by Nicky, women’s ministry participant
Over time it developed into a severe addiction. Having been exposed to pornography by the time I went off to college, I began to question my sexual identity. While I had always found guys attractive, and I had avoided looking at women sexually or even being attracted to them, I was still more and more confused by my own desires and behaviors. Toward the end of my second year of college, some friends accused me of being gay. Even though I had put my own questions behind me, and despite the fact that I had been through some opposite sex relationships, it brought my troubles back to the surface. In order to escape dealing with these issues, I convinced myself that there was no way that I could be gay because I wasn’t attracted to women, and I also knew it was a completely unacceptable thing for me to be. So I refused to face the questions burning within me. I did know that I was aroused by sexual images of women, but since a friend explained to me that this was natural because God designed the female form to be pleasing, I was able to use this lie as a way to cope and to bury my pain along with my conflicting desires and beliefs. As you can imagine, I was very confused both sexually and spiritually and I hated myself for it.
I desperately wanted God to heal me from this ‘thorn in my flesh’ in such a way that I would never have to tell another living soul.
The Bible talks about how rebellion leads to all kinds of evil. I really had no idea the door I was opening into my heart when I chose to rebel against the authority God had placed in my life. I was so hurt and broken; I wanted someone to take all of my pain away. As a result, I opened my heart to a new friend and out of this rebellion, began to have feelings toward her. I praise God now that I was protected from any physical interaction and was too fearful to have ever expressed my feelings to this person. However, the door had been opened and the addiction I had managed to suppress for so long came roaring to life again, this time with more ferocity than before. By that time, I had been exposed to more pornography, and I went to the internet to fill the craving for a woman’s love. I drank on the weekends because my kids were gone to numb the pain of loneliness. I nearly gave myself alcohol poisoning trying to drown my sorrows, and landed one night in the ER. My heart ached because of the conflict within me, and I knew I was in serious trouble. It was only my fear of the negative consequences to my children that kept me from falling into a seriously sinful relationship with someone, male or female.
One day in the midst of my sorrow, I was surfing the internet looking for visual images to produce that high, deep in my heart knowing it was wrong. I had one window open with soft porn and another window open looking up Christian ministries that might be able to help me anonymously. I was still looking for a solution that would keep the façade of ‘good little girl’ intact; I just could not face the possibility of negative backlash from any of my circles of influence.
The messages I had received from church and family said admitting my sin of desiring a same sex relationship was tantamount to a death sentence. I knew I would be ostracized and left out on my own in an even deeper pit of loneliness than before. I knew I couldn’t handle that. I cried out to God in prayer and asked for help and happened upon the Living Hope Ministries (LHM) website. They had an anonymous online discussion forum, and anonymity was VERY appealing. I registered for the site and had access within a day. I poured over the pages of the site, reading everything I could. I spent hours and hours learning about the causes of same sex attraction (SSA) and began to learn I wasn’t alone. I had finally found a group of people who understood me and I felt as if I belonged. There were other people like me, who had grown up knowing the truth of God’s Word, professed their faith in Christ, and still found they were tempted by this detestable sin. There were even people like me who were still ‘in the closet’, had never engaged in a relationship, and were dealing with emotional dependencies with people of the same gender and addictions to self-stimulation and pornography.
The woman in charge of the women’s ministry was just the type of person I needed to kick my butt. It was she who pointed me in the right direction by telling me the truth without sugar coating a thing. Oh, I got offended, but I knew she was right. I was headed down a road that would only end in more misery and pain. Now I had accountability, and someone was praying for me who knew what really was going on in my heart. I still hadn’t wanted to let go of the hope of someday giving in to my sinful desire. Though I fought it tooth and nail, I still held out hope that something good could come of it. Everything I had read on the forums, however, told of countless stories about how it never did. I didn’t want to submit my will to God’s; I wanted CONTROL of my life in every way, even though I knew I couldn’t do it and I was spiraling out of control at every turn.
Through my desperate plea for help, I was finally able to pray and began to surrender my will to His and to let go of my control over my own life. Over time, God showed me the causes of my struggle and the solution for healing.
When I joined LHM, I thought there would still be a way for me to be set free and never share the struggle I had been through. My shame over my sin was so great it overshadowed my witness for God’s work in my life. Even after I had been set free, I still wanted to keep it a secret and only share with a very select few people. Over time and through the ministry of LHM, I have grown in boldness over what God has done in my life. I was never ashamed to tell people my opinion of the Bible and Jesus if they brought it up in conversation, but I couldn’t bring myself to expose my own faults to make the point hit home.
After I began to walk in freedom, I chose to get water baptized again to demonstrate publicly what God had done in my life, but I still felt something was missing. I wasn’t able to share the excitement of my newly found freedom as it applied to my life with very many people. Something else changed in my heart that day as well: I committed to going to the LHM retreat where I could meet others going through a similar journey and receive instruction geared toward our specific struggle. The fear of being found out was still there, but it was no longer preventing me from doing the things I needed to do in order to receive the healing God wanted for my life.
The theme of this year’s retreat was “not ashamed”, and by the end of the weekend I was a new woman inside and out. I came away from that trip knowing I would never be the same again. While I am not perfect and don’t always make the best choices, each day I am growing and maturing in my faith and trust in God. As Paul said, I work out my salvation daily. I am no longer ashamed of what God did and is doing in my life. And while God has used many ministries to get through to me over the years, it was LHM’s insistence on pointing me to the Word of God and its truths that brought me to a place of victory in my life.