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Secure in Feminine Identity

By Anne Paulk

I grew up as a classic tomboy, mostly playing cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers. When I was about four-years old, an event happened which profoundly shook my inner security. A teenage boy approached me sexually, then warned me not to tell my parents. I never said a word, fearful that we'd both get into big trouble.

This silence left me to reap a lot of self-inflicted pain, and the whole incident only reinforced my tomboy image. I didn't feel protected or valued as a girl.

I also craved special affirmation as a girl from my dad, but couldn't tell him why. For years I believed lies about myself, God and men. And the sexual experience (when I was four) kept me from embracing femininity which, to me, meant being weak and vulnerable.

Then I found myself having crushes on some of my girlfriends. I was talented in athletics, so I joined the softball team in high school, but continued to avoid most feminine activities. I didn't feel pretty or lovable.

At church, the youth group seemed shallow. I felt disappointed that everyone behaved just like the non-Christian kids at school, and I became disillusioned. Soon I discarded church altogether, and began getting into wild behavior: drinking, dating three boys at one time, and eventually exploring homosexual relationships.

Then I went to college and met Sara. She seemed so confident and strong as a woman. Men adored her, but they only seemed to ridicule and use me. It was then, in early 1982, I realized my feelings for Sara were sexual. So I decided to look up an old boyfriend to "test" my orientation. Although he was a nice guy, I felt no attraction to him. After that, I decided to pursue my attractions for women. At the suggestion of a gay counselor, I joined the college gay/lesbian group.

But during one of those meetings, I had a piercing thought, "There really is something wrong with this lifestyle." I was heartbroken by the words that shattered my dreams of finding happiness with a female life- partner. After the meeting, I went home and cried. "God," I prayed, "please show me who you are, and fill the void in my heart."

After that prayer, I began experiencing a new hunger to know Jesus Christ. Within six months, I made a firm decision to forsake homosexuality and follow him. But, unfortunately, none of the leaders on campus or at church knew how to give me hope that my sexual attraction for women would change. My commitment to Christ, however, enabled me to persevere in the face of this discouragement. I immersed myself in Christian activity, although the homosexual attractions never went away.

Eventually I fell into a sexual relationship with Laura, a Christian girlfriend who, like me, struggled with lesbianism. Laura and I looked to each other for emotional fulfillment. At first, it seemed like many of my childhood dreams were being fulfilled through our relationship. But along with some satisfaction came conviction, deception and emotional instability. Laura became my top priority over work, family and friends. Many areas in our lives suffered as a result. Laura even battled with suicidal thoughts. Then Laura and I tried to remain friends, but stop the sexual part of our relationship. But it never worked, because we never addressed the underlying issues.

Finally, after three months of resisting God, I said a very honest prayer: "Lord, you know that I really enjoy this lifestyle, but I want you to be my first love. I need your help. I need you to change my heart." This prayer marked a major turning point in my life.

Shortly after my prayer, Laura and I had dinner with a Christian woman who was a former lesbian. She listened to our story and our questions, and through her we made contact with a Christian ministry solely devoted to helping people overcome homosexuality. The people loved us and cared for us, and eventually Laura and I agreed to give our relationship to God and avoid all contact with each other.

Though angry and frustrated over the break-up with Laura, I continued going to the ministry's meetings for the next 18 months. The insights I gained there were incredibly valuable. I learned how to look for patterns in my same-sex attractions, so I could understand the underlying needs which sparked the temptations in the first place.

I continued to grow in my relationship with God, and eventually I realized that something had changed deep inside of me. God changed my sexual identity from ex-gay to godly woman. I was learning that God loved me with a gentle delight, especially when I relied on his strength.

During this time, I found myself having a new interest in men, and began spending time with them in group situations. Then, in mid-1991, I began dating John, a man in my church who like me had come out of homosexuality. On December 31, 1991, he presented me with a ring and asked me to marry him. We were married the following July. I kept looking happily at the ring, thinking, "Wow! Me married!" I was filled with joy as God established something so beautiful and holy in our lives.

Since then, God has used John to comfort me and to confront areas of distrust in my life. This has been difficult, but the Lord has been faithful to fulfill his promise to heal, even when the process is uncomfortable. I am so glad that my Father took the time to unearth the hurts that held me back from growing into godly femininity. Now I don't need to compare myself to other women and don't seek to gain femininity from them through emotional dependency or homosexual relationships. My identity is secure as a woman because I know Christ.