Joni

My journey has always included Jesus. I remember in grade 2 having my first realization that maybe my thought processes and ways of thinking were a bit different than my friends. As I journeyed towards my teen years I knew that I was not attracted to boys. My journey began to shift a bit as my paradigms became more challenged the closer I got to my 30s. My understanding was that I am a lesbian, it is truly, authentically who I am. BUT!!! what about my relationship with Jesus? I have lived my entire life with Him as my Source, my Parent, my Best Friend, my Everything and I mean that literally… many years I would sit alone and know that He was all I had. I shared my deepest secrets with Him, I cried to Him more than anyone and He listened and comforted me always. My bond with Him was stronger than any other in my life. There were many days when I didn’t see life was worth living except for my relationship with Him and every time He was there when no one else was. Oh my has He been faithful to me!! So how do I leave Him now just to be authentic to who I am? This can’t be His plan for my life.

I decided that the turmoil of hiding was worst than coming out would be so I tentatively began to mention to a few in my life that I was a lesbian. Oh my bad decision! You see, I was the Children’s Ministry Leader for 8 years in that church and I was on the Prophetic Ministry Team… there is no way I could be a lesbian in their eyes and be used by God. So I was asked to step down from both ministries. This devastated me. Relationships changed. Well what that resulted in was my leaving my church for three months. brokheahandsIt was so devastating to my heart as I realized that my entire life outside of my job was my church community. I was isolated and dying inside. I went back to church and submitted to their leadership promising that I would be open with them and share my same sex attractions and thoughts and would repent and seek healing.

It wasn’t long afterwards that I was restored to ministry and life resumed it’s normalcy. At least on the outside… on the inside I was jaded, hurting, and feeling as though God would never use me again… that I would never know the intimacy that He and I had so deeply shared. I was honest and shared my attractions/thoughts with my mentors and remained accountable in every way to my leadership team. Fast forward now to the end of that year, my mentors begin to realize that I haven’t been sharing quite as much and begin questioning me about it. Finally towards the beginning of 2005 I decide that if I cannot live authentically, then I do not want to live at all .. authenticity it is!!

This time I was not going to let them remove me from ministry. So I went to my Pastor and told him that I was removing myself from ministry to save them the trouble and was leaving the church because I was a lesbian and there was no changing that. What followed was far more devastating than the previous year’s experience had been. Over the next couple months, I was told that I was not allowed to return to visit the church, that if I saw any of the children in the store or out anywhere I was not to speak to them, that I was dead to them and no communication would be allowed. I was called into a meeting with my leadership team while they threw scriptures at me and told me that I was not welcome at their table and they could not share a meal with me. That relationships with them were over. I sat on the floor (with them all in chairs) and bawled as I have never bawled before. I was crying from the core of my being, emptied of all that was me. These were people I had known closer than family for 17 years, I had lived with one family even. Without these core people in my life, I had no one. The meeting went on and on for a couple hours, I would rather they had beat me physically because it would have hurt less than their words did.

I left there alone, empty and afraid. I cried out to God because that was all I knew to do. I had to believe that this God that I had known all my life was indeed loving and would not forsake me. I began attending a church that embraced me and truly taught me what it meant to live authentically. They ministered to my pain and hurt, my devastation and the loved me. It was a roller coaster ride for me to reconcile my faith and my sexuality.. but it did happen eventually.

My experience left me jaded and scared. It left me a different person. I wish it hadn’t. Today, I speak to those people who were in that meeting with me that day. I love them and have forgiven them. They accept me as me and we are acquaintances. God can bridge the gap, I simply had to let Him do it and let go of my hurt and anger. I mean in BIG ways. One couple now have their own church and a gay home group.. hello God!!

My God is a Redeemer, full of mercy and grace. I had to allow space in my life for those who do not accept me and learn to love regardless.