Navigating friendships is hard when same-sex attraction is present. Just when I think I have it all figured out and have matured enough to handle awkwardness, another friendship teaches me a humbling lesson.
Not too long ago, a new acquaintance in my graduate program told me she wanted to get to know me better. Even though this person heard a bit about my journey with same-sex attraction through a class presentation, I accepted her invitation to friendship with some hesitancy. After repeated attempts to meet up, I began to interpret her insistence at hanging out as a desire to he more than just friends. I must admit that I lost several nights of sleep mulling over how to navigate what I perceived to be romantic intentions.
When we finally were able to get together, I was overcome with embarrassment when she introduced me to her boyfriend. This instantly shattered my unfounded assumptions about my new friend’s sexual orientation. As I reflect on that blunder, I am reminded of all the lessons I have learned about friendship in the past and am hopeful for future growth in this area of life.
Friendship is a special gift
On a recent trip to the Midwest, I connected with an old friend from undergrad. This friend walked with me through porn addiction and SSA during one of the most confusing seasons of my life. In the year we shared together college, my friend demonstrated unfathomable patience with me as I slowly let my guard down to engage in mutual friendship.
This friend entered into spiritual trenches with me. She wrote me notes with encouraging promises from Scripture and instructed me to read them when the temptation to look at porn became too strong to handle. (The notes have remained in my Bible through the years since and serves as a reminder of my friend’s journey with me.) One night, after I told her I was about to binge on porn, my friend sat up with me and supported me with her presence until I fell asleep. I remember feeling fully exposed in our friendship yet without shame. My friend blessed me with the gift of vulnerability.
Connection, Confusion, and Pain
Over time, our friendship became confusing for me as I developed a strong romantic affection for her that was punctuated by our emotional closeness. It took many counseling sessions to unpack the complexities between the friendship love and my romantic attraction present in our relationship. The work in counseling was hard, but fruitful and eventually, I was able to see past the confusion of attraction to the sincerity of our platonic friendship.
When I saw this friend a few weeks ago, I was ready. I had even prepared a mental outline of things I wanted to share with her about her presence in my life during that difficult season in college along with all that I had learned about myself since then. But to my sincerest surprise, as we interacted, the things that drew me to her as a young college student became apparent with alarming clarity. During the time we spent together, my attraction to her resurfaced as I was reminded of all the qualities I admired in her. However, instead of confusion, this time my attraction was accompanied by pain because my friend is now married to a godly man who complements her in ways no one else could. My romantic attraction is sorely out of place in our friendship.
I still desperately need quality friendships in my life
I wonder if my friend sensed my feelings. Did she recognize my lingering attraction to her? Did she notice the flickers of pain? Knowing her deep sensitivity for people, my guess is that she saw all those things. Yet, in spite of that, she texted later and said, “thanks for continuing to accept me as is.” Oh, my dear friend; words cannot describe the extent to which you have done that for me!
No, it is not easy engaging in same-sex friendships. Confusion and pain have marked several key relationships since that season of addiction in college and sometimes I just want give up trying. However, I cannot ignore the grace I’ve experienced through friendships with godly women. I catch a glimpse of God’s steadfast love when my college friend showers me with grace and understanding in the midst of confusion and pain. Without the joys and trials of friendship, I would miss out on many blessings.
With those things in mind, I think of the gal from my graduate program I mentioned earlier. To my surprise, she continues to reach out to me. Why can’t we be friends? In my brokenness, I want to ignore her invitations to friendship to avoid the confusion, pain, and flat out awkwardness. But those are selfish reasons. Instead, as I lean into difficult relationships, perhaps I should pose the question, “How is God revealing himself to me though this friendship?”
Due to the sensitive and personal nature of many of the issues Where Grace Abounds works with, some of our blog authors wish to remain anonymous. We encourage people to move towards being transparent and known by those significant relationships in their lives. Testimonies and personal experiences are powerful tools to be shared. We hope you are encouraged by reading this article.
Make a Difference in Someone's Life
If you enjoy reading WGA’s blogs and would like to show your support, please consider making a donation. Where Grace Abounds is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The majority of services, including support groups and discipleship counseling, are provided free of charge. Your financial gifts help to cover the costs associated with offering a free program to those who seek WGA’s services.