In September of 2015 I went to a workshop “Open to Life: Pursuing Sexual Wholeness” organized by Desert Stream Ministries in Pasadena, CA. I remember not being sure i’d even get to go but through the encouragement and persuasion of my Sponsor I decided to tough it out and get there by bus and train…three buses to be exact. While being there God gave me the desire to be a part of this ministry and to start up a group at my church; a group that would help people who are fighting to stay pure, especially in the area of Same Sex Attraction. Weeks after being back at home and speaking with Lead Pastors at my church, I found out that DSM *Desert Stream Ministries* would be having a Living Waters Leadership Training in California, the last time they had one here was 11 years ago, but they would be having one on Jan 30- Feb 5 2016. Through God’s amazing Grace and provision, I was able to attend this training without paying a dime! He used people around me to cover the cost, before that he told me to sit back and watch as he takes care of me, so I did that and I was amazed.
I went to the training last week, kicking and screaming in my heart because I was so scared, I went alone – well physically, because God was with me every step of the way. I remember wanting to skip it; I didn’t know anyone there, I would be away from family and friends, at this place for a week that may or may not allow me to use my phone. Needless to say I WAS SCARED! But I knew I had to go so I went, and I am so glad I did, God is so amazing in the way he meets us, I went there expecting to hear I made the cut or I didn’t make it….I didn’t expect to be healed from anything, but boy was I wrong. I should’ve known God would work wonders, because the enemy didn’t want me there and he made it perfectly clear, if he couldn’t stop me from being there, he would for sure try to steal my focus – two weeks before I went, I sprained my ankle which stole my focus and joy for a few days, and the week leading up to the training I got a nasty cold – that didn’t steal anything from me though, he tried but it didn’t work and there I was, getting over a cold on my way to this training. Looking through my journal I realized that I cried the very first night, the worship leader sang “Good Good Father” and since recently whenever I hear that song I just burst into tears, God gave me that song last month when I had it out with him for not protecting me the way I’d like him to and so now I have an emotional connection with it.
SATURDAY 1st DAY
On the 1st day we were asked to lay our shame at the foot of the cross and God told me what that shame was for me; Unwanted Same Sex Attraction, I share about it openly with safe people, but I’m ashamed to say it’s my struggle and sometimes I ask God why does this struggle have to be mine, I’ve learnt though that if it wasn’t this struggle it would be another one just as hard. My first night there wasn’t good at all in terms of sleeping, I was spiritually attacked – this dark figure held me down and was trying to push me off the bed, I had a sexual dream and then the next day I was tempted to act out with a female who I wasn’t even attracted to. I confessed this to my small group leader which wasn’t easy, even though I didn’t do anything, but once again that shame.
SUNDAY 2nd DAY
During the evening session “The Fighting Father” I found out or really understood that God is my Father and he is fighting for me the way a Father fights for their daughter, which makes me feel all warm inside – the God of the Universe who created all things is fighting for lil ol me! During Ministry time a Leader placed his hand on my shoulder and he said that I’ve been saying yes to God a lot, but there’s one thing I haven’t said yes to him about, I couldn’t tell what it was. I prayed and asked God to show me what that was and for him to give me the courage to say ‘yes’ to it.
MONDAY – 3rd DAY
“The Cross and Confession” was a huge thing for me, I confessed to my small group about the temptation I had the day before, they prayed with me and for me and that just changed everything, the enemy had no more hold or control of this relationship, I took it back, gave it to God and now its flourished into something so beautiful. Had I not confessed it but held on to the shame, a new friendship would’ve died before it even begun. The small group session I had that day was just something else, I don’t know how to explain it, but with everything I said out loud; things I’ve done and things said to/about me, it gave God permission to come in and shine a light in those dark, dusty and dead places. I realized that day, during that session that I walked around thinking I was a mistake, accident and that I didn’t belong here- I would be around people and think I didn’t belong in their midst because I felt different, but I had no idea that I thought I didn’t belong on earth. I shared in my group that my father would always make comments about wanting boys as his kids- of course he didn’t mean to be rude but as a child those jokes or comments weren’t taken lightly. I couldn’t be a boy and I also didn’t know how to be a girl either, well not like the girls id see on TV or what society says a girl “should be”, so I grew up feeling like I didn’t belong or fit in anywhere. During the evening session “Renouncing Idols” I gave up/ surrendered my ex best friend to God, a friend I was attracted to and emotionally dependent on, for a while she took God’s place. This friendship coming to an end has been a huge stumbling block for me when it comes to investing time/energy/emotion with just about anyone, due to fear of it happening again and getting hurt. I was brave enough to give her up and every emotion attached to the friendship.
TUESDAY 4th DAY
“The Healing Power of PAIN” I remember laughing with my roommate about how much that sounds like an oxymoron, healing power of pain? In this world we are told to avoid pain at all cost and every emotion that goes along with it, but here we all were sitting IN our pain and allowing God to meet us there. It was hard, a lot of hurt and pain came up that I didn’t even knew existed, but I found out while talking about my pain that God wasn’t invited in those areas. I realized through that teaching that I’ve never yet felt wanted, I was never someone’s special someone/the “girlfriend”/someone’s valentine/I was never chosen but I was always used and tossed aside- not good enough and always second best. I didn’t even know about those areas, I shut myself off from those feelings and so I closed it off from God also, that’s where I haven’t said yes to him! I gave him permission to go even deeper this time, I told him he can pick and probe whatever was once hidden in me, he’s the perfect surgeon so I just know I will be okay and blessed by what he will do in and through me. In that small group session God spoke yet again through someone and he wanted me to know that he wants to be my valentine.. How cool is that? My first valentine will be the God of the universe, sorry but that can’t be beaten. What once seemed like a figure of speech had turned into God’s redeeming power and something that has forever changed my life for the better. In the evening session “The True Self Forgives”, God told me that I needed to forgive myself. I had so much shame and disgust about things I’ve done in the past, mainly things I’ve done to myself but also to others and I’ve forgiven everyone else but I never thought of forgiving myself…until that night. I spoke out loud everything i’ve ever done or said that caused me shame or pain and I forgave myself, I didn’t cry and it was strange to me. I thought maybe I’m not saying it hard or long enough, or maybe I haven’t forgiven myself, that’s why I’m feeling nothing at all, but God told me that crying isn’t proof that what I’m saying is truth or its “working”, I’ve said the words and he heard it, so its done! Thank God for God.
WEDNESDAY 5TH DAY
I remember thinking nothing would come of this day and I was basically unsure of how these teachings would affect me. “Offering the Gift” I didn’t feel like a gift to be offered to anyone. “Restoring Woman’s Honor” I didn’t see any honor there TO be restored….”Restoring Man’s Honor” I was just scared about that one but somewhat excited because I knew I needed to see men differently, God had already been working on me to see that not all men are “dogs”…sorry! He showed me yet again and took me deeper to not only know it in my head but to believe it in my heart and see it with my eyes. I can’t remember much about the teaching for “Offering the Gift” but I do remember being in my small group and one of the members told me that God wants me to know that I am a “Good Good Gift”. Me? A gift? YES I AM! Whether or not others choose to see me as that gift, in God’s eyes I am a gift and that special someone he has for me will see it too. I bawled my eyes out when God spoke to me through her, he knew what I needed and he gave it to me. All those years I felt like I had nothing to offer and that the next person is better than I am, God was able to speak to me so tenderly and have me believe his words. God worked on me in the next session, regarding the way I see men, we (women) went up to the cross to lay down things society or men have said/done to silence/abuse/belittle us as women. While being there and kneeling at the foot of the cross, I felt the need to turn around and what I saw will forever stay in my mind….every single man standing and praying with us. We were crying and they were praying and comforting us by just standing there as our brothers and protectors. Male leaders then went up and confessed ways they have harmed us as women and that was just amazing, here were these men, men I hardly knew, confessing things about how they’ve hurt us, it meant so much to me even though those men didn’t do those things to me specifically. It was great to hear men say “I am sorry” and actually mean it. During “Restoring Men’s Honor” the men went up to the foot of the cross and the women were later asked to join them and pray for them, I enjoyed doing this, not because I wanted to see them cry and be in pain but because I was able to partner with them and tear down that wall I built between us. We also did this healing exercise where the men stood on one side of the room and the women on the next, with the cross in between and we’d take turns to bless/thank the opposite sex for a good quality they have. I was anxious to share something and so I knew I had to share it but while thinking of it, the enemy of course jumped in to give his two cents and say “You don’t really believe that do you” and then God spoke “Even if you don’t believe it, say it until you truly do”, so I said out loud…to all the men in the room “Thank you for your protective and safe side and your strength”. I bet the enemy was pissed cause of that, but the blessings and thanks just kept on going, even after we ended, we were just walking around hugging and blessing each other. My enemy isn’t a man nor is it a woman….my enemy is the true enemy the one sent to hell “ For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ” Ephesians 6:12
THURSDAY 6th DAY
Being the last day of teaching and no small group, nothing much happened. I was feeling sad and afraid that day, afraid that when I’d get home things wouldn’t be different and that I wasn’t actually healed. Obviously that was from the enemy so I had it out with him several times in the day and I prayed asking God for the help to carry on once I leave. I went to the beach with my roommate and her small group buddies to see the sunset, and that was magnificent! We also talked about ways we could bring what we learnt at the training back home with us and be a light for others, I said I’d pray more with others and I started that day with my sister. Andy (Andrew Comiskey) spoke about ways the enemy would attack us once we get home and I’m so glad he told us those things; he said we’d feel disqualified as if we’re not good enough to do what God has called us to do/ we’re too young/ too old/ not educated/ our families would get attacked etc. I remember feeling that way the day before and it was so bad, I started to think, wow God’s plan for me must be bigger than I can even imagine why Satan is all twisted up about me being here. I went to the training to become a Group Coordinator so I could bring these healing programs to my church and what I wanted or hoped for, I didn’t get immediately. Instead of being a Group Coordinator right now, I am going to start out as an Assistant Small Group Leader, and that’s when the attacks grew intense. I could hear the enemy telling me I wasn’t good enough before so why did I think I would be good enough now…even during worship he was loud as ever, I had to sing as loud as I possibly could just to silence him. That’s when I realized he must sense something big is coming and he’s trying to discourage me.
On that very first night God used a Leader to tell me that I shouldn’t be afraid because he’s with me and he’s always been with me. In my small group, my leader told me that God wants me to know whatever happens around the bend, he will be there, I wondered at the time what bend could that be, but now I know. He’s also reminding me of passages he gave me before I even knew id be attending this training and I’m gonna hold onto them to get me through this because he never fails and his promises are true. God has called me and he will fulfill what he has called me to do.
“God is not human, that he should lie,
not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?” – Number 23:19
“I am the Lord and I do not change” – Malachi 3:6
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:19
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Friday 7th DAY
I went rock climbing that day before breakfast with my roommate and two men from the training, I was a bit “iffy” about this because im afraid of heights and I hardly knew these men, but I chose not to let my fears stop me. Im so glad I went because God showed me yet again that not all guys are creeps but some can be trusted too. That was a bittersweet day because I had to say goodbye to some amazing men and women, some I may never see again. This expereience had God’s fingerprints all over it and I finally see that stamp of approval he gave me before I was even born. God’s taking me on this journey that’s made and mapped out for he and I only, which means its gonna be amazing, adventurous, hard of course but worth it in the end.