I broke soul ties.
It was 1 ½ years after that bombshell revelation of my attraction to women that the greatest change occurred for me. I attended a Land of Promise conference. The Land of Promise conferences—seminars hosted by the Strait Paths Foundation—focus primarily on deliverance from the devil and his spirits, generational iniquities, the breaking down of strongholds, and the breaking of soul ties. The conferences usually consist of 3-4 days of teaching sessions interspersed with small group gatherings to work out and pray through the material.
It was after one of the sessions that discussed soul ties that I realized I had some soul ties to break. Specifically, I needed to break soul ties with three close friends. While none of my friendships with women had ever been at all physically inappropriate, I had developed strong emotional ties with them, too strong. Some years ago, I desperately wanted more from one of my close friends. I felt desperately hungry and needy. I desperately wanted her approval, her undivided attention, her love, and her heart. I only received healthy friendship from her, nothing else, but I wanted so much more. Always, I had this inner uneasiness about my friendship with her. It never seemed to be enough, and I knew my part of it wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t really understand why. I had similar experiences with two other close friends in later years.
For their part, they never, ever gave me more than friendship. On my part, though, I wanted so much more. I understand now what I didn’t understand then. First of all, only God can fill our desperate emptiness. Secondly, only the man I might someday marry should have my heart unreservedly. I felt uneasy in my relationships with my closest friends because, emotionally, I took them into a part of my life that they were not meant to be in. So, during the small group gathering after the session, the small group leader led me in a prayer, naming my three friends and specifically breaking soul ties with them.
The Land of Promise conference ended, and daily life continued. A few days later, as I prepared to get together with the friend who also happened to be my crush, that I realized, “I’m not attracted to her anymore!” The desperate intensity of missing her, of wanting to be around her, and of wanting her love and attention was gone. Completely. I still loved her as my friend very much, but I was no longer attracted to her. I no longer wanted to date her. Poof! Just like that, the breaking of soul ties had healed me and broken my attraction.
Sometime later, I visited another one of the friends with whom I had broken soul ties. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together, but my desperation was gone. I didn’t need all her attention. I didn’t need her approval. I didn’t need her to be more. I simply had fun being myself and letting my friend be herself while we once again connected deeply. The uneasiness was gone, and all that was left was a more relaxed friendship. The change in my spirit astounded me.
I broke my vows.
Another topic we discussed at the Land of Promise conference was the breaking of vows. You see, painful happenings in life can cause us to believe lies about ourselves or God or other people or life itself. We often make vows as a result: “I will never_____ (fill in the blank).” I made two vows: “I will never get married, and I will never have children.” During one of our small group sessions, we talked briefly about these vows. Together, the group leader and I prayed, confessing and breaking those vows as not being in line with God’s truth.
Sometime later, I spent time with a friend in her home. I quietly observed her marriage. For the first time, I understood: marriage is a beautiful thing. Before that, I had always hated the idea of marriage and the idea of submission. Marriage was odious; submission meant slavery; men gave nothing; women gave everything. That weekend, as I observed the mutual love and submission and trust and relationship, I saw the sweetness of marriage for the first time. For the first time in my life, I could let myself feel lonely without the constant ambivalence. For the first time, I could be honest with myself that I wanted a husband, and I wanted marriage
Both of those are normal, God-given, womanly longings. The pain was bittersweet because I realized that the pain of longing meant I was healing in a new way. I found myself smiling through my tears, letting myself desire love and marriage while laughing inside at the healing God can bring if we let Him. However, it wasn’t until I relinquished my vows that God could open my eyes to the beauty of His truth.
I found my identity.
In the first post in this series, I gave the reasons why I wanted to be a lesbian. One of those reasons was that I wanted a place to fit, a community, and an identity. Sexual abuse destroys a victim’s sense of self in so many terrible ways. Shame breeds self-contempt; most abuse victims intensely hate themselves, sometimes turning to self-harm to express their contempt and their pain. Abuse silences victims, always psychologically, sometimes physically as well. They have no voice, no choice, no will in the matter. To expose their real selves is to be annihilated, so the child buries the real self as far down as possible and does whatever is needed to survive. In the process, the child loses her identity, sometimes forever.
I didn’t have an identity at all. Not only had sexual abuse silenced me, my culture had silenced me. Everything I wanted or felt, I had been taught I shouldn’t want or shouldn’t feel. I shouldn’t be bored with “women’s talk” and “women’s work.” I should not want to use the mind God had given me. I was too intelligent for a woman. I shouldn’t be interested in politics, history, philosophy, or theology. I shouldn’t want more than the “typical” Mennonite “old maid” working as a clerk in a grocery store. I shouldn’t want to go to college. I shouldn’t have opinions. I was too weak to have any spiritual wisdom or insight. I was “less than,” at the same time that I was too much and not enough. I simply didn’t fit, and it only contributed to my sense of alienation.
I had no concept of what it means to live as a godly woman. Instead, I lived out of self-contempt, hating myself for any vulnerability or perceived weakness. I liked vibrant colors and adventure, but I suppressed those parts of my personality, having been taught that was wrong for a woman. Instead of opening intelligent discussion with others, I acted like I didn’t know much on such topics as history, politics, or eschatology, afraid of the capabilities of my own mind, as I wasn’t “supposed” to think or know so much. In essence, everything God had created me to be, I shut down: vulnerability, relational longings, passion, adventure, and intelligence. The lies I believed about myself and what it meant to be a woman were long and deep.
In my series on identity, I write about self-contempt and replacing truth with lies. It’s a gradual, ongoing process, but I now know who I am: a daughter of God, meant to display beauty, live with passion, join in adventure, engage in relationship, and use my mind for His glory. Recently, I started reading the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. The truths about womanhood they unpack in that book are sinking deep into my heart and my prayer to God is now, “I want to know who You want me to be. I want to believe Your truth about what it is to be a woman.” I’m no longer afraid of who He created me to be. I now want to embrace it. Do I know what all that looks like yet? No, but I’m trusting God to show me.
In addition, by leaving the conservative Mennonites, I’m engaging with a group of believers that gives me completely different messages about what a godly woman is. I now have friends who talk intelligently about many topics. I now know women who are dreaming big dreams and going on adventures with God, whether that is going to Korea to teach English or homeschooling a houseful of children with joy and passion. Other single women are going to college. Older women are reaching out to speak their wisdom and spiritual discernment into my life. Now I can see godly womanhood lived out before me, and I now see the beauty and joy and privilege of living life as a woman of God. Through it all, I am experiencing community like I never did before.
I have been healed from same-sex attraction.
No, I’m not lesbian. I’m not even bisexual. I am a woman who longs to be loved and cared for and known in her inmost being in the most intimate relationship God has designed for this earth. I now want to experience God’s plan for the human race if He so wills someday: marriage, with a man, as He designed it. Does it mean that I now easily trust men? No. Does it mean that I still don’t find women easier to relate to than men? No. Does it mean that I’m not still scared of sexual intimacy? No. Does it mean that dating and marriage wouldn’t be difficult and trigger me into flashbacks at times? No. Does it mean that I don’t still have a lot to learn about marriage and relationships? No.
It wasn’t all magic. There is still more of His truth that God needs to work into my heart. However, my basic understanding about relationships is now in line with His truth in my heart. Turning it all over to Him and trusting Him to bring my heart and life in line with His truth was the answer. It always is.
Forcing ourselves to try to “act right” while denying a heart that feels the exact opposite will never work in the long run. “Forcing myself” to not be attracted to women and refusing to think about it would simply have driven those desires underground. They would have continued to pop up in the game of “whack-a-mole” I had played for so many years. When I let go and trusted God to be bigger than the fear and the pain and the lies, He was free to do His work to change me. When I let God into my mess and confusion and asked Him to fix it, He did. Truly, He is our softest place to land. He meets us where we are, in the middle of our pain and brokenness, to redeem us and heal us. Is He an amazing God? Is He ever!
Read part 4 next week for my conclusions about homosexuality.