Category : Women

I searched for love, acceptance, and my sexual identity in all the wrong places which led me into alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and many toxic promiscuous relationships with men; one right after the other.

I Found My Identity In Jesus

Elsie Odom

Elsie Odom

I was born the eldest of five children, four girls and one boy. I became the product of an extremely dysfunctional, co-dependent family of alcoholic parents who physically and emotionally abused me. Also, I was sexually molested many times over the period of my childhood by different relatives.

My mother was the dominating parent whom I grew to hate because of her verbal and physical abuse. I made many inward vows that I never wanted to be like her. My dad was the submissive one who was away at work during the week and drunk every weekend. Even though I now believe my parents did not mean to hurt me, I felt rejected and began to shut them out. I made up my mind early in life that I certainly did not want to grow up to be like my mother or my father and I feared men because of the molestation. I felt insecure, had a sense of shame and no value which led to isolation from my peers. Therefore, I did not have any friends. I see now how the things that happened to me affected my sense of who I was, both as a person and in terms of my gender identity and sexuality.

I longed for love and acceptance and began experiencing sexual desires toward my female friends as early as fourteen or fifteen years of age. Those perverted sexual desires manifested into experiences and by the age of eighteen, I had already been involved in two different homosexual relationships. After I was permitted to date at the age of sixteen, I dated many different guys, trying to find the right one who would change the direction of my affections. I was constantly tormented by the same-sex feelings. Somehow I knew the feelings I was having were wrong but did not know how to get free; therefore, I suffered much pain and shame while feeling like a freak.

I even dated my partner’s boyfriend trying to break them up. She found out and ended our relationship which was devastating. In order to survive my broken heart, I dated every guy I could. And in so doing, I met a guy on a blind date and he asked me to marry him. Marriage appeared to be the answer and a way out. I told my fiancé about my previous same-sex relationships and he promised he would be the one who made me forget about them. I believed this to be the answer to my troubled life. We married in 1961, and he became a good provider. When I discovered marriage was not the answer, I decided to visit a psychiatrist hoping he could help me find the answer. Of course, he could not. I then decided if I had a child this would bring fulfillment, so we soon had a beautiful daughter. After 8 years of marriage that was not filling the void in my heart, my husband and I divorced. I met a woman in the city and had same-sex feelings for her. I decided in order to go on with my life I needed to move into town. There, I could get lost in the crowds and pursue the attraction I was having and accept my sexual identity.

I searched for love, acceptance, and my sexual identity in all the wrong places which led me into alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and many toxic promiscuous relationships with men; one right after the other. My emotional pain became so great I decided to find another psychiatrist to find the answer to my desperation. Sure enough, what he told me was what I had heard before, “Whatever you do behind closed doors is your business”. His answer justified the horrible lifestyle I was living and gave me a temporary feeling that it was okay.

I found a job working at a straight bar as a barmaid where I met a woman and immediately started a friendship with her. This led to a love affair which seemed perfect and lasted for fourteen years. Even though I was living a life of lies and deception, I was the happiest I had ever been, or so I thought. We bought a home together and did everything together. We knew no other women or men who had same-sex attractions until my partner met a couple where she worked. We connected with them and began to have home parties and attend gay bars. The acceptance we received felt really good. Despite this, our lives continued downward into alcohol and drugs. We both became alcoholics.

I attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and checked myself into two different psychiatric units. I was not serious about being free so this accomplished nothing except a time for temporary detoxification. Then early one morning before daylight as I was sobering up from being drunk the night before, Jesus visited me in a vision. I was still in bed and I saw Him standing in my bedroom doorway beckoning me to come to Him. He was so real standing there dressed in His pure white glistening robe. It was so vivid. I saw the same Jesus I had seen in pictures when I was a child attending Sunday school. I will never forget saying, “Help me, Jesus.”

Two years later after being told by my partner I either had to quit drinking or move out, I decided to get serious and start attending AA meetings once again. Through this time of recovery God was working in my heart. One night as I was returning home from AA in 1985 I looked up into the clear beautiful sky where there were millions of stars, and a peace came over me I had never experienced before. This was my Damascus road experience. I know now that was the night God totally delivered me from alcohol because I have not had a drink or even a desire for a drink since then. This was the beginning of turning back to God. You see I had been reading AA’s 24-hour prayer/mediation book for about a year. I know it was the Word of God that had been planted in my heart that set me free. Because the bible says in John 8:32, “if you continue in my Word, you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.”

Once free from alcohol and its numbing effects, I was able to sense the wooing of the Holy Spirit. He led my partner and me to watch Christian television. One night, while watching an evangelist, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I found out later my partner also had gotten saved about the same time.

The Holy Spirit convicted us both of the lifestyle we were living. We began to search for a Christian counselor in the yellow pages of the telephone directory hoping once more to find the right answer to our hellish lifestyle. We found one, made an appointment, and were told once again, “What you do behind closed doors is your business.” The Holy Spirit within us did not agree with this counselor’s beliefs and He led us in search of another Christian counselor.

I developed a hunger for the Word of God and started going to church. I began to see in the Bible that homosexuality was a sin. I justified the lifestyle I was living by convincing myself that if God was a God of love then the love we had for each other had to be acceptable to God. My church attendance started to fall off because I was not being fed the Word of God which I desperately needed.

Then through an acquaintance my partner and I found a Spirit-filled church, Whole Life Ministries in Augusta, GA where the uncompromised Word of God is taught and where we both felt accepted and loved from the very first night that we walked into that church. By the power of the Holy Spirit and washing my mind with God’s Word, I entered the path to healing which was a long and difficult course to full restoration but extraordinarily fulfilling. Through the process of God’s precious grace, I was given the ability to give up cigarettes and be healed of low self-esteem, self hate, co-dependence and many emotional hurts that stemmed from a life of abuse.

I have been serving the Lord faithfully for almost twenty-two years now. God has given me such a desire for Him and His Word that I have served in almost every area of ministry within the church, including being an assistant to the Minister of Counseling and facilitating support groups. I earned a Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2003. God has opened doors for me to become an ordained Minister of the Gospel, a licensed Christian counselor, and a Chaplain.

God placed the desire within my heart over 15 years ago that I was to help other hurting women to become free through one-on-one Christian counseling and support group therapy. I began StraightForward Ministries in February 2008 specializing in ministering to those who have un-wanted same-sex attractions. Since I was not told the Truth when I was seeking Christian counseling, I know God placed it within my heart to be a counselor so that He may use me to impart the truth of the Word of God to those who are searching for it, as the Holy Spirit leads. Since He healed my hurting soul and set me free, by His grace He will do the same for all that truly want to be free and pay the price of obedience to His Word.

Elsie Odom is the director of StraightForward Ministry in Augusta Georgia.

My reality with men was either they walked out on me or abused me. There was no positive influence by them at all in my life.

- Jill Mackin

A Former Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Activist Surrenders To God’s Call

Jill squareJill Mackin’s Story

I give God all the glory when I say “former.” The word tells us “And such WERE some of you, but, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

I grew up in a turbulent home In Crofton, Maryland where my mother and alcoholic stepfather fought constantly. My biological father walked out on us when I was 6. My mother battled with ill health and depression and wasn’t really available for me emotionally. By the time I was in 2nd grade I’d been sexually abused by a neighbor across the street. The abuse would continue through my stepfather well until I was the age of 13.

I first began experiencing same sex attractions when I was in the 3rd grade. The Lord led me to himself when I was 14 years old and for a few months I was on fire for God through his word and church. It wasn’t long though before peer pressure crushed that fervent spirit and I began using drugs and alcohol to fill the deep void I seem to carry around on the inside.

My reality with men was either they walked out on me or abused me. There was no positive influence by them at all in my life.

I went to my first gay bar in Washington, DC at 17 and I thought all my problems were solved. Other women and men just like me! Now I could feel normal! But this wasn’t normal at all. It only fueled my alcoholism and drug addiction further. The people I seem to meet and hook up with were like me alright, they drank as much as I did and used drugs as hard as I did. I never felt love; all I ever experienced was liquor/drug fueled lust.

Of course, I didn’t have that realization at that time, only years later would I come to recognize the truth. My cycle was go look for the love in the bars, drink, dance, find another woman who was just as emotionally needy as I was, go home with her, wake up hung over and in shame over the night before, repeat the following weekend. This pattern would continue for 10 years.

When I was 27 I was introduced to a 12 step program that would bring me my first taste of recovery from alcoholism. At that same time I took a job with the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now called the Human Rights Campaign). They are the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights organization, located in Washington DC. I worked in their development department and was educated on all gay/lesbian issues. Given the opportunity a few times to take part in lobbying activities on Capitol Hill on behalf of the gay and lesbian political agenda, I jumped in full force. I attended and was politically active in both the March for Women’s Lives (pro-choice) in 1992 and the National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1993.

It was also during this period that I began visiting various denominations “looking for God.” I went to a Unitarian Universalist church, the Metropolitan Community Church and even a gay and lesbian Jewish synagogue! Needless to say, He wasn’t at any of those locations. Frankly, I believed God was okay with my lifestyle and I rationalized it by telling myself “God would rather have me loving people than killing them.” Deception, utter deception.

After my time at the Human Rights Campaign, I went on to work at the National Association of People with AIDS first as their development associate and then as their development director. I was still immersed in the politics and culture of the gay and lesbian community.

In August, 1997 I moved to London, UK with my partner. In 1998, my partner went to Ecuador with a Spanish language immersion course and I was left in the UK alone. God got me right where he wanted me.

Out of nowhere the thought came to me “What does God think of my homosexuality?” I began reading liberal (John Boswell and Troy Perry among others) views on Christianity and homosexuality as well as the conservative views. I also went out and purchased a bible and read all the passages pertaining to homosexuality. The explanations of those passages by the liberal views simply were not lining up with what the Bible seemed to say rather straightforward, to me. Romans 1 was not about male temple prostitution! It was about ALL people who practice homosexuality!

God had opened my eyes to the truth of scripture. When my partner returned from Ecuador, I took off the gold ring she’d given to me and put it down, telling her “I cannot live this way anymore.”

I’m not going to say I walked with God faithfully afterwards. That isn’t true. I went through a great deal of pain and depression and I relapsed into alcohol abuse off and on for the next few years. But I have been celibate since that time, in 1998.

My identity is no longer found in the gay and lesbian community but rather in Christ. I no longer live with a void inside my spirit. God has filled that void with himself and I am grateful for his work in me. He has done it all; it’s nothing I’ve done. I don’t really identify as ex-gay either. I don’t hear people in church identifying as ex-gossips or ex-adulterers. I’m just Jill, a woman who desires to serve her great God and walk in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

My Girl & His Girl

Meleah AllardMeleah’s Story

I’m a Pastor’s daughter, and I walked down the aisle of Calvary Baptist Church asking Jesus to be my Savior when I was 9 years old. As a child I loved attending church, singing in the choir and being part of my youth group. I even went on a mission trip at 14. However, my family had a lot of problems and there were many times when chaos ruled and no one wanted to go to church. So I’d hop on my bicycle and go alone. My parents are good people. Throughout my childhood, I learned valuable things from them. Daddy’s generosity is legendary. He often picked up hitchhikers and they’d leave his car with the gospel in their heart and my daddy’s coat on their back. He’s a prayer warrior. I saw him on his knees countless times throughout childhood. I know his faithful prayers for 10 years are what brought me back to God.

My mother taught me perseverance; to hang in and not give up. I watched her do it for years. Mother said Daddy was either the best husband and father in the world or the worst nightmare, sort of a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde. He was, during those years, a rageaholic, totally controlled by his anger. When he would lose his temper, he’d become verbally and physically abusive to my mother, sisters and me. One name I remember being called often was “the devil’s prostitute.” WORDS HAVE POWER! Mother was often discouraged and depressed. There wasn’t much physical affection, either between my parents or toward us girls. I remember hearing the words “I love you” only a few times in my life. One of those few times is a vivid memory. I was 15, and lying in a hospital bed after I’d attempted suicide with two bottles of pills. Thankfully God had other plans for me. Compounding these serious family problems was the abuse I suffered at school. I was bullied and called names. It was not a safe place. I became interested in boys at a young age. Mother called me a “boy chaser.” In reality I was a love chaser and was desperately seeking love and affection. Boys took advantage of that weakness. I became pregnant at 15, after having sex for the first time, and was abandoned by the father of my baby. My family rallied and helped me to raise my daughter so I could graduate from high school BUT something happened internally for me. I made a serious turn at that point. I’d begged God for years to change my messed up family. I knew He could. I knew He was all powerful, but nothing changed. Things just seemed to grow worse. I took that to mean that He didn’t care. When we feel like we are being rejected, we retreat.

There was also my church family. They weren’t blatantly ugly over my pregnancy, but I remember the looks of disdain and whispers as I walked by. The message came through loud and clear. I had been demoted from the preacher’s kid on the front row to the prodigal on the back pew. I was mad, and I blamed God for the shortcomings of his people. I remember saying, “OK God, if this is what you have to offer, I don’t need you.” I turned my back on God and my faith, and became a prodigal child. At eighteen my daughter and I moved to Florida where I had friends. They invited me to a gay bar for the first time. I was apprehensive, but I was more curious…so I went. The experience was “surreal” and unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. One of the things that drew me in was how totally accepted I felt. I didn’t feel judged for my past and people were interested in me. So I went back again and again. In a short time, they began to feel like my family. It also wasn’t long before I was pursued by a woman. I’d never had that kind of attention before. I don’t know how else to explain it other than, it was intoxicating. To be wanted and desired when I’d always felt unloved and unwanted was overwhelming. I’d always loved and admired women. When all the other girls had posters of boys in their rooms I had posters of Marcia Brady and Farrah. When a woman put her arms around me for the first time it felt like something I’d always needed but never had. It wasn’t about sex. I was again desperately seeking love, affection and acceptance and buying into a lie about how to attain it.

About a year later at 20 years old, I moved home to NC, and found in Asheville a large gay community. I became entrenched in it quickly and before long they felt like family. I dated women for a while, but it wasn’t long before I met and began a relationship with THE woman – the one with whom I thought I’d spend the rest of my life. She and I lived and raised my daughter together for 8 years. I felt, for the first time, what I thought was real love. It sure was powerful. It had such a grip on me but during the last few years of that relationship my discontent grew because her love was not deep enough to fill that empty well within me. I remember lying on my couch late one night. It was the first time I’d talked to God in years, I said out loud, “I know this is wrong, but I love her and I can’t leave. Please God,” I begged, “Change my feelings so I can leave.”  I can hear His response as plain today as that night. He said, “No Meleah, You Leave and I’ll then I’ll change your feelings.” That was NOT the answer I wanted to hear. It was another two years before I had the courage to leave. God used a number of situations to orchestrate my return to Him, but the main thing was my child. I began to be concerned for her spiritual welfare. No matter how I was living I knew that I was a believer and that if I died I was going to Heaven, but I wasn’t so sure about her. I hadn’t darkened the door of church in 10 years. My parents had taken her when they could but that wasn’t often. “Coincidently” a coworker invited me to her church. All I remember her saying was it was a great place for kids. Never underestimate the power of inviting someone to church because that Sunday in that church began a life change that continues today. So it was Easter Sunday, and I knew that was a Sunday I could sneak in undetected. That church was different, and I knew it immediately. It was the warmest, friendliest place I’d ever been. They didn’t have fake smiles but instead they exuded the joy of the Lord. Within a few minutes of arriving, people were hugging us. We were strangers and they treated us like long lost relatives returning home. The music was vibrant and moving. They sang praise and worship songs. I’d never heard those before. These folks were worshipping uninhibited and unashamed. It was something else. During the service that deep and empty well within me began to be filled to the point where it just overflowed out of my eyes and tears streamed down my face. I knew what I had to do. At the end of the service, I ran down the aisle and asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. It wasn’t “surreal” as it had been in the gay bar, it was SO REAL. My decision wasn’t hard, but walking it out would not be easy. I knew I could not stay with my girlfriend though. In that moment, the love I experienced from HIM overshadowed all other love, even my love for her. So He had been true to His promise. After that church service, my girlfriend and I spent the next three days crying together. She tried to talk me out of leaving. I tried to explain to her what had happened to me, but she couldn’t hear me through her own pain. She left. It was very hard. She’d been my best friend for 8 years. That was over 20 years ago and A LOT has happened since then. Healing has been a process. God has blessed me with a husband and with him I have experienced true covenant love. Marriage is not a sign of my healing because quite frankly I went into it way too quickly and still very broken. I was a mess, he was a mess and we did NOT make a message! We made a bigger mess for a long time. But we stuck together through the super-glue of Jesus, and He has worked it all out and brought a healing to me that I never could have found through any other avenue. Because God has such an amazing sense of humor he gave a man-hating former lesbian three sons! Through all 4 of my men I have learned about the beauty and glory of manhood, so today I am a man-lover. God has also blessed me with two granddaughters, from my lovely, married, Christian daughter. The one who I raised for the first 10 years of her life in a lesbian relationship is a wonderful mother and is crazy about Jesus…a picture of his marvelous mercy.

Almost a decade ago, God said it was time to come out of the Christian closet. I’d been there for 13 years, hiding, wearing a mask, terrified that if they knew about my past in homosexuality it would NOT go well for me. If you remember I’d experienced some negative consequences in that arena after getting pregnant at 15. But the Lord said it was time to be free. Freedom is exactly what I found. Once I was truly known, I could experience the feeling of being truly loved. So much of my deeper healing has happened over the past 10 years. My husband and kids have been there every step of the way, supporting and cheering me on. My willingness to be transparent allowed God to birth a ministry which has redeemed my life in a very practical way. All those early years weren’t wasted. God is using it all. It has brought tremendous healing! Romans 8:28 is as real to me as my name. Being a part of Exodus for the past 8 years has allowed me to be exposed to teaching that has given me a revelation of God’s grace and has changed me in ways and brought freedom that I could have never imagined. I assure you this journey is SO worth it. My identity has been all over the place in my lifetime. I was a lesbian prodigal. When I came “home,” a Christian Counselor called me a Prodigy but I never felt like one. I tried to believe I was His Princess, but I’ve never been able to fully receive that either. I always felt like more of a Warrior Princess. My identity has been in being a wife, mother, professional career woman and many other things that were only meant to be roles. Today, I know I’m simply Meleah…His Girl and that is truly all I need to know! He loves me more than I love my girl and that is amazing to me!! I know three things for sure. 1) He loves me and nothing I could ever do will make Him love me less. 2) He will never leave me or forsake me. Again, none of my shortcomings or failures affects His nearness to me. Jesus already took care of that problem. 3) Lastly, He has a most excellent plan for my life. It is so much grander than anything I could ever dream up for myself. I’m living it. Oh…I know one more thing…all these things are true for you too.

Changed Forever…A new life in Christ By Miranda Pettit

Miranda’s Story

My childhood probably wasn’t very unusual, and it certainly wasn’t terrible.  My dad worked to support my mom and four children, of which I am the only girl.  He was also an alcoholic, drinking with his co-worker “buddies” while on the road working, sometimes for two- to three-week intervals.  He would come home and continue his drinking, sometimes railing at my mother about her deficiencies, accusing her of things that he was actually doing, and this behavior, thankfully, rarely ended in physical abuse but always with verbal abuse.  Both of my parents loved me, but neither was equipped to really know how to love and affirm their only little girl. I found that my affirmation and acceptance were more readily available by being athletic and making good grades.  I learned to excel at both, preferring being a typical “tomboy” to being a little girl.  My dad worked hard to meet our physical needs, but he was ill-equipped to meet our emotional needs.  My mother lived in such fear of displeasing my dad that she was ill-equipped to meet our emotional needs as well.  But she did try to meet our spiritual needs by taking us to church.

Early on as a child, I felt a difference in my walk with the Lord. Most times I would sit with my mom so I could listen to what was being said instead of being distracted by passing notes and the whispering of my friends. But with this difference, I had yet another noticeable difference that separated me from all girls in general.  Early on in life, I realized that I had attractions for other girls. Of course, like most little girls, I had my boyfriends throughout elementary school, but that was just something I did thinking it was normal to do so. This “phase” I thought I was going through did not pass as I assumed it would.  When a guy was interested in me, I put up a huge wall and assumed that every guy who was interested wanted ONE thing, and I wasn’t going there.  So throughout my teenage years, I neither had a boyfriend nor desired one.  But I was fantasizing about girls/women excessively.  Though most of my fantasies were not sexual in nature, I could dream of being a guy having girlfriends and all the things I assumed every girl would want in a man.  I was so unhappy with being a girl and had such disdain for who I was. I thought to dream about being someone else—a guy, no less—was the only way to make me fit in, to make me “right.”  I never considered myself gay or lesbian because I felt my thoughts were innocent enough—I never did anything to pursue my attractions toward females, so, therefore, I wasn’t gay. In my thought life I was a guy, so that would not make me gay.  Maybe this was a way to justify my thoughts, but it worked. This struggle from my earliest remembrance as a child would follow me for 33 years.

My first same-sex relationship happened my senior year in high school. When I went to college, I was more exposed to lesbianism than I had ever even imagined.  Until that point, I thought I was the ONLY person who struggled with same-sex attractions and feelings.  I was wrong.  I finally didn’t feel so weird or different.  I didn’t fit in with my campus ministry group of “straight” girls, and I didn’t fit in with lesbians on campus either.  I could not find a balance in trying to walk two lines, and I could not find peace.  Much of my inner conflict was likely the result of my own convictions.  I was so confused and torn between emotions and spiritual conviction. Then my world came crashing down when one of my brothers “outed” me to my parents while I was in college.  But I chose my girlfriend and the life I was living over my parents’ wishes.  This choice only added more shame, guilt, and confusion to my life.  I really wanted to make the right choice, but I chose emotions over conviction.  I wanted to have the “right” feelings for both sexes, but I was in an emotional and spiritual battle.  My convictions kept on being suppressed and ignored. And those convictions only persisted and became even stronger as I continued in relationships with women.

The last and longest of all my relationships lasted six years.  By this time I had almost embraced the gay lifestyle because I figured I would never change no matter how hard I prayed.  I struggled spiritually,obviously because of my convictions. I had a storm inside my heart that no one else knew but me, and I felt lonely and all alone.  I thought most of it was discontentment with myself because the relationships lacked what I wanted or needed.  I was searching for that happiness, peace, and joy that I thought I could find in the “right” person.  But my problem was that I was looking at the wrong people.  That happiness, peace, and joy could only be found in one person, Jesus. And that became real to me in August 2004.

After ending my six-year relationship, I realized that I was “looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many faces” as the old Johnny Lee song goes.  I came to a place of desolation and brokenness in my life.  I was completely empty inside.  It had everything to do with my running from the Lord all these years trying to find in other people and things what He freely offers.  For so many years I was so scared of what I was going to have to give up and do if I followed the Lord that I walked away from Him trying to find my own happiness and joy…and do it MY way.  Well, MY way was wrong, empty, and not what He desired at all. I finally gave my life to Jesus and asked Him to help me. I asked him to help me find wholeness and my purpose. I needed healing and restoration from the same-sex attractions and pursuits that I’d had all these years.  So after 15 years of actively living as a lesbian, the Lord worked a miracle in my life.  He transformed my life, replaced wrong, lustful, habitual thoughts with pure ones; replaced desires for same-sex intimacy with natural, God-ordained ones; and gave me a testimony so I could reach other women who are dealing with those same struggles. I am blessed now more than ever because I know in my heart I am in His Will and am living the life He intended…a life more abundant (John 10:10).  Joel 2:25 says that “the Lord will replace and restore for you the years the locusts have eaten.”  That is so true—all those years I “lost” trying to live MY way and pursue avenues that were not intended by God have been replaced by wonderful, godly relationships with other men and women, including a strong, godly woman who is my best friend and partner in ministry, Kim Broadhead.  I have a supportive, loving church family, and I have also had areas of my relationships restored with my own family.  The Lord brought me to Hope for Wholeness in 2005 to partner with them in ministering as the Women’s Leader to women and girls who want help and support in overcoming their struggles. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have made the choices I made but God has turned it around and given me hope. He dusted off the old me and gave me a new life in Him that is better than I could have imagined! What a blessing.

 

I was constantly tormented by the same-sex feelings. Somehow I knew the feelings I was having were wrong but I did not know how to change them; therefore, I suffered much pain, guilt and shame while feeling like a freak…not female and not male.

A Monument of God’s Grace By Elsie Odom

elsie-odomElsie Odom’s Story

I was born the eldest of five children, four girls and one boy.  When I was born, Satan tried his best to kill me.  I was born at home and my Grandmother said she had to beat me all night to keep me alive.  You gotta remember beatings back then were not considered child abuse.  God had a plan for my life and from the beginning Satan tried to thwart that plan.

My mother came out of an abusive family and she was the domineering parent whom I grew to dislike because of her verbal and physical abuse. I made many inward vows that I never wanted to be like her. My dad was the submissive one who was away at work during the week and drunk every weekend. I became the product of an extremely dysfunctional, co-dependent family of alcoholic parents who physically and emotionally abused me. Also, I was sexually molested many times over the period of my childhood by different relatives.  Even though, I now know my parents did not intentionally set out to hurt me, I felt rejected and began to shut them out. I made up my mind early in life that I certainly did not want to grow up to be like my mother or my father and I feared men because of the molestation.  I felt insecure, had a sense of shame and no value which led to isolation from my peers. Therefore, I had very few friends. I see now how the things that happened to me affected my sense of who I was, both as a person and in terms of my gender identity and sexuality.

As a child, I remember being a tomboy.  My boy cousins and I would hide from the school bus and and when it was gone we would go to the woods, swing on Tarzan vines, and drop in the pond of water.  Other times we would climb trees and get opossums out of tree hollows, place them in burlap bags and take them home and hang the bag on the clothes line.

My parents took me to church maybe once or twice a year at Easter and Christmas. When I was approximately eleven or twelve years of age, I began to attend church with our neighbor’s two daughters. At the age of fifteen, I accepted Jesus as my Savior, joined a church and was baptized.

I longed for love and acceptance and began experiencing sexual desires toward a couple of my female friends as early as fourteen or fifteen years of age. Those perverted sexual desires manifested into experiences and by the age of eighteen, I had already been involved in two different homosexual relationships. After I was permitted to date at the age of sixteen, I dated many different guys, trying to find the right one who would change the direction of my affections.  I was constantly tormented by the same-sex feelings. Somehow I knew the feelings I was having were wrong but I did not know how to change them; therefore, I suffered much pain, guilt and shame while feeling like a freak…not female and not male.

I met a guy on a blind date and he asked me to marry him. Marriage appeared to be the answer and a way out. I told my fiancé about my previous same-sex relationships and he promised he would be the one who made me forget about them. I believed this to be the answer and would fix my troubled life. We married in 1961, and he became a good provider. When I discovered marriage was not the answer, I decided to visit a psychiatrist hoping he could help me find the answer. Of course, he could not. I then decided if I had a child this would bring fulfillment, so we soon had a beautiful daughter. After 8 years of marriage that was not filling the void in my heart, my husband and I divorced. My husband took my daughter from me and would not bring her back, leaving another void in my heart. I was afraid to fight for her in court because I was terrified of my ex-husband’s threats. He threatened to expose my homosexuality by having the psychiatrist to testify in court against me and also said that if I attempted to get my daughter back he would kill me.

I met a woman in the city and had same-sex feelings for her. I decided in order to go on with my life I needed to move.  There, I could get lost in the crowds and pursue the attraction I was having and accept my same-sex identity.

I searched for love, acceptance, and my sexual identity in all the wrong places which led me into alcoholism, drugs, prostitution and many toxic promiscuous relationships with men; one right after the other. My emotional pain became so great I decided to look for another psychiatrist to find the answer to my desperation. Sure enough, what he told me was what I had heard before, “Whatever you do behind closed doors is your business”.  His answer justified the horrible lifestyle I was living and gave me a temporary feeling that it was okay.

I found a job working at a straight bar as a barmaid where I met a woman and immediately started a friendship with her. This led to a love affair which seemed perfect and lasted for fourteen years. Even though, I was living a life of lies and deception, I was the happiest I had ever been, or so I thought.  We bought a home together and did everything together. We knew no other women or men who had same-sex attractions until my partner met a couple where she worked. We connected with them and began to have home parties and attend gay bars. The acceptance we received felt really good. Despite this, our lives continued on a downward spiral into alcohol and drugs. We both became alcoholics.

I attended Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and checked myself into two different psychiatric units. I was not serious about being free so this accomplished nothing except a time for temporary detoxification. Then early one morning before daylight as I was sobering up from the night before, Jesus visited me in a vision. I was still in bed and I saw Him standing in my bedroom doorway beckoning me to come to Him. He was so real standing there dressed in His pure white glistening robe. The vision was so vivid. I saw the same Jesus I had seen in pictures when I was a child attending Sunday school. I will never forget saying, “Help me, Jesus.”

Two years later after being told by my partner I either had to quit drinking or move out, I decided to get serious and start attending AA meetings once again. Through this time of recovery God was working in my heart. One night as I was returning home from AA in 1985, I looked up into the clear beautiful sky where there were millions of stars, and a peace came over me I had never experienced before. This was my “Damascus road experience”. I know now that was the night God totally delivered me from alcohol because I have not had a drink or even a desire for a drink since then. This was the beginning of turning back to God. You see I had been reading AA’s 24-hour prayer/mediation book for about a year. I know it was the Word of God that had been planted in my heart that set me free. Because the bible says in John 8:32, “if you continue in my Word, you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.”

Once free from alcohol and its numbing effects, I was able to sense the wooing of the Holy Spirit. He led my partner and I to watch Christian television. One night, while watching a TV evangelist, I rededicated my life to Jesus as my Savior and Lord.  This was the “Day a Lesbian Died” and I became a “Monument of God’s Amazing Grace”.  (2 Cor 5:17) Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is new creature: old things are past away; behold, all things become new.”  I found out later my partner also had gotten saved about the same time.

The Holy Spirit convicted us both of the lifestyle we were living. We began to search for a Christian counselor in the yellow pages of the telephone directory hoping once more to find an answer to our hellish lifestyle. We found one, made an appointment, and were told once again, “What you do behind closed doors is your business.” The Holy Spirit within us did not agree with this counselor’s beliefs and He led us in search of another Christian counselor who also did not have the answer.

I developed a hunger for the Word of God and started going to church which I also found in the yellow pages. I began to see in the Bible that homosexuality was a sin.  I justified the lifestyle I was living by revising God’s word to convince myself that if God was a God of love then the love we had for each other had to be acceptable to God. My church attendance started to fall off because I was not being fed the Word of God the way I needed it and I desperately needed God’s Word.

Then through an acquaintance I found a wonderful church, Whole Life Ministries, where the uncompromised  Word of God is taught and where we both felt accepted and loved from the very first night that I walked into that church. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the washing of my mind with God’s Word, I entered the path to healing which was a process to full restoration but extraordinarily fulfilling.   Through the process of God’s precious grace, I was given the ability to give up cigarettes, be healed of low self-esteem, self-hate, co-dependency and many emotional hurts that stemmed from a life
of abuse.

My parents began attending church, became “born again” and delivered.  And after I was “born again” I was able to forgive them and we began a loving relationship that lasted until they both went home to be with the Lord, my dad in June 1997, and my mom in November 1998.  God also reunited me with my daughter and we have had a loving relationship for many years now.

I have been serving the Lord faithfully for almost twenty-five years now. God has given me such a desire for Him and His Word that I have served in almost every area of ministry within the church, to include, being an assistant within the Church’s Counseling Ministry and a Facilitator of the Small Group Ministry.  I earned my Doctorate of Ministry degree in 2003, the year I turned 62 years old.  God has opened doors for me to become an ordained Minister of the Gospel, a Board Certified Christian counselor, a Chaplain, author, international TV and radio speaker and guest.

God placed the desire within my heart about 17 years ago that I was to help other hurting women and men to become free through one-on-one Christian counseling and support/recovery groups.  I founded StraightForward Ministries in February 2008 specializing in ministering to those who have un-wanted same-sex attractions. Since I was not told the Truth when I was seeking Christian counseling, I know God placed it within my heart to be a counselor so that He may use me to impart the Truth of the Word of God to those who are searching for it, as the Holy Spirit leads. Since He healed my hurting, wounded soul and set me free by His grace, He will do the same for all that truly want to be free and pay the price of obedience to His Word.

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