My True Identity
Hi, I’m Leslie. I’m 21 years old; I’m going to be 22 next month. I’m from Arlington, it’s here near Dallas. I was born and raised here. I grew up, I would say Catholic, because that’s kind of what you really say in mainly Hispanic households. Like, you are what your parents are. So, I mean, I would consider myself Catholic when I was a little kid. But honestly, I can count the times that I went to church with both of my hands.
I didn’t have an abusive childhood or nothing like that, I just didn’t really ever feel that much of a connection to my mom. There was always that void. Like, I didn’t have my mom to do these things with me. Not because she wasn’t there, she was, but I just really always wanted to be with my dad. So I wasn’t taught how to do my hair as a little kid. I don’t remember, I can’t recall a time where I sat with my mom as any other little girl would. So I felt very, I guess, wounded by that and I always felt like I didn’t get that. So I feel like as a child, I was looking for that with other little girls. I thought that they could give me what my mom didn’t. Along with that, when I was around four years old, I got abused by my neighbors. That went on for around eight years. I think it stopped probably when I was like 13 or 14 years old, when we moved out of the neighborhood. I guess from those things that happened to me I always felt guilty. Like something that I did had to do with that. And experiencing same sex attraction as a child, I felt like I would get punished for what I felt. So it felt like something that I was required to literally carry on me. I just kind of kept that to myself, really, throughout my whole life.
The first time that I actually went to a Christian church with my dad after he got remarried, because his new wife was a Christian, I didn’t really want to go, but they dragged me to go. So I went, and most of the time when I was there, I would just have headphones on. I didn’t really want to hear it and when I did hear it, it was always so condemning. So yeah, I just kind of sat there. I just remember I would have some encounters that I thought were meaningless back then. Like for example, as I was sitting there, just on my phone, this lady came up behind me and she said, “Hey, the Lord wants me to tell you that He’s calling you.” And at that time, I just didn’t really know what that meant. I was like, Oh, this lady’s just telling me that because she wants me to pay attention. So I would just do that. And there were times where I would get prophetic words, and I didn’t really know Jesus, so I would just be like, They’re just telling me this because my parents told them. I actually see now where God really started moving.
I started working at a dealership right after high school as a car salesperson. It was a big dealership so they had a lot of employees and there wasn’t really a desk for me yet. So the sales manager was like, “Hey, you’re gonna have to share a desk, desk with Josh.” And I was like, “Okay, cool. I don’t mind sharing a desk.” Until I got to his desk, and he had a Bible. He had all of these verses, and I would just sit there and I’d be like, This dude is crazy. He has Bible verses, he doesn’t even cuss. Because at a dealership, honestly, a lot of the environment there is really not holy. There’s drugs, there’s alcohol involved there. He would talk to me about Jesus. I just remember one time I told him, I was like, “Josh, if I’m honest,” I was like, “I don’t care.” I just told him like that and he just looked at me and was like, “but Jesus still loves you. Can I share my testimony with you?” And I was like, “Oh, I have a customer. I have to go.” I would always cut him off. And yeah, like, it was like that.
At that dealership I started experimenting with drugs. I would drink before but I started, like really heavy drinking at that age and I was 18 years old. So I didn’t really, I couldn’t do it legally. So my coworkers would take me some. I would buy drugs from other people that worked there. I thought that I was happy because I was making good money and because I was having fun, like the world would say is fun. But in reality, I always felt bad when I got home and I would just lay in bed thinking, Is there more to life than what I’m experiencing right now? You’re always looking for more once you get something from the world, like it’s never enough. One little thing leads to another one and that’s kind of how my life started going. I got really bad into drugs. It was to the point where I would smoke right before I went to work and when I went home. During the day I would take Adderall and just kind of like really anything that they would offer me. I don’t think I would ever turn it down.
One day, I had a really bad day. I don’t really remember what it was about. But I remember I went outside and I was just standing there and I just wanted to cry. Like, I had a big knot in my throat. Josh came outside behind me and he was like, “Hey…” And in my head, I was just thinking, Oh my god, here we go again. And he was like, “Hey, can I tell you my story?” And I was like, “Well, sure.” Maybe if he tells me, he’ll stop asking me. He told me his story and he kind of had the same story like what I did at that time. Like, he was telling me how he was addicted to drugs. He was like, very promiscuous. And he told me how he had an encounter while he was driving, and he was high. When he told me that, like, I started crying and I could not explain the feeling. It kind of felt like, I don’t know. If I would have to put it into words, it’s like, if someone has your heart in their hand and is like squeezing it. From there I just started crying and I couldn’t understand. He started praying for me outside. He was like, “Is it okay?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure.” As he was praying for me, like, he was doing it in front of people, where normally I would feel super embarrassed to even have someone pray over me, but I felt so different. Like, I felt a different way, once that happened.
So he invited me to his church and I went. I met a pastor named Michael there. The first time that I met him, he looked at me and he was like, “Hey, God wants me to tell you that you’re gonna have this job at this place.” And I was like, “Oh, my God. Cool. I would love to work there.” So I went home that night and I applied. They emailed me back, like three days later and they were like, “Oh, you didn’t get the job, because you don’t have a college diploma.” So immediately I got so discouraged and I was like, he just lied to me. He probably just told me that because he wanted me to keep going. So I went back to doing the same things that I was doing before because I felt discouraged, because I got a prophecy and it didn’t happen. But now that I look at it, it was in my time and it was God’s timing. Randomly, like a year later, I get a call from that company and they’re like, “Hey, are you still looking for a job?” And I was, I was kind of mad. So I was like, “Yeah, but y’all told me no, because I don’t have a college degree.” And she was like, “Oh, no, that’s okay. Can you come in for an interview?” And I was like, “But I applied a year ago.” She’s like, “Yeah, that’s okay.” So I went in and when I got there, she offered me the job kind of immediately. She was walking out with me, and she was like, “I’m not supposed to tell you, but you just got the job.” And I was just thinking in my head immediately when she told me that, like, it seemed so impossible, because I was already told no, and I didn’t have the requirements, and I just thought, Man, this has to be God.
I was still in contact with Josh. Josh and his wife and Pastor Mike were just kind of like, discipling me and just teaching me the word. At the time, they did not know that I had a relationship with a woman. They didn’t know that I struggled with same sex attraction and I didn’t want to tell them just out of fear. Because I would be like, Oh, if I tell them, they’re gonna be like, oh, get out. Like, you can’t be here. I would see stories on how some people would be treated so badly because they were a part of that community and they were trying to identify as a Christian. Like, I mean, you get rejected. It just kind of gives you a bad idea of Jesus, when you have the church that claims to know Jesus, and yet they treat a certain group of people badly because of sin, when in reality, all of us have sin. So we have to kind of learn to be loving and accepting of everyone, but yet also talking about the sin. Not just kind of like, Oh, Jesus died on the cross for every single sin. Yes, He did. But He also calls us to be obedient.
When I was in that relationship with that woman, I felt so much support emotionally that I felt kind of like, if I don’t have this [support] this way, then I’ll never have it at all. That was my biggest fear. I started looking on YouTube and there were people who said that they were gay, and they were a Christian. I was like, Okay, well, people do this so this means I can do this. I found this book by this guy, his name is Sam. So he wrote a book called something like, It’s okay to be gay and a Christian. I messaged him trying to talk to him and turns out that he no longer identified as gay because he said that, he felt like the Lord told him that that wasn’t okay and now he’s a Christian. He no longer identifies that way. So I was here looking for this guy that wrote this book that said it was okay, but he was no longer identifying as that and he was now a Christian, just living for the Lord like trying to find his identity in Him. That’s kind of when it clicked for me. And from that day on I gave that up, and I just gave it to the Lord. I was like, Lord, okay, then here. Like, but if You’re going to want me to follow You, like, I have to have an answer. I can’t do it feeling this way. So I did that and I would try to change things myself, but it never really worked out. I just felt like the Lord was like, “Fall in love with Me first and then I’ll do the rest.” And I just kind of started doing that, like, I started knowing Jesus more. It’s been so amazing.
If I think back about it, there’s so many things that He has shown me and redeemed me from that I didn’t even know that had hurt me. Like, I had things with my siblings, with my aunt, with my uncles that I felt so hurt by them. In regards to like, I never felt comfortable as a woman because I was always told that to be a woman, you had to be a certain thing. So even as a little girl, I loved being outside. I didn’t really like playing with dolls. I liked being outside with the trees and everything. And I would always hear, Why don’t you act like your sister? You act like a boy. Why are you like that? And I felt so hurt by that, that I felt like even from a little kid, I felt like something was wrong with me. But the Lord really showed me that femininity is not described by what you do, but by what He says. Like, He would tell me, “You’re a woman. I love you like this. I love that you love nature. I created it; I love it too.” And I just kind of learned my identity, like no matter what, the only person that can tell me who I am is Jesus.
There’s so much power in how people love you, that it kind of shifts your heart. It’s not a shift that I can explain, but I just know. And I felt God is really like giving me all of these things that I didn’t even know I needed and that just kind of satisfied that void that I had in me with friendships. At this point, I no longer desire to be with a woman because I feel whole enough. I feel enough of a woman to love a man. Like, if you’re seeking Jesus to be delivered from homosexuality, then what’s the point? Like, you’re supposed to seek Him for Him, not for something that He can give you in this world or something that you want. I didn’t want to be delivered. It just happened. Like, I finally know Him and I finally know that He loves me no matter what I do, no matter what I faced. That’s what I heard from Him the first time, to fall in love with Him first and He would do the rest. Yeah.