Solo Survivor

The Risk of Authenticity…


Recently I was asked to consider being open to relationships, being open to love and being loved. My answer was that for me it is too dangerous – I can’t take the risk. ‘Why does it matter?’ I am asked. My answer – because I stand to lose everything – my friends, my family, my faith.

Let me try and explain why I would say this, even though by doing so, I risk you walking away, ‘unfriending’ me, writing me off – but I’m hoping you won’t. I just want to be authentic and loved for who I am – the real me not the me I have let others see. I am hoping that sharing part of my journey and struggle will help those in my life understand me a little more; that I will still be loved despite my flaws. This is hard because my faith and my community are important to me. I have some incredible people in my life and don’t want to lose them and their friendship.

Being separated from my parents between the ages of 2 and 7 and enduring severe abuse for over a decade have contributed to me growing up without clear gender distinctions. Being raped shortly after my 20th birthday did nothing to change that. It was tough growing up in an environment that had very clear gender roles and not feeling like I fit in either. I didn’t like the normal girlie things – dolls, makeup, fancy dresses etc – and I was not good at being a boy either.

What does this lack of gender distinction mean for me? It means that gender does not enter into the equation for me to love someone – it is about personality and character. I have had times in my life when I was attracted to men and times when I was attracted to women. I have dated both in my younger days but the inner conflict it caused has driven me to the brink of despair. I have been unable to reconcile this with my faith.

The result of this conundrum caused me to make a decision in my 20’s not to seek intimacy in any shape or form. I have kept people at arm’s length to ensure I don’t compromise my beliefs. But in doing so, I have forgotten that the basis of my faith is that God loves me. I have traded love and companionship for loneliness and an incomplete faith. I believed I had no other choice.

I have felt that this is something I am not supposed to admit, or feel, or talk about – especially as a Christian. I have also felt it disqualifies me in some way from doing some of the things I love to do like leading the singing in church. But it is true and trying to ignore it, not face it, not deal with it has pushed me close to taking my own life on occasion. So now I am confronting it head on. I have been very conflicted about it. It is at odds with what my faith teaches. But it is also complicated and real and me.

I have never considered myself to be gay or bi-sexual or any other label you might choose – I don’t find these labels helpful anyway – as if I am being defined solely on the base of gender or sexuality when each of us is so much more than that. Let me quote Hannah Brencher – If someone you love dies, you are never going to thread through your issues on abortion to make it better in that moment. If someone you love leaves the family without a note, you are never going to need a debate of sexuality and the church to mend your heart.

(Read her whole post here )

I haven’t wanted to delve too deeply into this side of myself – to take a long honest look at it all. What if I landed on the ‘wrong’ side of this issue – what would it mean for my faith, my current friendships; how would my family react? Could I still count on the fact that God loves me? It has made me re-evaluate my view of God and what he is like because I have been fearful God would reject me too.

I don’t believe I am alone in my struggle so maybe it’s time to start having a conversation about it. I have prayed to be different. I spoke to a pastor friend of mine recently and she helped me to understand that many of us struggle with one thing or another. For me it happens to be in the area of gender but it could just as easily have been with alcohol, drugs, porn or even gossiping. I may have these attractions, but I also have the choice what to do with them. Her perspective is really helping me. She did not make me feel condemned or ashamed and for that I am grateful.

Where to from here? I am not sure I know the answer to that but just maybe I am becoming more ready to that openness I was asked about that got me thinking about all of this in the first place. Who knows, maybe I will be all the better for having had an honest look at the question; for being willing to risk authenticity. All I know is that after months of wrestling with this issue, I still have this lack of gender distinction. Proverbs says this ‘Above all else, guard your affections for they influence everything else in your life.’ I know this to be true.


  1. tracy

    Hi my friend, firstly i commend you for facing this issue and secondly for having the courage to vocalise it. Thirdly i agree with your pastor friend, we all have issues that can bend us out of shape. I can only imagine as a Christian the struggles you have had here. I think if you acknowledge its there and choose God over the issue (and like you say, the issue could be many things and so the same rules apply) your blessing comes in your obedience to what the Lord says. If you choose His path and lose a preferred or desired path, His blessing and reward will be overwhelming and worth the “loss”. But, having said that, maybe that reward will come only when we are with Him? It would be good to trust however in His word that says we should see His goodness in this life too.
    God bless and i for one remain your friend.

    1. Su

      Thanks Tracy – it’s that daily choosing for me. This post has taken me about 3 months to put together but I am finally ready to just deal with it and accept myself with all my flaws. Thanks for your friendship too – it means so much to me.

  2. Angie

    My precious Su!

    First let me tell you how proud I am of you writing this post and making it a public post! And ANY form of rejection to this kind of honesty and authenticity, in my opinion, the person or people will be guilty of a far greater things before God, than anything you have written here! That you have always felt false condemnation for!

    I have known you for over 25 years now! And you have ALWAYS been honest! And you have ALWAYS, ALWAYS been attacking any issues that you face, head on!

    You take your relationship with God and others seriously and I can’t imagine what it must have been like going through what you did as a child and how it must have torn you apart!

    Your precious and honest blog on how you have been feeling all these years touches me deeply! And I know it touches God’s heart deeply!

    I believe that you have adequately protected yourself to not deny your faith. I know how much you love God and love seving Him! And what an anointed worship leader you are!

    Su! This blog is beautiful and a great step in the right direction. To be so torn that you have wanted to take your life…..I can’t imagine!

    To be so afraid of your feelings that you keep people at arms length is heartbreaking! Yet you have also exercised wisdom!

    I believe this blog will touch many hearts! And I know that your heart will also be touched! And healed!

    Not many people can be this honest! If most of us had our thoughts put on a screen as we have them, I don’t think we will have many friends! Cause life happens and as much as we are to take every thought captive! It’s not always possible.

    Su my friend! I have always seen you as the most amazing child of God and minister in song! And one of the MOST special friends I have ever had! Even if you are in Australia and me in Cape Town!

    Your final words that scripture, sums up who you are and always will be my friend!

    Love you dearly precious friend! And may God use this incredible authentic blog, for His glory!

    Love and beeeeeg hugs!
    ♡ ♡ ♡

    1. Su

      My dear Ang, thanks for your encouragement – you have no idea how much I value it and you dear friend. Thanks for being my sounding board through this process and your endless encouragement, prayers and love. Your friendship is precious to me. Xx

  3. Jen

    You are Su and YOU are awesome. Xxxx

    1. Su

      Thanks Jen for all your encouragement this past few weeks xx

  4. Janet

    God loves you and I love you, precious sister in Christ. Nothing can change that!

    1. Su

      Thanks Janet – means a lot to me

  5. Lorna Mead

    Love you as you are. God doen’t ask us to complicate like. Jesus didn’t complicate His life the others did that with their gossip. You are real. and God loves you so much, and I do as well. You know that though. I should send little Jessie to you, she will teach you unconditional love. Just how God created it.
    Love you to the moon and back

    1. Su

      Thanks Lorna – you always give me perspective and a am thankful for your friendship. Miss you xx

  6. Cate Vose

    Su! I echo all the thoughts of your friend Angie (except I have not had the privelege of knowing you as long).
    I would also like to add a thought or two of my own. I wonder in which ways you have perceived that your gender identity or orientation is somehow at odds with your faith. I see you as made in the image of the Creator- who is both male and female, and beyond understanding or description- the way I read it. You are holy and wholly-made, not an error or even something distorted as a result of the pain and suffering you have endured and survived. Too many people in the Christian tradition have sought certainty from their faith, when in fact mystery was waiting. It’s ok if some parts of who you are remain a mystery to you (and others) – you echo the mystery of YHWY in that way. We all have parts of our identify which mystify us. May you find peace in the journey and joy in the struggle. May you know that every part of who you are and your story is precious to God, and is being sanctified as you seek after Him / Her.
    Thank you for your courage in sharing your story. It is vitally important that stories like yours are told. they are a beacon of hope to younger folks wrestling- privately, secretly, as they often do- and stories like yours help them shed their narratives of shame and instead reach for truth and authenticity, community, love and vulnerability – all the things that we get to inherit and share as part of the already-here and still-emerging kingdom of
    God. God bless you and keep you, Su, and make His face shine upon you.

    1. Su

      Thank you so much Cate – this has given me a fresh and welcome perspective. I really appreciate you taking the time to share it with me. I have hope in a way I never had before.

  7. Karla

    Why must we have a label? Why must we fit into a box. Stretch your arms out, bust down those walls and just be you….just as you are, thats the Su i have come to know….the one and only authentic, original, supportive, solid Su. Nothin wrong with that. If only more of us had the guts to be our own person.

  8. Su

    Thanks Karla – Iam trying to do that – bust down the walls and ditch the labels.

  9. Danelle

    We have spoken so I won’t repeat here. Just know that you are and will be my friend always. That is my sincere hope and prayer. Your friendship is way too valuable to be worried about the issues, as your friend has said, we all face.

  10. Andrew Hamilton

    This is a great post Su – raw, real and hope filled!


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