The Lesbian in the Mirror

You’re sitting in a new small group circle when you look across and see an attractive woman. You notice her hair, her posture, her demeanor and then suddenly there’s the pull. No one else takes your attention, but you feel from deep within this drawing. There’s a stirring inside. You quickly look away. What is going on?

Are you having an experience of same sex attraction? Could it be that you are really a lesbian after all?

This is precisely the moment that I used to dread. Seemingly inexplicably, women popped out at me like this. There was no controlling it, no dissuading myself, and the feeling seemed to linger as if attached to me. I had to actively disengage. Under my breath I’d begin to repent, crying out to God for mercy.

Why didn’t this attraction happen for me with men?

Years ago, I began evaluating whether I was a lesbian based upon what I perceived that to be. A close friend, really an early love of my life, first educated me on the ways of lesbianism. Prior to meeting her I had never considered it. Really, I had never heard of it until I was close to college age. As my world began opening up intellectually, so did my understanding of lesbianism.

I first saw lesbianism through multiple lenses, relationally of course, but also as personally empowering. In my spheres of influence lesbianism was incredibly attractive as a means of independence and identity. And, it created a bridge of relationship with women that previously I had been unable to create.

I began cultivating the desires, looking for the attractions, because I supposed them to be avenues to fulfillment. These were, I thought, the women who were most likely my soul mates. I believed subconsciously there would be less energy spent in getting to know the women I was attracted to because I could lean into the draw to create connection. Yet, surprisingly few of these attractions blossomed into anything more than short term friendships or one-night hookups.

That’s typical of all new relationship attempts, I thought.

However, as I began getting to know Jesus, a new dialogue emerged. Somehow, from deep within, a drive to experience something spiritually profound developed—as if my life depended upon it. And perhaps, in some ways, it did. I was far from healthy emotionally and physically when we met. I recall the first time I learned to identify God’s voice. I was in a children’s seminar at my church led by Jennifer Toledo. She was teaching us how to hear Jesus and respond.

I can never forget the moment I sat among all those children and recognized God’s voice for the first time.

Out of those dialogues I began seeking the Holy Spirit for understanding—of many things: the Bible, history, culture, but also, my own life. Who am I? I wondered. I had only a vague idea of my personality, my abilities, my appearance. I realized I often lived life in reaction… to my parents, to my peers, my subordinates, to bipolar disorder, to my weaknesses… Especially, my weaknesses. Yet as a lover, as a lesbian, I felt powerful and proactive. I realized there was a subtle shift internally each time I turned my attention to it.

Was it because I was born a lesbian? Perhaps these were my people? Maybe I belong among the gay community. Or, was lesbianism actually a reaction too?

Questions began to emerge. When I cannot clearly discern “myself,” what am I discerning about her? Was this really a sexual attraction that could be compared to a “normal” attraction to men?

I determined it was not. This vital decision empowered my exit from lesbianism. I understood there was something disordered and misguided about my longing for women. It too was a reaction.

I began to realize the attraction itself, the drawing, was from deep within. And so, I began asking the Lord each time I was “triggered,” “What am I experiencing?” Faithfully, His answers came to me in challenging but healing explanations that resolved (and reversed) misplaced desires.

Once I was visiting a feminist bookstore. A place I had visited many times when I was “out.” Browsing through the books and magazines, the Lord prompted me to look up at a clerk sorting books in the back of the store.

“Would you date her? Would you have dated her, Elizabeth?”

Behind the counter was a slender, short-haired woman, intellectual, athletic, earthy. Tenderly the Lord whispered,

“Describe her.”

Speaking this description to Him, he stopped me.

“What do you look like, Elizabeth?”

“Short-haired, earthy, intellectual, athletic… Why, Lord?”

“All your lovers were like you, Elizabeth. You were searching for yourself (while actively trying to kill yourself) yet were drawn only to women very much like you.”

“Your efforts to love these women were subconscious efforts to love yourself.”

Other times I began clearly recognizing moments of comparison, jealousy, or even admiration. Each episode of attraction was a perfectly timed red flag of insecurity, lack or weakness that Jesus was prepared to confront and resolve. He became my safety net, salve, and mentor. The triggers became opportunities for healing that ultimately has led to profound wholeness.

If this is your story, let me assure you, Jesus responds. He has answers and insights about you and your life. He loves you with an everlasting love that cherishes you and delights in revelation. Join me in this prayer,

“Jesus, thank you that you see me right now. You know me and want me to know you. Show me how to access your answers for my life. Let me experience the depths of your love that brings wholeness.