“I couldn’t reconcile the ‘God Hates Fags’ signs I saw with the idea of a God who loved me. I thought of Christians as intolerant, hateful, bigoted, and uneducated. It seemed impossible that my feelings about His people could ever change.” – Hope Harris
“Angry and unjust – that’s exactly how I described the God I was protesting at gay rights events years ago,” said Hope Harris. “I couldn’t reconcile the ‘God Hates Fags’ signs I saw with the idea of a God who loved me. I thought of Christians as intolerant, hateful, bigoted, and uneducated. It seemed impossible that my feelings about His people could ever change. “I’ve been screaming for acceptance since I was a young girl. It started when my mother was murdered in front of my eyes when I was four years old. As I moved through the foster care system, I endured both physical and sexual abuse. It seemed like God had truly abandoned me. I was raised by the same foster family I was placed with after my mother’s death.
“By the time I was in my mid-20s, I was an out loud and proud lesbian. I publicly advocated for gay rights and samesex marriage. But my world came to a screeching halt in 2006 when I was in a car wreck that almost took my life. Bedridden for a year-and-a-half, I had a lot of time for soul searching. There was a lot of friction in the relationship with my partner because I had been the workhorse of our home, and the accident took that away. I tried meditation, counseling, and other measures to deal with my emotional pain, with varying degrees of success.
“In 2008, a woman who I had a crush on invited me on a trip with her to East Texas. I remember her asking me what I most wanted in life, and I told her that I wanted peace of mind and heart. She shared the gospel with me, and I learned that Jesus gives peace that ‘the world cannot give.’ (John 14:27) I wanted the peace He had to offer, but I knew it would cost me a lot.
“On February 14, 2009, I trusted in the free gift of grace available to me through Jesus Christ. I was still in a relationship, and when I told her I had become a Christian, she asked me not to come home again. When I did return, I was shut out of both my house and bank account. I couch surfed for a while, trying to figure out what to do next. “I ended up moving to Longview, Texas – an unlikely place since I assumed Texans were politically incorrect people who hated lesbians. I sure didn’t want to go to church there, but the church secretary of a local congregation invited me. With fear and trembling I attended, and I liked it enough to eventually start volunteering at the church’s food pantry. That church turned out to be a safe place, and it immersed me into a community of Christians. Eventually, I even moved onto the church staff.
“I started coming to a discipleship ministry called Living Hope in Dallas. That’s where I met my friend, Sue Bohlin, a member at Watermark. She helped me develop the practice of reading God’s Word daily. Following Watermark’s Join the Journey Bible reading plan, I read through Paul’s letters in 2011. I had the choice to either reject the Bible or believe it was absolutely true. Through time in Scripture, God began addressing deeply-held mindsets I had regarding sexual and relational brokenness. The Lord helped me find my primary identity as His child, rather than as a lesbian.
“I read Mark 8:34-37, in The Message translation where Jesus says, ‘Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?’ Through God’s Word, I learned that self-sacrifice meant surrendering the right to my sexuality and who I thought I was and choosing to believe in God, who tells me who I really am.
“While my feelings and attractions have not changed, what has changed is that, rather than living to please myself, I live to please the Lord. God’s Word is the leading force in my life. For about three years, I’ve been in a community group of women who have locked arms with me as we follow Jesus. Of all the changes God has made, walking with others who love me and point me to Jesus has been the most significant. I have learned that God is faithful, trustworthy, and worthy of our surrender and obedience.
“When I share my story with skeptics, I want them to know that same-sex attraction is really a hunger problem. I thought that relationships with other women would meet my needs, but the only love that truly satisfies is found in Jesus, the bread of life. (John 6:35) On my own, I have no power to change. Because my deepest, longings and desires are met in Jesus, my heart has been transformed.”
“Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me, and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?’” (Mark 8:34–37, The Message)