Before coming to the URC, I was insecure, struggling to accept my God-given masculinity and in denial about my same-sex attraction. The Upper Room is a safe place where I was challenged to take off my "good boy" mask and look at the truth of what I was feeling and believing about myself and about God. Living with other men and women who were striving to surrender their own wounds and needs to the Lord encouraged me and gave me hope. I saw that God is good and that He wants good things for us. Being mentored, going through counseling and living in community with my roommates all helped me grow stronger in who I am as a man. I would encourage anyone on the fence about the URC to take a leap of faith and apply—the program is definitely challenging, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.
It was in the Upper Room Community that God really began to break the chains of false beliefs I held about myself, and heal the deep hurting in my soul. Being fully known and fully loved by a community of people who knew what I was going through freed me to address the wounds of my past, and pushed me to claim victory over my struggles. Learning from those who are farther down the path was invaluable in helping me see and understand the road I was on. The Lord breaks our chains and sets us free, and He gave me a place to see that and a space to believe it. The Upper Room Community was God's grace to me, and I believe it will be his grace for so many others.
I have known about a loving God ever since I was very young, but His love always seemed more like a formality than a way of living. After two years in PF's Taking Back Ground program, I started to understand my great need for community and mentoring. During the Upper Room I was able to understand more clearly my brokenness in relationships. I was in desperate need of loving friendships that centered on my true identity in Christ instead of what I could give or do. Through the love and care of my mentors, other interns and in renewing my mind, I was able to understand that my needs, feelings and worth were not only important to me but also to those that cared for me. I am starting to receive my value from my heavenly Father, and this Truth has been reinforced through my community. Living in community has been humbling, at times ugly seeing my sin, but also life-giving and affirming me as a woman.
The Upper Room Community offers a unique opportunity to work through pain and heartache in a safe environment. It gives you the space and time to grow and heal alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ. As a believer in Christ who has struggled intensely with brokenness and a gay identity, I found it incredibly helpful to have the love, support and guidance of the leaders in the URC. They supported me as the Lord confronted some of my deepest and darkest wounds and asked me to surrender to His love and grace. Though the process is messy and frustrating, I was relieved to find a place where I was encouraged to work through my junk. I was able to press into the messy process with the support of others who see God's redemption of my life.
Being a part of the Upper Room Community was one of the most enriching seasons of my life. Along with receiving life-changing discipleship and growing exponentially in my faith, I also found the first place where I could encounter Jesus holistically. The URC staff was full of wisdom, well-trained and deeply committed to coming along side me in my healing process. I was able to partner with God for healing in my emotions, as well as my spirit, and found the freedom to pursue God while discovering who I am. The Upper Room gave me the space to sift through all my defenses and uncover the real Cynthia--a dynamic woman of faith that reflects the invitational nature of the Living God. So much healing takes place in this program!
The URC was both the best and worst thing that ever happened to me--it's not for the faint of heart. Never have I fought so hard, shed so many tears, laughed so much, been celebrated so often, or felt safe to be so vulnerable in my life. The Lord took that vulnerability, coupled it with these leaders and this program, and transformed my life. The URC and PF's leaders continually challenged me to the core of my being, disrupting my past unhealthy and sinful patterns of behavior and replacing them with a newfound wholeness in Christ. I'm grateful the Lord orchestrated my involvement in this program, because I never would've dreamed something this incredible was available for my aid and personal development.