This morning I woke up with a flashback from the past and the horrofic confusion of dealing with homosexuality while being christian.
As I prayed I was reminded of another miraculous healing I received about 10 years ago.
Up to now shame has prevented me from sharing this one but today I walk into another step of freedom! So here goes….
At the time I was living in Paris and it was 6 months after my conversion. I used to experience horrific attacks from evil spirits and besides my uncle in ireland, nobody else really seemed to believe me or knew how to help me.
The isolation, the fear, the confusion and the lonliness coupled with my own weaknesses led me to falling back occasionally into sexual activity in the gay world. A battle that only those that are familiar with this scene can really understand.
A few months later I had run out of money in Paris and to make matters worse I was facing the dreaded test and results for HIV. I have always hated needles and let me tell you that sitting alone in a hospital waiting room in a foreign country was no fun. I clutched my rosary beeds and said to Our Lady that I’d accept the result either way.
The results came back, it was negative but unfortunately I had picked up another less serious sexually trasmitted disease which was going to require surgery.
In the meantime I left Paris and went to Paray le Monial to volunteer (apparition site of sacred heart of Jesus).
The nearest hospital was in Lyon and so I had to go there for a consultation.
Fearing I was HIV + and because I shared my testimony too openly for some to handle I was asked to leave Paray Le Monial. There was no space in the sacred heart of Jesus for a confused young man facing surgery while battling with demons and with homosexuality.
They purchased me a train ticket for Lyon and I was left to survive.
Yet I felt Jesus with me reassuring me that I had done nothing wrong and that He had a place in His heart for me even if the Emmanuel Community looking after the apparation site could only see me as a troublemaker.
Someone once said that I am like a cat with 9 lives and so after a week in Lyon I had managed to find a place to stay and a job in “subway” , the sandwich shop!
My uncle Thomas came to visit me from Ireland. He is the only family member I saw in those first 5 years and he placed his life and heart on the line defending me and helping me when I had nobody.
He brought me to the hospital in Lyon to try sort out the necessary paperwork. France is tricky when it comes to paperwork and even if he didn’t speak french, just to have someone I knew to sit with me in that waiting room meant a lot.
The papers got sorted and Thomas went home. The surgeon told me that I’d need 2-3 operations. I shrilled at the thought.
The first operation arrived. I came to ‘Lyon Part Dieu’ hospital on Sunday night and was due for an operation on Monday morning.
I had a statue of Our Lady that I placed beside my bed as I battled with a cutting lonliness that seemed to pierce my soul.
The man beside me was a snorer. I don’t think I slept a wink.
Early Monday morning they brought me down to the theatre and despite everybody telling me that they would never let me down with my brown scapular on, they did!
Monday afternoon I woke up groggy. They would let me go home on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning while still wearing the needle for the drip I sneaked out of the hospital with a scarf around my hand to hide it and went to mass. Later I discovered that the priest was a little scared to see someone with a scarf around his hand going to communion. Maybe he thought that I had a knife!
Anyway, on Tuesday I went to a friend’s house (another testimony)
to recover and rest and a few weeks later I had to go back for a checkup.
The good news was that I didn’t have cancer. The bad news was that there would be a second and a third operation.
I was quite scared to tell people why I was in hospital. The majority of even the best church people didn’t seem to be able to handle issues such as homosexuality not to mention talk of STD’s and so I lived in a permanent fear and state of anxiety.
And so I went for the second operation only to be told that there would be a third one and now a fourth one. O man, I could take no more if it and begged Our Lady to help as it all seemed too much.
And so I went for the third operation. A nice young nurse asked me if I was taking any medication for my HIV! She nearly gave me a heart attack. She got my file mixed up!
And so I was put to sleep and shortly after woke up to french nurses laughing at me.
‘C’est toi le jeune homme qui on s’est fait endormi pour rien’ they chuckled.
In english ” you are the young man that was put to sleep for nothing”.
Groggy after the anesthetic I woke up wondering if it was a dream or not. A few hours later the surgeon arrived to my bedside to explain that the growths had disappeared and that I could go home.
Our Lady had intervened and once again showm me that the mercy of Jesus is for everybody and all illnesses, even those of a sexual origin.
As I look back on this all I give thanks to God and yet my heart is still healing from the paralysing silence and rejection I faced from so many in the church at the time.
Jesus has immemse love and mercy on broken people like me with homosexual tendencies that we did not ask for. He helps us, he wipes our tears, he heals our wounds without judging.
If you know people living with homosexuality, love them, treat them to a coffee, listen to their hearts, offer them hope, reassure them…. be Jesus.
So thank you to Jesus and Mary and also to the little handful of people around the world that loved me and helped me over the years.
Please pray for those who may be in a similar position today and indeed for my own ongoing healing and support.
It could be your son or your brother or your nephew….