I walked the streets in search of it. I sought therapists' advice on how to obtain it. I even moved across the country in quest of it. But ultimately, I didn't find peace until I stopped running from God.
I resisted Him for three years before finally surrendering. It was not an easy decision; the immediate consequences were traumatic. For me, choosing Christ meant the loss of career, friends, a love relationship, and the respect of most who knew me. But I made the commitment anyway — despite the cost and, more significant, despite my negatively skewed picture of Christianity.
At the time I became Christ's, my life was consumed by feminist politics and the gay and lesbian community. Professionally, I served as chief of staff to a government official who was a lesbian and as vice president for the National Organization for Women in Washington state. My private life revolved around my committed three-year relationship with another woman.
Off the Beaten Path
Nearly ten years ago, during the latter half of college, I was exposed to the feminist movement and surrounded by lesbian professors, who influenced me to question my sexuality. To that point I never considered myself a lesbian. Nevertheless, the summer before my senior year I entered into a lesbian relationship. The following spring, 1989, I became energized by my first abortion-rights march and vowed to commit my life to the fight for women's freedom. Around that same time, I was elected president of the Alexandria, Va., chapter of NOW, and upon graduation, worked for the national office in Washington, D.C.
I rose quickly through the ranks, eventually serving as press secretary for the organization. I worked side by side with the leaders of NOW and had constant interaction with the national media. I seemed to have it all: a challenging job, success, power, friends, and a caring relationship. Most of all, I believed I had ultimate freedom — to act, speak, and believe as I wanted and to choose whom I loved. This "freedom," however, eventually enslaved me.
Cornered by Grace
Throughout my feminist career I interacted with Christians on the front lines of political battles, many times at abortion clinic doors or at gay rights demonstrations. During the heat of confrontation, my actions did little to endear me to them. Unfortunately, the actions of many Christians did little to endear Christ to me, either.
And yet in the fall of 1992, I began to feel myself inexplicably drawn to God. There were times when I would be doing something routine, such as working on my computer, and an incredible feeling of peace would pour over me, followed by a powerful hunger for God.
These experiences, which lasted from several hours to several days, were always interrupted as the demands of my job snapped me back into reality. For almost three years, I consciously shoved those promptings and feelings from my mind, time and time again.
Part of my confusion stemmed from the fact that I couldn't reconcile my heart's yearning with the hostile behavior I encountered in some Christians. Rarely did I see anyone reflecting the heart or nature of the God pursuing me. On one occasion, however, I encountered a Christian activist who chose to engage the "other side" with the gospel rather than with hostile stares, violence, or moralizing.
It was a Saturday afternoon, in the midst of a "rescue" outside an abortion clinic in D.C. Another woman and I were following a couple of pro-life men in an attempt to catch them in the act of violating a court injunction. As we moved away from the clinic, the chorus of chaotic chanting and singing faded, and one of the men began talking about Jesus and His love for us.
After several tense minutes, I glanced at my friend's face. This man's words had melted her angry countenance.
Uncomfortable with the situation, I pulled her away from the conversation. At the time I considered his tactics highly manipulative, but now I recognize that the power of the Holy Spirit was at work through him.
It was the one time I can recall that someone from the pro-life side ever mentioned Jesus' love for me — not just for the victims of abortion.
Escape From D.C.
As the fall of 1994 arrived, God continued to work steadily on my heart, and I had trouble operating as though life was normal. As the media coordinator for NOW, I was responsible for communicating with reporters, briefing NOW's leadership on current news, and working with a team to develop statements on hot issues. My job demanded ideological purity, commitment, and total attention.
I made a desperate attempt to find the cause of these spiritual experiences in order to stop them from further disrupting my career. At one point I sought help from a therapist, explaining that I had a problem of "feeling vulnerable to God and Christianity."
Entertaining the claims of Christianity did not seem a sane or workable option because I was immersed in an environment hostile to Christians. Adding to this burden was the stress of working in a high-pressure position in a fast-paced, battle-charged environment such as NOW was.
And the repercussions of exploring Christianity seemed ugly. I remembered the turmoil caused by another woman who worked with NOW and became "saved." At all costs I wanted to steer clear of Christian political activists and the media, who I believed had sensationalized the woman's conversion to further their agendas. I desired to avoid a similar scandal or inflicting pain on those with whom I worked. I knew I needed to leave the heated environment of the nation's capital in search of answers.
In November my partner (who had no idea of my inner turmoil) and I moved to Seattle. And although I planned to revamp my life and search for God, I failed miserably. I found myself in the same web of work and relationships I'd left in D.C.
In Seattle my career, relationships, and activism began to suffocate me. I increasingly noticed a lack of consistency in my lifestyle. I could no longer ignore the absence of absolute truth in the mind-set of the gay community. My drive to champion the "issues" waned. All of this was compounded by a deep hatred for Christians that began to cripple my relationships with people in general.
Every fiber within me longed for real truth and purity. In August 1995, I wrote in my journal, "I seem to be on a course I cannot get off. The feelings are as powerful as ever. … If I choose Jesus, I will lose everything. And what if I'm mistaken? What if this craving for God and this emptiness is not satisfied? Where will it leave me?"
Every day for a week, I walked the streets during my lunch hour, hoping to find someone who could answer my questions and give me some direction. I found no one who could help me.
Finally I opened the Yellow Pages to the church section, and my eyes were drawn to the largest ad. An hour later, as I walked into the sanctuary, I shook with fear and avoided eye contact with everyone. I remained glued to the pew as the service began. I was sure the ushers knew I didn't belong — maybe even recognized me from recent television interviews — and were monitoring my every move. As it turned out, no one ever approached me — either in disdain or welcome.
After several weeks of slipping in and out of this church, I realized that the pastor's message, the gospel, was the very one my soul craved. On September 19, 1995, I walked down the aisle and accepted Christ as my Savior, and He claimed me as His own.
Behind Enemy Lines
Following my conversion life became weird and painful as I struggled to live in my old, dark world as a new creation in Christ. Through word of mouth, my friends found out about my conversion, and their distress and shock, as well as their attempted "rescues" of me, made life almost unbearable at times. My new faith was belittled. Word on the street was that I had become an "anti" (anti-abortionist). People asked, "How did we lose her?" Nobody could understand what had happened.
Despite this wave of adversity, though, I wrote in my journal that I could feel God's vise-like grip around me, keeping me afloat and protecting me. The God who had pursued me so relentlessly now watched over me day and night, providing everything I needed to begin a new life.
Over a period of weeks, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I was able to break away from my job, its related activities, relationships, and lifestyle. I finally experienced great freedom, like that of an immigrant who has just escaped from a repressive regime.
Previously I had boasted of a freedom that, in contrast to Christ, was utter bondage. I now know what true freedom is.
The Real Message
The forgiveness and love that come in a relationship with Jesus Christ are to me the most awesome benefits of Christianity. And I believe that God's greatest desire is to give us that relationship, along with the gift of eternal life.
But as Christians, we need to be constantly aware of the spiritual battle for souls. I picture a great struggle in the heavens between God, Who pursues the hearts of people on all sides, and Satan, who uses every means necessary, including the actions and words of Christians, to keep people from knowing Jesus.
This spiritual dimension of the culture war is too often forgotten in the heat of our daily battles. Yes, it's crucial to stand up for biblical truth and morality. But our first priority should be to share Christ's love. We need to take real steps toward loving the sinner. After all, how can we expect a person's worldview to change if his or her heart is hardened to Christ?
Activists on the "other side" cannot fully perceive the darkness in which they are living until they personally encounter Jesus — the Light of the World. My life is a testimony to how "the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4).
God puts people in our path every day, just as He put me and my friend in the path of the man at the abortion clinic who spoke of Jesus' love. We must be ready to share the message of the Cross and reflect the character of Jesus through our relationships and daily interactions with others — even those whom we deem beyond hope. Who knows? They could be searching for God, and we may be the only reflection of Jesus they see.