a formal written, or spoken statement, an open declaration
synonyms: testament to, proof of, evidence of, attestation to, witness to;
I was born into a deeply Conservative Protestant Christian home and part of my childhood involved regularly attending church. Part of that meant listening to testimonies by other Christians and knowing that I would one day live enough to have a testimony of my own. Along with being raised in the church, I was also raised in a sheltered environment, and it was only in grade 8 that I learned what the word “lesbian” meant. Two years later, I had finally reconciled my sexuality with my faith and decided that it was an opportune time to dip my toes in the world of dating. Through a series of unfortunate incidents, my parents found out about me while catching me kissing my then-girlfriend. The only words said to me that night was a firm demand that I break up with her. When my parents and I resumed communication, a very clear unspoken clause hung in the air: “So long as we don’t talk about what we saw that night or whatever you are, we’re okay.”
How was I supposed to respond to this? On one hand, I was grateful I still had a roof over my head, but on the other, I was shattered. What of all the times God told me that I was still perfect, that my sexuality was part of His plan for me? What of all the convincing I did to remind myself that I wasn’t sick or wrong or somehow defective? How was I supposed to compromise my parent’s wishes with my own desire for a relationship, to explore myself? And most importantly, was I the only gay Christians out there? There had to be more, others who were going through the exact same thing as me, and I had felt so alone. It was clear to me, then, what I had to do – what God had set up for me through this, what my testimony was about. After all, what good would it be to reconcile an illusionary dichotomy and not return to encourage those who believe their faith and sexuality stand at odds with each other – are antitheses? I was done being a passive person, I made that day my Day One.
The truth is that I’m still in flux with my faith and sexuality, but it DOES get better. If you’re reading this and you are where I was in high school, I want to tell you that you are not alone. You are far from the only one who’s had to face this in their life, and you will not be the last. Allow me to extend this word of encouragement to you: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:10a). It is by His grace that we are given this platform, this blessing disguised as a suffering, and the chance to live authentically, the way God made you fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:13-14), and He will never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 15:3). Live by faith that whatever’s happening will better equip you to share the story of His amazing grace in your life. Today can be your Day One. Irrespective of what you do, remember in your hearts that there is no trial too great for God, and that we can “through prayer and petition and thanksgiving present [ourselves] to God, and the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). You may call me brave, I call it the work of God’s love and grace pushing me to become a part of this narrative so that even if one person feels less alone, I’ve done my job. Expect great things. I always thought my testimony would involve a near-death situation (it did, it’s unrelated to this though), or some grievous injury, and instead, God surprised me with the story of a lifetime. Testimonies are meant to be shared to build each other up and give the glory back. Tell your story, the whole story, the true story – there is someone out there who needs to hear your story.
If you’re reading this and you’re smiling because you’ve been down this road already, to you I say thank you. Thank you for carving out a path for me, even if I wasn’t aware of it. Thank you for being the first ones to venture into the unknown and make this journey easier for me. To you, I swear to do the same for those to come.
If you’re reading this and understand nada of what I just said, that’s okay too. Thank you for being patient with those of us who have to struggle through this. Thank you for your support and empathy. I’m not asking you to believe a lick of what I just said, but I am asking you to share your own unique story. Testimonies aren’t just things Christians have – everyone has a story and yours is just as important as any other’s and the power of testimony and story is beyond anything I could ever express. Tell your story because yours will reach those that mine won’t. Inspire others to set their Day One.
Nobody’s journey is perfectly easy. Few people’s stories will play out like fairy tales. But for those of us who still have a voice – whatever your story is, religious or not, struggling or not. This is me sharing my testimony with you. Proving that story has power. There’s a reason parables and legends have been a part of human culture for so long – stories move people. Let this be your Day One and share your testimony.
tl;dr – You don’t need to forsake one part of your identity for another. Live true to who you are and share your story to encourage those who are struggling to do the same.