. She is passionate about all things creative and would love to use these different outlets to reach out to others about God’s love be it through music, dance, acting or simply sharing her story. She had a chance to go on a mission trip to Europe last year and ever since then, have a newfound desire to evangelize. Her hopes is that one day, this world will have its first patron saint of homosexuality.