This Page - Gay Christian, Gay Christians, Lesbian Christians healthy self-esteem, discussion on childhood and adolescence development. (The process of self-discovery, learning who you are, and learning how to connect and fit with peers and other people, and what can sometimes go wrong, get sidetracked, suppressed, or denied).
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s time has passed and as I have spent time assisting people in furthering their walk with Jesus it is my firm belief the majority of difficulties people experience regarding sexuality and sexual orientation really have nothing to do with these issues.
Rather, I believe they instead wrestle with self-love, self-image, self-acceptance, self-actualization and self-esteem. When these truer issues are addressed in Jesus Christ then the sexuality and sexual orientation will naturally and without effort fall into place and its proper holy expression.
Childhood and adolescence is designed as a time to explore and develop individuality, self, and place in society, life and culture. God desires to be a part of it. Sadly, we live in a world that is not perfect, and often times life can affect childhood and adolescent development in negative ways, especially the development of someone who is gay or lesbian.
hildhood and adolescence is a continual battle between self and other people. It is the beginnings of finding a personality, existence, likes and dislikes, etc. different from your parents and family. It is a time of experimentation and exhibition. It's exciting, it fun, it's scary and a real pain. Sometimes, the pains of childhood and adolescence haunt us into adulthood. I Corinthians 14:20
Childhood and adolescence is a process of balance. It is the process of gaining a balance between self-individuality and self-independence and group acceptance. As an adolescent, you are ever confronted with the desire to be independent of others but yet be accepted by the group, the group being defined as peers, culture, society, parents and family. If you try too hard at independence, individuality, then you run the risk of being labeled as a "nerd," "eccentric," or "weird." If you try too hard at being liked and accepted by peers or those you admire and wish to belong to, then you run the risk of your individuality being swallowed up by the group, feeling lost and without self-identity.
Every adolescent boy or girl at some point in adolescence feels different. It's normal and healthy. The healthy side of being different in adolescence is the process of gaining self-independence, self-reliance and autonomy. You begin the process of developing a personality, set of beliefs and values different from your family, parents, peers, teachers or other mentors. Different doesn't necessarily mean opposite of or in contrast to, but rather you find the answers through your own processes rather than just accepting what is told at face value.
But, society in general tends to support and reinforce differences and sameness within the boundaries and framework of what is determined "acceptable" within its more dominant culture, practices and values. If the difference, the independence the adolescent develops is vastly different or contrasting to peers, family or society, there is the setting then for conflict, misunderstanding, confusion and rejection. Be part of a minority, and you have a real problem, you have no one with whom to identify, find support. Minorities stick together, are generally supportive of its members, but if the minority is that of gays and lesbians, such is generally invisible, not open and active. If you are not able to find others within your peers, society or culture, who are of like mind and interests, then you have a real problem.
The gay or lesbian child or adolescent is not often provided with visible, healthy and positive role models, social structures, and cultural acceptance. You often will then internalize the differences, and begin to see these differences as negative. If you try to "fit in" with peers or the dominant culture, internally there is ever the awareness of difference; you may do a good job of appearing acceptable, but internally there is little peace.
Another aspect of adolescence is the development of affirmation. This is the process whereby you begin to learn acceptance of your growing independence, assurance of your feelings, and worth as a person. Positive begets positive. Positive feelings about self lead to an ever better self-image, self-assurance; negative feelings about self leads to an even lesser self-image, self-assurance. If you are not receiving positive affirmation that you are of inherent worth, valuable to the group, valuable to self, then you are again often filled with shame and negativity.
In adolescence you want to begin to feel like you have some level or kind of power or control over your life, your own destiny. But, what if you feel powerless, have no control over your life? Often you have nowhere to turn but inwardly.
Adolescence is the development of the need to belong and to give. For the first time, often, in adolescence you begin to desire to give back to life, to serve and help others, to help make a difference in life. But, what if you don't feel like you belong, the group you desire to help does not accept you? We all need to feel we belong, in some way, to the world around us, but if we believe the world rejects us, or taught falsely the God who created the world rejects us, where then are we to go? The adolescent need of belonging further develops into a desire for relationship, friendship, intimacy, or giving and receiving contact. But, if you are not given permission, or rejected in your type of desire for relationship, intimacy, contact, then what do you do? Often you just turn inwardly.
Lastly, there is purpose. Everyone wants to have meaning in life. Not necessarily some lasting legacy, like curing a disease, or building a monument which lasts a thousand years, but something, some level of feeling that your life is for a purpose. God has a purpose for every life, and in God's eyes every life and life purpose is equal. To God, being a bricklayer is just as important and valuable as being an executive who works in a brick building. Sadly, society does not often see it this way. Our purpose is to be found in God, and celebrated in God. But when peers, family, society, or even the Church, tells you your life is without meaning, is warped, wrong, it's hard then to believe anything positive about yourself. So, then, is it any wonder the reasons behind a high percentage of all teenage suicides are related to sexual orientation?
The internalization of difference, rejection, isolation, feeling powerless or without meaning, and all these things we've discussed thus far, often leads to false guilt. The feelings of rejection, difference, not fitting in, having feelings, emotions, values or interests divergent from the dominant furthers the guilt and turns it into shame. You feel ashamed for who you are, but often don't understand why; you hear or are told what you are is wrong but don't understand why and feel even more ashamed.
Add to these general feelings sexual feelings and you have a really big mess. Most adolescents experiment sexually, even with members of the same sex, whether one accepts this life perspective or not, it's reality. Many adolescent boys will experiment sexually with other boys, but yet continue to grow and develop into heterosexual men. But what about you? For you, same sex sexual experimentation is fraught with feelings and emotions that are perceived falsely as bad. Unlike your developing heterosexual peers, who see such things as just experimentation on the way to development into romantic relationships with members of the opposite sex, you are confronted with those very developing romantic relationship desires within same sex sexual play or role play. Those erotic or romantic desires can further the feelings of difference, rejection, and shame.
Add further the effects of the home life on the gay child or adolescent. If you came from a dysfunctional home, those additional struggles can affect how you see yourself or your sexuality. Perhaps you grew up in a home where your parents never gave you any privacy, or violated your trust in them. Perhaps they were rigid, distant, uncommunicative, suppressive, or violent, out of control. Perhaps they were addicted to drugs, alcohol or other things, or ever changing, never stable; or absent or not caring, etc. These things can affect you, in how you see yourself and how you relate to other people. These things may cause you to be distrustful of people, or have unhealthy dependence on people. These things may cause you to lack the abilities to be intimate with someone, or you may struggle with your own dependence on alcohol or drugs. You may engage in self-destructive behaviors or compulsions.
For sexual orientation to develop positively, you must see it positively. To desire to touch and to hold is normal and so is it normal to desire to do such with someone of the same or opposite sex. But, the common, though false, teachings make the desire to touch and hold someone of the same sex seem negative, and if believed and acted upon, leads to shame. To desire to be connected to another person, to feel one with him or her, whether emotionally, spiritually, or bodily, is normal, but again may be perceived wrongly as wrong and become warped, leading to shame.
The gay youth lives in a world where he or she commonly cannot find support, institutions or models to look up to for guidance in development. You may feel abandoned or rejected, ostracized, whether real or imagined, by peers, family or society. If you do find contact with others like you, they may feel the same, and your contact with them prove distant, disconnected, without real meaning or depth of commitment and relationship. Every moment, you may feel isolated, separated, alone, lost.
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