Anne: Today's guest blog is by a writer I greatly admire, Ann Lee Miller. She dares to write fiction about the subjects most Christian writers won't touch. She faces life exactly as it is, and so her characters come through exactly as they are: flawed humans who want to be better than they are. Just like us.
Her book, Chasing Happy, releases tomorrow, September 2. My blog tomorrow will review her book.
Take it away, Ann.
Ann: Chasing Happy, set in two towns I’ve called home—Gilbert, Arizona, and New Smyrna Beach, Florida—took three years to write. The story springs from a deep well of emotion that early readers say they sense in Ash’s tale.
A young man in my life struggled with same sex attraction throughout his teens. He dabbled in gay porn and felt he’d disappointed God.
Another man, long married to a woman, also struggled with this issue. He, too, was a deeply spiritual man.
I hurt for these guys and the battles they fought to obey the Bible. I ached for the guilt and shame they felt when they failed—all played out in solitary or anonymous secrecy. I admired them for bothering to fight what they believed was sin. Society all around them shifted and said they didn’t have to struggle anymore.
I prayed for them. Every day. For years.
And because I invent imaginary people and write their stories, Ash was born. I believe in my gut that God birthed his story in me to do good.
Though I studied a stack of books on homosexuality and interviewed a slate of gay men, I’m an unlikely candidate to write a book about a guy who wrestles with same sex attraction. I am female. As early in my teens as I can remember, I had boys stamped across my pupils. I do not have a best friend or family member who is gay. I think I got the job because I’m pretty good at listening to God and I empathize with my friends who face this issue.
I care because my lovely lesbian next-door neighbors are wounded and broken in so many of the same ways I am. If Jesus lived on my street, He would love to hang out with them like I do.
In the end, we are all just fractured people trying to find our way.
Not one of the men I interviewed for Chasing Happy, if given the choice, would have chosen to be attracted to his own sex. Most of them participated in the gay lifestyle. They talked about being ostracized or estranged from religious loved ones, feeling rejected by the churches they had been raised in or belonged to. They hungered for faith, but it slipped through their fingers. Some of them threw themselves into humanitarian causes instead. The men longed for an intimate, committed emotional relationship—something scarce among gay males, they said. While they did not regret choosing to act on their same sex attraction, I sensed men who had walked away from a wreck dazed, their personal damages yet unassessed—even years after coming out.
They are lovable, likable guys, people I want for friends. Pieces of each of them inhabit the gay characters of Chasing Happy.
A number of my single girlfriends live with their boyfriends—also considered sin in the Bible. I still care about them—like the men I interviewed—even if I don’t believe they’ve chosen a healthy lifestyle. I see God as a pure-hearted daddy who loves people. His rules are to protect us, not to prohibit pleasure. I don’t pretend to know how that works out for those with same sex attraction.
I have not walked a mile attracted to women. I cannot fathom how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to change one’s sexual orientation. Nor would I choose celibacy. How can I not have compassion for people whose choices appear so much more arduous than mine?
Sometimes God steps into people’s lives and does spectacular, impossible things like He did for one of the men I prayed for. He was able to shift his orientation toward the straight side of the scale. Today, he exudes joy.
His joy bubbles over and douses me with hope that others may find the way—though it appears difficult or impossible—to live in harmony with their convictions.
Author Bio: Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t muddling through some crisis-real or imagined-you’ll find her blogging memoir at AnnLeeMiller.com. Over 100,000 copies of Miller’s debut novel, Kicking Eternity, have been downloaded from Amazon.
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