I’m terrified to write this post. I know that parts of what I will say in this post will not sit well with some, will probably make others sad, and may even tick off a few people. But, this post has been a long time coming and yesterday at church, Jesus spoke so clearly and sweetly to me and it gave me the courage to finally write this out. My prayer as you read this is this, please have an open heart and if this post makes you question me and who you believe me to be, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to chat with you and answer any questions you may have.
Growing up, my family basically lived at church. My dad was a worship pastor for over 20 years and, until I was in high school, my family all but slept at church. I loved church. I loved being around people all the time and the feeling of community that comes from a church family. As I grew up and went off to college, I first attended Bob Jones University. Now, if you know nothing about this school, it is an incredible institution for an education, but it is extremely conservative. I had to wear skirts every day to class that went below my knees. I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything that wasn’t classical or hymns. I wasn’t allowed to hold hands with boys. The swimming pool had girl times and boy times. I know this is crazy if you didn’t grow up in this kind of community, but the second semester I was there, I was able to look beyond all the rules and truly did love that semester.
After one year at BJU, I came back home because we could no longer afford a private Christian university. I ended up at a community college where I studied for two and a half years before gaining enough credits to transfer to the University of Georgia, where I would ultimately graduate from in 2013. College took me five and half years to complete and it truly was a season of change and growth for me. I would meet someone in 2011 that would put a fire and a question in my soul that would linger until it finally exploded out of me in 2017. But, before we get there, let's see where my heart was in 2011.
Mother’s Day 2011, all six children were surrounding a hospital bed where our mother sat. She had experienced a minor stroke and it was the first time in my life that I felt the reality that my parents won’t always be around. It was a terrifying moment for us kids and one I will never forget. Around this same time, my sister who is closest in age to me (and closest in friendship also) had begun to seriously date her now husband. She and I had always been two peas in a pod and for the first time, I felt the loss of her presence. That summer I worked at a camp up north where my life would change forever. I didn’t realize the impact of that summer till years later, but I entered that summer feeling lonelier than I had felt in my life and all I wanted was to be seen, held, and loved. I worked with a girl up there and by the end of the summer, we were inseparable. What started out as a summer friendship, turned into a four year relationship that would wreck my heart in more ways than I wish to recall and would put a fear and hatred in my heart I didn’t know it could hold.
When those four years came to a close, I was left hating lesbians. We never said we were in a relationship like that, but looking back, that’s exactly what it was and my heart knew it. I didn’t know how to recover or how to forgive myself. I sought counsel which breathed new life back into my soul and for the first time in years, I felt my Heavenly Father wrap His arms around me and tell me I was beautiful and so deeply loved.
But despite the counseling, over the next few years I would walk around with this deep-rooted hatred towards lesbians. It would physically make me ill if I saw any sort of relationship that even remotely resembled a lesbian relationship. And yet, deep down I knew that what I felt with a girl was nothing like I had ever felt with a guy. I tried dating boys to try and get my mind off of girls or to try and prove to myself that I had zero attraction to females. This sort of worked because I am still attracted to men, but my soul was not healed and therefore I could not see beyond my own cuts and bruises to even try and see potential.
And then, in spring of 2017, I met a girl.
This girl. She is amazing; a true gift from the Lord when my heart needed it the most. I had zero intention of pursuing even a friendship with her when I met her, but like most things in my life, my plans didn’t go as planned. We began talking and what started out as playful flirting turned into deeper feelings. She helped me walk through some deep wounds, which allowed me to finally and once and for all acknowledge them and allow them to heal. They were so raw in the beginning of our relationship that one off handed comment would put me into uncontrollable tears. I knew my wounds ran deep, but I had no idea how deep until I truly started to acknowledge them.
You want to know the most beautiful part about this whole story? What Satan tried to use for evil, to keep me angry for years, God turned it around and used it to cause me to search out a relationship with Him like I have ever had before.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, I grew up in church where they give you all the answers, but at some point in your walk with the Lord, something is going to come up that is going to cause you to question those answers and when that happened for me, I questioned everything. Sought my own faith. Ran after my own, personal relationship with Jesus!
This last Sunday was Palm Sunday and the pastor gave us a time to just sit quietly with the Lord and give up to Him any areas of our lives that we were holding tightly in closed fists. At first I couldn’t think of anything, but as I sat there I realized I was holding something SO tightly that I didn’t even recognize it. Since dating this girl (and we have been off and on over the last two years), I have struggled with being open about it. Not because I am ashamed about it, because I have come to believe that same sex relationships are not a sin, but because I don’t want to be known as a bi-sexual who loves Jesus. I want to be known as a daughter of the King who loves all people. So, in my fear of being open about this, I had held it close to my heart and not let even the King of the universe have it. I know I held it because I was afraid He might take her from me. But, in that quiet moment on Sunday, I fearfully opened my palms face up on my lap and admitted to the Lord that I feared losing my girl, but that I wanted Him to hold us once and for all. For a moment, all I heard was a very loud brain full of many thoughts, but then it hushed and so peacefully I heard “Let Me love you”. No judgment. No condemnation. Just pure and gentle love. My soul sighed with relief and I leaned into His love in that moment.
You know, one of the bravest things we as humans will ever do, is allow others to love us back and more than anyone else in this life, let Jesus love you back! Open your palms face up and fearfully admit that you don’t trust Him and then let Him have what you have been holding. I know it’s only been a day, but knowing that He is holding me and my relationships is so much more comforting than trying to hold them all by myself.
It's ok to be fearful my fearless wanderers! But be courageous enough to acknowledge the fear and approach anyway. His love will ALWAYS out way our fear!
With open palms,
Your fearless wanderer