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.