Constance was a retired deacon in the Anglican Church. Now, living in a long term care setting, her mind travelled back and forth between total lucidity and fearful forgetfulness. It was difficult most days to conceive of her being a woman of the cloth. She was critical, sharp-tongued, and most days, downright mean. On this particular day though, as I entered her room, her eyes were sad and downcast. I just saddled up beside her on her bed.
“What’s up, Constance?” I asked.
“I need to revive my faith. Will you pray with me?” looking imploringly with doe-eyes.
Feeling the weight of my own sinful life pushing the air out of me, I try to work my way out of her request.
“I’ll hold your hand while you pray,” I offer.
“No,” came the blunt order. “You pray. I have nothing.”
The irony of this was like a bad joke. Get the gay chick to pray for an increase in faith? Sure, that will work.
What are you doing, God? This can’t be your idea; my prayers are like rubber bullets-sacrilege, even.
In my inner man, I heard, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
With a sigh of resignation, I took her hand and began to pray. I don’t even know what I said. But when I finished what I was sure was the most hypocritical prayer ever, I looked at Constance. She was crying.
“Thank you,” she barely whispered. “I needed that.”
Slowly, I released her hand and just watched her relax, no longer aware of my presence.
Later, when I arrived home, I was angry. How could God orchestrate this? Didn’t he know what I was? Although hidden from man, God knew very well that I was an abomination. I was living in sin-not with a man-but another woman. Although I attended a church that had become my private sanctuary, I stayed at the back. Away from the prophets, seers and those whose “gaydar” could vapor-lock on me and expose me as the chief of sinners I believed myself to be.
In these moments of frustration, shame and fear, I would have one-sided screaming matches with God to fix me. Today was no different, except for the words that were placed in my heart.
Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created, say to the One Who created it, “Why have you made me like this? (Romans 9:20)
In the silence of that moment, I felt like God was telling me that who I was then, was not who I would be forever. He was preparing me.
I know the plans I have for you, Monica, and they’re good.
I identified with every shameful woman recorded in the bible, but I longed to be the one who fell at Jesus’ feet, wiping them with my tears. Finally, He was removing the stones from my own hands that I had been aiming at myself.
I did not identify as a homosexual. That much I did know about my identity. When you don’t know who you are, and more importantly, Whose you are, you can fall for any lie that the enemy of your soul whispers in your ear. For me, the lie was the belief that I would be safer with a woman who shared my vulnerability and emotional make-up. I quickly learned that this was far from the truth. I had learned at an early age to mistrust men, beginning with a biological father who had abandoned me. Mix that with abuse, rape, rejections including a failed marriage, and you have the perfect storm. I had no idea of who I was aside from someone whom no one valued, wanted, nor cherished. But, I was determined to learn without a doubt that someone, this Jesus, loved me.
Through my own journey, and eventually allowing others to walk along side me, I discovered the love that I so desperately was seeking.
God does not leave us the way He finds us. By the renewing of our minds, spending time in the “secret place”, getting to know His heart and giving Him access to ours is a slow but beautiful path to transformation. He sees our potential, even when we don’t.
Some readers may argue that they don’t need fixing. Bless you, but I did. I had no peace.
I have been free for the past nine years. I am by no means perfected, but I am content and I believe in Philippians 1:6
“And I am certain that God, Who began a good work in you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns”
No longer silenced by guilt and shame, I want to share how Jesus loved me back to life. He loved me while I was yet a sinner, and couldn’t even love myself, and He loved me enough to not leave me the way He found me. Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.
Yes and amen.