As a young child Karen experienced the Lord. Home life was often distressing due to emotional and physical abuse and, at night, Karen would talk to Jesus, pour out her worries and sadness to Him, and she felt He was there and He cared. It felt like there were no barriers between her and Jesus. Her family did not have a Christian faith and she went to church with Girl Guides and later as a leader in Boy’s Brigade. At some point while growing up she absorbed the message that the Lord requires a standard of behaviour and, because she could not live up to this, a sense of unworthiness crept in and she stopped praying.
For many years as an adult, she had no contact with church. She married and the marriage didn’t work out and ended in divorce. That increased her sense of unworthiness towards the Lord as church taught that married people should not split up. She eventually recognised and came to terms with her sexuality as a gay woman.
She had been with her partner, Sam, for 10 years when they moved to a village near Chorley and she felt drawn to go to church again. Through Christian neighbours she started attending church regularly.
The pastor talked about the Lord in your life and about grace and how the Lord loves you as you are. She took it into her head but not into her heart. She had lots and lots of questions and had ongoing, long debates with her neighbours, who were now close friends. It felt to her that it would be a risk to trust the Lord because ‘what if He wasn’t there and what if there was nothing?’ She was also unsure if her sexuality was ok with the Lord and felt unable to voice this.
Then came a very bad time. Karen got M.E. very severely. She was extremely ill for over a year and unable to work. Sam had to give up her job to look after her and finances hit rock bottom. There wasn’t enough money to live on or to pay the mortgage and it looked like they would lose their house. Their Christian friends encouraged them to ask Jesus to help, to provide what they needed. With no other way to go Karen started to try Him out. She spoke to Jesus about her worries and needs.
Amazingly they saw money come in from different, unexpected places. Lots of different things happened including a relative who never gave money to anyone (and didn’t know how bad things were) sent them a cheque, there was a refund on a bill they had overpaid, and somehow each week there was always had enough to live on. They didn’t loose the house and they both had a growing sense of the Lord actually caring about them and showing His love in the practical details of their lives. In that time Karen gradually came to know the Lord’s love for her personally and came to a point of being able to rely on and trust Him.
After 18months off work Karen had to attend a meeting to decide if her job would be kept open or not. Her Christian friends encouraged Karen and Sam to pray about it. The outcome of the meeting was that the job would be held open if she returned to work in 2 month. She still had M.E. and did not have the strength or energy to work. However they prayed and when she went back she found herself physically and mentally able to do a demanding job and the M.E. disappeared.
She now knew the Lord and trusted in Him. There were times she prayed for physical healing and saw wonderful things. She sprained her ankle by twisting it as she fell down a step that was a foot high. It was very bruised and painful and she couldn’t walk on it. She prayed for it to be healed and each time the pain woke her up that night she prayed again. When she got up in the morning the bruising and swelling and had gone and it was perfectly OK. She had a long term back problem and prayed repeatedly. Her recent MRI scan showed that an old fracture in her back had healed and disappeared without any trace.
Karen has also known emotional healing. She had very low confidence due to the damaging things that had happened in childhood. She had been to a psychologist, and had had psychotherapy. The therapy helped her to understand that what happened was not her fault but didn’t heal the pain. She wanted revenge on her brother and mother. She then came to the point of being able to give the Lord the whole situation with her brother and her mother and asked Jesus to give her the ability to forgive them for what they did. He gave her that ability and she felt released from the pain and effects of the past. She felt free.
However, at her church, the teaching was that being gay is not the Lord‘s best and that the ideal in His eyes is to be heterosexual. She was drawn to read the story of Abraham in Bible. In it Karen discovered the Lord’s Grace for a man who did a lot of wrong things. However, Abraham had faith in the Lord which made him righteous in the Lord’s eyes. She realised that despite what her church said Grace was big enough for everyone and it was not possible that the Lord should limit it to heterosexuals only.
She still wanted to participate in church but the underlying negative attitudes to being gay caused difficulty, particularly for Sam. She was asking the Lord to show her the right church to go to when she came across Liberty when Nina spoke at a LGBT staff meeting about faith.
Karen said that the Liberty slogan ‘Free Your Faith’ means a lot to her. She has experienced that sense of increased freedom to be herself as a gay woman, totally accepted and loved by the Lord.
Her spiritual journey with Jesus has shown her that He always keeps His promises. When she has turned to Him with the problems she has faced He has kept His promise to care for her in every aspect of her life. Sam and Karen are still in a financial straight jacket and recently, at the start of a camping holiday in Scotland, checked their account and found they had £15 rest of the holiday. They spoke to the Lord asking Him to help. They both received an overwhelming sense of peace that He would. At that moment the most vivid rainbow they had ever seen appeared. It ended right in front of them and Sam took a photo of it.
They felt that the Lord was confirming that His promises are sure, and He would meet their needs. Despite limited funds they had a wonderful, deeply refreshing holiday in glorious weather and with a strong assurance of the Lord being with them every step of the way.
Karen feels that she has handed over to Him things that were heavy in her life. Things like shame, guilt and low confidence. He has taken these away and instead given her the gift of His Spirit, which is light and life giving.
The following scripture from Matt 11:28 (Amplified version), has become a reality to her:
Jesus said ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will cause you to rest. (I will ease and refresh your souls). Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is wholesome (good, not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing, but comfortable, gracious and pleasant) and My burden is light and easy to carry.
Karen and Sam recently got hitched