I’m Not Leaving You

by Kristen, 26

It is difficult to put my finger on why Living Hope means so much to me in my journey of healing this past year.

There is nothing garish or elaborate about the way they do ministry, at least from my perspective as a participant. In fact, when I first met the women of Living Hope, I had no idea that any of them were even struggling with same sex attraction. I thought they were volunteers, or some kind of Bible study group that had come to the Exodus conference together from Dallas. 
I flew to Minnesota alone, without telling my girlfriend, to participate in the Exodus Freedom Conference as a last ditch attempt to pull my life together and stop doing the thing I KNEW God had called me out of; namely, dating women. For a year, I tried to silence God’s Spirit because I was tired of struggling between these two opposing forces in my life: God and my feelings for women. I had always sided with God, and I was tired of not knowing what it was like to truly live on ‘the other side.’  Most of all I was tired of saying I believed one thing, while constantly failing to maintain those standards. So I quit trying altogether and told God I was putting him away for a while. I stashed my Bible in the bottom of my closet and stopped pretending like I wanted to go to church. Instead, I dated my girlfriend. 

I lived with her for about a year, and even though I was ignoring the Lord, he was not leaving me alone. He would speak to me in the strangest places, and at the most inopportune times. One night I woke up thirsty.  I stumbled through the house to the kitchen for some water. Opening the refrigerator door illuminated the inside of my arm, which bore the imprint of my girlfriend’s tiny cross necklace. In that moment the Lord spoke to me and said “I’m not leaving you.” I was furious. 

“Why are you still talking to me?!” I thought. “Just leave me alone!” I shut the door and went back to bed. 

As hard as I tried, I could not get the image of that imprinted cross on my skin out of my head. I knew I belonged to God, and that he was not about to let me go. I was stuck in a miserable relationship that I didn’t know how to end. I could no longer numb my suffering soul with sex, drinking, or having a girlfriend. I knew I would always have the Holy Spirit living inside me and I knew God was never going to leave me. From this place of utter desperation I made an appointment with a counselor who immediately advised me to attend the Exodus Conference in Minnesota, which began the next morning. It is a miracle I made it to that dorm room lobby in Minnesota at 1:00 a.m. the next day. It is the pure, relentless love of God that the women of Living Hope were also in the lobby that night. 

The moment I met these women they invited me in and treated me, a complete stranger, as one of their own. In those first few days of the conference I was struck by the love and respect the women of LHM had for one another. There seemed to be a deep friendship connection between them, along with an uncompromising adherence to their boundaries, which provided the security, safety and maintained propriety in the group. These qualities were irresistible and I found myself completely captivated by the mysterious force that compelled this group to strive for purity so intensely. 

Eventually, the conference ended and we parted ways, entering back into real life where the same challenges awaited us. What I didn’t expect was this same community I had been physically present with for four days was still with me in a strange way. The more I participated in the online support forums the more my friendships with these women deepened and they became just another part of my daily life. In this way, Living Hope is a lot like other communities or churches. We talk about our weeks, how our jobs are going, what the Lord is teaching us, what we’re reading in scripture, when people are coming through Dallas to visit in house, and occasionally the fact that we sometimes find the same sex extremely attractive. 

After a year of journeying with these amazing women and men, I have discovered that the love of Jesus is the compelling force that drives their commitment to purity and growth in the Lord. I cannot express how valuable this quality is, especially within a culture that doesn’t seem to be firm on anything except following your own way in life. I need the women of Living Hope to remind me that there is more to life than how I feel. I need the ones who have gone before me to confirm that the sting of sin and loss does eventually fade, and that following Jesus is worth everything. In this steady, commitment to truth, Living Hope finds its uniqueness. We are an everyday life kind of ministry that attends to the whole person, from the deepest struggles, to the most humorous incidents. Living Hope is here to speak the truth of the Word, and love with the love of Jesus. In these two things they are uncompromising, and for that I am so thankful.