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Discovering the Truth About My Identity (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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December 30, 2020 5:00 am

Discovering the Truth About My Identity (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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December 30, 2020 5:00 am

Jackie Hill Perry shares her story of her former struggles with homosexuality and how she's come to know and experience God's love and grace. (Part 2 of 2) (Original air date: June 24, 2020)

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I remember just getting, like, really panicky, like, no, I have to figure this out right now because my son's going to come home from school in like two hours and I have to know what to say. When Holly's son was considering suicide, she called a focus on the family counselor. All those years I'd been listening to focus, I was thinking about how they were like that practical guide for me. That was sound advice I could get from them. I didn't really know where else to turn.

I'm Jim Daly. Working together, we can rescue hurting parents like Holly and give families hope. We need the truth that Focus on the Family brings into our minds and into our homes. We need that if we're going to raise up the next generation of believers to walk in obedience and to walk in the truth that God loves us.

Donate today at slash hope and your gift will be doubled. And so it wasn't that I chose Jesus because I was afraid of hell. It wasn't that I chose Jesus because I wanted to be straight. I chose him because because of the Holy Spirit, I was able to see that he was better than everything on this entire earth. Jackie Hill Perry is back with us today on Focus on the Family and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us.

I'm John Fuller. John, homosexuality is one of the issues that is hardest for us to address as Christians in the culture today. We see the people who hold angry signs and shout terrible and hateful things and we know that's not what Jesus would have done. We have that reflected with the woman caught in adultery. He just reflected it back to the people who were ready to stone her and said, He who was without sin cast the first stone. Wisely, they all dropped their stones and walked away because I think he was effective in that communication. And I think for us, having that empathy, the loving heart of God in that moment, if you have that encounter or when you have that encounter, is the right first approach. And if you didn't hear the broadcast last time, I'd encourage you to get a hold of it through the smart phone download or the app or whatever we need to do.

Or YouTube or whatever. We've got all the links at the website. But our guest last time, Jackie Hill Perry, talked about her same-sex attraction, her battle through that through elementary school, junior high, high school. And really set the stage for us to continue the discussion today about how God continued to work on her heart and how she came out on the other side of that loving God. And we're going to hear the other part of her story today. And Jackie has written very persuasively about her journey. It's in her book, Gay Girl, Good God.

And you can find that and other resources in the episode notes. And as I mentioned last time, we'll be covering some mature topics today. So parents, you'll want to direct the attention of your little ones elsewhere or listen later on on your favorite podcast app. And you might have heard of Jackie Hill Perry through her popular artistic work. She's a spoken word artist. And you're going to hear during our conversation today about her husband Preston and about her kids as well.

Two girls. Welcome, Jackie. Thank you.

Welcome back. Okay, let's start there. Tell me about your girls. Yeah, my oldest is Eden. She's five. My youngest is Autumn. She's one.

They are completely different children. How did that happen? I'm grateful because Eden is the extrovert, the crazy one. I can't stop talking ever. Autumn is the quiet storm.

The quiet thinker. I've got the same thing with my two boys. Isn't that fun? Yeah, I think the Lord gives you that variety just to say, hey, now you're going to know what it feels like to be me. He's being so merciful. I could not have two crazies in the house. And that is parenting, right?

Yeah. Hey, Jackie, again for the listener, you spoke last time so bravely, courageously about those things that affected you. You know, you're molested as a young girl and all of the things that develop not a great relationship with your dad. You did have an aunt who was nearby praying for you, taking you to church.

That's a beautiful thread for you as you continue on. You talked about through elementary school being attracted to girls in junior high. That's starting to blossom, I guess. And then high school, kind of a full engagement in that direction. What was that like? You had a girlfriend in high school. What was that like, the peer pressure of that?

Were you seen as a champion or were you seen as odd or all of the above? Well, I kept it a secret. I thought others knew about it.

No, because surprisingly, this was 2006, 2007. It still wasn't a cool thing. It was on the cusp of becoming cool. Yeah, it was a little bit after I graduated that it became more of an okay thing to do. And so I think if I was in high school now, I probably would have been out of the closet much earlier, much more proud about it.

But yeah, not many people knew. And we promised last time after knowing that background, we would get on with how the Lord began to reel your heart in. And that's where I want to start the conversation. So you're in this openly or somewhat openly lesbian relationship. But God was trying to get your attention and you ended up having an interesting discussion with your cousin about this. And how did that discussion go? Because it's informative to us in how to talk with a family member or friend about that same sex attraction issue. Yeah, so my aunt that took me to church, my cousin is her daughter.

Okay. And she's about 15 or 16 years older than me. So she was in her late 20s, early 30s, and she was the only Christian that I wanted to call. Because all the other Christians in my life, for the most part, they just were the kind of Christians that if you call them and talk to them, they got to bring up Leviticus and all these other things and repentance. And it's like, you didn't even ask me how my homework is, what school I plan on going to.

Do I like almond milk in my coffee? No, let me ask you because again, this is so instructive to the human soul and how we're wired when the Lord says love your neighbor. Yeah. Okay, let's just start there. So when you have a conversation with somebody and you start with the ruler rapping over the knuckles, it doesn't open your heart up. No, it doesn't facilitate a relationship because the whole relationship is based on the law and not actually like I felt like a lot of the Christians in my life were only there to fix me. Your only job is that you're trying to fulfill the great commission, you know, but you're also not trying to love your neighbor as yourself. And how did the Lord draw you? Did he draw you with somebody always bringing the law to you?

Or did he draw you by saying, hey, you got everything you need? How are you doing? How's your emotional health? How's your mental health? How can I pray for you? Do you need a hug?

Did anybody make you cry recently? Like care for my whole person, not just my sexuality. And that's what Keisha did. Keisha was able to see Jackie the image bearer and not just Jackie the lesbian. And so that's why she was the only Christian that I wanted to call when I felt like God was drawing me to himself. And I want to hear what she said. I would when I speak, I say this because I don't ever hear this testimony that, you know, before I was a Christian, Christians were so hard on me and so harsh that I decided to become one of them. You just never hear that testimony, right? You only hear someone like Keisha. Someone loved me enough to talk with me, to help me to connect with me. And that is what Jesus did all the time. He connected with the person coming to him.

So fill in the blank there with Keisha. What did she say that was compelling to you? It wasn't even anything she said. I think it was the freedom to confess one that God safe place. Yeah, God had been drawing me like it just my convictions were getting weightier and weightier and heavier and heavier to the point that I just was continually being reminded that I was sinning against God and that God still loved me. And I could not shake it.

It did not matter how much weed I smoke, how much alcohol I drank. I was continually being reminded that God wanted me and it felt like he would leave me alone. And so I called Keisha and I said, hey, so I feel like God kind of wants me to be a Christian. I don't really want to be a Christian and he won't chill out. He just won't go away.

I just love that picture. And she was like, you know what? She was like, for a long time, I beat myself up when you told me that you were a lesbian because I thought that I didn't do enough, that I didn't pray for you enough, that I didn't read enough Bible with you. But I prayed for you and God told me, hey, Keisha, I love her more than you do. Keep praying.

And so I think Keisha's method was motivated by her prayer life is that she started to go to God on my behalf and intercede so that he tempered her impatience or her insecurity or her discouragement in her dealings with me. How did you feel when you heard her say, I've been praying for you? It was just OK. You know, that's what Christians say all the time. You know, wow. It just was like, all right.

And then I was like, so, yeah, what do I do? And she was like, God has shown me that you don't realize how much you need him, but he's going to show you how much you need him. That's all she said. She didn't say come to church with me. She didn't say, you know, regulations five.

She didn't say none of that. And I was like, OK, that makes no sense. Kind of ominous sounding.

Yeah, but, you know, black Christians, we get prophetic all the time. And so I think what happened is that God kind of increased the intensity of my life where things began to happen. My father passed away. I got arrested. Me and my mother's relationship started to falter. All these things.

So it went downhill. Yes. Yeah, that was her point. Yes. You're going to need him and he's going to show you.

Yes. Which is interesting because I think a lot of times when we talk about sufferings and trials, we talk about in relation to the Christian. But I think in relation to the nonbeliever, God was allowing me to not experience prosperity and peace because he wanted me to look up. You know, he wanted me to pay attention. And because Keisha had already warned me, I saw that this had to be a providential reason or a providential thing of God that my life was becoming so hard. And to the point that I told my God brother, I said, does God really want me that much that he won't allow me to just be able to do me without the reminder that he exists?

And he did. Yeah, I love it. My observation experience is people who are in the valleys that the Lord brings through the valley. Those are the people you want to be with, not the mountaintop people that never experienced a valley.

I think they just haven't learned what they need to learn in so many ways. So I'd say run to the valley. Let God show you those things of humility and brokenness. He says that he's close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. So we as Christians should say, Lord, I know it's going to be hard, but let's go.

Take my hand. And I think it's a teachable lesson for parents, Christian parents, that you don't have to rescue your child out of everything hard. Jackie, speak to us as Christian parents. I mean, when that happens, we didn't talk a lot about where your mom was at and what she might have said to you.

And that's OK. That could be very personal to you. But as Christian parents, when you hear those words, you know, Mom and Dad, I'm gay, especially as Christian parents. What are the right first moves to think about? Pray, pray immediately in your mind. God help me.

Give me the words. I think I think what would help all parents is to remind yourself or even study how God responds to our confession, even though it's not a confession of sin potentially leading to repentance yet. It's still a confession. They're bringing something from the dark into the light. And so it is a privilege and important that they were willing to give you that confession. And so I want to mirror Jesus and God in the way I respond.

I go to Genesis three a lot because it's my favorite. But I think it's always interested me how when Adam and Eve sinned, how God, it says he was walking in the cool of the day. He did not approach them running. He did not approach them raging. He approached them calmly. And so I think I want to be the kind of parent that when they confess to me, I say thank you first for sharing this with me.

I appreciate that you would think that I am in a safe enough place for this. And then I would just process with them. I would not go straight to scripture, honestly, unless it's a scripture that you think is important for the moment. But I would not go straight to the condemnation of their sin. I would address them as a person who is thirsty, who needs help, who wants comfort, who needs direction, who needs wisdom. And sometimes the best wisdom is not wisdom that will convict or wisdom that would even confront. But sometimes the wisdom is wisdom that will love and just be with them in that moment. One of the key things, and I think we struggle as parents to convey this to our kids because we think it's maybe too big a subject for them or they won't get it.

I would fall in that category. But helping your child develop their identity in Christ and what does it mean to have that identity in Christ? It can be kind of academic or lofty, but it's important that at age-appropriate times we're helping them to identify who we are in Christ, right?

Have you thought about that for your girls? I'm learning it. I think for myself, I found that the best way for me to figure out my identity is for me to understand God's. Because my identity is contingent upon who He is, right? And so if He is a creator, then I'm a creature. There are a lot of implications for me being a creature. It means that I'm automatically subject to who He is. And so even if it's my daughter is saying, I want to do what I want to do. Okay, I understand that you want to do what you want to do, but you don't have the authority to do whatever you want to do. Why?

Because there's someone more authoritative than you are. That is a kind of, I think, teaching of identity that may not be super dramatic, but I think it's foundational. Yeah, I think that's the kind of thing I was looking for, how we can do that drip irrigation into our child's heart to make sure they know who they are in Christ and who God is, right? It's so important.

Yeah, it is. This is probably the question. You had that come to Jesus moment late one night. What happened that night that kind of put you on a totally different trajectory? Yeah, so I was in my room doing something really irrelevant, watching MTV or something. And the strongest thought that I've ever had came to my mind, which was that the girl that I was with would be the death of me.

And when I heard the thought, it actually disrupted all other thoughts where that was the only thought that I could think. So at that moment, you're in an active relationship with a girl? Yeah.

Okay. Yeah, we were just together the day before. And so I just started to think about my life randomly and kind of did a survey of it. And with that, I thought about the consequences of everything that I loved and enjoy. All of this is being motivated by the Spirit of God.

This is not me because it doesn't make any sense. Right. And so I'm thinking about, oh, I really love weed. You know, addiction to that. That's sin. Oh, I steal. That's sin.

Oh, I'm disrespectful to my parents. That's sin. Like I just went down the list where I saw, oh, lesbianism is not your only issue. You are holistically sinful. And so you are holistically in need of God. And so I told God, though, I said, God, I don't want to be straight. Because the immediate thought, I think, for anyone in the same sex community is that to come to Jesus is to be heterosexual when that's not the call.

The call is holiness. And so what God, I think, was trying to show me is, no, come to me and we'll work all the other stuff out. And so I just had to make a decision, which is, do I want to give up everything that I'm used to, everything that's kept me safe to trust in this person that I've never met, this Jewish man named Jesus? But I figured that if he was offering himself, he had to be a better alternative than everything that I've ever trusted in my entire life. And so it wasn't that I chose Jesus because I was afraid of hell. It wasn't that I chose Jesus because I wanted to be straight. I chose him because because of the Holy Spirit, I was able to see that he was better than everything on this entire earth, which is the Holy Spirit.

I have to emphasize that because people can think, oh, she made a logical decision. No, I made a spirit-made decision. And so what happened after that was that I repented and believed, but didn't know that I was repenting and believing. You felt God calling you to make a painful choice. And to me, this is the first choice, a painful choice to break up with that girl. So this was step one after your night of conviction, if I could call it that.

What compelled you to make that first step? You know, when Jesus says, if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. She was my hand. She was my eye. For me to walk in obedience to Jesus, I had to let her go, which is typical of any disciple of Jesus. He would say, follow me.

And what you would read next is they left everything. And so I had to leave everything to follow him. And I was willing to.

But it didn't mean it didn't hurt. And so I called her and I said, hey, I can't be with you anymore just because I have to follow Jesus now. And ironically, she expected it because, again, I was a really strange lesbian.

I talked about Jesus a lot. I was really intrigued by him. And so she she knew it was coming for some reason. But, yeah, so I grieved that relationship because, I mean, gay or not, straight or not, the emotions were real. The affections were real. The love was real. But I had to love God more than I loved her. Jackie, I want to continue on because you make this commitment, you're connecting with the Lord, you're moving in a different direction.

You meet Preston, your husband. Speak to that, the elements of that, how you went over that speed bump, if I could call it that. Still going over it. Yeah.

I mean, so I mean, that's all real stuff. So how long have you been married? How did you guys meet?

Give us the details of that. We're going on six years in March. It feels like 16 in a good way and a hard way. But, yeah, we met when I was 20 in Los Angeles. I was doing a poem about my story of being an ex-lesbian.

He happened to be doing a poem about how he used to sleep with everything that could breathe. And so we both kind of met with our skeletons out of the closet, both of us being very sexually broken people, but very honest people. And I had no intention of being with him.

I wanted to just be a Christian, love Jesus. I barely liked men at all, was not looking forward to that at all. But as our friendship grew, my affection for him started to grow.

And I thought it was strange and weird and I didn't know where it was coming from, but it was the Lord. But I would say that the affection was minor and small and it developed over years. It was me liking him as a person that then allowed me to like him as a man, if that makes sense. I liked who he was, which then became me liking what he was.

But it took time and it still takes time. And it was odd and weird to be with someone who is stronger than you, someone who is physically different than you, someone who speaks differently than you, thinks like you. When you think about lesbianism, you are with someone who was like you, which is the opposite of complementarianism, which we see in Genesis 1 and 2. They were like each other, but they were unlike each other. And there was some beauty in the complementarity of Adam and Eve.

But in lesbianism, you're not able to experience the differences that come in a male and female relationship. And so I think now being with Preston, I'm able to enjoy and like the things about him that are different from me and I benefit from it. Yeah, and that's a beautiful story. I'm thinking of the development that you had to move into the development of trust and safety to be able to do that, coming from where you came from. So for those people who are still struggling with something that keeps them from a fuller life in Christ, what would you suggest to them about developing that trust? That's what I hear you describing with Preston is that over years, like you said, you were able to develop this trust and this sense of safety with him that you could trust him.

He wasn't going to hurt you. A major part obviously is Jesus, trusting Jesus, begging Jesus to help you and heal you. But a really huge part that Christians are afraid to do is therapy. Therapy was transformative for me because I was able to identify the traumas that I've experienced and how they have rendered me just a hardened person. And so my therapist was able to be able to help me see where I'm hurting, but also give me the tools to fight against it. And so I think with her help, I had several therapists, but with her help, then I was able to develop some level of trust for him and all people, really. Well, it's really gaining knowledge in a healthy perspective about what you've coped with, what you're doing, how you go forward. I appreciate that. Jean and I have done it. It helps our marriage.

It's a doctor, a mental checkup. That's it. In that respect, you emphasized that marriage didn't prove that you'd changed, and that was one of the things you mentioned a moment ago. Instead, you mentioned it gave you a sense of greater purpose for all of us, even the heterosexual community. What have you learned in the institution of marriage?

You know, when we talk about that, it can be a cringe factor. But I've come to this realization, as you mentioned a moment ago, the complementary nature of marriage. I think God does this for a simple reason. He invented marriage. He could have made us asexual, right? He could have done it any way he wanted to. But I think in his divine wisdom, he said, okay, I'm going to pull two people together that generally, not always, but generally are very opposite.

Think opposite, extrovert, introvert, I mean, all of it. And my conclusion now is it's really to rub off the selfishness that we possess, to make us more like him. And do you feel that way? Is that what you felt with Preston? Every single day. Because I would have been okay single. I was totally fine. It's safer.

Yes, it's comfortable. But I think with marriage and relationship, it's given me a neediness for God that I would not have had otherwise, because you are commanded and obligated, obviously out of affection, but a lot of times out of duty to love this person more than yourself. And you don't have the convenience of going to another home. We are in the same bed, in the same room, and we need to learn how to work through struggles and work through things. But I think because Preston has a different brain than me and a different personality than me and a different insight than me, I think God has used him to pull out of me things that I would not have been able to pull out of myself.

Marriage is a community, and I think that's what community is supposed to do. And so it's been a beautiful thing to try to mirror the gospel with him. Now, I think that's a great attitude. I applaud you for it. It's been a change for me over the years, especially my work here at Focus, having a different appreciation for my wife and what we encounter, our little struggles too. And it's something divine that's going on there. Hey, this is a fun part, but five weeks after you married Preston, you got some really special news.

What was it? I was pregnant with our first child. You two are definitely quick in terms of being pregnant. My first born, her birthday is always nine to ten months after our anniversary, so that's a thing. Does anybody ever say, let me do the math real quick? Calculate?

No, they don't. Like your mom? She was so disappointed. But it was fun. I think God knew that if I did not have that child soon, that we probably would just kind of delay it, which is okay if that's the way God is leading one couple.

Sure, but there's a different plan. Yeah, but I think for us, he knew that, man, this will help y'all love each other more to drop a baby into the mix. Well, and in addition, that five weeks, I mean, then later you found out some additional information about the baby and what you were going to have.

How did that impact you? Yeah, so I found out I was having a girl and I was scared. I cried because, again, you're talking to somebody who had gender identity issues their entire life. I never felt woman enough. I never felt girl enough. And now the doctor is telling me that I have the privilege and the responsibility of raising my own kind of woman. And I felt insufficient for the task, really.

But I had to pray and then I read in the scriptures and it's just like all things really do work together for the good of those who love God. And if God has given me this child, then God is going to equip me to raise this child. And if anything, I can empower her to be the kind of woman that I wish people would have empowered me to be. So, for example, every time she puts on a dress, she always says, I'm a princess. And it's like you were a princess without the dress, Eden.

You don't have to wear a dress to be royal. And that's the kind of thing that I should have heard that I didn't. How did Preston what have you seen in him knowing where you're coming from? How has Preston helped you and reinforce those feelings about, well, the inadequacies of not being a good enough mom and then encouraging you that you can be the right mom? He's just a I can't explain.

He's just a good one. He tells the truth, you know, and he empowers me and allows me to be a safe place. And I'm able to come to him and say, I yelled at Eden today or I don't feel like I'm good in this way. And he'll point out all the ways that I've been a good mother over the last week that I haven't even noticed. You know, it's like you've cooked a meal for her every night.

Even when you're tired, even when you get off a plane, even after you've preached, you still serve you. You're attentive, you listen, you ask all answer all three thousand and forty six of her questions like, you know, and so I think she's the extrovert. Oh, yeah, she's him. She he he has an eye to the things that I don't have an eye to.

And so he's able to empower me. A great conversation we had with Jackie Hill Perry as we conclude this two part best of 2020 focus on the family broadcast. John, when we aired this broadcast last time, I was amazed by the variety of responses we received. One woman struggling with an eating disorder told us that this conversation reminded her of her identity in Christ. Another woman in the midst of a painful divorce said Jackie's story helped her remember how powerful God is.

That's why we share these stories. The goal is to point people to Jesus. It's all about encouraging people to commit or recommit their lives to him. And if you're a supporter of Focus, know that your gifts are making that possible every day through this broadcast and through the other ministries here at Focus on the Family. If you believe in what we're doing here at Focus, would you join the support team today? It's a critical time of year for us to hear from you so we can start the new year off really strong. When you give, I'll send you a copy of Jackie's book, Gay Girl, Good God, to say thank you for helping hurting families. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, or click the link in the episode notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Focus on the Family dot com slash March for life. Focus on the family dot com slash March for life.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-10 01:26:09 / 2024-01-10 01:38:36 / 12

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