A longer title for my life story could be “A prodigal pastor’s daughter finds her way home after thirteen years in a gay relationship.”
All my family and friends were terribly shocked when I left my husband for a woman. It took me a long time to learn that what I thought was love, really wasn’t.
My mother led me to Jesus at age four through the Wordless Book, an evangelistic tool for children. My father attended Bible school and seminary during most of my childhood years. We were poor, but we had a close church family. The church we grew up in was legalistic, but I loved Jesus, studying the Word and hearing His sweet whisper in my heart.
I had a few “crushes” on female teachers in my growing-up years. When I was fifteen, a female Bible student was overly affectionate with me. That confused me. As I grew, I liked boys, but I also had a few minor same-sex crushes. Years later, when my marriage began to deteriorate, I sought out a gay relationship. I found one, and it led me to end my marriage.
It’s been hard to revisit this period of my life when I wasn’t walking with Jesus. My kids were small when I left my husband. I felt they would be happier if I was happy (the cultural lie at the time).
My new partner and I had a “good life” over the years we were together: good jobs, a lovely home, great friends, and trips around the world. We were role models in the gay community. We joined a gay church and attended there for ten years. We sang gospel songs and believed Jesus was on our side. I believed that the Bible had some good ideas, but I also thought that God was bigger than the Bible: God is all about love, right? However, I had pushed Jesus out.
At times, things would nudge my mind, causing me to question my lifestyle, but I would ignore them and continue on. I didn’t think I could leave my lifestyle and stick to it.
Huge alerts got my attention: my daughter’s serious illness, disillusioning experiences in the gay church, and disturbing things in my gay friends’ lives and lifestyles. I had also developed a new fear of death. As I saw world events unfold, I wondered about Bible prophecy.
Another alert came through problems in my gay relationship. It had dramatic ups and downs — high highs and low lows. Over time, I felt as though I were walking on eggshells with my partner, just as I had in my marriage to my husband. I felt I was in bondage, unable to leave but miserable staying.
I began attending Al-Anon meetings and found a name for my problem: codependency. One of the Twelve Steps was to try to make conscious contact with God as we understood Him. As I quieted my heart, I began to realize that I had made my partner a god. Trying to please her had taken over my life and pushed Jesus out.
All these alerts culminated in my going to an ex-gay ministry one spring weekend in the late 1980’s. I responded to the altar call and tearfully came back to Jesus. A beautiful sense of cleansing, forgiveness, and joy filled my heart. I went home to my gay partner and moved out a few days later.
I’d love to say all went well after that, but my faith failed in the following months. I didn’t make time to be in the Word and prayer to nourish my walk with Jesus. I felt lost in a huge church, and I was afraid to tell anyone about my past. I also couldn’t find a support group.
After that first year, I missed my partner and eventually went back to her. We lived together for a year, but it was a terrible time. I was trying to “serve” her and Jesus at the same time. This time, when I moved out, it was for good.
Fortunately, I found an ex-gay ministry that provided a safe place where I could be open and honest. They offered prayer, hope, and healing. People there helped us understand the roots of identity issues, such as unmet childhood needs, bullying, abuse, and other life experiences. When I hear how our culture uses the term reparative therapy to dismiss the power of God to change lives, my heart sinks. This ministry made such a difference for me in finding freedom.
I learned that sexuality and identity issues are “not a sexual problem, but a relationship problem.” As I thought about my gay relationship, I realized that what I regarded as love was really a neediness, a type of emotional bondage. Its dramatic ups and downs created instability, and my need for affirmation made me captive to her every emotion. My heterosexual marriage had problems, but I had felt much calmer and freer in it.
A scripture that has been important to my understanding of my gay relationship is Romans 1:25: “[People] worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (KJV). I learned that as Christians, we must keep our eyes on God, the Creator, because anything He created could become an idol.
One of the most helpful resources for my struggles was a little booklet by Lori Rentzel called Emotional Dependency. A couple of times I’ve felt myself drifting into emotional dependency over the years, but thankfully I haven’t struggled with sexual thoughts or temptations. The alarm bells went off when I found myself needing to “be there” for someone or needing to feel needed. I’ve learned that the noise of a relationship addiction can drown Jesus out. I need to be honest with myself, calm down with the Word and prayer, and quiet myself to hear His voice during these times.
Often, Jesus nudged me to establish boundaries. Sometimes it was painful to distance myself from a friend, but I knew God loved them more than I ever could. Who am I to play God in their life? I knew that over time, I would be relieved and happy to have escaped a relationship addiction, and it would also be in their best interest. Jesus really does fulfill His promise to set us free, and we will be free indeed (John 8:36).
Jesus has been healing my identity through the years, teaching me who I am in Christ, and that I am a beloved child of God. He has done a “new thing” in me (Isaiah 43:19).
During COVID-19, I wrote my memoirs for my family, including six grandchildren. I shared this part of my life because I wanted them to know the freedom Jesus can bring. He instructs us to let the next generation know about His faithfulness (Psalm 89:1).
God has shown me His love through His care, provision, and protection in many wonderful adventures, friends, and prayer partners during these years of following Him. Mission trips to Africa, Cambodia, and Honduras provided opportunities to share stories of God’s love and faithfulness to me. Jesus truly gives us the abundant life He promised (John 10:10)!
When I was at that ex-gay ministry, I longed to know if one could leave the gay lifestyle and not look back. Today, I can answer with a resounding “yes” and testify that it’s so worth it! I only regret those thirteen lost years and the pain it brought to my family. Thankfully, they have been so gracious to forgive me, and I praise God for the joy and blessing they are to me.
During these last three or four years, in spite of the challenges of aging, COVID, and health issues, I have had more time to be in prayer and in the Word. As a prodigal daughter returned home, I feel that His whisper is getting louder in my heart. May I always have ears to hear it.
*Name has been changed.