Healing Takes Time: My Journey of Healing and Freedom
There has been one particular area where God has been healing my heart over the past several years. He has been healing me concerning my sexual identity.
Healing seems to have come in stages, usually with a revelation from God to speed everything up for a while, but then it all slows down again. I’m learning that it’s all part of the process, though, and I’ll take it all if it means continued healing in the long run.
I spent many years feeling like I had a secret I could never share with anyone. I grew up only being attracted to boys, but after high school I entered into a sexual relationship with a (female) friend of mine. On top of everything else this was a very emotionally intense relationship, and it caused me to start questioning my sexual identity from then on. I felt a connection with her that I had never felt with anyone else.
After focusing on these feelings and fears for a number of years, their importance seemed to grow. I became more and more focused on this attraction I had to women, and less focused on men. My attraction towards women was more emotionally driven than anything, and I just never felt that way about men. “Who can really connect with a man, anyhow?” is what I always thought to myself.
A deep connection with someone is what I was drawn to, and I was convinced the only place I could truly find that was with a woman.
When I became a Christian, I started to realize the depth of all of this. I would always have to just shove this part of myself down and ignore it forever…so I thought. Then I met my husband. I told him all about my relationship with my friend after high school, and everything related. (That was totally out of character for me to do, but I feared if I didn’t put it out on the table right away, I might never tell him.)
We talked through it all, and I was so incredibly blessed to later become his wife. The problem though, was the issue with my sexuality started surfacing again a couple years after we got married. I thought I had dealt with it and put it behind me. Little did I know, it was just about to come to the surface in a major way.
This is around the time that I started struggling with looking at lesbian porn online.
By this time, I was struggling like never before with thoughts of being with a woman. I even started having thoughts that I would have been better off never getting married in the first place, because I would have been much happier with a woman. I would constantly tell myself that I couldn’t ever be as close to a man as I could a woman.
The porn I was looking at completely rewired my brain over time. I started to feel like I was looking at the world through a man’s eyes and brain. It completely changed the way I saw women.
I eventually stopped looking at porn, but my thoughts continued to race. I was having horrible dreams (that resembled the porn I used to watch) which made it all worse. I was able to battle these thoughts while I was awake, but as soon as I went to sleep, my imagination would go wherever it wanted to.
Due to the dreams, it was even more difficult for me to convince myself that bi-sexuality (or even being a lesbian) was not something that was part of my identity. I believed that with my head, but my heart told me a very different story. I could never truly grasp it, and I just felt like no one understood how deep this all went for me.
The attractions felt as much as a part of me as my own name. My lust towards women felt like it was a real part of me that just wouldn’t ever go away. It affected all of my friendships, because I always stayed at arms-length from women – just in case. I was afraid that I might feel something I didn’t want to feel.
I thought it was all just something I would always have to bury and hide.
I felt such relief after finally confessing the intensity of my struggle with my husband, but I would say that my healing in this area really began when I first told my pastors about the dreams I was having. I was mortified to tell them, but I was also desperate for help. They prayed with me that night, and a few nights later I realized I had been delivered from those dreams! Jesus set me free from them.
When I was delivered of the dreams, the first big change happened. I no longer felt like being bi-sexual or a lesbian was part of my true identity. It’s difficult to explain, but very real. This is something that I spent years trying to convince myself of, and finally I knew it in my heart. Not waking up every day feeling like I had done explicit things with another woman in my dreams helped me tremendously.
It no longer felt like part of my identity.
I realize that this may sound over-simplified, but this is truly what happened for me. It was like that part of my life that had tormented and driven me for years was gone.
My view changed from, “I am a lesbian.” to “I am someone who experiences same-sex attraction.” That may not seem like a big difference to someone on the outside looking in, but there is a huge difference here, concerning identity.
At that point, I thought that my battle was over.
What I didn’t realize, though, was that just that particular part of my battle was over. This did not erase all of the lies that I had believed for so long.
So, what were the lies that I believed?
1) Deep down, I still believed that I would be happier with a woman than a man. As a Christian, I knew this could not be true, though, because the bible says that God did not create me to be with a woman. Since God created me, He knows what type of relationship I was created to be in, and no matter what it “feels” like – a woman is not part of that equation. God is my creator, and therefore He knows best.
2) I believed that I could never get as close to a man as I could a woman. Every argument my husband and I got into fostered this lie. Every time he emotionally distanced himself from me or was gone for long hours too many days in a row, this belief grew even bigger. This worked as a double-edged sword, while driving me further and further away from him.
3) I believed that being with a woman was safer (emotionally) than being with a man. Making myself vulnerable to a man seemed foolish. To me, men were all about one thing (sex), and I never saw women as being this way. The relationship I had years ago with the other woman was incredibly emotionally enmeshed and I didn’t feel used. I felt loved and accepted for who I was.
Somewhere along the way I equated men+sex=being used. I suppose all of that pornography didn’t help, and it has taken a long time to replace this lie with God’s Truth. Sex is a good thing between a married man and woman, and God created a sexual relationship to be satisfying to both of them.
4) The last thing that I dealt with that I wouldn’t necessarily call a lie, but a huge obstacle, is that I put so much focus on women in my mind for so long, that it created almost what I would call an automatic “pathway” that my brain always took. I don’t know if it started with all of the pornography, or what it was, but I often fantasized about things that no married woman (or any woman!) should ever think about. I did it so much that I wasn’t even aware of how much I did it until God started to shed light on it all. No wonder my relationship with my husband was not the way it should have been!
Not to be too blunt, but there’s not too much that any woman and my husband have in common – emotionally or physically. When you think about the opposite of your husband for long enough, it will destroy every part of your relationship. (I’m sure this applies to anyone who fantasizes about anyone else other than their spouse – male or female.) Talk about a real intimacy killer in a marriage.
I thank God, though, that He is able to restore any marriage that is given to Him. My relationship with my husband is not perfect, but it is far better today than it has ever been (and getting even better all the time).
God has done so much in my heart over the last few years, and I am not the same person I was. The lies I listed above are not something that were exposed and conquered in my life in one day. Some of them still come creeping into my mind during stressful times or even sometimes when my husband and I have a disagreement.
Am I still tempted in this area at times? Yes. Those same temptations hit me every once in awhile, but they are much easier to resist now. The shame I used to have is not there, and I know that Jesus is the one who fulfills my deepest desires.
I can easily look back and see how much my heart has changed and how much more I have been walking in freedom over the last few years. God has been so faithful in continuing to heal my heart as I yield everything over to Him.
Layer upon layer of junk in my heart has been exposed and then disposed of. It is so important to become aware of what you are believing if you are stuck in bondage to something. If we keep trusting in, believing or acting out in certain ways that are sinful, we are believing some sort of lie that is contrary to the Word of God; otherwise, we wouldn’t be so compelled to do it in the first place. When we repeatedly replace these lies with God’s Truth, we will be able to slowly embrace the people God created us to be.
This is not an overnight process, and I’m aware of that now. I know that God has called me to minister to other women who deal with unwanted same-sex attraction, pornography addiction, and shame. That makes this process all worthwhile.
Update (August 2015): Jesus has continued to heal my heart in so many ways. I wrote the post above in 2012. Since then, God has done so much more in my life and heart, and He has shown me that what I was truly craving was intimacy with Him. You can read more of my testimony here.
I’m so glad you’ve made the choice to fight through this stuff Amy.
Otherwise, we would always be “at arms length,” we would never have been able to become close friends. Your friendship is very dear to me.
Thanks, Mary. Yes, I’m so glad, too! You are one of my dearest friends, and I love you too. 🙂
Thanks so much Amy, you are blessed for sharing this with others (inlcuding myself who has been struggling with it)
It’s true, it would be a ‘lie’ if I actually believed that being bisexual was God’s plan for me. It most definantly is not! I must rebuke those feelings & thoughts that are wrong – because anything that is contridicting the Word of God is ‘evil’ and from the devil. I know now that even if those feelings creep up on me now, I will not be condemned, because as long as I don’t give into that temptation and accept it, I have not sinned. The devil has lied to me for years, making me believe it was ‘my fault’ feeling this way, that God is angry with me, and that it was okay to feel that way even though it was getting me depressed and suicidle. I actually thought I was ‘sinning’ against God for having those feelings that I couldn’t control, the devil had convinced me. But that’s a big fat lie! God has helped me understand. I reckonise also that the closer I am with Jesus and His Holy Word, the stronger I am inside and that I do not feel those wrong desires, bad thoughts or shame. And His Word is indeed the ‘Sword of the Spirit – that is sharper than any two edged sword.’ It’s also true when God says, ‘Return to Me and I will return to you’…’Come near to God and God will come near to you’. I now know that God is always here for us – we just need to COME to God and ‘claim’ His word in our lives – Jesus has already overcome the world! LET’S CLAIM HIS TRUTH TODAY! And put the lies of the enemy behind us!
This is so great to hear. Thanks for sharing this!
Thank you, Amy, for sharing your struggle and the testimony of the power of God to deliver you and keep you free. I’ve struggled with fear, shame, anxiety, and a host of other things that, as a Christian, I never thought was acceptable. I hated God for letting this stuff happen to me (so I thought). I’d say things like, “what did I ever do to you to deserve this?!” I knew that God is perfect, and that He is not a tyrant, but the enemy had convinced me that I hadn’t done anything wrong, and that God didn’t love me enough to deliver me. Now, this comes from the heart of someone who was once so in love with God – – a praise and worship leader, small group leader, a minister of the Gospel. I mean … I still sit here flabbergasted at how I opened the door to the enemy (which I’m still trying to pinpoint). My struggles have affected every significant relationship in my life. I have contemplated suicide and have feared that I’ll end up in hell. I’ve prayed and asked God to forgive me for my sins, and help me to get this right, but I realize, after reading your posts, that my heart has become so hardened. I’ve lost hope, and … the fight has been so intense. I haven’t had anyone to talk to (or, because of pride, was afraid to tell anyone everything), so I’ve bottled up everything I’ve felt and experienced, asking God to send me someone to talk to. I really want to be free; I just don’t feel like I have a fight in me. I literally feel like the life of God has been sucked out of me, and I’m dying on the vine. I’ve feared that I’d become reprobate (that has been my fear for as long as I can remember), but I understand that a reprobate person does not desire to change; neither are they ever convicted. So, … praise God, I guess; there’s hope. This is it for me, though. I can’t take another day of torment.
Where do I start?
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment. I just wanted you to know that I am going to be e-mailing you soon! (And YES, there IS hope! It is not too late.)
Thank you ladies for sharing your hearts and your struggles. Wow! I wanted to share the name of a ministry, Cleansing Stream Ministries. It’s a healing and discipleship 3-month class. You can take the class on your own or through a local church. There are 5-6 teachings and a workbook, and then a one-day retreat. It’s a foundational class but deals with the roots of emotional healing and past hurts, etc. There is more information on their website. I took this class and then ended up leading this twice a year for four years and each time God brought His Truth in to replace those lies of my past and bring healing to my heart and soul. The website is https://www.cleansingstream.org/ and for some reason when I just tried to do a yahoo search, there may be a non-legit site with a similar website…. I had a warning when I tried to open this from a yahoo search rather than just typing the URL in my address bar. When I typed it in my address bar it was fine. Blessings to you ladies and I pray you will walk in more freedom as the Lord leads you down the healing path He has for you. Paula
Thank you, Paula. My husband an I were very blessed to go through the Cleansing Stream classes and retreat earlier this year. I am so glad we did it. Thank you for passing this along! ~ Amy
When you had thoughts about women what did you do/say to remove those thoughts?
Hi Krystal. I guess there were a number of things I did/do.😊
For me, I realized (after many years) that every time I had a thought about another woman I would condemn myself. This would make it much worse, and it made it very difficult for me to turn to God. I felt like He was angry with me for even being tempted in that way. After I realized that all of the self-condemning thoughts were making everything worse, when a thought/temptation would come into my mind, I would just try to shift my focus to something else. If I was in a place where I could pray, I would do that. If this was a specific person I saw or an image I came across online, I also learned to start praying for that person. I would pray for her well-being, her relationships, that she would know God, etc. This helped me a lot! Praying for someone puts our focus back on God again, and it helps us to see the other person as God does.
I would also have times when my attractions were more emotional/relational, and I gave God the thoughts I was having about wishing I could be with another woman to feel understood, truly known by someone, if I was feeling lonely, etc. (I believed I could only have those things with another woman for such a long time.) When this happened, I would ask God to show Himself as my Comforter, as the One who knows me better than anyone, etc. This helped me as well. I know now that God did not create me to be with another woman, so when I finally “got” that (and my identity started to change in that area) it made it much easier to ignore temptations.
I hope some of this is helpful to you! The more transparent and close my relationship became with Jesus, the more I was able to put aside the temptations and desire to be with another woman. This was not an overnight thing at all, but a process.