By Emma Ayre
I came out as gay at 15, utterly convinced that was who I was and that was the life I would lead. I couldn't fathom ever being attracted to men or living that life.
But I didn't feel I had been born gay either. I remember that my first female crush was on a teacher, which I can see now was really a desire for a closer connection with my parents, as my home life was at times unstable and violent.
I was raised attending Sunday school and had a sense God was real but saw that I didn't fit in to "Christianity" and so left it to pursue a life for myself. However, the tug of a life for God was never too far from my heart.
I tried several times in my 20s to live for God (including being baptised in water in my early 20s) but I could never reconcile it with what I knew the Bible said about same-sex relationships, so I would always fall away.
With God's help I became free of drugs in my late 20s but I could not let go of being gay. I even tried to convince myself God wasn't real, even though He had shown Himself to me at many points in my life; delivering me from dangerous situations, and speaking to my heart. I also knew of the power of the Bible and its pre-eminence above all other writings.
At the age of 32 I decided to just totally embrace being gay and not wrestle with it anymore. For a while I felt great, had new friends, a renewed sense of identity and a relationship I was happy in.
But the more time went on the emptier I felt, because I knew that the places I was seeking satisfaction were ultimately empty without God. I felt so lonely that sometimes, by myself, I would just cry. On the outside I looked fine but inside I was crumbling, yearning so much to feel clean and free in my relationship with God.
“God has healed me so much”I tried joining a gay Christian group but I saw they were twisting scriptures to live as they wanted and I never wanted to be fake. At the age of 34, in 2016, after about five months of wrestling I finally said to God I no longer cared what I had to give up, I just wanted Him and to follow Jesus.
God was so gracious, when I cried out to Him, His Holy Spirit met me right where I was and started lifting me up.
I was ready to leave being with women totally even if God didn't change my heart, I only wanted God now, but in the space of less than a year I can see He has healed so much in me that I no longer desire those things or that life. Being intimate with a woman is totally abhorrent to me now.
I am even hoping to one day be married.
So many other things that I thought were integral to my personality have been changed too; now looking back at videos or photos of the woman I was, feels like looking at a stranger. I truly feel like a new creation.
It's been hard. I had to walk away from a relationship and I lost friends, but the peace I have now in my heart, the joy and assurance of Jesus with me every day, compares with nothing in this world.
If you struggle with any sin, even one like homosexuality that can feel so ingrained in a person's identity, there is healing and freedom waiting, but it's a narrow road. It has to be Jesus above all. But His love is more amazing then you could even comprehend. Cry out to him, He will help you.•