From the time I was five years old, I can remember trusting in the finished work of Christ's shed blood on the Cross and His Resurrection over sin and death. I had a sense a presence and knew I was never alone since early childhood. I trusted in that still small voice of the Holy Spirit to guide me. Sometimes I just chose to ignore it.
One of those instances where I chose to debate that voice was in April of 1983, around Easter. I was 19 years old. I was with my "friend", Roy, staying with him for the weekend. Roy considered himself bisexual. We would often go out dancing to alternative clubs. I had a history of sexual abuse, abandonment and rejection. Like many children, I sexually experimented with other girls as a young girl, but my desire to be with females grew stronger. I was sexually attracted to men but also found I was becoming more emotionally and sexually drawn to women. Perhaps it was my emotional closeness I had for Roy that made me consider having sex with him that day. I would never have done that in any other circumstance. I was also going through great inner conflict at the time. Whatever the reasons, we decided to have sex that weekend. I did it mostly out of "Love".
As I lay there about to let him penetrate, an inner voice said, "Don't sleep with him! He is diseased." I thought silently, debating with this voice, "What disease could he have? If it's gonorrhoea or something, there is a cure." "No, its not that!" The Holy Spirit was very firm in warning me in my ignorance. Still, in my stubbornness and foolishness, I argued, "I loved him and Love conquered all. And you love me. Its too late for me to tell him No. If I get it, you will heal me!"
As soon as we finished, I ran to the bathroom to douche with water. I always did that after I had sex with my ex-fiancé but I felt a warning not to do that this time. Out of habit, I did it anyway.
That summer, I moved to Key West, FL. I saw my first case of someone who had AIDS, although I had never heard of it. A girl I was briefly dating, Tanya, a bisexual woman, introduced me to him because she often took him food. He was in his final stages and weighed under 100lbs. II pondered if this was the disease the Holy Spirit had tried to warn me about. I was not worried. I still believed that whatever it was, I would be fine. I was also sexually involved with a Frenchman named Pierre. He had been staying at Calvin Klein's Key West home with some other men. Pierre referred to them as Calvin's boys. Although Pierre denied being bisexual, I didn't believe him. In fact, at that time in my life, I was convince that just about anyone could be persuaded to have a gay encounter, by the right person. Therefore, I assumed that he too was bisexual or had at least experimented. He also became my summer love that year, moving into a compound cottage with me. I later ran into Tanya and she seemed to have succumbed to the new crack cocaine that had hit the streets. I don't know what happened to her but she too looked like she was coming down with the same disease that other man had. I moved back to Pittsburgh to attend my first year of college and Pierre moved onto a yacht in Miami. But, before I started college, I went on another vacation with Roy and out friend, Todd. We were all promiscuous in our own ways and Roy managed to seduce a few more young men into experimenting sexually. Sometimes I was the bait that lured them in to his lair.
After I started school, I began to look at the life I was living. I tried to pull away from being promiscuous and instead became intimately involved with one person. She was my true love and the third woman I had been with as an adult. We remained turbulently together for almost two years. Roy had also settled down with one man. During this time, I began to get sick. I was sick for months but my family doctors just kept giving me antibiotics that were not working to clear up my cough. I had diarrhoea for over a month. The night sweats had me changing at least twice before I woke up to begin my day. I saw an advertisement on the news for Pitt Men's Study wanting bisexual and gay men to come and get tested for a new disease. They described all they symptoms. I watched for 2 months as I laboured through my midterms and finals. My mother told me I needed to call them. My mother was a woman of faith and my strong support and friend. She always told me that I could not please God if I did not trust Him. She would often say, "Without faith it is impossible to please God and Whatever is not done in faith is sin." She got those words from the red letters in the Bible. That was what Jesus said. I grabbed onto those words and would hold them in my heart. I finally called them before I started the summer term. I had to beg them to let me test since I was a woman and the study was for men. I was persistent and after three attempts, they let me come in under a number. Because of the shame, I kept it a secret from everyone else. When I got the results back, they were positive for HIV. I was told that my T-cell count and my TR4 count was extremely low and just above 200. I think they said 280. I was told AIDS was considered when it was below 200. They said it could be a false positive so they would need to run another test to be sure. It too was positive. That was June 6, 1985.
As they were telling me I was sick and that, "Having children someday would not be a wise thing to do because they would become infected and there was no cure and nothing doctors or man could do, I zoned out. The room was spinning and I had to go elsewhere in my mind. They no longer could help me. They had no answers. I realized where my help comes from. My help comes from the Lord, I thought. Only God can help me now. I thought of the scripture I had read a few times in the past, "Put no trust in man. Trust not in princes. Trust in the Lord." Soon my dizziness from the news went away and I returned again in my mind to hear them still talking to me about this disease. "Thank you! Are we through now? Yes, I will be fine." I said.
I just wanted to run to God and needed to get away from them to get a moment with Him, alone.
When I finally got downstairs and onto the street my body was walking but my mind was searching for another place. I prayed as I walked up and down 5th Ave. I thought of what I would do it I died. I didn't want my life to be a total waste. I thought once more I would say, "The Sinner's Prayer" to ensure that I was Christ's and Christ was mine. It would be alright if I died. I would be with the Lord. I thought of the scripture, "They overcame him by the blood of the lamb, the word of their testimony and loving not their lives, even unto death." I had to lay it all down and be willing to let every dream that was mine die. I had to be willing to live and die for something greater than me and my own desires. When it was all stripped away, all I had ever wanted and had a hard time dying to was my desire to have children and a good loving husband who would serve Christ and mankind with me. I wanted an inheritance of the Lord, I wanted children of my own. I hoped I could eventually adopt of God did not heal me. Although I was a child of God, I was really messed up in my own thinking and needed a new mind. I was depending solely on His grace and mercy, His unconditional love. I was empty, broken and had absolutely nothing to give.
As I paced back and forth on that busy street and silently spoke with God, I told God that I really needed another chance because I had not done anything I had promised him and he hadn't been able to do anything he had promised to do through me. I said it was alright if I died but he could do so much more with me alive. I pondered what I could do in my own strength until I died. After bargaining and being angry with myself for being such a fool, I finally decided it was time to let go and pray the sinner's prayer. I began to whisper, "Dear Jesus, I confess I am a sinner and have missed the mark in every way. My life has been lived for me and I have not really trusted you with it. Please forgive me." I began to think of all the people I had hurt out of my own pain. I could not begin to remember them all. Then, Christ spoke in that still quiet voice. "Come to the cross." As I walked to the top edge of the Hill District of Pittsburgh I stopped in my tracks and saw a picture of Jesus on the Cross. He was broken, bleeding and dying. "Lay it down here. All of it. You can do nothing with it. Let it go. I have done it all. It is finished. Receive what I have given. Receive forgiveness and forgive yourself. Receive my salvation. I have saved you. Receive my healing. I have healed you. It was all done here. Take it." Tears rolled down my cheeks as I began to really understand that no matter what I had done right, I could never do enough. And because I had done so many wrong things, they still were covered my his love. He wanted to give me a fresh start and a clean slate. I had to believe it and take it as mine. I continued walking and thinking about what I would want if I had a clean slate. I would want to change my behaviour and serve humanity with the Love of God. I would want to show them the only way to love is through the cross. I would want children as my inheritance and a good companion and helper who wanted the same things. But, I had a hard time trusting for that because I know men have a will of their own and they go astray and leave and so I did not want to trust that as much as I wanted to trust having children who I could love. While I walked, I told God that I wanted to be healed and to heal me. I was overcome with emotions that came from a deep angst in the depths of my heart. My heart was crying out to be loved with the kind of love we can only get from heavenly places. That was the only kind of love that could heal me. I wanted it and I wanted to be able to feel it for others without being afraid.
Continuing to pace, as I walked and cried a heat came over me from the top of my head down to my feet. It was as if an electrical bolt had come down from heaven just for me. It left as quick as it came but I still felt hot inside like I was on fire but not burning. It was an incredible feeling. I began praising God quietly, through my tears of joy, from a place of overwhelming gratitude, right there on Fifth Ave. "Oh, Thank you, Father. Thank you, Jesus. You really love me. I love you." After a few minutes of elation, his still small voice broke in. "You're battle isn't over." I pressed for answers. "The enemy wants to sift you and steal what you have just received. He will come and test you. You must stand on my word. I will speak to you as you ride the bus home." I caught the bus into downtown Pittsburgh and caught two more transfers. I was given divine orders to go home and rest and get in the Holy Bible, reading only the New Testament and specifically the words of Christ. I was not to speak on the phone to my lover, Lilah or listen to music that would distract me. Classical music was acceptable so I changed the radio station. I told my mother no phone calls. When Mother asked me what I found out, I grew silent for a moment. I remembered a spiritual hymn I had heard a few times over the years, "It Is Well, with my soul." Then I immediately thought of the shunamite woman whose young son was laying dead in an up stair bed. She told her husband she was going to see the prophet and when her husband asked if everything was alright, she said, "It is well." Those words and the fact that I seemed tired after a long day of buses, seemed to keep her from intruding upon the silent, tight air that spoke volumes. I ran upstairs to my attic bedroom and turned the corner. She backed off and went back into the kitchen. I told her I was too tired to eat dinner and retreated for the evening from her and my sisters and the rest of civilization. I wasn't really tired at all. I was gearing up to fight for my life and didn't know what was ahead. I imagined the movie, "The Exorcist" and became a little fearful. His peace came over me as I ran to his word and fought the battle in my mind. I began reading the bible and God began speaking to my heart again. "The enemy will try to tell you are unworthy to receive this gift. You will battle all types of doubt, feelings of total unworthiness and fears. Stand against it with what I did on the cross. You could do nothing. No one could. I did it all. Fall on the cross and my love and what I have already done." And so I did. I rested and read the Bible, I sang a few simple songs of praise that I knew as a child and trusted in what I could never do even if I had been the type of person who was more perfect that most, which I certainly knew I was not. If anything, I always felt like the woman who crashed the party and wept at Jesus' feet and washed them with her tears, The sinner woman, the harlot. The one who he said, "She who has been forgiven much, loves much."
That night was the first night I slept sound until morning. I had no more night sweats, dry cough or diarrhoea and my throat wasn't sore. I was healed. I had to believe in what I could not see before I could see the invisible. My symptoms never came back.
I would like to say that after that I no longer wanted women and my life was a piece of cake. But, it wasn't. I needed a new mind and that took time. Although the Holy Spirit is our counsellor, He does provide a body of believers who should be able to provide wise counsel and support. I didn't go to any church and so I was not exposed to loving, prophetic people who could really help me progress. I had only my mother and Christian television. I needed deliverance, desperately. But only God's love attracted me and because I had a past, most would not be able to understand me. I was extremely guarded and had to trust God to direct me to the right people at the right church. Until he did, I went back to what I knew for awhile until it became more painful than being alone and seeking new friends who were wiser. I was again fighting supernatural heavenly battles with my own natural strength. Besides, renewing the mind takes time and I needed to be patient and love myself. This was not easy. Just three months after my miracle of being healed, I attempted suicide because my pain at being gay and heartbroken was so real. Again, God miraculously prompted my little sister to leave her school in the middle of her classes and walk home. She found me unconscious in my bed and the empty pill bottle next to me and called 911 and my mother. The doctors said I was a miracle but I didn't feel like it. I felt like an utter failure who had wasted her life and couldn't even end it right or stop being gay. Things did begin to turn around because I began to pray and ask God for strength instead of going it all alone until I got in a tight spot. I sought help daily, hourly, moment by moment until my heart breathed new life and my mind marched to new orders. Two years later, 1987, I surrendered completely and began to attend church, got baptized by water and fire of Holy Spirit. That was what I had needed all along. But, I had a hard time trusting and letting go of everything at the same time. Once I got the baptism of power, things that had me bound for over a decade, such as cigarettes and sex addiction, fell off overnight. I quit both almost immediately. But keeping them away took prayer, fasting and the word until I was strong enough to resist without second thoughts and third ones to give in.
Love meets us where we are and gives us what we need, whatever the gift is, whether a prophetic word of encouragement or wisdom to take the next step or healing to begin living with a future and a hope. True love had no conditions and is something given freely...its the only thing that can change us. Only by receiving God's love and healing can we even begin to think about changing. And some of us are really stubborn. We need all the help we can get. Remember, "Love Conquers All" (Omnia Vincit Amor-Latin)! That Love is what faith works by. Faith works by love. That is the only thing that overcomes death, disease, sin...Love! Love covers a multitude of sins and your private burden of sin, disease and death is no exception! Have faith in God...Mark 11:22-26.
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