Paula, now Paul—A Man After God’s Own Heart By Paul Pickering, Kokomo
I had a life that was far from God, drowning in homosexuality and transgenderism, trying to live as a woman in a man’s body.
But God had another plan. He invited me into a relationship with Him, and has since changed my life, forever!
In Ephesians 4:22-24, it says: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
My past in homosexuality and transgenderism was a heart issue, and had very little to do with sex.
I can now see the many life-dominating influences that contributed to who and what I became. I now realize that only God can give us accurate guidelines to measure ourselves by. And His guidelines are in His Word.
Growing up, I lived three different lives, which led to a great deal of confusion and personal turmoil.
The first I will call my home life. My mother, myself and two brothers, plus a female friend of my mother’s, lived a quiet life in the country. My mother was a quiet and easy-going woman, it took a lot to make her angry.
Mary, my mother’s friend was more outgoing, and I bonded more with her than my own mother. Mary and Mother worked at a nearby factory. They had us in bed early each day, because they had to leave early for work each morning.
From the age of seven until I graduated high school, I had the responsibility of getting myself and my two brothers ready for school each day. It was my chore to clean the house and keep everything tidy.
Mary was bold and assertive; she controlled much of what went on in our home. Finally, at sixteen years old, I discovered that Mary and my mother were in a lesbian relationship.
Mary was a very big influence on my mother. She became jealous of our relationship because of the time it took away from their being together. When I was seventeen Mary told me that my mother wanted me to move out of the house and get my own apartment. I believed her and moved out. I later found that this was from Mary, not my mother.
When I turned 21, Mary and my mother took me to a gay bar in Indianapolis where I saw my first drag show and male strip show. This was my first introduction to the transgender life.
Up until this time I had no meaningful father influence in my life. My father never spoke to me or did anything with me. He never showed any interest in me and never contributed financially to my life.
I did have two sets of grandparents, though. On weekends, summer vacations, and holidays we went back and forth between both sets. These two homes were as different as night and day.
My maternal side of the family was fun, and a little scary, due to the drinking, card playing, cussing, and generally wilder life. After my maternal grandparents were divorced, my grandmother took a boy-friend into her home. He molested me over the next five years. I had no one to go to, no one who would help me escape this hell I was in.
My paternal grandparents were my only stability. They were much more conservative and proper. Each time we would visit, they would take us to church. Their home always felt safe and secure. My paternal grandmother was my rock. She was kind and was someone I could always lean on. When things were hard, she was always there for me. Unfortunately, I did not get enough time to spend with her.
My grandfather was really more like my dad, who was not very good at communicating with us.
So, I lived in three different worlds. My dysfunctional home that was often quiet, with no real bonding. My grandparents: one noisy, exciting, and scary; and one home safe and fun, but sad because my Dad didn’t care.
As the years went by a secret life began to grow in my heart. I felt different. Very different. I was attracted to boys and men. And, I felt more like a girl than a boy. I really didn’t understand boys or men. I just wanted to be loved.
I was born into this world not having the love of a father that every child needs. I only had a mother, who did everything to make my life as good as she could. She was a good provider, working hard each day. But my mother didn’t know how to express love to me more than this. I had no real affection in my life.
I had no healthy male influence in my life, no father to lean on. Being raised by my mother and other women, I learned only how women felt, acted, and expressed themselves.
I grew up lonely and confused. I hungered for a man’s attention and to show me affection. I didn’t know what it was like to feel or act like a boy. I knew what it was to be female, or at least I thought I knew what it was like. It felt natural. It seemed to fit me.
With all the teasing, and people calling me “Paula,” I finally decided that that’s who I was supposed to be and would become.
For the next 20 years, I acted on my feelings, living as a woman—Paula. I even had my doctor sign the form to change my name and gender on my driver’s license. I had all my paperwork signed and the date set for my sexual reassignment. Fortunately, my partner and I at the time, took that money to make a down payment on a home we bought together.
Doing drag shows and living as a woman now gave me the attention I craved. I could finally get the attention from men that I had longed for my entire life. But, I was still lonely, and not truly fulfilled. Their attention came at a price.
On December 10, 2010, my life started to crumble. I lost the job I had for nearly 17 years. My life became darker and darker. I became fearful for my life and future.
One night after this, I went out to perform in a drag show. This was typically a highlight for me, something I really enjoyed. Tonight would be very different, though. It was my birthday—February 13, 2011. That night felt like a living hell. I was being personally tormented. I started to feel that my life was over, that I was going to hell. It was Good Friday, of all days.
I heard in my heart Satan telling me that he was going to drag me to hell! I was in a tug of war between God and Satan. I now realized that God was drawing me towards Himself, and Satan was doing all he could to keep me to himself and torment me.
I wanted out, but I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know the truth of God’s love and plan for my life, or what having a relationship with Jesus meant.
I needed help. I needed to talk to someone who knew the truth and might understand what was going on with me.
Every day for the past two weeks, to that night, I couldn’t eat or sleep. My partner was so concerned for me that he actually reached out to a godly married couple to counsel with me. I was able to meet with them that next morning. They confirmed my fears about Satan and the lies he was telling me. They opened the Bible with me, and showed me the truth about my life. They shared that Jesus could give me the love that I longed for and desperately needed.
On April 23, 2011, Easter Sunday, I invited Jesus to enter my life. I went up to the altar, crying and literally screaming. I felt so unworthy of His love for me and this new and incredible gift of salvation and forgiveness. I confessed my sin, and received His love and forgiveness for me. I wanted to be baptized right away. I wanted to be rid of any demonic oppression that could be left.
Shortly afterwards on Mothers’ Day, I was baptized at the couple’s house who had helped me—in their hot-tub, of all things! They prayed for me and prayed blessings over my heart and life. I was free! And I felt free! I had a new lease on life!
Five years later, I have good days and I have some bad—especially when I take my focus off of God and His provision and love for me. Regardless, through Jesus, I am a man of God. His truth has set me free.
I love Him with all that I am, because He first loved me. Thankfully, I’m involved in an amazing church body that loves me for who I am, not focused on who I was. Each and every day, they pray for me and encourage me. They lift me up when I am down. My Creator, who knows every hair on my head, turns out to have just the right person there to help me through my day-to-day trials I’m facing. Their friendship brings life to me. I’ve learned to lean into my church family and friends in my struggles and times of temptation, and Satan’s feeble attempts to try to make me fall.
Through God’s provision, I have my own home, a new vehicle—at least new to me. I have not just one good job, but two! It keeps me busy and I’m now able meet my needs and even more.
I have changed the music I listen to. Songs that praise the Lord are now my desire. They renew and lift my spirit. This is a way of renewing my mind.
Revelation 22:14-15 and 17 says: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
I’m incredibly thankful for Hope for Wholeness. The conferences and ministry of Hope for Wholeness and their online Facebook community have met such a deep felt need in my life. I no longer feel like a freak. I am now a man on a mission, and I’m part of a team. A team where I feel supported, encouraged, and cheered for.
I am Paul Pickering, a man after God’s own Heart.
I hope to see you at the conference. If not, please give towards the conference scholarship fund, so that others like me may attend.