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flying kite

God's love blew upon me gently

I was born a good number of decades ago in Surrey. In those days, new mothers spent at least a couple of weeks in hospital rather than being sent home at the earliest opportunity. My mother didn’t have enough milk for me and, before each feed, she had to weigh me, try to breastfeed me, then weigh me again and make up what was lacking with formula milk, which was a somewhat disruptive start in life for me! She swapped to just using a bottle when we got home. Physical nutrition was considered much more important than emotional nutrition in hospitals then.

When I was getting on for 4, they rushed my mother into hospital with acute appendicitis in the middle of the night. One of my grandmothers was drafted in to look after my baby sister and myself so that my father could continue going to work. I gather Nanna was very taken with my sister and cooed all over her, while I was emotionally shoved to one side. Mum said that when she finally got home, after having been in a convalescent home following her operation, I had changed and was very different in my behaviour, especially towards her.

When I was 5, I remember really enjoying wrestling with the boy up the road and, from then on, I wore trousers and boys’ jumpers etc. as often as I could. By the age of seven, I was a real tomboy. I really wanted to be a boy, although I don’t ever remember thinking that I actually was one. I even tried going to the loo standing up but rapidly gave up that practice! When puberty hit me, I realised I was going to have to be a girl, and I rejected my tomboy side.

Teenage crushes

I had teenage crushes on boys at school, though I only got asked out by the unhandsome, unpopular ones! I went out with a boy in the sixth form from another school but remembered going to the cinema and seeing very little of the film because of being snogged the whole time. I also remember feeling very bored during the snogging. However, a new girl, Jill, joined my school in the 6th form, and we quickly got pretty close. Looking back, I can see now that I was in love with her and was also totally emotionally dependent on her, although I didn’t recognise either. There was one time when we’d gone on a residential language course together and shared a bedroom. I was upset about something, and she held my hand across the divide between our two beds. And I remember feeling strongly, and with some shame, that I wanted something more to happen at that moment, but it didn‘t. We went to sleep eventually, and I never told her of my feelings for her, although we were best friends. 

Slightly earlier, when I was 16, I went to a service at what was probably a Brethren chapel, and I responded to an old-fashioned altar call to give my life to the Lord. After moving from Surrey, my family essentially stopped going to church, as the Anglican one in their town was pretty high and pretty dull. But someone must have invited me along to that service, and I opened myself up to the Lord and prayed the prayer. Then I was given a magazine that gave me the rather unhelpful message that I couldn’t go to parties and discos now that I’d become a Christian. This, understandably, made me slam the door in the Lord’s face. However, He had heard my prayer of commitment and wouldn’t leave me. I called myself an atheist, but actually had arguments with Him. I was aware of His presence, but wasn’t comfortable with it then.

When puberty hit me, I realised I was going to have to be a girl, and I rejected my tomboy side 

Early steps of faith

In 1973, I went to University and found myself in the annexe of a girls’ residence hall, living alongside some keen Christian Union (CU) types. They soon got to work on me despite, or perhaps because of, me frequently getting drunk, smoking and going out with lots of boys! On November 4th that first year, I was on my own and again prayed a prayer of commitment, but nothing seemed to happen. However, the next day, I told Amanda, one of the CU types, about it. At that split second, I felt the Holy Spirit flood through me and wash me clean, and I shook for several hours afterwards. I joined the evangelical Anglican church in the city and started going along to CU meetings myself. I was aware of the feelings that I had had towards my friend Jill and went to my vicar for prayer. He was the kind of guy who didn’t get shocked by anything, and he laid hands on me and prayed for my healing. The Lord put a large, metaphorical sticking-plaster over my feelings of same-sex attraction, and it went underground for a long while. Towards the end of my first year, I even got engaged to a guy called Mark.

Not too long after truly becoming a Christian, the Lord asked me to forgive my father. I did not want to do this as I hated him because he was always moaning at me, disapproving of everything about me and blaming me for everything. There was also something ‘creepy’ about him, as my sister described last year when we met up. He was physically too affectionate, sometimes inappropriately. And this, coupled with the fact that my mother wasn’t physically affectionate, had an adverse effect on me. Anyway, the Lord backed me into a corner, and I eventually forgave my father and released him from everything which, of course, released me too. We never talked about it but, because my attitude towards him changed, his attitude towards me changed too. 

Growing and healing

Another type of release and healing occurred after being a Christian for about 18 months. In those days, the 70’s, people talked about ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ and speaking in tongues and so on. I decided I wanted in on this, so I pestered the Lord for several weeks until, eventually, the Lord answered my prayer. What I hadn’t expected was feeling the Holy Spirit, who was, of course, already inside me, expand within me. I’m a very visual person, and I saw an image of an upper storey in a house, which was me, an upper storey that I didn’t know existed. Then the Lord opened the doors to rooms that I didn’t know were there and flung wide open the windows! A lot changed in me then, I felt protected spiritually, which I hadn’t done much before, and a striking difference was that my body started responding physically to my fiancé Mark, although we weren’t actually sleeping together. I thought, “Wow!” when I realised what I’d been missing! However, we drifted apart and broke up after my 3rd year abroad. Where was my same-sex attractions in all this? Well, it was manifesting itself in that I sometimes had crushes on my friends who were girls, though I was never aware of any physical attraction, and it stayed pretty well underground, biding its time. 

After I graduated in 1977, I did a PostGradCertEd at what turned out to be a small Catholic college. I hadn’t realised it was Catholic until I went down for an interview and saw the statues of Mary in the garden! In the CU culture I was raised as a young Christian, we saw Roman Catholicism as almost heretical, so going there was quite a shock to my system. As there was no CU in the college, I started going to meetings run by a para-church organisation that specialised in evangelism, follow-up, Bible Study and Scripture memorisation, all of which were very helpful and foundational for me, even though I was rebellious at times. I also joined in some prayer times at college, which were organised by one of the students. These were some quiet, meditative times of prayer. They also persuaded me to go to a retreat over the New Year, at which someone mentioned a way of praying that I have found life-changing. In a nutshell, it comprises taking a section of narrative from one of the Gospels, imagining the scene and putting yourself in it, either as yourself or taking the role of someone in the scene. You could even imagine watching it like a film. That was all I was told, but it has made a huge difference ever since, both to my prayer life and to my relationship with the Lord.

After college, I moved to London and taught in a middle school for 3 years.  I hated it but gave it my best shot. During this time, I went out with a guy from the church, but also had a bit of a crush on a girl from the same church. I really admired her self-confidence, especially since my own had taken a severe bashing from not doing well at teaching.

Ongoing struggles

After giving up teaching, I moved to Surrey as I’d got a job working in the UK office of a Christian charity, in their finance department, which handled the staff’s gift income. I also got involved in an outreach ministry in London, which was where I met my husband. When we were engaged, I told him about my previous/lurking same-sex attractions, though he wasn’t particularly interested in hearing about it, which suited me as I didn’t particularly want to talk about it! We got married not too long afterwards and had three children. In those years, I just had the occasional crush on women I admired, not helped by life sometimes being difficult. 

Then sometime in my 40s, I started noticing an acute inner pain, and I eventually asked our vicar’s wife, who has a gift of healing, to pray for me. In my mind’s eye, I saw what looked like an old submarine that had a rusty metal panel with corroded screws holding it down. The screws were loosened, and the panel came up and down. Below, I saw what looked like a furnace burning. I knew immediately that this was another picture of my inner state, and I soon learnt that the Lord was removing the metaphorical sticking plaster over my same-sex feelings that He’d put on when my first vicar prayed for me. I was also going to see a spiritual director and taking part in a long retreat in daily life, partly using the type of meditative, imaginative prayer that I mentioned earlier, which was very healing. Also, at about the same time (I forget the exact order of events), my lovely neighbour across the road was training in massage therapy and was looking for guinea pigs to practise on. Rather naively, I agreed to it and promptly fell in love with her, including feeling a lot of physical attraction, though I never told her about this, or anyone else.

Support from TFT

I contacted TFT and corresponded with the founder Martin Hallett, by actual snail mail, which I found helpful. Another valuable thing was seeing a counsellor weekly for about 4 years; she provided a safe, though painful, place for my same-sex attractions to come out. In the 20+ years since then, I have had other forms of counselling and lots of prayer, all of which have contributed to what feels like a great deal of healing. These days, I don’t feel any same-sex feelings for a while, then something happens, or I see someone that makes me realise I mustn’t get complacent or let my guard down. 

Two prayer sessions stand out in particular; one was when Jennifer Rees Larcombe, a popular women’s speaker with a gift of healing, prayed for me in the 10 minutes during the lunch break of a woman’s day. Straight after that, the Lord gave me a kind of brief, interactive vision that showed that He knew and understood my deep inner needs. The other time was when I was at a healing meeting held by a local church. I went forward for prayer for a virus that had been lingering for a long time, but when they laid hands on me, I realised that what I really wanted was the Lord’s healing for those deep inner needs. The Lord answered then in part, and still continues to answer that prayer.

I stopped getting crushes on women during this time but found that I missed them a bit as they had added something to my life! 

So, that is something of my journey so far, a journey that is still ongoing. In summary, I guess the things that have helped me most with my same-sex feelings have been counselling, prayer-ministry and my relationship with the Lord, aided by contemplative, meditative prayer, which has been an ongoing help. 

When I was on an extended silent retreat several years ago, I heard the Lord say that He loved me, then the wind blew gently, and He said, ‘Every time the wind blows, remember that I love you.’ A wonderful aide-mémoire from the Infinite One for His infinite love. 

This article was originally published in the summer 2022 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.

Download the summer 2022 edition of Ascend