I thought I was born to be a lesbian, so there was no question about changing my sexual orientation. I had had attractions toward the same sex from an early age which eventually led into two significant, long-lasting lesbian relationships. However, during this time, my parents diligently prayed for me. God heard and answered their prayers.
I began to examine the lesbian lifestyle. Realizing it was a paper chase, I decided I didn’t want to be a part of lesbianism anymore. This revelation became clear while on a retreat. During a quiet time of prayer, I realized I didn’t want to return home and re-enter the lesbian lifestyle. I was strongly impressed by the emptiness of seeking fulfillment in another person rather than God. I no longer wanted to desire sexual intimacy with a woman. I wanted to desire God to fill my life. It was at this point I made a deal with God. I asked Him either to end my life or change it. He began to change it.
I immediately dropped all association with my gay and lesbian friends. Something very deep inside me no longer wanted to be a part of the homosexual community, so it was easy to do. I began pursuing this new relationship with God.
For six months I spent an hour each day in a Catholic chapel, meditating on God and considering this new, deep attraction for Him. At the same time, I began attending my parents’ PC(USA) church. I was welcomed there and I trusted the youth pastor enough to tell him about my background. He was very caring and sought resources that could support me. He didn’t find any in the Presbyterian Church, but did locate an interdenominational discipleship class that I joined. The greatest benefit of this class was my relationship with a female leader. She took time with me, allowing me to discuss my questions about the Bible, my relationship with God and my sexual struggles. She always pointed me to Jesus as my redeemer and source of transformation.
The next step in my walk with God was meeting with a licensed Christian counselor for a year. We worked on how I saw God and how He sees me. As more sexual issues began to arise, the counselor referred me to a ministry that specializes in helping men and women work through sexual struggles. I began getting in touch with the core needs and issues that had resulted in my lesbian attractions and relationship—needs that require affirmation and nurture as a female, needs for unconditional love, needs for security that restored my trust in others and God’s loving protection of me. Here I learned that only God, not other women, could truly protect me.
This process of transformation was not an easy one, but as I let people in my Presbyterian church know about my involvement in this ministry, I received prayer, acceptance, and encouragement not to give up. That acceptance encouraged me to continue, even when it got tough. They always reminded me that my hope was in God. They were there for me, but they didn’t try to take God’s place in my life. They did all of this without compromising Scripture’s standard for sexual purity or its mandate to love one another, and all the while they pointed to the truth, Jesus Christ.
It has been a number of years now since this process began. Today I am secure in the love I have found in God and His people, people who have helped me take the extra step toward God through their tough love. Instead of condemning me or compromising God’s standards for me, they helped convince me of God’s commitment to restore me.
Maria Cardenas-Baez is an ordained elder in the San Gabriel Presbytery and a member of the OneByOne Board of Directors. She resides in Los Angeles.