• Ciara

The Shadows

“The Shadows” I used the term to reference individuals like me. Individuals who struggled with homosexuality, but desired not to. We did not crave the idea of our parents or friends accepting us; we simply craved the idea of being free from the same sex affections. I always felt as though I was stuck in between two places. If I looked to my left, I would be welcomed with open arms into a community that embraced who I was if I identified as a LGBTQ or fit into the curiosity of the +. If I looked to my right, I was face to face with several Christians who were doing everything from holding picket signs saying “God hates gays” to trying their best to love me through. Other times, I would look up and see pastors embracing the homosexual lifestyle, which was beyond confusing, or find that Christians were looking anywhere but towards me because they were just as confused as I was about the situation. I felt stuck in a gray area that I would soon describe in my journal as “The Shadows”.

The bottom line was: My physical and emotional desires wanted desperately to be with a woman, but I didn’t want those desires. I didn’t want to be a lesbian, bisexual, or any other term that identified with liking or loving someone who presented themselves of the same gender. My blog is not intended to “brainwash” you into believing the Truth of what the Gospel says about homosexuality, but rather present itself as a resource to those who feel the same way I once felt. You know the Truth, you understand the sacrifice that comes with living for the Truth, but it’s downright challenging. My blog isn't intended to be a “10 step” process that leaves you desiring the opposite sex or to identify as the gender you were born to be. I can’t guarantee that after several months, you will wake up and have no recollection or craving to jump back into the lifestyle you are seeking freedom from. However, I can tell you the answer that will light up your shadows and show you the path to follow in order to experience a peace unlike any other. The answer has a name and His name is Jesus Christ. A relationship with Jesus will completely transform your life and set you on a journey that is trying, but rewarding beyond words. Ultimately, my only goal through my blog is to point you to the one who can break every chain, heal every wound, and make good on horrible things that have occurred throughout your life. Jesus died on a cross for you knowing who you’d be at your very worst and He willingly did it anyways. The beautiful part? He would do it all over again in a heartbeat because He loves you in the most unconditional way. You were crafted by His hand and He is fond of His craftsmanship!

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created." Genesis 5:2

I'm simply here to love and encourage you into freedom through a relationship with Jesus. I was alone in New York City and wanted to end my life. I had left my marriage because I had come to the warped conclusion that my husband was the greatest mistake I had ever made. I would tell myself over and over “You thought marriage would solve this problem you’ve had since you were 5 and you were wrong.” So I fled my marriage after years of several affairs with women, and I went to live out my “truth” with zero distractions. I had no God to hold me back, no husband, family, friends, and I was free to live a homosexual lifestyle. My truth and my freedom almost took my life. I was in a Brooklyn city apartment, drunk, several pills in my system, attempting to file paperwork for a divorce, and wanting to end it all. The LGBT community wasn’t there, my partner, husband, friends, family, absolutely no one. I was completely and totally alone in that room where I laid there at 3:00 in the morning, shaking, convulsing, and wanting to die. Laying there sobbing, I heard His voice and it forever changed my life. He spoke out “give me a chance.” I grew up in church, my father was a pastor as well as several other family members. I had grown up having a deep relationship with the Lord, went onto Bible College, and served in full time ministry while always suppressing and never acknowledging or working through my feelings of same sex attraction. I also felt alone in those feelings and never felt as though the church was welcoming in that aspect. I heard the voice again, “give me a chance” and I instantly knew who was speaking to me as I laid there shaking. I remember thinking “I can’t give you the chance that you want, I can’t overcome these feelings God, it’s too hard.” I had previously tried to maintain a relationship with Jesus while having a lesbian relationship and the conviction was astounding. I realized the only options I had were to no longer follow Jesus and manipulate myself into believing that He hated me since He hated who “I was" or love Jesus from afar so I was close enough to feel I was in relationship, but far enough away that His conviction wasn’t too intense. There was no option of "God doesn't care if I'm a lesbian" because I knew that He did. As a Bible college student, I spent months and years trying to find any loophole in the Gospel that would condone my lifestyle. I would read scripture after scripture, break those verses into their most raw form, dig into the historical backgrounds, and every single time I would come to the same conclusion: Homosexuality was a sin and it wasn't pleasing to God. So, I chose to do what many individuals before me had done, I turned away from God and decided that He wasn't worth my time. Why would a God who loved me so much give me these desires in the first place? How was that fair? How many years of my life did this sin take my attention from Him? How many prayers of "take these feelings away" did I have to pray? I realize now that God never intended for me to struggle with these desires, but unfortunately when man fell it opened the gateway for the enemy to attack. I may never understand why this was the method of attack the enemy chose, but I don't need to understand the "why" when I know the "how" to overcoming and again, His name is Jesus.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Give me a chance.” Once more, I pleaded “It’s too difficult God! It’s just too difficult! The cost is too much to bear!” It was in that moment He reminded me of a scripture He showed me two years prior while waking me in the middle of the night. I had no idea why God revealed it to me then, but He quickly put the pieces together and showed me.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalms 34:8

As I finished pleading my case I heard Him say “Taste and see that I am good.” Laying there with tears streaming down my face, I whispered “Jesus, I can’t do this anymore. Please help me. Please, I need your help.” It wasn't the conviction that was killing me, it wasn't His Truth that was leaving me full of anxiety and depression... it was my lifestyle. It was growing up knowing and being in relationship with Christ and walking away from Him to pursue what I knew deep down wasn't what He had called me to be. I left God behind, turned my back on everything, and never in my life had I felt so completely numb with hopelessness. I would spend hours daydreaming about what it would be like to grow up without the knowledge of Christ, just so I could continue to live in my sexual desires while having the excuse of not "knowing" the Truth. Yet, growing up knowing Jesus as Truth didn't serve as a handicap prohibiting me from living out my "true" identity. The knowledge of Truth served as a map I could use in order to guide my way through the shadows and find who I really was in Him. So as I laid there asking Jesus to help me with a heart that was desperate for help, a heart that truly wanted help, and a heart that would do anything to receive that help including the act of turning away from my same sex attraction, He answered in the most life defining way.

What followed was a moment I can’t fully describe. In a matter of seconds, I went from hopelessness to feeling something I hadn’t felt in years...purpose. I felt hope coursing its way back into my heart and I smiled. I sat up and asked, “You really love me this much?” I felt His love continue to surround me in such a way that felt tangible. My smile grew bigger and it felt like an old friend returning home. It wasn't the hope I was feeling that brought me into a place of complete awe towards Christ. It was realizing in that moment, even while living in my homosexual lifestyle, that He was always offering His love to me despite my continual rejection. The tears flowed while my heart continued to swell as I took refuge in Him and received blessing in return. The conviction of my lifestyle wasn’t met by a God who threw fire and brimstone. Jesus came into that room, drew me close to Him, and loved me. It took my breath away and the reconciliation that took place forever changed my life. I learned on a personal level that Jesus Christ is the only one who can light up the shadows and make a path out of despair. He’s the only one who can bring peace that guards your heart and mind continually as you place your trust in Him.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

When leaving the shadows, I realized that it thrust me into a new shadow land. The solution out of this uncharted territory was the same, but it required much more faith. This particular shadow land had different barriers. On one side, I saw the same community that was previously so welcoming begin to hate me because they refused to believe that someone could identify as straight after living a life of homosexuality. However, it wasn't just the LGBTQ+ community that threw hatred, but it was individuals who stood in alliance with them. Individuals who had no idea what it was like to have same sex desires, but felt the need to tell me that my solution to walk away was wrong or my feelings weren't valid to begin with. “You were never gay!” “You were just bisexual!” “We know what you really do behind closed doors.” “I bet your husband wishes you would have just stayed gay the way you look.” “You couldn’t have been a lesbian if you are with a man now.” “You say you’re ‘no longer’ gay as though it’s a bad thing or a disease.” “God wouldn’t tell you to not be who you are.” “You weren’t made to be with a man, you’ll come back.” “Quit fighting who you are and just be with a woman.” Yet, when I turned to look towards the other side, I would hear Christians saying;

“You do not need to associate yourself with those people anymore.” “Why do you talk to LGBT individuals? Are you still gay?” “If God set you free, you need to never speak to anyone living that way again.” “Did God really set you free from that? How is that even possible?” “I personally don’t believe God can forgive this and overlook it.” You know your story, you know your battle, and you know the testimony that God is writing. Never let anyone steal or take that from you. It is yours and it is the greatest gift you have aside from salvation. You will discover that they're many individuals who will support you and encourage you through your process. Remember to cherish those people because they are an incredible gift. I want to encourage you to keep going when the battle seems impossible. I will continually point you towards the one who will make a way for you. I'm here to say that you are one more child that Jesus is leaving the 99 to go after! He loves you, He adores you, and He is making a way for you! I am here to prove that you can change, you can be redeemed, and you don’t have to feel stuck. Yes, it is hard, difficult, exhausting, but possible if you keep moving forward in Him. I know what it’s like to desperately look for anyone who can relate to what you’re feeling or struggling with. I know what it’s like to struggle with same sex attraction, but terrified to come out and say it because you’ll be told it’s “hate speech.” I know how scary it is to tell the church that you’re struggling with these affections because you don’t know how they’ll handle it or the reputation you feel it might ruin (not just for you, but for your family). It's a process that will continually bring progress if you continue to make the hard choices and push through. I want my blog to be a resource I wish I had (and trust me, I tried looking) when I was facing my battle and I will stand in the gap so that you can have it while you face yours. You’re not alone, He is with you, and He will give you the strength to make it through each day. You are understood.