One80 Podcast

Christian Testimonies

Episode 70: Micah Syswerda

“The New Guy” Made New in Christ

This transcript may have errors that veer from the original audio, found here:

Margaret Ereneta: This show contains pornography, same sex attraction, cutting, and suicidal ideation.

Margaret Ereneta: The slow tug to same sex attraction happened to Micah Syswerda after becoming The new guy at a new school. He struggled to reinvent himself and was totally unprepared for the onslaught of temptation from social media. When Micah thought he had come to terms with himself,

He only felt more isolated and confused. And the night he planned to end it all? Enter Wonderfriend. Salvation. And a restored identity in Christ. Welcome to Micah’s 180.

Ryan Henry: Welcome to one 80. We have a very special guest today. Micah Syswerda. Welcome to the show.

Micah Syswerda: Thanks so much for having me, Ryan. I’m excited today.

Ryan Henry: Yes, it’s going to be great. I know your story is just really going to be impactful for people, but before we get too far, I want to ask you a random question. Are you ready for it?

Micah Syswerda: As ready as I’ll ever be.

Ryan Henry: That is very true. So here we go. if it was possible to transplant your brain and stay alive for another hundred years, what would you do?

Micah Syswerda: I love to travel, and the world is beautiful, I’ve only been to a couple of countries, so I would say if I have a hundred years, it would really be traveling to every country, and just seeing the beauty of God’s creation,

Ryan Henry: yeah. I love that.

Well, great Michael, let’s get into your story. go all the way back to childhood. would you talk to us about just life growing up?

Micah Syswerda: I grew up in a Christian home. I grew up going to church, going to Awana, and all those things, so the gospel wasn’t something that was foreign to me. if anything, it was something that I heard so many times over the years. I remember the Wednesday night breakfasts as we would, grab our Awana books and head off to church, and then the same thing on Sunday, wearing our Sunday best. That was my childhood.

Christian community was a part of everything. like that’s how I would want to raise my kids in that environment. However, over time, we moved around a lot. always in the same community and I remember the biggest change for me.

Looking back, it wasn’t that big but it was going into fifth grade and I was gonna have to go to a new school So, I’ve been with these friends playing basketball, going to AWANA with them for my entire life, and all of a sudden, even though it was just half a mile across town, just going to a new elementary school was a huge, deal, so that was kind of, if I had to pinpoint a moment where it was the start of my decline, it was going into fifth grade because, you know, first day of school.

You know, um, at my old school, the principal, we were super close and he told me, come sixth grade, both elementary schools are going to merge. You’re going to know everybody. You’re going to be the most popular kid. And he had me convinced, you know, so we enter first day of school and it’s.

Oh, I really, I’m the new guy. And, Satan used that in my life for sure. I was kind of the wallflower. I was always the tag along. It was a different group of guys for sure.

So my influence was now, guys. talking about pornography, which is crazy, like, this was fifth grade, um, but that was the start of, wow, just a lot of, even though that wasn’t something that I had seen at that point, just vocab words, people swearing, talking about sex offhand, I’m like, this is fifth grade, and I haven’t heard of any of this, like, where are the pancake breakfasts now?

And so for me, I’m a super inquisitive kid. I was super creative. I was the guy with Legos and, that’s what I would do on the weekends. And so going from the guy that was, wow, like I love reading books. I love playing Legos, now swept up into this world of who likes who, who’s dating who, like it really, like, the current swept me off my feet and I wasn’t, ready for it.

And I don’t think anyone was. I was really good at just putting on a facade and putting on, just a barrier that everything was okay. I knew My parents, if it was in their design, we would be in the same home that we were in from the very beginning. life happens and we deal with the punches.

I think I understood the impact that it was going to have on them, if they knew that their child wasn’t doing well with the switch; I very much was bullied. but for the sake of my family, like, I didn’t want to be the person that made this smooth transition in my mind, fragmented or bumpy or a rocky road.

So yeah, so then we enter middle school. And so if we think back to what my principal told me, like, “Hey, you’re going to be the most popular kid. Everyone’s going to know you. and you’re going to be the best of both worlds. The glue between these two schools.”

And you know, that’s what it seemed like at the beginning. Like I was going to, be the king of middle school, you know, as funny as it sounds, that was a blow, a slap to the face really fast, just realizing, yes, although I was known by many, I felt so unknown and unseen, because now, in just one year of being away from those friends that, we were in photos with pull ups together, now it’s like, I didn’t get the time of day and, it’s not even what I was looking for, but I just felt very unknown and unseen by both worlds.

So it was just at that point, I guess it was kind of an identity crisis. Like, what do I need to change to be the guy that’s liked?

What do I need to do? So I was just willing to any conversation, any group, I will start talking the talk. I’ll start walking the walk. So Oh, I’m going to be girl crazy.

Micah Syswerda: I’m going to be into whatever. It was a big, You like me. I like you. Let’s ask each other on a date to the sixth grade formal. I remember doing that so early on. That’s so funny looking back, and it was a close friend. We had kind of liked each other. Maybe that was the influence of the culture in fifth grade and going into sixth grade.

That was, uh, I was very much pressured by all the friends who’ve been dating for three years. Like, why don’t you ask her out? And, so I did and it was kind of like that secret thing, like I didn’t even feel good about it, like I’m friends with her, but why does it need to be more? But, I wanted to be liked and so I guess I kind of got swept up and even seeing that she was a very popular girl.

So with that came all of her friends that she knew from other schools. So I was, wow, I was popular for a season. I was the talk of the conversation. Yeah, that just crashed and burned, all of those those friends I realized that were talking to me and that stuff, it was because I liked her, I was the you know how they do it now like oh, he’s her boyfriend, like they don’t know me for Micah. They know me as somebody else’s, you know item.

Ryan Henry: Yep. So superficial, If I could just ask you, you know, growing up, throughout this, what was your personal view of God?

Micah Syswerda: I think even going back, life was good,I had fun going to AWANA, I had fun playing sports, there was always the values of church, and being nice and kind, and that was the type of kid I was, so, it just made sense that that’s who God was, like, I had always heard, like, you’re made in the image of God, so, me being nice and polite, and obviously still the typical kid who does stupid things, but, God was a God who gave me nice things, who got me Legos, who gave me friends, who gave me whatever, so that never was tested, so it was, he was a friend, he was, even in saying that, he was there when, I guess there wasn’t even really seasons where I needed him, it was just, he was a picture on the wall, in the living room,

So there wasn’t any like oh my goodness you’ve changed my life moments despite the prayer that I probably prayed out of fear under the covers as a kid like he was just He was there.

He was that was the house. I was born into and I memorized verses because it gave me a sticker but Other than that, there was no, like, I’m absorbing this, you know, there was no relationship, this two way street. It was, oh, if I say the right things, I get candy. If I do this, I get treated well. And then, you know, obviously continuing on, all of a sudden things aren’t going well.

It’s like, where’d you go? I was definitely navigating that on my own. there was even this summer camp I would go to every year. So it’s like, I would go, and you’d have that slight little, I guess you’d call it spiritual high. You know, where it’s like, oh, I’m gonna start reading my Bible, and that lasts three days.

And, you know, you continue on, just, I’m gonna do it Micah’s way. And, yeah, so definitely through those transitions, it was me, myself, and I. I can look back and I can see, like, wow, we were starting down a very dark road, and it’s because I was on my own, so although I grew up in a Christian household, although I grew up going to church, going to small group, there was no fruit there because I never needed to latch onto it, so I was associated with it, I was comfortable talking about it, but it was just head knowledge that I never had to make heart knowledge,

I think my dad, he led in a lot of capacities when we were at this church growing up Everything was going well, and with kind of the conversations at home, like, I guess I only ever associated God as a giver of good things, and so I never really felt the need to ask questions, because, wait, what if I ask this question?

Am I gonna get in trouble? So, although God was brought up I think even very early on, Satan kind of kept me from asking those questions that would have started a genuine relationship with God, just from, we’re not really talking about stuff, so clearly I’m the only one thinking this, and that kind of mindset of, I’m the only one,

Ryan Henry: definitely translated towards the rest of my life, Yeah. Oh, for sure. Isolation is such a nasty weapon.

Micah Syswerda: School was that time of, okay, starting to feel different here. Starting to feel like the new guy, even though everyone knows me. And,

I started to look at everybody as everyone’s going through puberty, growing taller, and I was growing taller too, I was like a green bean, I was the skinny guy, and I guess I was always reassured, like, no, like, you’re eventually, you’re gonna fill out, you’re gonna whatever, but I was very, very insecure, I was a basketball player, starting to play volleyball, and I could, very easily just compare myself like, wow, like we are way smaller.

So, that insecurity just started breeding everything else. It was the start of the spiral of comparing myself to other people. wow, they’re the popular person?

So that insecurity That was my heart, and now social media is playing a role. Sixth grade, I get, you know, I get a phone, I have Instagram for the first time. So now you are just exposed to, as a relatively sheltered kid to anything the world has to offer, so keep in the mix.

I’m starting to hear about pornography. I’m starting to hear people swear a lot more relationships, dating, sex, all of these things, things that were never talked about at church, not really talked about at all at home. And now I have Instagram. at that point, curious kid, so there was a lot of that, Oh, I post on Instagram, and there’s a hashtag, and Instagram back then, like, you could select a hashtag, and you would see, like, thousands of posts.

And boom, it was like a Chicago Bears game, and for whatever reason, I hit a hashtag, and all of a sudden, it’s very explicit pornography,

this is sixth grade. So it was very shortly thereafter. or right after I got Instagram that that first exposure happened.

And I remember being shocked, like,What was that? And so like that initial shock turned into searching and seeking after it.

And that was kind of middle school was what is this? And so now there’s been that early exposure to pornography and sex without any like, mentor or older figure kind of explaining and walking me through this. So I was doing all the exploring on my own. And with that, I was super insecure. And so Satan kind of took all those puzzle pieces.

Micah Syswerda: And he made it to where I would start to look at the guys who were That much stronger than me in physical and I would get jealous and that jealous turned to envy and that envy turned into a Desire of I want to be that and then over time kind of entering high school For the first time I would admit to myself like no like I don’t want to be that like I want that like I want That relationship, you know on social media.

I’m starting to see like oh like that’s a gay relationship That is a two guys, and I’ve always kind of felt different. I was the new kid. I’ve kind of felt like the new kid throughout middle school, even though I wasn’t. And it kind of made sense, like I guess I didn’t ever have that longing, lustful desire after women that seemingly was so commonplace in the media and in conversations with other guys like Satan used that.

Even my, being a sheltered kid, maybe not knowing better, but he. really made it seem like you are the only one, like you are different. And then with social media, he just pointed all the arrows and you’re not different. You’re this, you are gay. and that was the start of high school.

Ryan Henry: That must have been so confusing and just Challenging. I mean to be navigating. So do you you mentioned not really having many mentors that you can talk to about this? I Mean was there anybody that you at that young age that you did try to talk to about this?

Micah Syswerda: Satan did a great job of making me feel like if I reached out I was, you know, either going to be shot down, they weren’t going to understand, I was going to be rejected, I was going to be, kind of dismissed, and that was kind of the culture at the time, was there weren’t conversations about mental health, about sexuality, at that age, it’s kind of the, do we talk about sex, do we not, it was talked about in the classroom at fifth grade, so, I would say that’s probably as soon as, the church should kind of step in and start having those age appropriate conversations.

And with that, since there wasn’t those conversations, coming towards me, I guess I never felt like I could be the one initiating them. so where did I turn? Where were people talking about sex, pornography, homosexuality? It was social media. I started playing club sports, I started playing volleyball, and that was closer to Chicago.

People just are so comfortable, you know? And people would talk about pornography, sex, drugs even, and Homosexuality, and that was the first of like, wow, this wasn’t just a face on a screen. It was somebody that I played volleyball with and I respected and You know when I started to do a comparison

I would relate a lot more to the volleyball player who would call themselves gay than the person who’s the all star quarterback who grew up in the strong Christian household.

And that was kind of something that very much was behind the scenes.

So at this point in time, I didn’t call myself gay. That’s not something I would identify as. I just knew I felt different. And so it definitely was a searching time of, in the classroom, I’m looking at the girl, the same girl back in sixth grade, like, Wow, I’m still interested in you and all this stuff.

I can’t get you out of my head. And then I go to volleyball and then it’s realizing like, wow, who’s that guy over there? I want to be like them it was a very confusing time There was so much confusion.

I think right around the start of high school It became very clear in my mind, that, wow, this is who we are. And it was a very silent thing. And it wasn’t like this big, like coming out party to myself, but it was like, I would say the words like, yeah. Be honest with yourself, be your true self.

That’s kind of everything was being projected to me. Like, wow, like, how hateful is the church that they’ve never talked about this because that’s who I am? And, all of this knowledge, you know, the ten years of just growing up in the church and God being portrayed as so loving just went down the drain because he didn’t let me, live the life I wanted to live,

And that was freshman year. So before anything kind of started to happen in the real world, it was, the church is definitely, they’re restricting me. They’re, all of these things. They’re unloving. I can’t talk to them about this. If I did, I’d be rejected. I’d be kicked out. And that was before I was even in the thick of it.

Ryan Henry: So, do you feel like that was true that if you were to talk to somebody at that time, do you think it would’ve gone over well?

Micah Syswerda: I definitely don’t think it would have gone over well. maybe now, five years later, if I was, say, a freshman all over again, but, I look at all those people I grew up with, elementary school, middle school, that grew up in those strong Christian homes. strong Christian homes because the parents knew each other and all that stuff, and I started to kind of pinpoint faces like, Oh, that guy’s from that family.

They’re a Christian family. So kind of associating anything that person says with God, with the church. And they were honestly the ones that were the most hurtful. they would say, a lot of demeaning things. One, it’s just about gay people, about any marginalized group, in humor, in just, and over time, I became the target of that, and that was freshman year of high school, I’m still in this confused state, and I’m still talking, or I guess, started talking again with that same girl from middle school, and, it’s the conversation like, okay, we’re definitely gonna start dating soon.

And all of these guys, I guess were jealous of me in that sense. Maybe they wouldn’t have called it jealousy, but because I was the skinny basketball player who really wasn’t that good, but got the girl, they started calling me gay They started calling me, all of these different things and even in all the exposure.

I wouldn’t have even known those words so that with the confusion already and then the oh I’m really not lusting after girls and then with all the words that these in my mind Christian guys are saying Maybe that is who I am. Maybe as the song would go, maybe I was born this way and I just didn’t know and so any hope of, redeeming where I got to that point was kind of lost because at that point, it’s the Christian guys who are honestly the cruelest ones of them all in my mind.

It was just, a mixing pot of so many different things. unrestricted, media access through the form of Instagram and then going to, a volleyball club super far away where just even more stuff was talked about freely was, it was just the perfect brewing ground for a spiral.

Ryan Henry: it was volleyball. It was not the club. I guess you would see you’d have a coach that was out and was homosexual and he wasn’t pushing it on anybody. But you could find his Instagram.

Micah Syswerda: You could see who he was talking to or dating or whatever. But it really came from players. It came from people who were out as gay or closeted or as bisexual or something like that.

The influence of this is okay was directly from like three or four individuals at volleyball. they caught the vibe or, kind of that intuition that someone might be gay or bi is it’s called gaydar, you know, it’s your radar that someone’s feeling that way.

And I was detected, and in that,at the time, it felt like I was comforted, I was brought into a community, like I felt like included, it was inclusive, and I could speak my mind, and speak confusion, and people wouldn’t bat an eye, but meanwhile, the church, the thing that truly represents godly love, felt like I couldn’t do that at all.

growing up in the church, I had the church in the back of my mind, like, Oh, God probably doesn’t want me doing this, but why is it the Christians who are supposed to be loving, why are they doing the opposite? And these people that are so bad in my mind, why are they the one?

You know, it just felt so twisted in my mind. and then over time in the school as things you know, as we just kind of see. the ages of social media and we start to have, gay influencers and all of this stuff, things start to pick up. There’s a lot more, clubs. There’s a lot more influence.

I started singing in the choir my junior year. and I guess I was just surrounded by more individuals and kind of more of the creative types

It was my favorite class but I guess it was the gift of music. It just felt like, Oh, the music is so good.

Like it’s so pretty. So everything associated with that, all of the poison in the closet, in my mind, like, Oh, it was all good. this is what it’s supposed to look like, and honestly it felt right. And I didn’t necessarily relate that environment to the church, but in my mind, I guess I was almost silently and passively saying like.

This is what it’s supposed to look like, people in the class who I knew came from Christian homes, myself included, but then also those who were out as gay, out as transgender, all singing together, laughing, and it felt okay. So in my mind, that kind of passive inclusion, that passive acceptance, is really what kind of locked it into me of I can find a space, you know, with other basketball players.

I was rejected. I was called different slurs and whatever, but in the classroom, I wasn’t. So in a way, and as hard as it’s to say, I didn’t feel, I guess the inclusiveness didn’t come from people saying like, it’s okay to be gay. It’s just, they didn’t call me by slurs.

Ryan Henry: Yeah, yeah. Was there a point where you really hit an all time low? Where, you know, where you felt like you were steeped, in sin and, you know, were you aware of that? How did you become aware of that? Was there a rock bottom moment for you?

Micah Syswerda: Yeah. I feel like for me there was almost there was a rock low and then there was a lower. one of them was, hey, junior year in high school,

So junior year, I’m living this secret life. I’m the Christian at school, and I’m the gay guy at volleyball. although I never came out, I didn’t really need to. People never asked. They just kind of knew. And I started talking to people online, texting, even I guess as sad as it is to say, it was sexting.

It was pornography. I was in the midst of all of it. In junior year of high school, my mom found out. we use the browser and I recommend it to everybody now. Covenant Eyes. that kind of, Hey, detects, Pornography, but it wasn’t even that, my mom, rightfully so, had gone through my text messages one day and saw that I had even just texted the F word to somebody, and that was so contrary to the facade I was putting on, and it just got her digging deeper, and with that, everything poured out at once, and I felt awful because It was discovered not because I was convicted by it.

I felt like how can I put all these pieces back together things were going so well

And yeah, so there was a lot of conversations that were really just steeped in lies and have truths And I’m trying to be better and it was really just to fix up My relationship with my parents and do everything on my own so I could just go to college and get away and that’s what happened I was planning on going to a christian school that my parents and my oldest sister had gone to, I was actually, I was recruited to play volleyball at Liberty University where I’m at now and at this point in time, I I had a pretty strong facade.

I kind of knew what to say of I was growing, you know, I actually got in a relationship my senior year of high school, with a girl and it one of my biggest regrets because I really was just doing it to convince my parents that I’m okay, that I’m better, that I’ve overcome all of this, my, I guess, ex girlfriend was worth so much more than that, but now, I was recruited, I started playing volleyball at Liberty, and I knew The facade I wanted to put on, you know, I was going to put it on for four years and once I live, move off campus, I can live the life I want to live.

I just have to make it through one year and I was kind of in this relationship with the girl. We were talking for a while and I really did like her. obviously there’s all the same doubts and fears Satan was planting of, You aren’t lusting after her. You’re still, at the time, I was still watching, pornography.

I was still having those conversations online, and I was trying to, my soul was being split in two, my mind, my spirit was telling me this is wrong, and my body was like, what do you mean? This is how you were created. and I found out, that relationship was going nowhere Because obviously I was still interested in guys.

So it wasn’t the end of the world. It was Satan using that To tell me like Micah you’ve been manipulating people your entire life And just look at where you are now. You feel like God hates you. You feel like you don’t have a relationship with your family. You’re now out at college and you feel like guys on your volleyball team don’t know you.

Guys on your hall don’t know you. I just felt so unknown. And that was the start of a very dark depression of, Nobody knows me. Why am I doing this?

Once I started feeling nothing.

I felt nothing for around a month. I started considering ways of how do I feel and you know, so Satan started planting the okay, it’s you know, it’s cutting And, that was a scary time.

And I contemplated it for a while. it was definitely a phase of suicidal ideation. it was really dark. And then one day, um, I woke up and, I was still in my practice gear from the day before. just listened to sad music all night long, just questioning, like, why do I feel this way?

And I woke up and same feelings. Sleeping didn’t make it any better. And that was the day I was like, okay, Never thought I would get here, but honestly it seems like the only option today. I’m going to, um, I guess it was to, I was going to cut Um, and so I just made that decision in my mind, this is what I’m going to do, and there’s a knock on the door.

And, you know, I answer, I’m like, caught off guard, like, who is this? And it’s my friend, Garrett, and he asks me what I’m doing. I’m just lying on my bed on my phone, um, scrolling through Instagram and, I lie to him. I’m like, yeah, I just finished a devotional. I just finished, you know, reading this, this, this.

Micah Syswerda: I was able to say some verses I had memorized from Awana, from years before. And he just looked at me and, kind of gave a puzzled look, like, Really? And I don’t know why I told him the truth after that of, yeah, it was just a total lie. What I just said to him, but I did I admitted that I lied and he didn’t bat an eye, you know He asked me.

Hey, we’re getting food with a bunch of guys. You’re coming with and he waited for me to get changed and we went to lunch and Didn’t say anything. I was a deer in headlights. I’m like if he knew what I was considering to like doing Wow, he would totally reject me and at the end of that lunch Everyone kind of walks away and he stays behind and he’s like Micah like just so you know There’s not anything like you can say that wouldn’t make me love you.

Like, I love you unconditionally. God loves you unconditionally. Just know you can reach out and It just hit me as like if only he knew, I Like, you know kind of believed him kind of didn’t but it was either later that night or the next day I started to feel the same thoughts like suicidal ideation, like, I’m going to, do something, and I was scared, and I genuinely was scared, it seemed like the only option, but now, there was this life preserver, and his name was Garrett, so, I take the knife, super late at night, and, I gave it to him and I was like, I don’t want to talk about this right now, but I can’t have this.

And he just kind of looked at me , looked at it and was like, yeah, I’ll be praying for you and we’ll talk about it tomorrow. And that was rock bottom and that was God sending him. And it truly was through Garrett, the gospel made sense. Because he used the words, I love you unconditionally, and it felt so genuine because I was able to walk down the hall at 2 in the morning, have this guy standing there, willing to take the knife, and there was no judgment.

And through him and him walking alongside me, like, all of this knowledge, he didn’t have to preach the gospel to me again, it all made sense, the same God who sent his son to die for our sins so that we could have everlasting life, that unconditional love, that he did that despite knowing everything I was walking through, through pornography, through online relationships with guys, through everything that entailed.

God unconditionally loved me and he made that known through, one of my best friends, Garrett. Um, and that was, you know, that was the rock bottom and that was God sending somebody, to save me. And looking back, I asked Garrett, how did you know?

he knocked on the door, and that was kind of abnormal for him, and just hearing his heart of like, yeah, it was like the Holy Spirit was prompting me at that moment to knock on your door, and it was just abundantly clear that God sent Garrett, and like, through Garrett, the Holy Spirit was saving me,

Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. So Garrett comes sent by God knocking at your door. did you guys ever, circle back?

Micah Syswerda: Yeah. that was like the crazy thing too. So, so we circle back, you know, we’re obviously talking about this and where I met and it just became abundantly clear that Garrett was sent. and obviously, that was definitely a season, even a couple of years earlier that Garrett had walked through, a battle of his own.

Um, and all that entailed and just realizing like, wow, like. You know, the whole Christian catch ism, like what Satan intended for evil, God intended for good. So just being able to hear Garrett’s own story, how he overcame this by, a relationship with the Lord and then God using him to then speak to me.

it was so powerful and it gave me hope Satan had convinced me that I’m broken, lost, worthless, all of these things, and just Garrett was that. glimmer of hope of like, no, like it can be okay because now there’s this person that’s talking about all of this in past tense and understands so this was freshman year.

Micah Syswerda: Towards the end of first semester, and he was on my hall that second semester as well, we quickly became friends. He actually grew up not too far from me, so just being able to talk to him over the summers, and we were actually roommates, my sophomore year, so just being able to,keep me accountable although the rock bottom had passed mental health’s a very, it’s a very, Multifaceted and challenging thing of like Micah, what’s your input?

What are you listening to? What are you? Are you reading your Bible? Are you and just kind of helped? Through the Holy Spirit be that pinpointing of you’re feeling this way as a result of this and just allowing me to I feel this way because of and you know because where I was at in that all time low was I didn’t feel anything, or if I did feel emotion, I didn’t know why.

Honestly, I don’t even think he knows, the true impact that he had on me over those two years. God had sent him, no doubt in my mind, to disciple me through, my past, and just the battle with mental health I had there, so,

Ryan Henry: So, was there a point where you were like, I’m coming back to you, Lord? Did you, did you have a moment or was it just kind of gradual? do you remember even accepting Christ as a kid? Yeah. Yeah.

Micah Syswerda: Yes, I mean, it’s one of those things that, like, I prayed the prayer as a kid, you know, I prayed it when I was young under my covers in fear. I prayed it as an eighth grader, at a church camp. But for me, I guess there wasn’t a concrete like, okay, Micah on November this day of this year, I prayed a prayer.

We had an evangelist come to Liberty, a month prior to this whole episode. And I had walked down, at an altar call. and It was beautiful I guess, even looking in the past, like, the Lord was already prompting my heart to return to Him. But me walking down I acknowledged that where I was at in life was a result of sin.

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I just still wasn’t ready to turn and make a 180 back towards Christ. And He used the rock bottom to make me realize, like, wow, this is what life looks like apart from God. but it just all made sense and I truly do believe that I put my faith in Jesus, that night that I gave the knife to Garrett, because it was understanding like I’m lost and broken.

Micah Syswerda: And there’s this one guy that reached out and it truly feels like unconditional love. And I think it just all made sense in my mind. And then I started seeing, you know, spiritual fruit slowly, but surely after that moment.

Ryan Henry: That’s awesome. So beautiful. what are some of the things that you started to notice?

Micah Syswerda: For me, it was conviction, was a lot of the spiritual fruit, I think I mentioned even early on, I was always the nice kid, I was always the person that noticed others in a room, and would talk to them and whatever, but now I was doing it, as a result of Christ’s love for me. Like, I’m going to reach out to them and make them feel loved because I now have experienced someone doing that to me, just dripping with the Holy Spirit in their own lives.

And I mentioned conviction. I think there’s something that we don’t really talk about with people who have overcome, homosexuality or anything or any type of sin. is that moment after becoming a Christian. say there’s an alcoholic who gets checked into a rehab program, he isn’t going to become sober overnight.

You know, that growth. It’s a roller coaster. There’s some steps forward and steps back. but I think something about homosexuality and with Christians who maybe struggle with that is that we almost expect that we’re going to become sober, you know, clean from that overnight. And I think that’s where there was the conviction of still that I had that heart posture.

I knew I was a Christian, but I still struggled. I still had all of these years of. But slowly but surely it was opening up to people like I’m still dealing with this and opening up to you know As it says in James 5 of I was confessing to one another and finding healing But that healing was slower because I honestly was scared to open up because still I had that fear of even the Christian kids that I had all the way back in middle school if I open up What are they going to say?

I’m going to be outcasted. I’m going to be rejected. So even though I was a Christian, Satan still had that foothold of, you can’t share your story. And that was like two years, of growing closer to God, but almost compartmentalizing and hiding this. Sin not being honest with myself.

Now I would say I found total freedom from, um, my past and from all that sexual sin. And it really came from being honest with myself.

It was being honest with these are the dangers of social media.

This is the danger of your own body image. This is, you know, I’m being honest to God with that of I love you and like, thank you so much for sending your son to save me. But this still doesn’t make sense, and even with that honesty with God of just feeling such peace To then go and be honest in community and be honest of this is where and early on it was just a couple individuals But you know this summer God definitely put on my heart and It’s can be for others, you know, where you can be that life preserver that Garrett was for me of someone who is at a Christian school and living this lifestyle and feeling like they’re the only one they now have a point person of no, I’m not there’s that one person, but then there’s also the all your cards are on the table.

Satan can’t use the same tricks he wants to use because people know my story and they haven’t rejected me. they’ve actually it’s been more loving more encouraging and it’s just total freedom from that.

Ryan Henry: Praise God. That’s amazing. By you sharing the story, I’m sure you’ve had people who have come against you to say you know, you’re just lying to yourself. Have you experienced that?

Micah Syswerda: Oh, I totally have. So, more recently, um. I have started blog, that is basically, it’s equipping Christians to have the difficult conversations. how to become, in a sense, that person that someone feels comfortable with to give them the knife to have that difficult conversation. and with that, There’s a lot of people that are, you are just lying to yourself, you know, you’re denying how you truly are.

God made you this way, or there is no God, you can do whatever you want. But ultimately, I rest assured, and you know, God has given me so many concrete moments of, No, this is how I’ve made you.

So amazing. So, what is your blog and, uh, talk to us a little bit more about that.

Yep. So the blog’s called The Path Toward Holiness. and I chose the name. It was definitely something that came through a lot of prayer because, I just have this visual of just a mountaintop peak and that’s just the Lord.

and there’s this path and, it can be a winding road, but ultimately like it does lead upward. it’s one of those things, of even growth of as you walk up a mountain, you even though there’s ups and downs, ultimately, you are getting higher, you are getting closer to the Lord, it’s a path toward holiness, it’s not like a path to holiness, because ultimately, while we’re here on earth, we live in a sinful world, we’ll never reach, you know, Jesus was holy.

He was sinless, and we aren’t sinless, and we are just reflections of his light.

But we can pursue through sanctification being more like him. So I guess I started the blog and a lot of my testimony was I didn’t feel like I could go to somebody about this. I didn’t feel like I could talk to someone and I understand like my story is unique and there’s a lot of people who haven’t gone through, issues with their sexual identity.

They’ve always thought that they’re straight or they have never had any doubt. so there’s a lot of people that don’t feel equipped. to have that conversation because I think Satan works in that and I think that truly is a thought that Satan has planted that people feel unequipped to have these conversations because they didn’t walk through it and that is just so false in my mind.

So the blog now is, it’s a lot of my story of it’s out there but truly it’s. How do Christians have these conversations? And there’s just a lot of different topics regarding homosexuality or issues in the LGBTQ community where it’s, how should Christians respond? Because the sad statistic, and I don’t think there’s a 2023 poll out yet, is that nearing a quarter of my generation, Gen Z, identifies as something in the LGBT community.

Even that number that’s a quarter, I honestly and sadly think that it could be higher, of someone who is struggling or considering a, different lifestyle, and it just shows that the church has just not, was not ready to join the conversation, as we just see this now growing and vast community.

of just shepherding people towards the ledge, and so ultimately that’s what the book is for. It’s understanding that I’m one guy, I grew up in one community, I grew up in one culture, like I can only have one opinion, but understanding that I’ve walked through a lot of this. So honestly, just being that bridge of this is how, as someone who’s grown up in the church and is a Christian, but…

has a, a lesbian sister. This is how you can have that conversation and just kind of give you the tools that you can form and fashion into your own of just truly loving people like Jesus did serving them like a humble servant and pointing them to Jesus. Because ultimately in my story, it’s evident that I only found healing from my sexual past through him.

So that should be our job as Christians is not healing people, not controlling their behavior, but ultimately pointing them to the Lord, because through the Holy Spirit, that is the only way they’ll find healing.

Ryan Henry: So, powerful. What would you say is a truth, that you didn’t know back then, God, but that you know now?

Micah Syswerda: I would say a truth that I didn’t know about God then is I guess I never understood what unconditional love meant, um, we’ll hear the thing that even the sins like he, he died for the sins of the past and the sins that I’ll make in the present and future. And that didn’t make sense to me. You know, it felt like my past was, it was too much.

I was the exception, but truly understand that the Lord with loving eyes was thinking of me when he died for me on the cross and

that he always was reaching out. there was this visual. I thought of the other day where, Jesus was always in my life, I can see moments where he totally was reaching out his hand and that hand was always there and I just stood him up, I can do it on my own strength, even as a kid, like I can do all of these things.

Life’s fun. I don’t need you, you know, middle school, like I can figure out relationships. I don’t need you. High school. I can figure out my sexuality. I don’t need you. College. I can figure out my future. I don’t need you. And ultimately, like, God was so loving that amidst it all, He never pulled away His hand.

And He was just waiting for me to, like, reach out and turn to Him. And that is unconditional love. Because despite all the things that He knew and, like, walked alongside me through, He loved me despite it. He died for me, regardless. And yeah, so I understand that now. and I wish I understood it then.

Ryan Henry: So that would, that would really lead me to our, our last question, if you could go to the Micah who’s laying on that bed, pondering the idea of, cutting, What would you, what would you say to him?

Micah Syswerda: if I could have one conversation with myself. I would truly just explain what it means to be made in the image of God and just understand that God made everybody uniquely and the no two people are the same and Just truly explain to him that like it’s okay To feel different because when you look at the Bible look at the people Jesus called, you know as his disciples.

It wasn’t the jock that was really good at basketball.

It wasn’t the, fill in the blank of all of the people I look to as idols at the time. It was the tax collector that was rejected It was all of those people and it was like, Micah, God’s calling you, and he’s calling you out of this life of sin.

Like, why are you letting him knock at the door and not answer?

And I would really just kind of explain, like, I feel like that is a lot of like one thing and one doubt that Satan used over and over again in my life was, you are alone. And it truly would just be like, you are not alone. And just kind of reveal, these are all the people that are praying for you right now and you had no idea.

These are all of these things because, you know, something about this life of sin, like, Satan isolated me. You know, I isolated myself and I spun myself in a circle of, I am alone, and it was so false, and it would just be revealing of like all the people God had put around me, and I was willingly, you know, stiff arming them,

Ryan Henry: Wow. An incredible story. So amazing. Man, well, it’s been an honor to talk to you there’s going to be many people who are going to find comfort in what you’re sharing bless you for, for being able to share.

Micah Syswerda: Thank you, Ryan.

Ryan Henry: It’s been awesome having you on the show.

Margaret Ereneta: Thanks for listening today. Let us know what you thought of the show. Reach us from the show notes. To send us off today, T. C. Boyd, the artist, came up with this unique rap in honor of Micah’s testimony. Please enjoy.

TC Boyd the Artist: Clouds keep forming, rain keeps falling over me, over me, yeah, yeah I’m so lost, so lost, so lost, don’t know what I will be, don’t know what I will be, yeah, uh Rain clouds forming in my life, I just want to be accepted, got me asking God, why? If you’re really on my side, why do I feel this divide? I feel my life This torn the apart inside.

I need some hope, I need some help. I feel I’m by myself. Everybody say they for me, but I really have no one else. So can you help me see something better? ’cause right now in my mind I want grab a baretta and just end it all. God, can you show me while I’m living, while I’m breathing, what’s the point of it all?

I want to know if I’m here for a reason. ’cause right now I feel like this the worst season of my life and I turn to my lust in sight. I feel I wanna draw my life in. So I can hide, I don’t want to open up, Cause I feel no one will accept me, If they knew I was stuck, In this rut, In this stuff that I can’t get out, I’m so lost, I need some hope right now, You say the cross was the cost that you paid, But I don’t see it, Would somebody love me unconditionally, If they knew the real me, Or would they shun me, Cause Christians be acting the worst, I guess I feel cursed, I’m saying Lord, vow to keep for me.

rain keeps falling over me over me, yeah I’m so lost, so lost, so lost don’t know what I will be don’t know what I will be Yeah, I feel like I finally found a friend, he was talking to me like, man, you ain’t gotta end it. All you gotta do is open up. And I felt like, man, I finally found some hope. I wasn’t stuck.

So I’m like, yo, why? Just need some help? ’cause this world’s pulling me your part in myself from so trapped and I feel like I just wanted. Now, ’cause I’m so sick of this crap. He was like, cool it, cool it. I got you. When he prayed for me and he gave me your hug to show me real love. I was like, bro, this life has been tough.

It’s been just so rough. I could not get through this muck. But he told me it’s so okay ’cause Jesus loves you every day. And we prayed and I felt peace in the Holy Spirit helped my life and I gave my whole heart to Christ. Now I feel alive. Now I feel happy. Now I feel like I’m living for a purpose. I got peace in my soul and I’m alive and I don’t want to die.

I just want to live and share my life with everybody else so they can know this hope. So they can know what was the thing that healed my soul. So if you’re feeling lost, this song is for you. And if you’re feeling down, God will pull you through. Yeah, you can make it through. Clouds keep forming, rain keeps falling over me, over me, yeah.

I’m so lost. Soul loss, soul loss Don’t know what I will be Don’t know what I will be, yeah

I found love, I found love I found unconditional love I found love, I found love Unconditional love, woo I found love, I found love Unconditional love, huh Yeah, I found love, I found love Unconditional love. Unconditional love.