Hi! I’m Amy Riordan. There are several different aspects and layers to my story (as there are for all of us). Today I’m going to share with you the part of my story that God originally put on my heart to start sharing several years ago when He was beginning to take me through a time of deep healing and restoration.
I grew up going to church with my family every Sunday. I thought church was all about dressing up (which I hated) and doing the right thing. I learned all the books of the Bible in order, I knew many facts, but I did not know Jesus for myself. I didn’t have a relationship with Him until many years later.
I was pretty innocent and naïve during most of my teenage years. As I got older, I started making decisions that went against my conscience. My values became cloudy as I started putting more worth into being liked by boys.
During my senior year of high school, I became very good friends with a girl I worked with. We quickly started spending a lot of time together outside of work. We had a deep connection that I had never experienced with anyone before. She understood me in a way no one else ever did. I felt like I had known her my whole life, even though I had known her just a short time.
I can still remember the two of us sitting in her car talking one day. I looked over to her and realized that I felt something I had never felt for another girl before. I felt an attraction to her that was different from what I experienced toward the boys I had dated over the years.
Around this same time, I was accidentally exposed to a sexually graphic scene in a movie at someone’s house. It involved women doing things I had never even known existed before. While this person quickly panicked and turned off her TV, that scene etched itself into my mind and heart. I rehearsed it in my mind over and over again. It scared me but fascinated me at the same time.
One day I finally decided to tell my friend how I was starting to feel about her. I was shocked by her reaction. She was experiencing similar feelings for me but just didn’t know how to tell me.
Shortly after talking about whether we were going to act on our feelings or not, we entered into a physical relationship with each other.
This changed everything.
Although I had always thought I would marry a man and have children someday, I started discovering something with her that I had not known with anyone else. We had a deep connection with each other. I loved her in a way I never knew was possible. I felt known, understood, and loved in a way I never experienced before.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was trying to get from her what only God Himself could have given me. Two years later, she eventually went her way, and I went mine. I didn’t know what to do. She had become everything to me, and my heart was shattered.
The relationship I had with her flipped a switch on in my heart that I didn’t know was there before.
I knew I needed to put my relationship with her in the past in order to move on, but I started recognizing that I felt confused and really wrestling with my sexuality as I found myself attracted to certain other women. The best description I can give is the relationship I had with her flipped a switch on in my heart that I didn’t know was there before.
I wasn’t attracted to the majority of women I saw, but the ones who caught my attention I had difficulty getting out of my mind. I am someone who feels (everything) deeply, and that relationship had filled a place in me in a way that had never been filled by any of the boys I dated. I wanted to experience that again.
I soon started dating a guy I knew from work. This is where I was introduced to hardcore pornography. We started watching this together every weekend. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was my view of women was quickly changing. As I continued, I started seeing women in a very lustful way. This was like adding fuel to what I had already experienced.
Fast forward a few years, I gave my life to Jesus when I was 26 years old, and a few years later I met and married my husband. By that time I was no longer watching porn and was unconcerned about my past affecting my future. I had found an amazing Christian man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Two years after marrying him, we had our first child. A colicky baby and postpartum depression quickly helped to unearth much of what was going on in my heart that I had ignored for so many years.
To soothe my emotions and feel something other than numbness and depression, I started searching for lesbian porn online one day. As a Christ-follower and married woman, I knew that was the last thing I should do, but I quickly became trapped. This amplified everything I already felt concerning other women.
As a Christ-follower and married woman, I knew that was the last thing I should do, but I quickly became trapped.
I remember sitting in our kitchen one day contemplating how I could escape my life and start over with another woman. I believed that I couldn’t ever be as close to a man as I could a woman.
In all actuality, I had a great life. I had a wonderful husband and an adorable little boy who I loved so much, but the longing in my heart to have a deep connection with someone was always at the forefront of my mind.
Two years would go by before I told my husband about everything I was wrestling with, and that was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. He was understandably devastated, and I wasn’t sure our marriage would ever heal. I had no idea what my next step would be.
I had been keeping all my friendships superficial and at arm’s length because I lived in fear of getting too close to them. I begged and pleaded for God to take my same-sex attraction away, but I would wake up the next day and feel the very same way.
I went through a very dark time of blaming myself for not being able to shut off my attraction to women. Memories and fantasies from the porn I used to watch would continuously run through my mind. I thought if I prayed harder and tried harder, then it would finally just go away.
It was around this time that Matthew 6:33 came alive to me: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
God wanted me to seek Him first, not try to make my attractions go away. It felt like I had a steering wheel of control that I continually gripped ahold of to control my heart’s desires. God was clearly showing me that I needed to let go and trust Him.
I had been putting all my focus on making my attractions go away.
That was terrifying for me because I carried so much shame around with me and didn’t even know it. I also knew I couldn’t follow Jesus and be with another woman (even if I wasn’t already married), but letting go felt like I was acknowledging I would live the rest of my life unfulfilled.
This is when God started showing me that these deep desires were rooted in an unfulfilled need for intimacy.
I had been trying to fill that need for intimacy with porn and fantasies, while my true need had nothing to do with that.
Up until that point, I just assumed I didn’t have it with my husband because…he was a man. I didn’t even expect to have it with him. Intimacy was always a strained subject between the two of us. Intimacy requires trust and vulnerability, and that was something I had a lot of trouble with.
God wasn’t showing me this so I could focus on finding fulfillment with my husband, though. He was never created to fill this void in my heart. I started to understand that this had nothing to do with same-sex attraction either, but it had everything to do with my relationship with God.
This had everything to do with my relationship with God.
I couldn’t possibly see how God could fill that place in my life, because I thought what I had was a sexual need. I had always equated intimacy with sex.
I was still carrying around so much shame that I didn’t know how to approach God on any level other than in a superficial way. It wasn’t just my husband I had been holding myself back from. I was doing the same thing with God.
I had no idea that He had so much more for me.
The Holy Spirit started showing me how to turn to Him for comfort, instead of anyone or anything else. He started showing me that it was possible to develop intimacy with my husband, but I needed to be able to have this with God first.
I began the gradual journey of learning what intimacy with Jesus was. It was scary yet amazing, all at the same time. I felt a strange sense of vulnerability that I wasn’t used to feeling. Part of me was afraid to trust God with everything. Not just regarding my sexuality, but in all areas of my life.
I worried that intimacy with Jesus might be boring.
I remember worrying that intimacy with Jesus might be boring. What if I was wired differently than everyone else and I couldn’t be fulfilled by Him? I was afraid I would find it to be unsatisfying. Then what would I do?
Just the opposite happened, though. What I didn’t realize until later was that I was created for intimacy with Jesus. It’s what I was made for. (It’s what you were made for as well.)
So many fears ran through my mind as I pondered trusting God with all of me. I knew I needed to decide to trust Him with all the contents of my heart. My heart was something I was used to guarding.
I started to discover, though, that Jesus is a gentleman. He never forced me to give Him anything. He patiently waited until I gathered up all the pieces of my heart to give to Him.
Part of me felt like a scared little girl with her heart carefully guarded in her hands. One step at a time, I started walking toward Jesus, knowing when I reached Him I would be handing all of the contents of my heart over to Him.
I knew I needed to release to Him the desire I had to be with another woman. I needed to also trust that He could heal all the sexual brokenness I had been experiencing since my teenage years. This was a very difficult thing for me to do, and my heart hurt when I started to realize how long I had held onto that desire. I went through a deep grieving process in letting all of it go.
I went to Jesus with my grieving heart, which I wasn’t even sure I could do at first. He never shamed or scolded me, as I grieved letting this go. The Holy Spirit comforted me as I continued to lay my pain down before Jesus and continued to learn how to look to Jesus for fulfillment.
Layers of shame started falling off of me – one by one.
When I was finally in a place where I felt like I could be transparent with God about struggling with my sexuality, layers of shame started falling off me. I continued to seek Him first and continued to build intimacy and transparency with Jesus.
I was still finding myself tempted by thoughts of other women, but something started to change.
My temptations became less of an indicator of failure and more of an indicator of my continued need for intimacy with Jesus. I stopped putting so much focus on my attraction to women, and I put my focus on Jesus, instead.
I started to realize that having freedom in this area of my life doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t experience temptations anymore, but what matters is who I choose to turn to when I have them.
I choose Jesus.
When a tempting thought hit me, or if I felt an emotional longing to be with another woman again, I stopped saying, “Why can’t I get over this? Why won’t God set me free?”
Instead, I started saying, “Jesus, you are the one who fills my deepest needs. I give this to you and ask that you help me to walk in deeper intimacy with you. You are the one who satisfies my deepest needs.”
My true need was intimacy with Him. I started to recognize Jesus coming alongside me and soothing those areas of my heart. Over time, He healed the damage porn did to my heart. He restored my ability to see women the way He does, instead of the lustful way porn taught me to look at them, going way back to the first scene I accidentally saw when I was a teenager.
This deep longing for intimacy cannot be filled by another woman, and it cannot be filled by my husband – no matter how close our relationship has become. He is not supposed to fill that place. I had been settling for counterfeit intimacy for so many years. It’s amazing how fulfilling true intimacy is with God. We are hardwired for it!
Like I said in the beginning of this post, what I shared here today is spotlighting only one part of my life. Jesus has continued to heal me and set me free in multiple other ways over the years as I have learned how to walk in freedom with Him. He loves me and fulfills me like no other!