Tuesday, October 19, 2010

September, 2007

I instinctively look away. It's not easy to hear, but at least I can appreciate her being honest with me. I look back at her, and something in me gives. It doesn't mean I have to change anything. I'm going to be the same gay woman I have always been. It couldn't hurt to let her pray about it.

We close our eyes and she begins, sitting beside me with one hand on my back. "Father..." She asks that my eyes be opened to the truth, that God would show my heart the answer. She breaks strongholds in Christ's name, rebuking the power of any evil influence on my life. Proclaiming my identity in Christ, she prays that the Spirit will flow through me.

At the start of this, I am casually going through the motions with her, but as she continues, I sense a strange sensation in my chest. Subtle at first, the more she prays, the more it strengthens. It's a cool, mentholated tingling...like a cleansing water...a gentle stream. I am shocked and awed at this intensifying feeling, but my eyes remain locked shut as she goes on, praying in the name of Jesus.

Slowly, things are happening, the tingling in my heart begins spreading. It gets stronger and stronger as it trickles throughout my chest and the top of my body, down my arms and my legs, and eventually, all the way down to my fingers and toes. The depth of the sensation, though, pulses throughout my heart, the control center of my anatomy, the place where my emotional becomes physical, the deepest and inmost part of my being. Much to my surprise, I am getting the answer to my question, and so much more. I am flooded with an overwhelming sense of love, forgiveness, and peace, in my soul. But the majority of the feeling is an incredible sense of how much He loves me. It's then that I realize, I am getting only a tiny taste of God's infiniteness.  All bitterness and worldly things I've held on to start melting away, and the real meaning of life comes crashing into perspective.

Tears flow freely down my cheeks. I realize beyond a shadow of a doubt that He IS. Soon, I bawl uncontrollably. Through my tears, my sister tells me she hears Him say, 'You're so beautiful...' I feel His love for me, how much He wants my whole heart, how much He wants me, and how much He will never let go. He has revealed Himself. There is no halfway anymore, and there will be no excuses for staying the same.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Sister and Her Husband in Torreon, Mexico

Sometimes, I don't even really realize how much it affects me. It's only when I let myself think about it. Or start to talk about it.

I am selfish. I want her to come home. I miss her. I want to have the closeness with her that we had when we were kids, when she was my best friend, and I saw the whole world in her eyes. And we created plays together, and dressed up in raggedy clothes together. I was like her little doll, and she was my big sis, whom I adored. And I think of her in dangerous Mexico and it just brings tears instantly to my eyes. But I know...not my cup, Father. Yours.

There was an article in the Houston Chronicle about Torreon last week, the very city that they live in. It was about how some members of a drug cartel opened fire at a random party and killed 17 innocent people. My sister was sitting at the table and my father came up and laid the article in front of her. He just looked at her and tapped it with his finger.

She just made noises as she read, wondering half aloud if she knew any of the 17 who had been shot. And then, we all started talking, and we kept talking. For hours. And I was bawling off and on. And my parents begged them, PLEADED with them, to come home.

I respect my sister and her husband so immensely for doing what they do. To imagine that they deliberately put themselves in a dangerous place to fulfill God's purpose for their lives...such an honorable and amazing thing. An awesome, awe-striking thing. I remember my sister once saying, "I am prepared to lose my life for this." There is no braver sacrifice a person can make. I am filled with wonder at that statement. I don't know if I could say the same, honestly. I would like to think I would, but they KNOW they would.

The last time I talked to her on the phone, I could hardly get the words out. She is still in the states, at least for the next few days, and I was half trying to convince her to just stay...just hoping in some feeble way, along with my parents, that she would not go back. My voice was thick with pain. I told her that I was just terrified each time I see her or talk to her that it will be the last time I ever speak to her. I was bawling and repeating myself alot. "I just don't want this to be the last time I ever talk to you. I'm just so scared that this will be the last time I ever talk to you...I just hope...and pray...that I will be able to talk to you again..." And she listened as I sobbed, and she was sympathetic and calm.

She wasn't upset, didn't cry at all. I think she is used to calming people down. If she can calm down my mother, she can calm down anyone. And she really believes they will be ok. I guess with her personally witnessing God protecting them the way that He has, I should not be surprised at her confidence. After all, they have been shot at, while in a truck, at close range, with MACHINE GUNS, and they drove away without a scratch.

I could tell several stories like that. Stories that would make your eyebrows raise. And if I wasn't a trustworthy person, you wouldn't believe me. And my sister barely even told us, her own family, because of how unbelievable. But God is at work. He performs miracles the same way today that He did in the Bible. And NO ONE could deny that the things that have happened to my sister and her husband are truly miraculous.

My sister reassured me over the phone, saying that she didn't think they would kill her or Larry, that it would draw too much attention to them. She talked about how her and Larry were too conspicuous, and that they weren't really a target for the drug cartels. And they are obviously, loudly for Jesus...she was not worried. I think if I were a drug cartel member or a gang member, I would be hesitant to kill someone who so boldly took a stand for Christ, in a place where no other gringos did. Killing missionaries of the Lord is pretty gutsy, even for them.

And she told me to pray, to ask God to give everyone in the family a clear sign on whether or not they should be there. And even as she was saying it, I knew. They are. God is at work. They are changing lives, and that's what we're on this earth for. To spread the gospel and make disciples, to live for the glory of God, dangerous or not. Difficult or not.

And so I told her I loved her sooooo much, and that if it was the last time that we ever talked, that it would be ok...that I knew where she was going...and I would see her again, regardless of if it is in this life or the next. And my anxiety began to fade as soon as I said that, as soon as I said what I needed to say to her. I felt a peace that comes from the truth. None of us can stand in His way, and we have to entrust them to Him. And as long as they feel His tug on their hearts, they have to follow. And I am so proud of her, even though I'm terrified sometimes. I am so proud of my big sister in Mexico.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Growing Pains

Just like our physical bodies can grow too fast for our comfort, so can our spiritual lives. Branches are lopped off, our impurities are scorched away by fire, God uses trying circumstances in molding and growing us--it's far from easy. But even in the changing process, we can find the most amazing peace and fulfillment in Him. As uncomfortable as it is to go against our flesh, there is nothing compared to walking in the Spirit. For me, it's been two years since I rededicated my life to Christ. This part of my journey has been one of the hardest times of my life, but I wouldn't change it for anything.

It's hard to downplay the battle I've fought against my sin during this time, though. Before my rededication to Him, I lived in the lesbian lifestyle for almost ten years. Habitual sexual sin, gay or straight, is one of the hardest yokes to overcome. A Christian counselor I know likened it to a dog who escapes through a hole under the backyard fence...once the dog gets out even one time, once he's tasted that pleasure, it's almost impossible to keep him from escaping again.

This past year in general, I have felt really defeated--repeatedly. I have had literally one female crush after another, and the shameful thing is, it is usually on other Christian women. I have struggled and struggled...and given in to lustful thinking some of the time. Either way, whether I'm resistant or compliant to the thoughts, it's been pretty miserable.

One night several months ago, I was angry, hurting, and hopeless. I had just gotten back from my small group, and I was sitting in my car in the parking lot, watching the rain pour down. I had been battling another unhealthy attraction, without much success. As the tears rolled down my face, I laid my head against the steering wheel and cried out to God, "Why won't you deliver me, why won't you just take this? WHY??!!" And He replied, perfectly clearly, Because you don't want me to. My tears stopped. Whoa. And I knew it was true. I battle sometimes, but am I really 100% wanting Him to heal me? No. I still hold on. Out of my flesh, out of the lie that it can't change. Out of familiarity, out of weariness from fighting, out of rebellion...out of having a last ditch resort. I hold on.

That moment of realization brought a turning point. I thought, "Ok God, I get it. So, what now? How do I let go and fully give this to You?" And I think He revealed to me the simplest of answers, one which I've had to realize time and time again: I've got to give Him everything. It's not just my same sex attraction. It's my life. Here I am, excusing my "little" sins here and there, giving myself license to do certain things I know are wrong. But true freedom means NO chains, I can't hang on to one area of sin and expect freedom from another. They are all related and strengthen the same fleshly nature. And there are no gray areas about what God wants from us. He's an all or nothing God!!

He wants all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds, all our strengths, but here's another kicker: he wants them ALL THE TIME. Not that we are even capable of giving Him both 100% of our lives and doing it all the time, as broken as we are, but it's our efforts that are important. There shouldn't be a halfway, like, I try some of the time to keep my thoughts pure and then deliberately indulge some of the time. I've got to try constantly to align my will with His.

Our motives are important, too: If I'm doing this so that I can be healed or get married, I'm not really giving Him 100% because I make my submission to Him based on a condition. I make it more about what I can get out of it than about living my life for Him. I've got to submit to Him regardless of what happens with my life. I've got to offer my life as a living sacrifice for Him out of love...without selfishness, without condition, without pridefully taking credit for my victories...

And I can be hopeful that I will be victorious, because of Christ in me. I am a NEW creation in Christ--not ruled by my sin anymore!! The Sunday after God spoke to me in my car, there was a whole sermon about how when we accept Christ and the offer of salvation, a MONUMENTAL change happens within us. We are different--no longer under the dominion of sin--in fact, turning to those former sins is submitting to slavery again. And I started realizing how miserable I was when I gave in to my sin anyway...I was just putting my shackles back on and going against my NEW nature in Christ. That sinful nature only has as much power as we give it, but it does not rule over us anymore. Our desires change, our hearts change, everything about us changes. God kept giving me scripture to inspire me and give me new hope...He makes all things new...nothing is impossible for Him...

And yeah, it's possible for me to be free of this, to God be the glory!! Up until that point, I had been subconsciously (and even somewhat consciously) believing lies rather than the truth. I've been believing that my same sex attraction doesn't get any better whether I battle it or not, that I am always going to struggle with it, etc. But I had to admit to myself that it wasn't true. When I struggle with all my might against it, and I depend on Christ for strength, it diminishes. If I gave this to God and trusted Him, doing my part with my utmost effort, who knows what could happen? I don't!! I have not done it in these past two years!!

I am starting to, though. It's been several months since these realizations, and I know that I am still very vulnerable, but I sense that the hardest part of this battle is over. If this was a test, I passed, because I have not budged an inch on what I believe to be the truth, or wavered in my commitment to God's will for my sexuality. With new hope and by the grace of God, I am beginning to really let Him have this sin. I am entering a new stage of my journey, one where I give Him my all. No more excuses, no more looking back...no more fear. I am running the race marked out for me with perserverance, and fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.