This weekend at Overlake, we're wrapping up our Hot Topics by tackling a very difficult topic that we see our culture wrestling with. Every person who is connected to this issue comes from a unique perspective. We have been highlighting testimonies during the series, this is just one more of those unique stories, from a cool young woman, twenty-something, following hard after Jesus:
"There are two main things I hope you get from my testimony, The first is that the devil can use anyone for any crazy thing if you stray from God. I'm sure as I am sharing this many of you are wondering what my connection to homosexuality is. You might think a previous boyfriend left me for a man, or maybe you think one of my siblings or one of my parents is gay. I know few people look at me and assume I ever identified as a lesbian. From the age of 15-21 I identified as bi-sexual. When I was 21 I claimed lesbian as my official sexual orientation. Yes, I even went so far to change my status on my myspace and facebook. Now, to help you pull this picture together let me give you a brief background on me. I played barbies, not sports. I wore make up not baseball hats. I walked in stilettos not sneakers. And no, I never had short hair. My path to lesbianism was not your stereotypical path, if there is such a thing. However, my motives for getting started, are ones we can all relate too. I was searching.
Searching for something and thought I could find it in someone. The problem was, I didn't know what I was searching for and for the most part, I didn't consciously know that was what I was doing. For so long I wasn't able to connect my emotions of loneliness to my actions of lust. It took years for my emotions to catch up with my actions. I made sure to live a very fast life in order to prevent that from happening. My first sexual experience happened when I was 15 in the form of date rape. That experience left me with a lot of confusion, guilt and denial. I was broken and tried to put myself back together by having relationships and physical encounters with men that were briefly entertaining but still left me feeling empty. After several years of poor choices and disappointment, I found myself in a new environment. My transition of teams from bi-sexual to lesbian was made easy in part because all of my close friends were gay. When I decided to come out, my friends threw me a party. Even my parents, who were non-Christians at the time, took the news with ease. When I came out to my mom her response was "We already know. We saw it on your myspace." I left the conversation more confused on how my mom who can't even check her voicemail was able to track me down on myspace and see my sexual orientation. What I received from identifying as a lesbian provided me with a few relationships to temporarily fill that empty void I had, but I also found something else that at first, fulfilled that feeling even more. I found an identity. I allowed a community to tell me who I was, what I liked and how I acted and reacted. This fulfillment I found in my insta-identity only lasted so long however. Eventually the drama of my relationships, friends and lovers caught up to me by my 23rd birthday. I remember waking up that morning with this disgusting feeling of "Where am I?" And not in the situation of partying too hard the night before and just not knowing, but just feeling completely lost. I had no idea how I ended up where I was but I knew I hated my life. It was that morning I knew I had to discontinue dating girls. I know the church ideal testimony would be for me to say that I made that choice because I called out to God and He showed me the biblical truth about my lifestyle. Well, my testimony doesn't quiet go like that. Honestly the push for me to leave that lifestyle is because girls are too much drama for me! I was done. From the manipulation, the nagging and especially the game playing. I realized that unless its the Seahawks playing I'm just not interested in games. Although I had made a good choice by discontinuing a destructive lifestyle, it took me a couple months to finally make the right choice. My life wasn't yet submitted to God. I believed in God at this point, but I didn't know Him or His word. The whole time I was identified as a lesbian I knew I needed to get to church. To be honest, I was terrified to go to church. At the time my image of Christians, espicially evangelical ones, was one of hate and hypocricy. Isn't it tragic that Christians today are known more for what they don't believe in then what they do? Well fortunately, as much as I desired to be church, God desired it even more and provided me with what I needed to get to church. From the right church, the right pastor and espicially the right people in my life. All of a sudden, all these great Christian women were being brought back into my life and were an amazing support system. There is one in particular who had been there all along, starting in first grade. My best friend Rachel was the first one to take me to church. I was terrified she wouldn't want to be my friend anymore or would try to change me or condemn me. Thankfully, she is a woman who truly reflects God's grace. Although I shocked her, she still remained my best friend. I never doubted where she stood on the issue, but at the same time I never doubted her love for me. It was through that demonstration of Christ's love that made turning my life around a lot easier.
Eventually my search for church transitioned to a search for God. I came looking to Him not because I felt convicted or condemned. I came to God because I hated my life and felt like I had made everything else I enjoyed into a god in my life and just figured what could I lose by trying to put God as center in my life? It's funny that as soon as I put God in His rightful place in my life, He put me in mine. When I was at a point where I felt I had nothing left to lose I was proved wrong and ended up losing a lot. Through my authentic relationship with Jesus I lost my guilt, the suffering I silently endured, the drama I told everyone about, the neediness, and an identity that was falsified and did me no good. What I found was truly unconditional love, grace and mercy from the only true God. Jesus said "Come as you are." And I did. And it was through my relationship with Him that I realized that it's because of Christ's great love for us that He wants us to change. I could change my lifestyle, but only Jesus can change my heart. I finally stopped looking at the world to justify my actions and attitudes and now only look to His word. The only source of truth. It was through Jesus opening up my heart and mind to His word that I was able to find my true identity. I am who I am only by the grace of God. I was done with all the other labels: femme, butch, tom boi, pretty boi, androgynous, transgender, power lesbian, gender queer. I know I just rattled off a list of identities that only a handful of followers of Jesus have any relation to or understanding of. So let me try another list: repentant, forgiven, redeemed, restored, born again. This is another list of words that you might have heard many times. But not enough of us take the steps to have any real understanding of them. At the beginning I told you there were two things I wanted you to get from my testimony. The first was that the devil can use anyone or anything to prompt you to stray from God. The second, and always most important is that God can use anyone for greatness if you submit to Him." -A.L.
God loves you, A.L.
Jesus loves you, reader.
See you this Sunday...it's gonna be a HOT Topic, handled with love...