What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Sabrina.

I grew up in a church where I was the leader of the “cool group” in youth group. Younger kids came to me for godly advice, I was apart of multiple bible study small groups, and I sang the loudest during worship. I was a master of disguise, sort of. Although I knew Jesus and accepted Him into my life, the summer going into my freshmen year at Hume Lake Christian Camp, the “fake” me accepted Him and would talk to Him often in Christian-ese terms never fully being real with Him, although I knew he knew. “Lord, take away any thoughts that are not from you” was the most popular line I would pray.

I was gay and I knew it since I was just 10 years old. Homosexuality is NEVER talked about in church, especially the one I grew up in. I have vivid memories of my dad’s friend from church being told not to come back because he struggled with the sin of being gay and could not kick the “addiction.” I also remember being in bible study and teasing my friend Nikole about her and her friend being so close they were “like girlfriends.” My small group leader stopped the prayer, looked me square in the eye and sternly said, “That. Is. Disgusting.” I received these messages loud and clear throughout my adolescence: that I could not and would not EVER tell people about who I really was because gay people are disgusting. I would take this one to the grave. I even remember laying in bed late at night thinking to myself I’m never going to fully ever know what being in love is like. Yes, I would marry a man, have the perfect family with a picket fence but I knew I would always fantasize about women. After all…this is what God wanted right – For me to sacrifice my desires for His? Who cares if I was unhappy, as long as I was living the perfect cookie cutter Christian life. I thought I could fool The Almighty.

Four years ago, I was sitting in my bathtub at my parents house with a razor in my right hand crying harder than I ever have. Thoughts of suicide raced through my mind “I could end this all right now and just go be with God where everything is perfect forever.” I was not going to live my life as the outcast or the disgusting sinner. I was not going to throw away everything I worked so hard for – the admiration from others, the pride I had in how great of a Christian I was.

But something happened, something I’ll never be able to fully explain. I was crying out to God in a way I never have before – “God! I’m gay, I’m gay I’m so sorry I’ve been hiding for so long. Please still love me. I know I’m not worthy of your love but will you still love me?” I couldn’t live this lie any longer, I had to come out and be free. After a very real outcry to God of who I was, who I was trying to fool Him into thinking I was, and who I really wanted to be, I put down the razor, being gay was not going to cost me my life. I recall imagining that Jesus was kneeling down right beside me with His arm around me just crying with me. I know He was.

To make a very long story short, I came out. I had a lot of friends who stopped talking to me because of it, probably fearful that they would catch it like the common flu or something. But I also saw who my true friends were, which was the greatest thing. It’s still hard sometimes; My family has a hard time seeing my girlfriend and I as a “real couple” and I still feel the sting of that whenever my parent’s eyes light up when my sister talks about her boyfriend. They can’t wait for her to have a wedding and kids later in life. I understand that, just like it was a process for me to accept who I was, it is also a process for my family now. I look forward to the day where my girlfriend and I are not seen as the gay couple, but rather just a normal couple like those heteros.

I want you to know that if you’re a Christian or even an atheist struggling with coming out, IT GETS BETTER! God made us this way! I can now come to God more real than ever before and I see Him more than I did before. The real him – not the God my youth group scared me into thinking He is. I was a prisoner in my fake life until I was 22 years old. God set me free that day in the bathtub.

I want you to know I was never sexually abused. I do not need the right man to come straighten me out. I break every one of those stereotypes out there about lesbians being lesbians because of a traumatic event in their life. I was a ninja turtle lovin’, high top wearin’, basketball playin’ little stud since I was a little girl.

I want you to know I realize there are a lot of “ex-gay” Christians who have chosen to lead a straight or celibate life and I completely respect those that can do that…I can’t do that. I have way too much love that I want to share with my future wife. I was beyond lucky and blessed to find the love of my life years ago and still going strong. I can’t wait to marry her, have kids with her, and have the good old fashioned American Dream with her (if California legalizes same sex marriage of course).

I want you to know that it’s ok to be friends with a lesbian couple and to go on double dates with us. We won’t corrupt your mind and ask you to vote in favor of gay marriage (although it’d be nice ☺)

I want you to know that I still hold a lot of resentment for The Church. I know that imperfect people make a Church, but I just wish we could start seeing homosexuality for what it is – something we cannot change like race or the family we are born into. It is not a choice. No one in his or her right mind would ever choose this life filled with discrimination. My hope and prayer is that one day we can openly talk about homosexuality without dehumanizing gay people. I can’t stop being gay just as much as you can’t stop being straight.

I want you to know that whether you are someone with an eating disorder, or struggle with your body image, or a 25 year old who is not married yet (God forbid that’s like 50 years old in the Christian community, but that’s an entirely different issue I could write about for days), or getting bullied at school for being different: The God who created the freaking universe LOVES YOU! Love yourself, because He loves you.

I want you to know that it gets better! Being my full self has taught me so much. The people who love me today love the real Sabrina and that alone makes my heart want to burst with intense joy. No smoke and mirrors, no facades. Just me. And lots of people love the real me!

I want you to know that at first I was going to post this piece anonymously. But, I’m so proud of whom God has made me and how far he has brought me so why not! I am so blessed to say today that I once saw myself as a broken sinner, and although I am still broken, a sinner, and need Jesus Christ every day of my life, I now know that I am Jesus’ beloved daughter who He deeply loves and would die all over again for. Hallelujah!

I can’t help but mention my favorite line in a song: “all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful you are. Oh how He loves us!”