Love Broke Thru

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (I Corinthians 13:1-2)

Toby Mac has a very popular song (for good reason!) titled “Love Broke Thru” - in one of the stanzas he sings:

I did all that I could to undo me
But You loved me enough to pursue me
Yeah, You drew me out of the shadows
Made me believe that I mattered, to You (You)

This song in many ways is my story; I was the prodigal son who returned, a broken sinner who found redemption through the love of Christ. The journey from rebellion to faith is one filled with “only God could do that!” moments, and my parents were an important piece of the puzzle in my journey. Their actions towards me during a time when it must have seemed I had no interest at all in God were a living testimony to the great love Jesus had for me. It did not go unnoticed; in fact, it plowed the rocky soil of my soul and helped plant the seed of faith that would eventually blossom and grow.

“I’m gay. I was born this way, and it’s never going to change.” Those words dropped like an atomic bomb in my parent’s basement back in June of 1995. After years of begging God to change me and attempts to “change” that only seemed to make my feelings stronger, I (erroneously) concluded I had no choice but to accept my feelings and be something that deep down inside I really didn’t want to be. The silent struggle had created a cold, hard heart filled with a mix of bitterness, sadness, and rebellion - that first year I tried balancing the love I genuinely had for God with my willful decision to live a life of disobedience, but the two were impossible to reconcile and by the following summer I’d turned my back on God completely and wanted nothing to do with him or the church.

Fast forward several years - I’m living in San Francisco with my boyfriend/partner Todd, an all around great guy who is kind, smart, and successful. At this point my relationship with my family was almost non-existent - my dad and I didn’t speak to each other, and my mom tried beating me over the head with the Bible - something that just made me dig in my heels even more.

Then, in 2001, everything changed; to this day I don’t know why, and honestly I’m not sure I want to know. I just want it to be what it was and treasure what happened as evidence of the Father’s great love for me. That year my mom and dad flew out to San Francisco to spend time with me AND Todd. They took us out to dinner, talked to Todd, and made an effort to get to know him. In 2002 they flew out to San Diego to watch me run my first (and last!) marathon and meet Todd’s mom who lived there at the time. I remember looking back and watching my dad walking next to Todd, chatting with him warmly and with genuine interest. Who was this man? What had happened to my parents?

On a subsequent visit to San Francisco we picked my folks up at the airport and the first thing my dad did was give Todd a big hug. We both just about fell on the floor; what I was seeing and experiencing just did not compute. For years I had told my partner and friends about my evil ogre conservative Christian parents - and here they were, entering into our lives and making a genuine attempt to see and understand our world. I wasn’t prepared for this - AT ALL - and little by little my ice cold heart began to slowly melt, and the God I had never really stopped believing in became harder and harder to ignore.

God’s timing is perfect, right? At the same time things changed with my parents, God led me to a rock-solid, Bible-believing church in the Mission district called Cornerstone. I remember how nervous Todd was when I told him I wanted to check it out - he was worried I might get morals again! The first time I walked through those doors in September of 2002 I just about started to cry - for the first time in many years I could literally feel the presence of God. It was comforting and convicting at the same time, and I had to actively resist the work of the Holy Spirit every time I walked through those doors! Sometimes I would stay away for months - but my heart was always drawn back. Truth was inside those doors; truth and genuine love, and the pull was irresistible.

Now at no moment during this time of my life did I believe for one second that my parents affirmed or condoned the life I was living. I knew what they believed and where they stood - but that just made their actions towards me and Todd all that more powerful. It would have been so easy to maintain the status quo - remain silent or keep lobbing spiritual grenades from a comfortable distance. I can only imagine how hard it must have been, how deeply it must have grieved their hearts at times, to see the choices I had made and the life I was living, but I think God helped them see the bigger picture. Whether consciously or unconsciously they took the words of I Corinthians 13 to heart and then lived them out, and in God’s perfect plan and timing it would help change my life for eternity.

So that’s my story (or at least a small part of it); that’s how “Love Broke Thru” in my life. The way of love isn’t always easy - but as I Corinthians 13 says, it is the best way. Let’s all live in love!