Friday, March 11, 2011

The Hope That Does Not Disappoint

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:2-5

After Mexico, it took almost a year before I got serious about living my life for Christ. Part of the reason it took so long was because I knew it would be a complete life transplant. I realized everything God was calling me to surrender: my paranoid thoughts, selfishness, drugs, friends who were a bad influence on me, and most of all, my same sex attraction and relationships.

I hesitated for so long, clinging to my old ways out of security and familiarity, and during that year, I grieved. God had opened my eyes, showing me how much He loved me and wanted my heart, how could I ignore that? I literally could not find satisfaction or content in any of the things of my past, anymore.

However, when I tried to relinquish my old self, it seemed I could not live that way, either. I was so messed up. I'm not trying to talk up my ordeal because I know people have gone through worse, and I know 3 years isn't that long, but it sucked. It was heart-wrenching and uncertain and scary. Going through a major, awful identity crisis, I wondered who I even was anymore.

I had separated myself from all of my old friends, but hadn't really felt comfortable "being me" in front of my new ones. I didn't even really know who "me" was anymore. I isolated myself out of the discomfort. I had the Lord, and He gave me some solace, but I missed people. I missed being comfortable with myself.I missed love and being in love. I hated the uncertainty of my new life. Still crushing on women, I felt like I was back in the closet, and that made me mad. Hadn't I already gone through this turmoil and finally accepted my same sex attraction? I hated taking a step back into the agony of hiding my deepest, darkest secret.

Sometimes, I wondered why I was even trying to let God heal me of homosexuality. Giving up the drugs, my old friends, and my old way of talking was difficult, but fully surrendering my same sex desire was the hardest thing I've ever done. God gave me the realization that healing would be Him working through me, not something I could do on my own, but I did have to surrender it over to Him. He couldn't take it from me with it clenched tightly in my hand.

I so desparately wanted it to be ok with Him. I looked at literature which said homosexuality could exist within Christianity. I read about Christians who reconciled being gay with their faith...but none of it rang true. I could not deny what the Lord spoke to my heart...His gentle answer. He did not scold me, He did not shake His finger at me, He just gave me truth, tenderly.

In accepting this truth, I suffered greatly. I would cry out to God, asking Him why. I was soooo tempted to throw in the towel, seriously considering giving up and just going to the gay bar. I thought, "God, I'll give you everything else, I promise...just don't make me surrender that....anything but that. I can't do it." I would plead with Him, "I've already given you so much...I have changed, can it please please be enough?" I would grow depressed and wonder, "Will I ever really be me again?" Sometimes, I would be angry at God and just say, "I can't do this, I cannot continue doing this, I'm done!!"

Once, as I was looking back over my journal entries to Him, I saw a common theme: torment. I also saw that my same sex attraction was not lessening. Instead, I had been experiencing one female crush after another...women from church!! I hurled my journal across the room and looked up at my living room ceiling with rage. "Is THIS the life you have planned for me??!! Is this what you want??!!" I told Him I would not, I could not do it anymore.

But, something in me kept me going.  Something in my heart held my head up and kept me strong, in stubborn defiance of what I wanted to do. I plowed ahead, I kept perservering, kept putting one foot in front of the other. I didn't know why and I didn't understand it, but I did it anyway. He kept pushing me through.

Then came the times when I had NO HOPE. That was the worst. I could not even dream that I would have a healthy relationship with a man. And I certainly didn't want to get married and be secretly crushing on women throughout my marriage!! At least by this point, I wasn't isolating anymore. I had slowly started to open up with some of my friends at church, being honest with several of them about my same sex issue.

One night, I went to a "girls night" thing with some of those friends, and I fell apart. I didn't even know how upset I was until I started talking about it all. My utter dejection, my fears, my HOPELESSNESS all came pouring out, and I bawled. I admitted that I was crushing on yet another girl. I said, "I just don't believe that I will ever...EVER be able to have a healthy relationship with a man...ever. Men don't desire me, and they never have. I have always been attracted to women....I have NEVER been able to see myself with a guy. I don't believe I will ever be healed."

Everyone was trying to build me up, saying sweet things, and I finally just interrupted and said, "Whatever, I know you guys are saying all that because you're supposed to, but do you really believe it? Do you really think that someday I will have a healthy relationship with a man?" I totally expected silence and glances downward, but without hesitation, my friend Chanda said, "Absolutely!!" I looked at her, incredulous. "I totally believe you will be in a healthy marriage relationship someday. I believe you can and will be healed of your same sex attraction." She was so sure of herself, so confident. It was crazy because even though I did not believe it myself, I knew she really did believe it. I knew she was sincere, and her hope lifted me up just a little. Her hope became my little glimmer of hope. Sometimes when we lose hope, we must cling to the hope other people have for us, letting them hope for us...

And about hope, the Bible promises this: "Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5) If God has called us to something or promised us something, our hope in it will not disappoint us, no matter how long it takes. God would not have called me out of my lesbian lifestyle unless He planned on healing me. No matter how hard our plight or how difficult our suffering, we can keep hoping and trusting in Him.

Now, I absolutely marvel at what happened since my surrender. God brought me completely through the fire, out of my darkness and into His light. Much to my shock, He orchestrated a healthy relationship with a man, a wonderful, Godly man. More surprising is this: I am totally in love with him. It is the first time for me with a man...the FIRST time a guy has ever made me feel beautiful or comfortable with my feminity. Even more shocking: I am healthily sexually attracted to him. God has worked a miracle in my life--oh me of little faith!! ^_^

I see my Billy's heart and it is amazing, more beautiful and sincere than I could have ever dreamed up for myself. He is patient, generous, genuine and kind. I feel like he often puts my happiness before his. He always pays unless I fight him, he opens my door, he offers to give me back and foot massages. He puts up with me taking forever at the grocery store. He compliments me, and tells me I'm beautiful...

Praise God for the blessing of him. The miracle of him!! I want to marry him, because I have no doubt that God orcestrated all this. I know, because when I feel my faith in the Lord at its strongest, I feel my love for Billy at its deepest. The two are undoubtedly connected...I know it's what He wants. I know God would be honored if we did marry, and He is the glue that BINDS!! :-)

So, I believe with umost certainty that God has a reason and a purpose for everything, especially our suffering. I also believe He gives us more than what we ask for, bigger and better than our wildest dreams, when we stick it out with Him through the fire of our trials. When we persevere with obedience throughout our suffering, such beautiful and awesome fruit follows. When we don't understand, when we want to give up, when we want to say forget this walk....we keep walking. His blessings await.

With regard to my own personal suffering, God prepared me and grew me and refined me, and increased my hope. I would not be able to know how much His blessing means or be able to appreciate it nearly as much had I not gone through the fire. Now, I see the fruit of my suffering. I know it was a part of His sovereign plan, a part of His intention of blessing me, and a part of Him showing me that hope in Him does not disappoint. Praise Him for the miracle that happened in my life.