My journey began a very long time ago with a very bumpy road. My first crush was on the director of the kindergarten I attended. She was attractive and nice to me. As you can see, something must have happened before school that altered my thinking for me to be crushing on a woman at 5 years old. I just don’t have any memory of what that might be. In fourth grade a boy molested me in class and made me sit in a secluded area while two other boys also molested me on the playground. Once, my bus was in need of repairs, and I had to ride a different bus. Because of a mistake the teacher made, I got on the wrong bus and was scared to death because I didn’t know anyone. The boy who molested me in class and on the playground was riding that bus, so I bet you can guess what happened. This began my deep distrust of boys. I imitated what was being done to me to a baby girl at after school care. I carried that secret shame around for 37 years. I was caught but never talked about it to anyone including my parents. This is when my addiction to masturbation started. I had other experiences that would re-enforce my distrust of males.
My parents grew up in a culture that did not encourage open discussions. We just didn’t talk about feelings, sexuality, religion or beliefs. I learned to bottle up everything and bury it all deep down inside. I also learned at a very young age how to wear masks to protect myself and over the years I became very good at switching from one to another. I always knew that my parents loved me and wanted to give me a life better than they had experienced, and they worked hard to accomplish that. But they always pushed me to be perfect, and I heard often, “We just want you to be the best Sonya you can be, but why can’t you be more like _______” fill in the blank of any of my friends. I felt like I was never good enough or could never measure up to their standards. However, I do NOT blame my parents for becoming “gay,” nor any of my other issues. These were choices I made.
At the age of 12, I was introduced to pornography and was hooked. I also began drinking and smoking, which progressed into other drugs. From an outsider’s perspective, I’m sure I seemed very normal. I was in the band, dance, loved the outdoors & went camping, hiking and white water rafting. I had perfected the art of wearing “The Mask.” I dated a couple of guys to keep the façade of being “normal,” meanwhile lusting after girls in my class. I had always been a tomboy at heart, and my mother was constantly tried to make me into a princess. I believe that juggling all these expectations and maintaining the mask was the driving force behind my addictions.
One day in high school, a friend invited me to a concert with her youth group. It was here I accepted Christ as my Savior. I began to attend church but wasn’t ready to have my life changed. I now call this my “Fire Insurance” period. Shortly after, I had my first lesbian relationship. I had a dream/vision one night shortly after the concert. I was upstairs in my bedroom, and I heard an eerie sound from the street. I climbed out of bed and went to the window to see an old ambulance style vehicle driving slowly up the street. It was pure white and had a red glow inside. It turned into the cul-de-sac towards my house. I could hear this spine-tingling laugh come from the driver. The car was full of smoke, but I had a brief glimpse of the driver as he pointed his boney finger up at me laughing. I felt a rumbling in the floor and ran to jump back on my bed. A huge hole opened up in the floor, and I could smell sulfur and this indescribable stench. Satan himself rose up from that hole and said these words to me. “I don’t care what you believe, where you go or what you do – you will always be mine! Don’t ever forget that you and your soul is mine!” He descended back into the hole and it closed. I heard the car as it moved out of my driveway and as he turned onto the street, pointed back at me and repeated that I was his forever and drove off laughing. Needless to say this scared me pretty bad; however, because of my curious mind, I wanted to know more about this Satan and different religions.
After high school, I went to college and started questioning everything. I attended a small Baptist college, however would go from room to room asking questions of the girls on what they really believed. I learned about several religions and began my own adventure in trying them all out to see if they would fill the hole that was in my soul. I was on my own and free to do as I pleased and had to govern myself. I began to free-fall due to the lack any healthy boundaries. Abusing drugs and drinking, as well as going from one relationship to another, became my norm. I quickly realized these things did not fill the hole in my soul. I graduated with a social work degree, yet was not able to apply what I had learned to my own life. I began working with troubled adolescent girls in a group home, and learned how to perfectly balance my addictions with work. But that didn’t last for long. The next season of my life had me going from relationship to relationship and was at what I thought the lowest point of my life when one relationship ended, and I joined into an already established couple’s relationship. I later learned one of the women was abusive and the other introduced me to witchcraft. I became a practicing witch for over 6 years. Maybe Satan was right after all. This relationship was emotionally, physically and mentally twisted. I believed everything at face value and was hurt repeatedly. Why, you may ask? Well, that’s just what believing the lies of Satan can do to a person. It had been a very long time since my mind had been clear, and I didn’t know it then, but it would be a bit longer before the fog lifted.
A friend who had been watching my life spin out of control for some time and was very dear to me, urged me to get help and so I entered a mental health facility for treatment. About 9 months before being admitted, I had gotten down on my knees in my bedroom and cried out to God; the God I had met so many years before at the concert. I prayed for him to take me out of this world or save me because I couldn’t take much more. I was so messed up on drugs, alcohol, pornography and witchcraft that the pain I felt inside was ripping my soul apart. I had started cutting myself hoping once, just once, I would have what it took to end it all. But God had a plan. After getting out of the mental health facility a second time, I was able to get my own place, and I cried out to God again, this time with rage. “I prayed that you would take me out of this life because I wasn’t worth it! Now look where I am! Alone, starting from scratch! I have no friends, except the one who has been there through thick and thin!” You see, I was still doing drugs and drinking more than ever to try to deal with my reality. I had truly lost all my friends, except the one. I was urged to find a church but really had trouble getting my feet to cross the threshold. I finally did one Wednesday night. I liked it there and was immediately swept into service by the second Sunday – running the multi-media. That is where I spent the first 5 years of my “christian” walk. Because I was so busy serving, I never heard a sermon for the 5 years I attended that church. This is where my performance Christian walk began. For me, everything was an “If this, then that” kind of thing. I saw God’s love as conditional. If I behaved well enough, I could get a “piece of candy.” If I did something for you, I would get something in return. I was hoping that if I perfected doing the multi-media, God would love me.
I did however get into a small group, not for the right reasons though. It was because the leader of the singles group was a very attractive woman my age. But God had a plan and can even work through our wrong motives. I began attending this group and after several meetings, was invited to stay after. The leader started opening up and sharing her story with me and asking me questions. I quickly realized that although she was not gay, we had a lot in common and became good friends. Let me interject here that all my addictions were still in full swing. I thought, “OK finally my life is turning around.” Then I lost my job. For the first time in my life I wasn’t in a panic over this difficulty. I had a peace about it. Within a month I had another job offer. It was great, and I loved my job. Then the recession hit and businesses were cutting back – you guessed it – I was let go again. This time I was angry. I was out of work for four years. After unemployment ended, I went through savings, IRA and began selling my possessions. Unfortunately, I was still drinking to drown my pain. I cried out to God but heard nothing. I was working odd jobs, mowing lawns but still couldn’t pay my bills. I started volunteering at the church and worked with our care pastor as his personal assistant. He assisted me financially out of his own pocket when he could. In working with him, he recognized the signs of an addict/alcoholic, being a recovering addict himself. He had gotten approved to start a new ministry at our church called Celebrate Recovery and asked if I would attend a meeting with him at another church because he needed my help. I agreed but quickly realized that he had other motives of getting me into recovery. Again I was angry, my standard response, yet glad too. I was tired of just existing and desperately wanted what I saw others having. So I spent the next 7 years in recovery for drugs and alcohol. I fell many times and fought with God over and over, but that fog I mentioned earlier – it began to lift. I found a wonderful sponsor, in whom I have found another sister in Christ. Little did I know, God was replacing all my old friends with new godly ones. God was working on my life without me even realizing it. I had a new group of friends who didn’t want anything except the best for me. They knew about my addictions, pornography and homosexuality and loved me in spite of my failures. This was completely new to me. My sponsor and I worked on issue after issue, digging deeper to try to understand. I had never known this kind of love.
As the fog was lifting, I was spending more and more time in church and Bible studies. It was like something was growing inside me, to fill that hole in my soul. I still couldn’t find a job and was completely out of money. I asked God what to do and he told me to move in with my parents. I resisted at first but after two months, I packed and moved home. Again, God had a plan! Within three months, I had a full time job.The job was doing something for which I had no training, but they were willing to train me. I have been there for three years and love what it. My sponsor began talking to me about what my next steps should be to continue growing with Christ. I had no idea what she was talking about. She had been to a health expo and met someone at the Hope for Wholeness booth. They talked and she told me about it. Granted, she waited until God told her to tell me – because had she mentioned it years earlier, I would have shut her down. That just wasn’t up for discussion. But God had kept me from drugs, alcohol and to my surprise – homosexual relationships for a couple years. He had been working on my heart for years, a little bit at a time. So I was ready. She suggested that I get in touch with this ministry and get more information and see if it was something that God might be leading. I thought she had lost her mind, but went to the website anyway. I found out that they were about to have their annual conference. I didn’t know a soul walking through the doors on the first day.
It was like forcing myself to go to church and crossing that threshold. I was met with warm smiles and friendly faces. I continued to ask God, why am I here? He began to work deeper in my heart as I opened up to these people. I learned so much at the conference that it was overwhelming. It wasn’t a bunch of people bashing gays or preaching a turn or burn message. It was a message that Jesus loves you right where you are. I was still overwhelmed when I met Barbara at one of the women’s breakouts after dinner. I came up late and was debating on joining in. She asked me how I was doing, and I said I wanted to puke. Without missing a beat, she said, “Well here’s a bucket and here’s what we are doing….” I knew then I had found a kindred spirit. We prayed over several women in the group after the activity, and Barb was quick to include me to be prayed over. I have never told her this, but it was a turning point in my life. Thank you, Barbara. I ended up buying the whole conference on CD as well as purchasing books. I was also looking forward to the next year’s conference. I stayed in contact with Barbara and was drilling her as to what my next steps should be. She suggested I get into counseling with Meleah who led the ministry where she interned. I was willing to do whatever it was going to take. God had lit a fire under me. I told my sponsor all about the conference and was beginning my Skype sessions with Meleah. Throughout that next year, God was working on me. I purchased the Covenant Eyes filtering software to block my porn addiction, found a new church that continues to fan the flame that God set at the conference, and joined several bible studies including one with Meleah. Please don’t misunderstand, I fell – a lot with the porn addiction, but God was gentle with me. I loved Him, but still had that performance-based mentality that was hindering my fully receiving his love.
This year, my second year at conference, I went into it completely exhausted from work and life. I had no energy to fight off any spiritual attack – which was about to become true warfare. I had expectations of fitting in with a group, but I ended up sitting alone even though others invited me to be a part. I had the devil on one shoulder whispering lies to me like, “No one wants to hang out with you” or “You’re still a looser.” All the while, God was allowing me to be alone so that I could get some rest and so that He could show me He was fighting for me. I was tossed in a sea of emotions – anger, frustration, exhaustion, sadness, depression and loneliness. It was if I was hanging onto a plank watching the battle unfold above with my spiritual eyes. This year they offered a class on different kinds of worship and through it I found a deeper connection with him through worship with flags. By Saturday night, I didn’t care about the spiritual battle going on around me, because I was worshiping my God. I had an encounter with God so powerful that it turned my world around. I was worshiping with the flags and was ushered into the Throne Room and God met me there. It was so tender and powerful that words cannot adequately describe. He had been doing delicate surgery on my heart and now that it was open – he could minister doses of his love that would heal the deepest scars. As he is my true source of love, I can develop healthier relationships with others.
It’s so amazing how God knows just how to reveal something so devastatingly amazing and profound about himself at just the right moment. You can’t browbeat someone into understanding the depth of His love. But he is able to reach our most private pain. It’s so crazy to try to understand why he’d wait THIS long for me to get this crucial piece of himself. I guess I was not really ready before now. He truly has waited decades for me to be ready but waited patiently to give me time so I could grasp His love. Since the conference, I have continued the Bible study with Meleah as well as counseling, and reading books to continue to walk out this path and dig deeper and deeper into who God is and His love for me. I continue to cultivate healthy relationships with other females but this will continue to take time as he heals my heart. My life isn’t perfect, and I’m not where I want to be, but Thank You God I’m not where I used to be.