I literally grew up in the church: My parents were the custodians, and we lived in an apartment underneath the sanctuary. I was the oldest of three girls, but I always felt like the extra wheel. Although I wasn't a tomboy, whenever my friends and I played "boyfriend-girlfriend," I always wanted to be the boyfriend.
Growing up in small towns in Texas, I didn't have much interest in dating. I did like one boy I had known since grade school, however, and even when his family moved to another state, we always kept up our friendship. He was three years older than I, and a young evangelist. It was my heart's desire to marry a minister. But soon after I graduated from high school, he drowned. I was crushed.
I was attending Bible college at the time, and when my roommate saw how devastated I was, she took me under her wing. She was a couple of years older and reminded me of my mom. She had a car and pocket money--things I didn't have. We soon became fast friends.
Neither of us dated men much, and she always felt upset because no one loved her. I was struggling with the same feelings. My roommate and I started spending a lot of time together. It wasn't long before we began relating to each other on a deep, emotional level. I didn't set out to find a woman to love; I set out to find someone to love me.
The moment I crossed over the line into homosexuality was right out of "Movie of the Week." We were sitting in our room late at night, and it got very quiet. She extended her hand; I took it. We hugged, then we looked into each other's eyes. She kissed me, and we became intimate.
Although there was a physical attraction, lesbianism was an emotional attachment for me. We soon became an "item" on campus. The dorm mother began to suspect something, so she watched us very closely. When the pressure became too much, my roommate left college and moved back home to Illinois. I dropped out, too, and followed her. When my father found out I had left school, he called and insisted I come home. I did.
About six months later, I left home again to go live with my lover. My parents had it all figured out, but when they confronted me, I denied everything.
You may have seen stories on TV or in the newspaper about lesbian couples. You'll usually see a "butch" and a "fem" in the relationship. Butches dress in a more masculine style, have short haircuts and dominate the relationship. The fem, meanwhile, assumes a demure role. I was the fem.
Perhaps you've read that homosexuals have a lot of money--which may be true in the male gay community--but in the lesbian society, you usually have two $5 or $6 wage- earners living together. Financial hardship actually makes it harder for lesbians to seek a path out.
In the 12 years I was a lesbian, I never went to a gay-pride meeting, never paraded down Main Street, and never knew a pedophile. I still wanted a relationship with God, so I attended a Metropolitan Community Church, where gay people are welcomed with open arms. We used Bibles with translations that eliminated the word "homosexual." That's how much we were deluding ourselves. I fell in and out of several relationships, and twice I married other women, although the unions, of course, weren't legal. One time, I visited an infertility doctor and tried to be artificially inseminated from donor sperm so we could become parents.
Meanwhile, my parents were devastated. In their church one evening, the pastor spoke on how God wants to change homosexuals. He asked any parents of homosexuals to come forward and be prayed for. My folks stood up and walked down the aisle, even though it must have been very difficult to publicly admit their daughter was a lesbian.
During this period I was struggling in one of my relationships. My partner and I had these long discussions. She would always ask me, "Do you really think if the Lord came back, we would go to heaven?" The question haunted me. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, thinking, What if the Lord came back? That was my greatest fear, being left behind.
About this time, a man entered my life. I had known Ben Breedlove from my childhood days, and he knew I was a lesbian. I wondered, Why would any man want to see a woman who had lived with other women for 12 years? But Ben wanted to reach me with the same love that Jesus had for me. He told me he cared for me, and he wanted to be my friend.
When I saw Ben's love was unconditional, I began falling in love with him. We dated a few times, and I learned that he was a sensitive, loving, caring man whom God had sent to me. I looked deep in my heart, and I knew I had been living a sinful lifestyle. I wanted out, so I repented and asked God to heal me.
Two verses that keep coming back to me are I Corinthians 6:9-10, which list the sins that will keep people from entering the kingdom of heaven. Homosexuality is one of them. But the next verse says, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." We have to remember what the changing power of God does. If we realize there are homosexuals in our church--and believe me, they are sitting in your church pews every Sunday--then we need to pray that God will change their lives.
God can change a homosexual's heart. I know, because not only have I seen it, I've experienced it.
(Jami Breedlove leads Restoration, a residental ministry for women who want to leave the lesbian lifestyle. She can be contacted through: Restoration, P.O. Box 7242, Loveland, CO 80537, (970)663-7778; fax: (970)667-7162. Copyright 1994. Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission of Focus on the Family)