"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthi ans 12:7-10)
Paul's words strike me with both beuty and despair, ugliness and comfort. I've often felt that my ssa was a part of who I am. Do our sins define us? I would hope not, however the struggles that result from sin and temptation do define us. Our hopes and desires define who we are, but even mor than these our actions define us. I've never really been a man of great action. As an introvert, I prefer to watch and listen and then act in more subtle ways. In some ways, non-action can be a very powerful action in and of itself. Choosing not to participate, not to respond, not to give in, not to follow the crowd, not to jump at every beckoning call can be more challenging than taking action.
I am who I am, a married Mormon who is attracted to other men. But I am also so many other things. How much of the ssa plays a part of me, is really up to me. There is a group of thought in the field of psychology called "Parts Theory" that breaks a person down into various individual persons. For example, a person could have a distinct personality of an artist, as well as a businessman and a father. It's helpful to identify our various parts and give them place within us, without letting one part dominate the others. There are times when we have to negotiate between our parts, to make peace with each of them when internal conflicts arise. For me this understanding has helped a great deal with ssa. Yes, it's a part of me, but it does not define the complete me. Someday, I may find no further use of this part of me and I will be able to lay it or him to rest, but for now, he is there. A thorn in my side. I no longer ask for it to be removed, and believe me, I have asked more than "thrice". Instead, I ask for help, patience, understanding and mercy.