This is my story. I live with a Biblical worldview so I want to share a couple of Scriptures that I feel are powerful when I consider all that Jesus has done in my life.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11, NKJV
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” NKJV
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2, NKJV
My life has been a struggle. There have been seasons of less struggle, more recently; and there have been seasons where I didn’t think I’d survive. Most of the time I wanted to be anyone but myself! I am very thankful that we (Jesus and I) pushed through to know FREEDOM! My life now is amazing and I would not trade it for anyone else’s life. This is the result of many factors with the greatest being falling madly in love with Jesus so that anything necessary to know Him more, I did. It starts with surrender.
So, here goes…
One of my favorite authors is Brennan Manning. Of all his books, my favorite is The Ragamuffin Gospel. I love this book so much that I have taken on “Ragamuffin” as my middle name. So, let me introduce myself. I am Carey Ragamuffin Oster. I am a ragamuffin. By birth my name is Carey Ray Oster. My story starts like everyone’s, at the beginning. My beginning is my first real memory in life.
Jumping down from the fence, I look back at my house to make sure no one is watching me from our house. I feel so free out in the open! Today the sun is shining and the sky is a cloudless, perfect blue that is very compelling. I stare at is so hard I have tears in my eyes. Is there anything more beautiful?
No one is looking so I tear off running as fast as my little legs will take me. I am in a hay-field which will be baled soon. I’m running through the grass that is almost as tall as me. This assists in pretending I am in the jungle. I must slow down and crouch as there are lions in this jungle and I don’t want eating me today. Really, any day as I’d be a lion-nugget no bigger than I am. Suddenly, I stop and stand up with the house far behind me. The wind picks up around me causing the grass to sway to and fro. I stretch out my arms to my sides and turn slowly in circles. Stopping, I look up into the sky and know I am not alone. God is up there past the sky. He is smiling at me now. He is real. He loves me. I love Him too. We’re going to do great, mighty things together some day. Inside, I am so content.
This is a memory that I have held tightly in my mind my whole life. It comes to mind often–especially when I am lonely, hurting, rejected, and feeling like no one loves me, which is most of my childhood. This is something I intuit as I have very few memories of my childhood. I gave this little thought, having few memories, until in seminary when I am reading a book that states this is very common for adults who have suffered a traumatic childhood event, or their whole childhood was traumatic. This caused me to wonder about my first years of life, but not for long. I had a dark secret I was keeping locked inside. This secret requires almost one hundred percent of my mental energy each day leaving nothing to allow me to delve into what this could mean? Other than books I’m reading in my classes, I have no other resources to help me, and this secret is consuming me.
You see, I was suffering with an identity crisis. Early in childhood I felt different. I was a twin and we were the youngest of five children. My twin is a sister. We grew up best of friends. She was very athletic and I was not. I played one summer of pee-wee baseball. I was really bad, especially in the games. I would practice at home and improve. But, the games scared me to death. Of what? The boys on my team, the other team, the people yelling from the stands–all of it. And on top of this…I was horrible! I wanted badly to do well because my dad was the coach. I wanted him to love and be proud of me. Instead, I disappointed him and I knew it. I only played if he forced me, and then, I was miserable.
At home with my two older brothers, sometimes my dad would join us to practice. He would get frustrated and names would fly with a force greater than the fastest pitch ever thrown. These names lodged in my mind and heart hurting more than a ball. Sissy, fairy, pansy, are the names I specifically remember and, I think there was once, “like a faggot” slammed into my chest and heart. I truly cannot be sure of this. So, being kind as possible to my dad, I will not attribute this to him. I heard this often throughout my school years, either to my face or behind my back. I hated it. I grew into adolescence wondering if these names were true? I have no friends. Friends of my sister were mine too since we were so close.
Grade schools was difficult, but nothing like junior high and high school. They were unbearable. I was a loner unless I was around my sister and her friends. This helped a little with loneliness except teasing was often worse when with them, so I would choose being alone.
In junior high I had attractions to both girls and boys. With girls, it was exciting, scary, and thrilling. Being attracted to boys was frustrating, confusing, and terrifying! I had no one to talk to about this. So I repressed or did my best to ignore these feelings. This was basically impossible with the names I was constantly being called.
In high school I had several girls like me. After getting my driver’s license I would date a few girls. When on dates, I enjoyed making out but never let anything past kissing happen. I knew sex before marriage was wrong, and there was the confusing attraction to boys too. I kept my secret. I tried my best to convince everyone I was straight by having girlfriends, I was dying inside and had no idea what to do.
Once I had my driver’s license, I had some friends, girls, who had older friends or siblings who bought alcohol for us. I became a big partier! Getting drunk almost every weekend: social events or by myself, wherever I went–this really helped, I thought. I would be the “life of the party” and the pain would be gone. I enjoyed the socialization. More so, I did not feel the pain. I tried to drown it by drowning myself.
I was average with my grades in high school. My parents, particularly my mom, was not satisfied. She pushed me to do better. I could have had excellent grades if I applied myself and…had the mental energy to spend on studying. Hiding my dark secret took almost all my energy! I was alone with no one to help. During this time I was close to God–or so I thought–but even He did not know my secret–so I thought. I say I was close to God, but this was in the best way I knew as our church attendance was sporadic. I grew up attending a Presbyterian Church until junior high. Then it was Methodist Church very sporadically for a year or so. Finally we started attending a non-denominational church. By this time, I could stay in bed saying I did not want to go and my parents wouldn’t force me. When attending, I liked going from many reasons: music, prayer, the messages/sermons, but hated the fellowship. The people made me feel even more guarded of my secret. I felt like everyone knew and I could not hide–so, I seldom attended. What a shame church was not a place to go, be accepted, and get help. My assessment was right in that if I had shared my secret, I’m sure it would have been worse. To this day, I believe it is much still the same in churches and this is a huge reason why I share my story. I never want anyone to feel the loneliness, suffer needlessly, and fail to know Christ’s unconditional love!
I graduated mid-term my senior year and started college. I left my misery behind! That first semester I started dating a girl two years older than me. It didn’t take long to find out she’d been sexually active and soon she wanted more from me than I was comfortable with giving. I really struggled with peer pressure from a buddy to have sex with her. Through my job I finally made friends with a whole group of people, all a couple of years older, or more, with none of them teasing me about being gay. One guy was really cool and funny. We really got along great. This was hard for me to comprehend! He pressured me the most to, “go ahead and do it.” I do not blame either him or her, I made my choice. Deep down I felt this would help me know I wasn’t gay if we had sex and I like it. So, we did, and I did, and…she got pregnant the first time. What better luck could I ask for?
This caused deep shame and guilt. I wanted the abortion. She went through with it turning into more secrets. I was drowning in confusion as the SSA (same-sex attraction) persisted. We fought constantly. My life was miserable. If I tried to break up she’d threaten to tell everyone what I did to her, I would cave. We stayed sexually active and a year and a half later she was pregnant again. I told her I did not want to stay with her. If she had the child I would help her and if she didn’t, then we needed to go our separate ways–I was not marrying her. So, she had an abortion and moved across the country.
Being so sour on girls it is amazing I didn’t decide to turn to the gay lifestyle after these two years of hell! The SSA desires were as strong as ever. But there was an anomaly at work. When I met an attractive guy the attraction would fade if we became friends, even only causally. It was when I allowed myself to fantasize and objectify that I would be confused acting out by masturbating. This was key to helping me never cross the line into any relationship with a guy sexually–along with a strong knowledge it was wrong. And, God was shielding me!
I dated one other girl. We were sexually active too. After a short two years, I broke it off as I did not love her. I decided to wait until I found the woman I would marry. I kept any girl on a “friend” basis, dating rarely. This is when the cutest, sexiest, nicest girls came, go figure! I stuck to my commitment not to sin by being sexually active outside of marriage. As college progressed, I had a large group of friends which was amazing considering my loner past. I was truly still alone with my secret. I prayed constantly for God to bring me a woman who I could love and would love me and we could make a life together.
Two years later I met my wife. We got engaged in six weeks and married in six months. I was madly in love–really in love! I knew my wife was God’s gift to me and the answer to years of prayer as being a husband, dad, family man was what I always wanted.
I was instantly a dad because my wife had two daughters by her first marriage, ages twelve and seven, when we met. I adored them and they made my life even more thrilling than I could ever have dreamed! We lived happily ever after. No, the need for this blog would not exist if that were true.
Our first three years of marriage was a true adventure with lots of fun times, family bonding (The Simpson’s style – that show was at its peak then), with a move out-of-state and back, and…sex! Yes, what I always wanted in life–an intimate relationship with a loving woman who was pure, holy, and approved by God, was happening. Absolutely not, not at all.
I was really struggling more and more as our marriage aged. Most people would see us as a very happy family and overall, we were. This struggle was mine alone–no one knew my secret.
After moving back to Missouri from Kentucky, I had a new job, we had bought our first house, and life was great. We got our first computer and very soon I was deep into porn. Soon after this move, I lost my job which put me into deep depression and gave me lots of time to spend in porn–both women and men with gay porn progressively being my mainstay.
At the same time I went deep into the Bible for the first time. I wanted to find answers for my sexual confusion, job loss, basically the misery in my life. I spent hours and hours studying, praying, and discussing the Bible with almost anyone I could find. I was a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde with my life because of the porn/SSA and deepening love relationship with Jesus.
For the next three years I was in and out of work, depressed most of the time, and our marriage suffered greatly–our whole family suffered. Our oldest daughter graduated high school, started college, and gotten married. Our youngest daughter was in junior high school and started attending a small, growing “country” church. I had been a dutiful husband and dad. I tried being a good leader in our home always encouraging us to go to church. We married and attended a denominational church that was liberal, as I reflect back. I was really struggling. I read the Bible with a “Baptist” upbringing from my dad’s teaching and this church was lax. This bothered me. Really, there were big issues with both but I sensed a bigger problem with the liberalism. Our youngest daughter persisted in asking us to come to church. So we did and I found Jesus. Really, He wooed and searched me out–He is always the pursuer of our souls! We respond.
[This is the end of the first part of my story. If this moved you at all then please read Part 2.]