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Searching for love

from Dr. Merton Strommen; by Dottie Ludwig

Date Unknown

I was three and a half years old when my mother died. I have no previous memories of my mother, but I very distinctly remember that day. I was sitting in the woodbox and could see the foot of my mother’s bed. After the doctor had gone, my father went to the table where three of my four sisters were sitting. I watched him pick up each one and comfort them. I was crying, but was left alone, unnoticed and uncomforted by my dad. I decided through that incident, “It doesn’t do any good to feel. Nobody cares anyway.” So very early I learned to stuff my feelings and the vow I made “I’ll never cry in front of anyone again” ensured I would not handle my emotions in healthy ways.

In the years following Mom’s death, I lived with several different families. Part of the time I had one or two of my sisters with me, but sometimes I was the only child not belonging to that family. While I am sure these moves were difficult for me, I don’t remember having feelings about the changes. In these families, I perceived the mother figures to be distant, unloving and not very nurturing or affirming. Father figures, though not my real dad, were molesting me, drunk, or emotionally/physically distant. My only contact with my dad was a monthly thirty-minute visit (if that) and then he would be off to see the next child.

While I seemed to be numb to the constant changes of living arrangements in my life, I do remember having deep feelings about the people. I remember often times feeling unwanted, useless, or in the way. I remember thinking, “Life is unfair. Why doesn’t somebody love me? I wish I could live somewhere else. Why won’t somebody hold me? Rather, I would be told, “Get out of my sight,” when I had done something displeasing. At other times the father figure would entice me with a candy bar, but not give it to me until I satisfied him sexually. I decided “that men only wanted one thing, and that sex and attention were one and the same”. I survived these years by withdrawing into my pretend world where I was a “superman” type person, out saving the world. I didn’t even think of rescuing myself, because I didn’t count. I would have to find my sense of worth in helping others.

My first memory of hunger for love from another woman was in high school. We had a neighbor who showed me she cared. I loved to be with her, remember wishing she were my mother and writing about her in my diary. My aunt found my diary, read it and told me to I should go live with her if I liked her so much. I was angry that she read my diary and confused about why I wanted to be with this neighbor and longed for her attention but felt so differently about my aunt.

Lesbianism was rarely talked about in the 50’s and 60’s. But, when it was discussed, society called it a psychiatric condition, and the church called it sin. My only exposure to anyone involved was a surgical nurse who was talked about in a negative way. In reading about homosexuality in my psychiatric textbook, I remember one fleeting thought, “Maybe that’s what I am.” even though I didn’t even realize I had same sex attractions.

My first involvement in a lesbian relationship was after nurses’ training. I became friends with another nurse and spent a lot of time with her. This was the first close female friend I ever had and I soaked in her attention. One night, while staying overnight at her house, she reached out to me in a sexual way saying, “I’m going to do something and you can slap my face if you wish.” I responded positively to her advances and this began a four-year lesbian relationship. I had five more relationships over a twelve-year period.

Although on the outside, I appeared normal, professional and successful, I lived with constant guilt and fear of being “found out.” I did not consider myself to be gay when I was not in a lesbian relationship for I had no intentions of ever getting involved in another one. However, eventually I responded to physical overtures from someone or my own emotional dependency and enmeshment issues led to a sexual relationship. No one knew of my lesbian involvement, and I struggled alone with my guilt and fears. While still involved in the last relationship, however, I said aloud and in her presence, “This behavior is sin, and I can no longer be involved.” I have not been involved in a physical way since. I believe God heard that as a confession of my heart and honored it. I still did not know Him and now realize I didn’t even know what sin was. But His grace was evident in my life, and four years later I became a Christian. Only then did I understand about sin. I confessed my sin and received His forgiveness. However, the need for love, the root of my lesbianism, had yet to be dealt with.

As a new Christian I had a tremendous fear of letting anyone know I had been a lesbian. The gay jokes, put-downs, ridicule and attitudes I saw and heard in professing Christians only reinforced my fear of rejection. This fear overcame my desire to share my past, for I thought, “If they know about all of my past they will reject me.” Therefore, although I was willing to give testimony of past involvement in the occult, TA, etc., I remained silent about my lesbianism.

I became a friend of another nurse who was going through a rough time. I still found my worth in helping someone else so easily became a helper. Most of the things we did were church related and I believe God did use her to help me grow in the things of Him. However, I became emotionally dependent on her. There was no physical attraction but the emotional enmeshment was just as destructive but I honestly did not realize my dependency at this time.

God used three things to begin dealing with the roots of lesbianism within me. First, He arranged circumstances to force a confrontation with my friend about my lesbian past. She was angry and stormed out and I fell to my knees crying out to the Lord for help. I felt so ashamed and abandoned once more, seriously contemplating getting in my car and leaving forever. At just the right time my friend returned and we talked about my past involvement in lesbianism. Her anger was legitimate and she apologized for her initial reaction. I had deceived her by not being honest. I determined to be open about my past with any serious friendships from then on.

Secondly, this friend began dating and doing other things without me. I found myself becoming jealous, hurt, possessive, and feeling rejected. I felt abandoned once again, causing depression and inner turmoil. At this time there were no ex-gay ministries, and I knew of no one I could talk with about this struggle.

I remember one time while I was praying the Lord brought the words, “inordinate affection” to my mind. I did not know there was a scripture verse (Colossians 3:5) pertaining to this, but I did know God was telling me that my struggle was based on this inordinate affection and I needed to repent of it. I was amazed at this for I had only associated lesbianism with the physical, sexual aspects of a relationship. I could now begin to understand how my need for healthy same sex love had become distorted in this situation. I repented, asked the Lord to forgive me and help me have His love for her. I also remember being on my knees one night and saying to the Lord, “I don’t care if I never have another friend in my life, You alone are enough!” I truly meant this and experienced a release from the emotional bondage I had felt.

Thirdly, He prevented me from helping others so He could show me my worth and value was in Him. He showed me I needed to learn to receive and be content in that. I was physically helpless, emotionally drained, and very needy. It was a breaking and a humbling time when I learned that God and His people accepted me even when I had nothing to give.

I felt God urging me to attend a women’s Bible study at my church. I went many times in sheer obedience not hearing much of what was said, but simply receiving all the Lord was doing in me through His Word and His people. I gradually began going for coffee afterward with some of the women. God used just the ordinary things of those times to begin to show me I could have friends without all the emotional baggage I had had in the past. He began to fill my same-sex love deficit through several women rather than just one. Out of this group of women six of us continued to get together on a regular basis. The others were all married, but for the first time I felt a part of a group. We did fun things as well as prayed for one another. I shared my lesbian past and was still accepted. I still get together with two or three of these friends regularly and have no hesitation sharing any problems I have with them. One of these friends has included me as part of her extended family and I have learned about family dynamics and healthy relationships. I am included in holiday celebrations and truly believe God sovereignly arranged this for my ongoing healing process.

Inner healing prayer and the healing of memories have also been a part of my healing process. I forgave those who had traumatized me in childhood, but the Lord alone did the healing since all the people had died leaving no opportunity for restoration of any relationships.

I also received ministry for my occult involvement. I had been deceived in thinking that I had found the god who would love me. I had to renounce this false god so nothing would hinder my commitment to the Lord.

Since the early eighties I have noticed some major changes in my attitude toward men. I no longer fear them and find myself attracted to them. I’ve said, “I wonder what it would be like to be married! I wonder if God has a husband for me!” I’ve desired to have children and a family of my own. I have asked the Lord to allow me to marry if that was what He wanted.

I walked away from lesbianism about 28 years ago and God dealt with its roots over a seven-year period after I became a Christian. I now have a heterosexual orientation although I am contentedly single and celibate.

Love has always been there in the chaos of this world...
It is God’s love that turns that chaos into joy...
So Love went on reaching
And Love went on longing
Right past the shackles of my mind;
And the Love of the Father became Mary’s little Son
And His love reached all the way to where I was. *

So instead of searching for love, I have learned to receive it from Him, and in being able to receive, have embraced an essential part of femininity. I remain amazed at all He has done.

Eagles’ Wings Ministry, PO Box 11246, MPLS. MN 55411 *Words from “Reaching” by Bill & Gloria Gaither, © 1975 Gaither Music Co. Used by permission #940417. Dottie Ludwig is Director of Eagles’ Wings and may be reached at Ph: 612/781-4110 or email: dottie@ewm.org