My life started out like many other Christian kids around me. Conservative small town up-bringing, great mom and dad, and a few problems here and there should have put me in the giant pile of good ole godly boys that I’m told to emulate. It’s impossible to not to see that God has a sense of humor after looking at my life up close though. Mike wouldn’t turnout like the other boys… no way there; he had to be “different”.
I was blessed to have encouraging folks that spurred me on to a greater relationship with Christ as a child and early teen. I got to attend the best youth conferences, hear inspirational speakers, worked at an awesome church camp and through all of this “great stuff” my relationship with Jesus seemed more real than it had ever been. I was gifted with musical talents and artistic creativity; people affirmed my spiritual gifts of encouragement, from there on out the future looked bright. Its funny to look back at that time because nobody really saw what was going on in my life, not even myself. To be blunt though, all the people in my perfect world were cheering me to run nose first into a big brick wall.
My folks were always humble in everything they did. They too were gifted but chose to stay away from the spotlight, and so the Goll’s would be the last ones in line for the potluck at church, the last ones to leave after cleaning up for the meal, and the first ones to hear how the congregation hadn’t given enough for that meals fundraising goals. And in common form I took on my parents attitude of getting smothered for what we thought was all for the glory of God.
To add to our “admirable humility” I was going though a rather troubled teenage journey. Now to be fair I don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination for any ex-teen to admit that those years in his life were hell, but things happened in mine that didn’t make my exiting those years any easier. All the other guys at this age could only talk about girls to their friends, and for some reason I just really didn’t want to date anyone. Since nobody else would do it I chose to be the voice of purity in my class and for my peers. Yep, I got to lead the abstinence speeches for the easily influenced freshman, adding another feather to my cap and another blindfold for me to avoid my imminent demise with. I had all this training on how to be the best husband, the best boyfriend, the best father, and an all around “ideal” godly man. If I had only known that all that training would prove useless to me in the future it would be interesting to see how I would have turned out. Because the sad day came when I realized just why I wasn’t dating girls like the other guys… I was attracted to men!
At this stage, coming from being a good Christian because I did what was right, it was a devastating fall from grace for me to realize I might be gay. I began therapy hoping and praying for some shred of “normalcy” in my life. What I really wanted to hear is that crappy things happen but that I would turn out just fine, I’d be that good Christian man that I had been trained to be. And with all that said I could relax again in knowing my faith was secure because I wasn't the worst of the heathens.
People would tell me that I would turn out just fine and I would cling to their encouraging words deliberately ignoring the blatant fact that they themselves had never dealt with the issue I did. It was in rare instances when I would have a good Christian man who had struggled with the issue; tell me humbly that these attractions I so hated would never leave. My first counselor I went to seemed to be the ideal guy to guide me back onto the path of “straightness”. As our sessions continued I learned that he too had struggled with homosexuality. At first the sessions seemed to be a great deal of help. We had a great deal of honesty between, he was like the father I never had. Honesty was freeing until my counselor told me too much. The man I trusted, the man who guided me, began to hit on me and ultimately made me do things that should never be done in a professional relationship. If this man couldn’t maintain his heterosexuality even when he had a family, good standing in the church, and a great job… how could I? My continuing therapy would encourage me to suffer for Christ in order to be all that he had made me be. But the fruits of these studies and sessions brought distance from the loving God that had the cure for my affliction.
I hit college time and was struck hard with the freedoms this world granted me. Not having any real standards for this struggle, other than the order to not give in under any circumstances, I found myself caving in to an ironic moral decline. It wasn’t women that I sought love from it was men. Promiscuity came into the picture all to easily and my initial trysts with acting out on this matter proved to be disastrous. But then anytime you hook up with another guy while you're dating a stellar Christian gal… it's bound to cause trouble for everyone involved, and those that wanted to jump into on it too. So I left my first college, jumped to another and another then came back to NWC.
Through all of this time I had struggled keeping up with my “reparative therapy.” Every time I called my mentor on the phone I felt like a failure. And I hated the fact that I was to give up the idea of love with anther dude. Couldn’t it work? I was told no. It wasn’t until 2006 when I had hit rock bottom with failing my therapy that I sought out a wise Christian guy here at NWC. I asked him if there was any way a man could still pursue a committed relationship with another man, and still stay in love with the man who created me. His reaction rocked my world. He smiled at me and calmly said, “Why not, Mike?” He knew I loved Christ, and that he loved me too no matter what I did. I knew that my faith meant more than just abusing grace to get to heaven. I desired a valid relationship with my heavenly father… and I found it then and there. It was through honesty and a lot of grace that I realized God had made me special for a reason, and that I could find love the way he had intended me to find it.
I realize saying all of this is fairly controversial but I refuse to stray from it because it has held me together in the toughest of times and brought me closer to my Father.
Now, what else is there to say but that I’m an average man living a life that is full of joy and hardship, beauty and pain, truth and vulnerability. I have found a relationship of grace, truth, and love with God that I hadn’t known before. I cling to it, I’m not perfect, but it makes me a better man by coming back to Christ day by day. And in all of this watching as his plan pops up where I least expect it.
To see more of Michael Goll's Art ("Mr. Right" is shown at left) go to our Visual Art page.