I Fled the Church When I Came Out of the Closet. 6 Years Later, the Lord Brought Me Back Home.

Adira, 24, Georgia, USA

I left the church because of my sexuality. Though I went to church each Sunday, I never grasped the Gospel; on top of that, I never quite made the distinction between God and His people. As a result, I believed that the gossip and condemnation I experienced at the hands of professing Christians was a true reflection of their God — if they hated me, so must He. My lack of Gospel knowledge also led me to believe that sin was something I was expected to resist by sheer willpower. When that proved impossible, the absurdity of my “Christian faith” became obvious…so, I abandoned it entirely. With ease, I deemed Christians “brainwashed” and picked up the teachings of the mainstream culture. By the time I entered high school, I was an out and proud bisexual.

Because of the controversial nature of my journey with sexuality, it often feels like the largest part of my story. In actuality, it’s far from it. My teen years were rife with all sorts of spiritual brokenness, which manifested in depression, anxiety, and eventually, an eating disorder. As is usually the case, the roots of my wounds were deep. There was rejection, resulting from my parents’ divorce, my emotional distance from my father, as well as the trauma that comes with being one of few black faces at a white, Southern private school. Like many teens, I also felt that I had little control over my life; this feeling was exacerbated by a myriad of events, including the sudden death of my father. Throw gossip and judgment in the mix and…you had my mess. These years were defined by whispers, insomnia, and sweaty palms. At my lowest point, the church failed me — as it does so many. 

Eager to escape the Bible Belt, I moved far north for college. There, I found what seemed like a utopia. As a black bisexual, I was not only accepted — I was celebrated. Almost as soon as I landed, I won the respect and admiration of my peers, enabling me to work my way up the LGBTQ hierarchy, eventually becoming the president of the school’s gay-straight alliance. I’d made it.

I had all the trappings of success and happiness. I had a slew of genuine, intimate friendships. I had the attention of my romantic interests. I got the right grades and the right internships…and I was convinced that it was enough. I truly believed that it was. Unlike many converts, I was not looking for God…but He was looking for me.

At the end of my sophomore year, my attraction to women disappeared. People hate that part of my story, but it’s true. I’m not sure if it happened “overnight”…all I know is that what used to feel right suddenly turned my stomach. As you can imagine, I was more than just confused — I was pissed. This desire, which I’d centered in both my social life and identity, was now nowhere to be found. Embarrassed, I chalked it up to a “straight phase” and kept quiet.

I spent the first half of that summer on campus, researching race and incarceration. This was the summer of 2016, i.e. the summer of three police killings of black men within three days. National racial tension was at a peak, as was tension on campus. Confident that my studies were more important than ever, I skimmed book after book. Eventually, I came across a passing reference to the Book of Revelation. I didn’t understand the reference, being as my biblical knowledge was limited to random verses at my childhood church. Curious I Googled the reference…and the Holy Spirit met me there.

In the text, I saw everything that I was studying. The division, the greed, the environmental fallout, the general moral decline – all of it was foretold! I remember staring at my screen with my eyes bugging out of my head, wondering how the author could possibly have known what was coming, without being told by Someone who knows everything. I was still very much convinced that Christianity was a farce, but I was moved enough by the possibility of a higher power to keep reading. I read the rest of Revelation and in the following days, I worked my way through the Gospels. Again, God was right there with me, giving me eyes to see. When I felt His Presence for the first time, I nearly lost it. I couldn’t believe it: God was real.

Jesus said that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws them (John 6:44) and that’s exactly what happened to me. As I joke with my friends, the Lord grabbed me by the collar! There was simply no denying the truth of the Word. But even though I now knew that the Gospel was true, I was still resistant to the idea of “Christianity.” I’d been so wounded by the church, the last thing I wanted to be was a Christian. Quite honestly, I thought I was too smart for that. So, I just kept reading Scripture online “for fun.”  

After a few more weeks on campus, I left for an internship in New York. There, I stayed with a family friend, who “coincidentally” serves as a minister. On my first night, I asked if I could borrow a copy of the Bible. She clearly took note of that request, because she invited me to her church every single Sunday. Still resistant to “organized religion,” I turned down each offer…until my last Sunday in the city.

That Sunday, a guest pastor preached on Luke 15, the Parable of the Lost Sheep:

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

At the end of his sermon, the pastor walked to the edge of the stage. “God is telling me that there is a lost sheep in this room,” he said. Immediately, I was overwhelmed by the Lord’s Presence. It was like I was sitting in a pool of honey. I was hot from head to toe, but there was no anxiety; I felt nothing but pure, pulsating love. “I know you’re in here,” the pastor said. “We’ll wait.” I knew he was talking about me; he might as well have called me out by name. But I also knew that there was no way I was going to stand up! Then, somehow, the Holy Spirit took over. Bawling, I felt myself get up and walk towards the stage. Standing in front of the congregation, I confronted the obvious: God had been chasing me for years and now, finally, He was bringing me back home. 

The sanctification process began immediately. The Lord taught me to listen for His voice and obey His word — and as I did so, He cleansed my heart and mind. Everything changed, just as Scripture says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” My newfound joy was so startling — and the contrast between the light and the dark so glaringly obvious — that I found it nearly impossible to keep it to myself. 

I even published my testimony in the school paper; but, I carefully skirted around the controversial bit: my sexuality. God didn’t hesitate to call me out on it. While drafting the article in my dorm, He gently said, “You’re eventually going to have to tell this story.” Pleased that “eventually” meant not that day, I titled the article “Coming Out Christian” and called it a day. If anyone asked, I beat around the bush and left them to guess. I was petrified…petrified, because I knew how the Word would sound to unbelieving ears…petrified of hurting and losing the people who had once been my home.

That was four years ago. Little did I know then, God would use my two hands to build the platform upon which I’d finally share my truth. When I first launched Then God Moved, I knew that the time to speak was coming. Knowing this, I apprehensively poured my energy into editing and publishing the stories of others. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off for almost a year now…time is up. 

Here’s the truth: I was a wandering sheep, blinded by the god of this world. I was lost — in trauma, rejection, and worldly ambition. In sin. But my Creator, who I’d turned from in pursuit of my own understanding, came after me. Because of Him, I am healed, sealed, and joyously walking in my purpose. My rejection and anxiety and need for control have been replaced with an assurance and stillness that knows no bounds. Even in this chaotic era, I have peace — the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). 

My freedom from sin comes not from effort nor fear of Hell nor praying it away; rather, it comes from the knowledge that victory over all sin was won at the Cross. It is finished! I’m abstinent, yes, but more than that…I am His. Lord Jesus, thank You for leaving the 99.

“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.”

– Matthew 10:26-27

Adira is the founder and editor of Then God Moved. You can connect with her via Twitter or Instagram.

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