Fifteen years ago I had to make a decision. At that time I was involved in a relationship with a woman, and I had to decide whether I would continue this relationship. At the time, we were not living together, but I wanted to be. I remember getting off the phone with her and experiencing two emotions. One was elation and the other was an uneasiness that I kept pushing away.
I had been wrestling with God for a long time, praying and arguing and reading books that would validate my desire to act on my feelings as well as reading the Bible and sincerely seeking the truth. I was twenty-nine at the time, and had thought that my same-sex attraction was done and gone after a relationship I had recently had with a man, a relationship which ended in a miscarriage. I thought having a sexual relationship with a man, no matter how dysfunctional, would somehow heal me of something worse- lesbianism. It didn’t work.
Prior to this relationship with this woman, I had never acted out on my same-sex desires, though I felt them deeply. In college, I was emotionally dependent upon my roommate, and the romantic love I felt for her terrified me. Though I had dated boys in high school, it wasn’t until college that I felt as if I had “fallen in love” and yet as a Christian, I never spoke about these feelings.
I had been a Christian since I was five years old, the daughter and granddaughter of Presbyterian ministers. My mother had led me to Christ when I was five years old, and I had listened intently to my father’s sermons, which always focused on Christ and his salvation. My mother taught me about the grace and mercy of Christ, and she was a devoted mother. She also had a gift of teaching and she ran our church pre-school for many years. I remember thinking that the children who had her for a teacher were really lucky, and they were.
My father also provided for us, and I fondly remember annual summer vacations to the beach and to our grandparent’s homes. I also remember times playing blocks with my Dad, tape recording songs together, flying kites and eating donuts in the snow. I remember not only loving my parents but liking them, too – their personalities, humor, and the grace they showed to me, to my siblings, and to others.
However, my family had its problems. There were issues, unresolved pain, and childhood wounds in my parents’ lives and marriage that were not dealt with. As the sensitive, overweight middle child of a beautiful older sister and perfect little brother, I suffered a negative body image and experienced and processed issues in our family differently than my siblings.
My relationship with my mother was close but often volatile, and as I grew up, I did not emotionally connect with my father, though I desperately wanted an intimate connection with him. My parents loved me, but they did not always know how to show this love, in part because of their own wounds from childhood and the subsequent pain in their interpersonal lives.
I also grew up in the 1970’s in an era that glorified the “tomboy” and encouraged women to be self-sufficient and in need of no man. Though I did not become masculine in my adolescence, I wanted to be. I idolized girls who threw off their femininity and who could take care of themselves. I wanted to be like them because I was so insecure with my femininity and desirability – as was my mother. I internalized her disapproval of herself as my own, and I received her worry about my appearance as criticism and rejection. Consequently, I began to disparage of being female, feeling undue pressure to live up the ideal of feminine beauty.
During this time, however, I was very much in love with Jesus. This is due in large part to my parents’ faith and particularly my mother’s love for Christ. I was exposed to healthy movies, TV, and my parents protected me and my siblings from negative influences that would harm us. I remember watching the 1970’s TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth as a little girl, and I would hide my face under a blanket and cry when they laid Jesus on the cross. My favorite TV show was Little House on the Prairie, and there was one episode where Laura asks God to take her life in exchange for her baby brother’s. I remember praying to God that night at the age of seven that I would be like Laura: willing to give my own life to God.
In addition to exposing me to positive media influences, my parents taught me right from wrong, and also taught me to be fair to all people of any race or economic level. Even though I attended a legalistic, Christian elementary school, my parents taught and showed me what Christ taught: “The heart of the law is mercy.”
However, what caused me great emotional pain during my childhood and teenage years was a lack of intimate connection with my mother and father and our inability to talk through problems and share feelings as a family. My parents ran from their personal pain instead facing it head on, which led to blame (blaming me in many cases) and denial (often denying there was any problem). I witnessed a lot of screaming/anger on my mother’s part, which made me fearful of her as a child and angry with her as a teenager and adult. My father would avoid conflict with my mother and pour himself into church work, but in running from conflict, he inadvertently forfeited emotionally connecting with his family and bringing healing to his marriage.
In all this, I had no idea that years into the future I would be where I was in that place – struggling with the decision and desire to live with a woman. But God knew. He knew I would make sinful choices; he knew I would grieve my parents; and he knew how he would provide a way out. And so that day when I hung up the phone with the woman I wanted to live with – I can’t explain what happened – I walked forward in my apartment and then I just stopped. It didn’t feel like anything miraculous at the time – but I felt a gentle heaviness like a shadow or blanket over my shoulders, and I found myself on my knees.
I prayed these words: “Dear Jesus, you know that I love you, but I don’t know what to do. But, Lord, I ask that your will be done. Let your will be done in my life.” Honestly, in that prayer I still I hoped that his will was my will – the will to live with this woman, but it wasn’t. The relationship came to a sudden end, and I was crushed. I knew God orchestrated it, but I was angry. I was angry at this woman, and I was angry at God because I determined that obedience to him meant living a life devoid of love and passion. God had to show me otherwise.
One day, as I was driving on an unfamiliar street, distracted, smoking and listening to Alanis Morissette, I didn’t see the stoplight mounted on the side of the road, so I went through it and a pick-up truck slammed into me. My car was totaled, but I was fine, physically. I remember sitting in that car, with the airbag in my face, a crooked cigarette (which had just been abruptly extinguished) hanging out of my mouth, dust and smoke swirling into my eyes, and Alanis relentlessly singing in the background. It was comical, but at the time I wasn’t laughing. I remember immediately thinking as I sat there, “When will you relent, Oh Lord?” I remember wishing God would have taken my life in that accident.
Amazingly, I crashed right in front of an apartment where I had prayed a few months previously with a small group of Christians and confessed my struggle with homosexuality. The girls with whom I had prayed came out of the house, and I remember getting out of my car and seeing them run into the street to meet me. I couldn’t believe they were there. I remember one of the girls held me in her arms – and I held on to her. As I held her, I thought, “Oh no, she probably knows about my issue. I don’t want to give her the wrong impression.” So I pulled my arm away from hers.
Without hesitating, she drew my arm right back around her, and she kept holding me. It was as if God were holding me through her and saying, “I have not come to deprive you of love, but to give it to you – in my way.” Those girls were God’s messengers sent to me that day. When I think of that crash, I don’t see it as God’s wrath but as God’s great mercy to me. It was through that crash and subsequent financial difficulty that God taught me what I needed to know to be able to do his will.
The first thing he taught me was that there was no way I could do his will if I did not trust him. I had believed in God all of my life. Before and during my struggle, I never lost my faith in God’s existence or Christ’s love for the world or of his justice. But what I struggled with was trusting God to provide for me. When temptations came and hardships, it was always there that I faltered. I did not trust God to provide for me – to rescue me – to defend me in crises and to give me what I needed, so I got it on my own. I took care of myself.
It was during this time of brokenness – during and after the car accident– when I could not take care of myself that I had to recklessly let God take care of me. And in so doing, he took care of the greatest longing of my heart: He told me: “My dear little girl who wept at my crucifixion and who was willing at the age of seven to give her life to me – my dear child –you can trust me to provide for you. I am your Father.”
It has been many years since that time. There have been times of great loneliness and longing – of going without and making sacrifices. Yet, it has also been a time, which has been overflowing with God’s love and promises and so many answered prayers! God has changed more than my sexuality; he has changed my mind, my disposition, and he has healed my heart.
It was Christ’s intense and demonstrative love for me that led me to obedience, and it was my obedience to Christ that led me to sexual healing and wholeness. My worst fear of never again experiencing an intimate and passionate relationship was not realized. An amazing thing happened: I discovered that Jesus was the best source of love I had ever known.
And God’s love is generous. He has given me friends, community, passion and purpose for my life. He continues to bring reconciliation with my parents and a renewed closeness in my family. After many years of praying, God has a given me a Christian husband whose love for me amazingly mirrors Christ’s love. If that weren’t enough, at the age of 41, I gave birth to a precious little girl.
God gave me a verse that helped me persevere in hope and helped me overcome temptation and sin throughout these years. Its Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
God rewards our faith, so never stop believing and praying – for yourselves and for your loved ones.