Reaching Out to Those in Pain  
Reaching Out to Those in Pain
by Peter Ould, April 2002

To the beginning - I was born in February 1974 in Cheshire, UK. My parents were both church going but in all honesty I can't describe them as Christians in the "born-again" sense. Certainly, Jesus was really just a Sunday guy, even though my mum was quite involved in the local church (PCC member etc.).

Growing up I was a bit of a nerd and quite soon not really relating at all to my classmates. Although I had friends during primary school and my first few years at high school (11+ here in the UK) I recognised myself by the age of 8 or 9 that I was definitely an outsider from the pack. I never really played with other kids in the park.

Also, I can look at my relationship with my father and tell you that it never really existed. I can't recall a single time that my father told we that he loved me. We never ever did anything together that was "father-son" stuff at all. Quite a few of my class-mates would be playing cricket with their dads and other kids and dads during the summer but we never did that. I can remember an event at the age of 6 when my Dad took me to school instead of mum and as we were approaching the school gates I just wanted to be free of my dad. This wasn't simple childhood eagerness, it was me not wanting to be associated with my father.

Essentially, I simply didn't want to be him and I guess subconsciously I rejected all forms of male adulthood because I associated that with him.

So, I was growing up not really relating to my peer group or my father. I can remember times of being really lonely and knowing it.

When I was 15 I had meningitis which threw me completely out of synch for two years. I eventually completed A-levels at the age of 19 and went off to Manchester University. I got saved at the end of my first year (May 1994).

Now, up to this point I was really sexually dead. I really wasn't attracted to girls at all, but I simply hadn't realised that I was attracted to guys. It simply didn't click. However, as my three years at university passed I was slowly becoming aware of what was going on inside me. I think it took about two years to be able to come out to myself. Of course, as a Christian this really wasn't what I wanted at all.

It took until coming down to London in '97 for me to really come to a crunch on the issue. Late autumn ("fall" to you colonists) I got to a point where I was getting completely screwed up over the thing. I was well and truly out to myself and starting to get desperate about the whole thing. I guess part of the problem was the self-loathing (and I guess that's quite common amongst a lot of us here at some point right?) Anyway, I finally summoned up enough courage to talk to somebody at church. They put me in touch with a counselor (of sorts) and I went to see him. When we met for the first time I wasn't really convinced that there was anything he could do for me and I was more concerned with how to live day to day then to listen to any stuff about change.

However, he sent me a copy of Mario Bergner's "Setting Love in Order" and I read it through twice from about 9 one evening to 6 the following morning. And let me tell you, it was dynamite, because everything Mario was talking about I could relate to - it was as though he was speaking about me. He talked about the need for same-sex bonding and approval and how when that's missing it can get eroticised. Now, I don't know where you all stand on that idea, but that was the first time that it had been related to me and it just seemed to fit 100% my life. 

So I was now able to put a finger on what was wrong with my life and I could identify the root causes as opposed to the symptoms (same sex attraction). This in itself was really freeing.

So did I just pray away and change? Not on your life. The next 3 or 4 years were a real process of God forming me and shaping in me a heart that was focused above all upon him, regardless of what happened. The first thing that happened was that God asked me to sacrifice heterosexuality to him and to commit to singleness. By this I mean to offer up to him and chance of change and to simply accept the situation I was in. This was really hard, because it meant that if God didn't want me to change then that was that. I took about a year to get to this point of surrender.

And curiously (or not really) once I had made that surrender I did find that change started to happen. Slowly as I dealt with the issues of rejection and non-bonding in my life I found that the symptom (same sex attraction) was slowly going away. There was however one real big stumbling point for me and that was that I was still self-identifying as gay. I knew that my identity was in Christ not in anything else, but knowing that and letting it impact your life are two different things. The crunch happened at a pastoral team weekend away. Someone asked our vicar the question "What happens if some-one comes to be prayed for a says they're gay" and the answer came back "Well, that's not really important because their identity isn't their sexuality, it's Christ" and suddenly like scales falling from my eyes I realised inside me that I wasn't really gay at all and the labile just dropped. I also found a profound change in my sexual orientation happened. It wasn't a complete vanishing of same sex attraction but it was a massive bursting of opposite sex attraction.

So, where am I at now? I'm just at the end of the application process for the Anglican ministry. I have a real call to reach out to those who are hurting and in pain, regardless of their background or circumstances. I want to help people connect with their pain and suffering and then to find God's healing. I find that I'm able to express emotional pain through my poetry and that really helps people to express what they're feeling (check out my website for some examples). I'm also keen in helping Christians who experience same sex attraction and don't want to be "gay" to seek God and find his presence.

Well that's enough for now,

God Bless

Peter Ould



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