God Makes a Way in the Desert
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19.
The Lord has brought this verse to me at various points in my life, reminding me that I do not have to be bound by the past, that I can move on to a more free and abundant life. When I have believed this, and have walked by faith in Him rather than fear and disbelief, I have seen chains broken.
I grew up as a second of seven children to Christian parents. I am thankful to the Lord that I had an early introduction to the reality of a God. Although my parents were Christians and regularly attended church, they were, in many ways, bound by their past and the abuses they experienced. They had a tense, conflicting relationship and divorced when I was in college. Growing up, I found it difficult to communicate freely with either of my parents. I feared my dad’s rage and often felt that my mother was unavailable and that I needed to protect her. I was ashamed of them and angry and, I believe, built a wall to keep them out. These combinations of barriers did not allow the love and interaction that God intended between myself and my parents.
I did accept Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was a junior in high school and was baptized when I was 18. Because I was turned off by the Christianity that I saw lived at home, the Lord had to show me there was more to a relationship with Him than what I saw. The Lord provided a small family- oriented congregation that helped me grow in my new faith. That first church home was truly a blessing! I left home to go to college and almost immediately felt a sense of relief and freedom. I could make a life for myself, free from the chains that I felt at home, more free to be who I wanted to be. Little did I know the extreme hurt and pain I carried with me. It was like I had a vacuum inside, ready to suck in attention and love. Unfortunately, I did not turn immediately to the Lord to fill this. I was flattered that another freshman seemed to really enjoy my company and look up to me. She would often come to my room to talk or hang out. As our friendship developed, it began to take on some unhealthy characteristics.
As I look back, there were many “red flags”, but at the time, I was naïve about what a healthy relationship was and driven to find acceptance and love. One of the unhealthy signs in our relationship was a strong emotional dependency on each other. We “needed” to do everything together. I would think about her all the time to the point where our relationship was more important than anything or anybody else. Looking back, I recognize that I hurt some friends and relationships because of this exclusivity. We then became involved physically, and this was confusing for both of us, because neither of us had been so involved with someone of the same sex before. Yet we were both driven by our feelings and our desire to be wanted and needed.
During this time, neither of us talked to anyone about our relationship although I know that people suspected the nature of it. I did not feel there was really anyone to talk to that would understand and would not condemn me. At that time, I did not know that ministries like L.I.F.E. existed. I read a lot, trying to figure out what homosexuality was and what God thought about it. Even though I felt that I could not talk to anyone, I did feel that God was within reach.
Our dependent relationship lasted for about 3 years. I realize now that I was imprisoned by my own needs – I was not a free person. My sense of stability, contentment and peace all centered around one human being, not God. It came to the point that I knew I needed to end the relationship. Several months before I made this decision, I began waking up in the night, imagining that Jesus had come back and I was left behind. I had the clear sense that I was not on the right path. At the end of the summer, we were going to be living in different states, and I knew that this was the time to break off the relationship. It was difficult for my friend to accept my decision, but I knew I would die on the inside if I didn’t pursue God and the life that is truly life. After she left, I experienced what I have considered emotional “withdrawal”. It was as if I was going through withdrawal from a drug. For several days I was in severe emotional anguish. But after that came peace and closeness with the Father I had not known for a long time (see Acts 3:19).
The next several years were times of incredible growth, especially in my relationship with the Lord, but also in relationships with others. I was a flower beginning to blossom, released from the prison of winter. God began a time of healing. A truth that the Holy Spirit communicated with me was that my Father-God is the ultimate Parent. That everything I wanted in a father, He is, and more. I did not have to demand that my earthly father be what I thought I needed. God knew what I needed and could provide this perfectly. This realization allowed me to release my dad and to begin the process of forgiveness. The passages in scripture that refer to Him caring for the orphans seemed real to me because I felt like I was an emotional and spiritual orphan growing up.
About 4 years after the end of my college relationship, I was tested again. I found myself being attracted to a colleague at work. This surprised me. I thought I had dealt with this already and wouldn’t have to struggle with my feelings for someone of the same sex again. God was showing me that, yes, I did experience freedom from that former relationship, but the roots that my attractions sprang from were not all removed. At this time, the temptation to become involved was so strong. At one point, it seemed, as if God was asking me if I thought He could provide for all my needs, including my need for affection and love. He said that, up to that point, I wasn’t leaving Him room to do that. I would still involve myself with people in a “needy”, dependent way (just in case He didn’t pull through). I always had someone who could be a “god” for me emotionally.
I knew that I was at a decision point – I needed to choose my way or God’s way. I recognized that God’s way meant abandoning my dependence on myself to meet my needs and submitting to whatever He would have for me. I acknowledged that this could mean being by myself for the rest of my life. It seemed that the choice before me was similar to God speaking through Moses to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:19,20: “ This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your LIFE!
It has been my experience that whenever I am willing to be obedient to God, no strings attached, He opens my eyes to understand more of His ways and heart. It’s as if when my heart is hardened He says, “I’m not going to show you anymore of Me or My ways because you would not understand, your ‘eyes’ are not ready or open to see Me.” After I decided to obey Him, the Lord opened my eyes to what was going on within me and how my experiences caused me to be vulnerable to homosexual relationships. He also showed me more of what He says through His Word, not only concerning the sin of homosexuality, but how we as fallen people tend to go our own way. Many things can become gods that we serve instead of the one and only living God.
God has continued His faithfulness in removing my chains so that I can walk in freedom with Him. I am also learning that he delights in giving His children good gifts! Eight years ago, I met a man through the church I was attending. In prior relationships with men, I would not allow the relationship to go much beyond the surface. I had what I called a well- developed “bolt” instinct: when I felt a guy was interested in me or I was uncomfortable with him, I would leave the situation or relationship. When I met Don, it was as if the Holy Spirit was saying, “I want you to stay put. Learn how to be this person’s friend.” As our relationship progressed, I could see how God’s hand was in it. Don had a special heart for my past and was able to allow the relationship to develop without forcing it. I saw God give me faith and patience to allow the feelings and emotions for Don to slowly grow. Because of how our relationship developed, I under stand that love is first a decision and a choice, rather than based on feelings and romance. Love is not this intense emotional roller coaster ride but rather a strong, stable way of living with each other.
The last couple of years, God has been redeeming my view of the feminine and of my own womanhood. As a child, I remember disdaining things and people that were feminine – I would call them “prissy”. I identified with boys and even prayed to be changed to a boy. When I visited with Ron and Joanne at L.I.F.E. Ministry, they prayed with me to break this vow. The Lord has been opening a whole new world for me, transforming my image of myself and the woman he has created me to be. Having identified very little with my mother while growing up, I missed out on learning about what it means to be a woman and what a gift that is. I am thankful that the Lord has brought women into my life that I admire and respect and from whom I have learned much. He also has opened my heart to motherhood. As of this writing, I am 6 months pregnant and excited about what lies ahead for us! Again, He is giving me grace to step out in faith as I anticipate being a parent. I claim Isaiah 43:19. God can do a new thing from one generation to the next. He can bring forgiveness, and He can heal and restore!
(Ed. Note: B. and Don had a little girl on July 1, 1996)