For four generations, my family has included many Christian leaders: a Methodist Bishop, several evangelists, a pastor and two professors of theology. This godly heritage, however did not protect me from devastation in my sexual identity.
I am the eldest of five children, and my parents divorced when I was about six years old. Shortly after my father left, the landlord of our apartment building began to fondle me sexually. He apparently thought it was safe because my father was no longer around.
Instinctively,, some part of me knew this was wrong, but it was a form of male attention, which I desperately needed. Unfortunately, my father ignored us, even though he lived in the same city and could see us when ever he wanted.
About a year later, my mother met a man who became my stepfather. Her world was given back to her, while mine was shattered forever. Soon my stepfather begin to touch and fondle me. I tried to tell my mother what this man was doing, but she did not believe me. When she confronted him, he denied everything and made me to look like a liar. To the outside world, my stepfather appeared to be a model husband and father, a fiery preacher,and a fine upstanding man in the community. Other people had no idea that this man was beating, molesting and raping me at every opportunity. I could not even go the the bathroom in the middle of the night without him bursting in on me, and forcing me to expose myself to him.
Often my back was bruised and covered in welts because I came between this man and my brothers, taking their beatings because they were smaller.. I was afraid he would kill them. The most severe beatings came when I refused to participate in a sexual act with him.
One day I stood up to him and said that I was going to tell one of the social workers at my school who had befriended me. He beat me so badly my back was laid open like a slaves's. This particular beating came to light, but he was able to convince the school authorities it was an isolated event which would not happen again. Later, he made it clear to me that if I opened my mouth again, I would experience things far more horrible than anything he had done to me in the past. He promised that I would never leave the house again, except to attend school and church. He said that he would kill my mother and my brothers. "No one can stop me because I am in control!" he told me.
I learned more about sex, perversion, pain and fear that most adults will ever know. This went on for about three years until my mother left him. She was free---but I was still bound up with the spirits of fear,worthlessness, perversion and lust.
A few months later, I became the victim of two oher men. Our baby sitter's husband began to kiss and fondle me, which eventually turned into a sexual relationship when I was in my mid-teens. Then my grandfather began showing me sexually graphic material and talking to me about sex and being what he called a "good little girl", which meant pleasing him sexually.
(Later I learned that he also tried to molest his own daughter, and that his father had molested all of my grandfather's sisters.) My grandfather and his father before him were in a cycle they did not know how to break. That generational curse had marked me as easy prey.
"I wanted to be loved so much that I became
promiscuous, trying desparately to fill the void in my life"
I tried to act normally, but I was never able to feel physically attracted to a man. I was turned off by sex with men. Even if I loved a man, I felt degraded and dirty after becoming intimate with him.
I didn't know that the enemy had set a trap for me. Subtly, over the years, he whispered lies in my ear. Maybe I was different, maybe God had made me that way. Maybe the answer to all my problems was a woman and not a man.
Naturally, after the abuse, I was more comfortable around women than men. The enemy played that trump card for all it was worth. For many years, no one knew what had happened to me, as I had no godly person in whom I could confide. So it was easy for the enemy to isolate me and to convince me that I was "different" from other women. over the years, I came to believe that I was a lesbian. I was involved in several relationships with women and though I was better able to the physical intimacy of those relationships, I was never truly happy. There was always something missing---something I couldn't put my finger on.
Now, of course I can look back and see what was missing: my relationship with God. when I was very young, I had given my life to Him. But all the traumatic events of my childhood caused me to pull away when I cried out to him for help and nothing changed for me. Eventually like the prodigal son, I "came to myself" and I cried out, "God, help me please!" I was so desperate for my life to change. I was completely miserable. I knew there had to be a better way than the life I was living.
Eight years ago, God heard my desperate please for help. He began to turn my life around. I gave him every memory, every feeling and every thought. "Take away everything that could possibly hinder my walk with You!", I prayed. I prayed and he took me at my word.
The past eight years have not been without struggles. At times the enemy has tried to make me feel unworthy of God's love and forgiveness. But I can rebuke the devil, because I know that, no matter what I have done in the past, once I have repented of that sin, it has been cast into the "sea of forgetfulness"(see Micah 7:19) God remembers it no more! At other times I have flashbacks but I pray and quote scriptures like, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14); "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things have become new" (2Cor 5:17); and "greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
My biggest struggles have come from my ex-lover's jealousy. We both got saved within two weeks of each other in November 1992. We decided to remain roommates for financial reasons and shared an apartment for the next four years. However, about three years after my salvation, I started dating a man from my former church and my roommate went balllistic. She made a lot of threats and , when the man asked me to marry him, I foolishly gave in to fear and said no to protect him from my roommate's hostility. He eventually married someone else, but God used that relationship to show me that it is possible to have a pure love relationship without sexual contact. The Lord also used this relationship to show me that I had been fully restored to the natural desires that he created within me. However, I became very depressed after the breakup. I felt that my chance to live a normal life had been stolen and would never have another chance. In my depression I fell into sexual sin with my roommate for several days.
On the third day, I realized that, no matter what happened, I could not stay in sin or I would die ---both spiritually and naturally. I told my roommate that I was going to walk with God, no matter what she said or did. We both cried as she asked me to forgive her. But she continued to be angry and jealous and the strain became unbearable. Before I moved out, the Lord delivered me from fear and intimidation. I had been bound up for years and it had affected my every decision, but I had not even realized it. Once the Lord set me free, I could move out of that apartment without fear, despite my roommate's anger that I was leaving.
The enemy tries to keep us bound under a load of guilt and shame. But I know my God is bigger than any sin I have committed. He is bigger than the shame and the guilt. My God is able to save, deliver, heal and set free. I tried many other avenues to find peace in my life, but Jesus set me free. His love never fails.
Elder Cheryl North is President and Founder of Olive Branch Ministries International in Gary, In. "Ministering healing, restoration and peace through the love of Jesus Christ". OBMI is an outreach ministry to reach the lost and those who are hurting. She is available to minister to anyone who will hear the gospel, but especially those who desire to come out of the gay and lesbian lifestyle and or those who have been sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally abused.
Olive Branch Ministries Intl
PO Box 641274
Gary, IN 46401-1274
Copyright 2001 by Cheryl North. Used by permission. All rights reserved.