IMG_3824Submitted  by Tamara Cox

I am 26 years old and was born in Livingston NJ but moved to Ga in 1994 so this is where I consider home. My parents moved to the states in 1981, got married and had my sister and me. They were married for a total of 15 years but there were events that took place, some of which I witnessed such as infidelity and abuse that lead to their divorce in 1999. I grew up in Duluth, GA most of my life and because of that I went to school with the same people from Elementary through H.S. I was involved in anything that high school had to offer and never turned down an opportunity to get involved. Along with this and my morals which included not getting involved in drugs, alcohol or sex, I was known as the good girl to everyone, the one most people looked up to, and with that came a lot of responsibility. I began to carry a heavy burden of thinking that because I have all of these eyes on me, I cannot mess up or let anyone down. Graduation came for me in May of 2006. One of the happiest times in anyone’s life! College was in my future, but I had just turned 17 several months prior to graduation so my parents and I had decided that due to my young age, I would wait until I had matured to go off to school.

In the meantime, I got a job at a local gym and it’s still one of my favorite memories to this day. I worked as the front desk receptionist so of course I got to see every face that came and went. One afternoon a girl came in with pretty curly hair, wearing a sports bra and basketball shorts. In a particular lifestyle she was known as a “stud.” I had never seen this girl before but for whatever reason I could not take my eyes off of her. She was the first female that I was intrigued by. Now she came into the gym almost every afternoon and was extremely outgoing and friendly so conversations got started between us and before I knew it, numbers were being exchanged and conversations began to happen outside of the gym. I knew exactly what was happening at the time and began to convince myself that I always had an attraction to women but knew if I acted on it when I was still in school, my “good girl” reputation would be destroyed. At the point that I was at in my life, I no longer cared what anyone else had to say or think. I was going to start living for Tamara.

Now nothing ever came of that relationship but because of the attraction and the thoughts that I had about her, I now identified myself as a lesbian and that was the start of me living in the homosexual lifestyle, and it’s one that I lived and battled with every day for about 6 years. Deep down, I always felt something inside of me saying this wasn’t right, but for those 6 years, I ignored that voice which I now know was God, and made excuses for the way I was living. Throughout the first few years, I jumped in and out of different relationships, always feeling empty inside but by this time I had convinced myself that no woman could do to me what my father did to my mother. In May of 2009, I met a young lady; we became exclusive in July and moved in together in September. Out of all my relationships, this was the most serious one. When I met her, she had an 11 month old son who I quickly took in as my own and raised for the first 4 years of his life, we got engaged and had plans to leave the state and marry. Now just like any relationship, there were highs and there were lows and the lows were pretty low. The years consisted of physical abuse, the same abuse I was trying to escape from a heterosexual relationship, there was drug and alcohol abuse and there were suicide attempts on my part.

In the middle of all of the chaos, I got a job in May of 2011 where I met 2 young women that became my close friends. It didn’t take long for me to open up to them about my life and the lifestyle I was living and when I did, I received nothing but love and kindness from them. Now before I go any further, because of what took place several months ago, with the ruling of the Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage – I want to remind everyone as believers that our only responsibility is to LOVE. In situations like these, the church too often looks like the world in the way we respond. Now I am not telling anyone to not have your opinion and I am certainly not telling you to tolerate it, all I am saying is to remember that as Christians, our responses are to always reflect the love and character of the One who first loved us! Now, these ladies began ministering to me and would invite me to church from time to time. In the beginning, I was always reluctant because I had experienced church hurt in the past but I also wasn’t 100% ready to let go of the life. It became my comfort zone. However, I eventually attended Victory World Church’s young adult service for the first time in November of 2011. If I’m honest, the service wrecked me, I was in tears and I knew God was trying to call me back to Him – But! I just wasn’t ready. A seed however, had been planted that night and it didn’t take long for it to be watered and grow because by April of 2012 I returned to the church and started going on a weekly basis. By May I made the decision to get baptized which took place on 5/23/2012.

Now, I know one would think, she’s been delivered! However, that just wasn’t the case, YET! This walk that I was beginning came with a lot of deception and a part of that deception was thinking that my salvation was coming from being baptized and that when I came up from the water, I physically (not spiritually) was a new person, who would no longer struggle or have the desires I had. I had no understanding of deliverance from this lifestyle being a journey that I had to be willing to walk out. Because of this, I went back into the lifestyle but things looked a little different. I was very open with a young lady about my new beliefs and what I knew to be truth about the lifestyle and I made it clear that I could never be in an actual relationship with her but it didn’t stop me from having relations with her behind closed doors. All of this lasted for almost a year. It took some time for me to admit to myself that I was living a double life. I had one foot in the church and one foot in the world. I was still attending church regularly and by this time was serving and leading in different areas but would leave church some nights to see this woman. The deception grew deeper when I believed the lie that God allowed our paths to cross so that I could lead her to Jesus. Around July of 2013 this woman decided to cut all ties with me as she had come to accept that we would never be in a relationship. In the past this would have led to rejection and depression but just the opposite took place. I remember to this day feeling free. I felt that her releasing me was the spirit of homosexuality releasing me because from then on, there were no attractions or desires for women.

In July of 2014, I was given the opportunity to be baptized again and during that time I confessed my double life to my peers and wanted to finally give my past a proper burial. It was such a freeing experience to finally see and understand things that I wasn’t able to before. The abuse and divorce of my parents created a spirit of fear in me – a fear of men and a fear of experiencing the pain that my mom went through. It was freeing to now understand that this walk with God is about heart transformation, NOT BEHAVIOR CHANGE. I believe that we often focus on performance or not sinning, versus surrendering our hearts completely to God and building a genuine authentic relationship with Him, which is what ultimately creates behavior change. Now here’s the thing, in the beginning of my walk, I was surrendering, but not all of me. In the beginning, I was praying the right prayers and asking God to take the desires from me but at that time, they were just words, my heart didn’t align with what I was saying. Once I surrendered my whole heart, is when transformation took place within me. Once I surrendered my whole heart is when His desires for me, became my desires for myself. Once I surrendered my whole heart, I saw women through His eyes – as His daughters, and my sisters. Once I surrendered my WHOLE heart, is when true deliverance took place.

Jeremiah 24:7: I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. I had to return to God with my WHOLE heart, and once I did, I knew there was no going back!