Participants: Ron Woolsey (Host), Danielle Harrison
Series Code: PC
Program Code: PC000106A
00:01 The following program discusses sensitive issues.
00:03 Parents are cautioned that some material
00:05 may be too candid for younger children.
00:41 Welcome to Pure Choices.
00:43 I'm Ron Woolsey, one of the co-founders
00:45 of Coming Out Ministries.
00:47 And today, with me is Danielle Harrison,
00:51 our newest member of Coming Out Ministries.
00:53 She has come to us from an alternative lifestyle
00:57 like the rest of us have.
00:59 And we're just really happy to have you here
01:01 with us today, Danielle.
01:03 Amen, Ron.
01:04 I'm so glad to be here, thanks for the privilege.
01:06 I know, in the last couple of years,
01:09 we've gotten to know each other pretty well,
01:11 and we've worked together as a team in many places.
01:14 And I just want to let you know,
01:15 Danielle has a fascinating conversion story.
01:19 We're going to delve into that today.
01:23 And I want to ask, when in your life, Danielle,
01:26 did you first realize that same sex attraction
01:29 was a part of your thought processes?
01:33 Well, it was actually very early on in life.
01:36 My parents separated when I was about six years old.
01:39 And we moved into a neighboring town
01:42 and we were living
01:43 in a low-income housing development.
01:45 And it was there that I met a young girl,
01:47 she was living down the street, and she was being
01:49 sexually abused by someone in her life.
01:52 And so she was learning things about her body
01:54 that she shouldn't have known and she started sharing
01:57 those things with me.
01:58 And so I don't really know if the experience came
02:02 before the attraction or if the attraction came
02:04 before the experience, but I know
02:06 that it began at a very young age,
02:09 probably around seven, the experiences
02:11 of interacting sexually with the same sex.
02:14 So I know that those experiences
02:18 really strongly colored my thoughts
02:20 and my feelings throughout my life after that.
02:24 So how did you feel about these interactions
02:27 with this person?
02:30 Well, at first, it was really the attention
02:33 and the affection that I was most drawn to,
02:37 that I appreciated the most.
02:40 And then afterwards, it really...
02:42 the extreme pleasure from the experience drove me
02:46 into strong addiction to those feelings
02:52 and those experiences.
02:54 And so at first, that was kind of my relationship with it,
02:59 at first, it was good, but it didn't take very long
03:02 for it to have a negative side
03:05 because there was a lot of guilt
03:06 and there was a lot of shame and confusion that came
03:10 into my heart as a little girl experiencing these things.
03:15 You know, when...
03:19 For example, at our home, we have horses.
03:22 And when a new one comes along,
03:25 we imprint the foal as soon as it is born.
03:29 We handle it so it gets used to human smell, taste...
03:34 Not taste but human smell and feel and sounds
03:38 and all of these things.
03:40 And so when things like this happen early on in life,
03:45 to me, it's kind of like the imprinting process.
03:48 And so I'm wondering what kind of effect
03:50 did this have on you later in life.
03:52 Did it have any effects in your later life?
03:58 Well, the effect started very soon afterwards
04:01 because I was learning these things about my body
04:03 that I shouldn't have known.
04:04 Masturbation soon became an addiction.
04:06 And this was a stronghold addiction in my life
04:08 for many years until I ended up
04:10 giving my heart to Jesus.
04:13 And I had a lot of shyness and timidity around girls
04:19 because I had attractions to them.
04:22 And so I was more awkward and shy around the girls
04:26 and more open and comfortable with the boys.
04:29 And I think because of the way that media impresses us
04:32 that we have to be interacting
04:34 with the opposite sex a certain way,
04:36 especially as girls, I became very flirtatious
04:41 with the boys at a young age also.
04:45 So there was this dynamic of having these
04:47 sexual experiences with the girls
04:49 and then having this flirtatious air towards
04:50 the boys, so I started interacting sexually
04:54 with boyfriends also at pretty young age,
04:58 I was about 14 years old.
05:00 I came out as bisexual when I was 15,
05:04 and then I'd lost my virginity by the time I was 16 years old.
05:09 So, you know, these young experiences
05:14 really sprung me, it was a spring board really,
05:18 into other sexual sins later on down the road.
05:23 Yeah, okay so as you embraced being bisexual
05:27 and this is what I'm hearing you say
05:29 that you were attracted to both boys and girls
05:33 and then you just kind of embraced that identity.
05:39 So did you just label yourself as bisexual?
05:44 How did you... Where did you go from there?
05:48 Well, yeah, I think that my sexuality really
05:51 was a big part of my identity in different ways
05:56 at different times in my journey.
05:59 At first, it was just kind of a...
06:04 it was freeing to start to identify myself in the ways
06:10 that I had always felt.
06:13 And so there was a sense of liberation that came along.
06:18 And there was also a level of, I think, you know,
06:22 attention that came along with it as well.
06:25 After some time went on though, it wasn't so much about
06:31 what other people thought, it was more about being myself.
06:35 And that was the biggest liberating part,
06:38 I just wanted to be who I was.
06:42 And then after a time, you know,
06:45 I was in relationships with men and women
06:49 and sometimes couples and all kinds
06:51 of highly complicated relationships for about
06:53 10 years of my life, very codependent,
06:56 very complicated and confusing relationships.
07:00 And at the end of this journey, eventually,
07:04 I came to really identify as a lesbian
07:09 because I thought this whole bisexual thing,
07:11 obviously, isn't really working.
07:14 And as I embraced calling myself a lesbian
07:19 and identifying as a lesbian, this really pushed
07:22 the God of the Bible and the God that I had read
07:28 about in the Bible away from me even further.
07:30 It really estranged me from God because I had known
07:34 that there were certain things in the Bible that talked about
07:38 homosexuality not being acceptable,
07:40 I had never read those things on my own,
07:42 so I didn't really know where that was
07:44 and how to navigate that.
07:45 But I knew that it wasn't acceptable to be Christian
07:48 and to be gay, and so as I labeled myself
07:53 as a lesbian, I thought, well, there's no option
07:56 of being a Christian now.
07:59 So as you were growing up and God was not really
08:02 a part of your life, at this point,
08:06 you're just looking to yourself to find your way.
08:09 It kind of reminds me of the illustration of a ship
08:14 at sea without an anchor,
08:15 without a sail that's kind of being tossed about.
08:19 I mean, did you feel kind of this way
08:21 that you're just constantly exploring,
08:23 trying to find yourself?
08:25 Yeah, I really was. I was.
08:27 And like I said, there was a lot of confusion
08:29 when I was younger.
08:31 And there was a lot of confusion also
08:33 when I was older.
08:34 I think it just came with the territory of really...
08:39 when you lose the borders that God has placed on sexuality,
08:43 and there are no borders, it's really hard to feel
08:49 any stability in any kind of relationship.
08:52 And when your sexuality is bound up so much
08:55 in your identity, it's hard to find stability
08:58 in your identity as well.
09:00 Well, did you ever have a relationship with God?
09:04 And if so, how did this aspect of your life impact that
09:11 relationship that you had had with God.
09:14 I mean, you did, I think I've heard you say,
09:17 in your youth, in your younger years,
09:19 you did have a relationship with God.
09:21 Yeah, well, when I was nine years old,
09:24 I was baptized.
09:25 I had been attending church frequently
09:28 with a family friend for many years
09:31 as I was younger, and eventually,
09:33 the pastor sat us down and he said,
09:35 "Do you believe in Jesus?
09:36 Do you want him to be your savior?"
09:38 And I said, "Yes." But I really...
09:40 I didn't have a relationship with Him at that time,
09:41 I didn't read the Bible or have an active prayer life
09:44 or anything like that, so I was baptized,
09:46 but it was just what you do when you love Jesus.
09:49 When I got a little bit older, when I was about 12,
09:53 I moved in next door to an Adventist family.
09:56 And a few years later, we eventually started
09:59 having Bible studies at our house on Friday night.
10:01 My sister was studying with one of their sons.
10:05 And so I was here exposed to Adventism.
10:09 But again, I really didn't have a relationship with Jesus.
10:13 And I looked at my life and I looked at my inability
10:17 to do what I thought was right, and I looked at the problems
10:21 in my life, and I blamed those all on God.
10:24 At what point was this that you were having
10:27 these Bible studies?
10:28 I mean, was this back earlier
10:31 before you went into the bisexual life?
10:33 It was.
10:34 It was probably about 13, 14 years old.
10:37 And so I came out as bisexual when I was about 15.
10:41 And so yeah, I really was just...
10:45 I was blaming God, and I walked out into the world
10:49 because God wasn't giving me
10:50 what I wanted really, the contentment.
10:54 And so I went out into the world
10:55 searching for contentment in the things of the world.
10:58 And I realized very quickly, well, within a few years
11:02 of sowing my wild oats and just being out in the world
11:07 and seeing what it offered,
11:08 I came to a very dark and scary place and I realized
11:12 that those things that I was searching for,
11:14 contentment and solace, were just broken cisterns,
11:16 that they were empty,
11:18 and they didn't have anything to offer me.
11:20 I would go to them.
11:21 And at first, they would feel good
11:23 and they would be stimulating, but then it would melt away
11:27 and I would just be left even more empty
11:29 and more vacant afterwards.
11:32 And like I said, I felt more and more estranged from God
11:35 as I walked out into this wilderness, you know,
11:40 and I started to gravitate
11:42 towards alternative spirituality,
11:46 just like I was gravitating towards
11:48 alternative sexuality, the same became
11:51 true for my spirituality
11:52 because I could relate easier to women,
11:55 I related to God more as a woman,
11:57 and I started reading into a lot of different religions
12:00 of the world and new age and all of that.
12:03 Can you elaborate, just a little bit,
12:05 about the different religions that you were exploring?
12:11 Well, I was really interested in Wiccanism,
12:13 which is the religion of witchcraft.
12:15 I was also reading into Native Americans spirituality,
12:20 different forms of animal speak
12:22 and nature worship and spirit worship and stuff.
12:25 And then I started getting into quantum mechanics,
12:27 quantum physics and stuff like that with the new age
12:30 and the energy healing and all of that.
12:32 Did this journey into the different religions,
12:35 did this effect how you saw yourself,
12:39 how you carried yourself, how you accessorized?
12:43 Yeah, sure. Your look?
12:45 You know, because I think it'd be important to share
12:49 just a little bit of this dark side
12:51 without being real graphic of course
12:53 but share just a little bit about
12:56 where these roads led you.
12:59 Yes, well, I really got involved heavily
13:02 in the city of Seattle with the rave scene
13:06 and the concert scene.
13:07 And this sucked me into the drugs
13:11 and everything that went along with it.
13:13 I got to the point where I was very...
13:16 I never really identified myself as punk or goth
13:19 or grunge or anything like that,
13:21 but you could just conglomerate all of those together.
13:24 However, anyone seeing the pictures would have
13:27 identified you as punk or grunge...
13:29 A conglomerate of those. Or Goth.
13:32 You know, my generation doesn't really
13:34 quite understand all of this.
13:36 But I have seen the pictures, and it's really amazing,
13:40 you know, where these side roads will take you.
13:44 And that was the phase that I was in right
13:45 before I started going into the alternative spirituality
13:48 because, you know, I was wearing devil horns
13:51 and writing satanic song lyrics and stuff on my skin
13:54 whenever I was out in that dark place,
13:58 but as I started turning towards
13:59 the alternative spirituality,
14:01 I started searching for the light.
14:04 And that was the biggest thing that really resonated with me
14:06 was the object lesson of light and darkness.
14:08 And I started to gravitate away from those darker things
14:12 and get into really searching for the light
14:16 and what that was.
14:17 And I referred to God as "the divine,"
14:20 and I didn't know who He was but I was definitely searching.
14:23 Well, and those pathways in which you were going,
14:28 did they tend to lead you into more darkness
14:30 or do you think they led you towards the light?
14:33 Well, you know, I think that it was...
14:39 It's definitely a path that can lead to the darkness,
14:43 and it does.
14:44 That's the only place that it can go.
14:46 I often say that here I was, you know,
14:49 wanting to get to know God
14:51 and wanting to get off the drugs
14:53 and clean up my life and do better,
14:55 and so I was trying to get back on the straight path,
14:57 but I was just overcorrecting into the ditch
14:59 on the other side and going into
15:01 all of this alternative spirituality.
15:03 But while there is so much danger
15:07 in those religions because there's so much error
15:11 mingled with truth, I think at the same time,
15:14 God really reads the heart.
15:17 And He saw the sincerity of my heart.
15:19 And even though I was calling Him
15:20 by the wrong name and I was looking
15:22 for love in all the wrong places,
15:24 God honored those prayers that I was praying.
15:27 And He led me gently just as far as I was willing
15:31 to go along the path to bring me
15:35 one step closer to Him,
15:37 as I would allow Him to do that for me.
15:41 I think that's such an important point
15:42 that you make there that God knows the heart.
15:45 And even though you were looking in
15:46 all the wrong directions, what mattered to God,
15:49 this is what I'm seeing in your story,
15:51 what mattered to God was you were looking.
15:54 You were looking for truth, you were looking for light,
15:56 and He guided you through that and evidently out of that
16:03 because I think you came to a turning point.
16:06 Can you share with us the turning point of your life
16:09 where you turned away from your will
16:11 and then began to seek God's will?
16:15 Well, as I was venturing through this journey of walking
16:21 with "the divine," God was revealing Himself
16:24 to me in little ways, and they were abstract ways
16:30 to my understanding now
16:32 because my mentality was so abstract.
16:34 And I believe, He met me where I was at.
16:38 But it was always pointing me back to Him.
16:41 And as He would reveal Himself to me through experiences,
16:44 conversations, acquaintances, and all these different things,
16:48 I was starting to see, even repetitive numbers,
16:52 there were a series of events that were happening.
16:56 And I was starting to see that there wasn't any such thing
17:00 as coincidence.
17:01 I was starting to really believe
17:03 that there was something going on
17:04 in the universe and something was trying
17:05 to get my attention.
17:07 And that was a huge part of the turning point,
17:10 and really, I understand and believe
17:13 and know now that that part of the journey
17:16 was a direct consequence of the prayers of my mother
17:22 and my sister and their congregations
17:24 who were earnestly praying for me.
17:26 And so that really began to shift me, I think,
17:31 towards desiring to understand spirituality.
17:34 And I ended up going
17:36 to an Adventist health institution,
17:39 I went out to the Black Hills Health & Education Center
17:41 in South Dakota, and I just expected
17:44 to be there for six months, working on the farm.
17:46 But as I was there, in the soil and working in the fields,
17:52 God started to speak to me.
17:55 And I started to see Him reflected in His creation.
17:58 And it was while I was there that God really started
18:02 to send powerful messages, illuminating the darkness
18:06 and illuminating the confusion and starting to show me
18:11 that I had been programmed from a young age to view life
18:14 the way that I did,
18:15 to view spirituality the way that I did,
18:17 and to view sexuality they way that I did.
18:19 And God, especially, did that for me through Dan Gabbert
18:22 who was the spiritual counselor there,
18:24 a number of other people who would speak
18:27 and study with me,
18:29 Chad and Foddy or Klusener, I think, were playing films.
18:32 And especially, Little Light Studios,
18:35 when Tom came out here and gave me some of their DVDs.
18:38 These were a lot of the things that were really shutting
18:41 the light of the deception onto my path.
18:45 And that was what really woke me up
18:47 and helped me to see that I needed to turn away
18:51 and walk in a different direction.
18:53 You know, this leads me to a question that comes to me
18:55 all the time.
18:57 And I'm going to ask you the same question
18:59 because it's really a fascinating question
19:02 and it shows the misunderstanding
19:04 of a lot of people about the plan of salvation.
19:07 When you accept Jesus, when He finds you
19:12 and brings you home and you accept him,
19:15 the question that comes to me is,
19:17 did all of those attractions just disappear?
19:19 Did He take it all away?
19:21 And I know what it was like in my story.
19:25 I want to hear how it was with you.
19:28 Did all of this just disappear as you came to Jesus?
19:34 Well, there was a pivotal moment.
19:36 I was actually watching a documentary called
19:39 Magic Kingdom by Little Light Studios,
19:42 and it was through that humble little documentary
19:45 that no one ever would have imagined
19:46 that it would speak this to me was through this documentary
19:49 that God spoke to me and really showed me
19:52 that I had been programmed from a young age
19:56 and that it wasn't His plan for my life for me
19:59 to be a lesbian.
20:01 And I remember weeping after that night
20:04 and just realizing that I had to give my understanding
20:10 of my sexuality and the distraction
20:11 that sexual sin and sexual addiction
20:15 were to me, I had to give those things up.
20:17 And that was hard because, like I said,
20:19 my identity was so wrapped up in my sexuality.
20:24 And something shifted in my heart at that point.
20:29 When I started to see things from God's perspective,
20:33 then my desire for the things that went against His expressed
20:37 will started to melt away.
20:40 So it's a process.
20:41 You know, I think, in His mercy,
20:44 He put my mind on a different path.
20:49 And He honored me in that sincere heart cry for victory
20:55 and a new direction in my life.
20:57 But I realized very, very quickly
20:59 that I had an important part to play in the equation,
21:02 that I had to become mindful of where my thoughts
21:04 were running, of where my eyes were looking.
21:07 I had a lot of bad habits of allowing my eyes
21:10 and my mind to wander in places they shouldn't go.
21:13 And so I had to become mindful of my thoughts,
21:17 and I had to start to guard the avenues of my soul,
21:21 you know, to just really guard the things
21:24 that came into my heart and my mind through my senses.
21:28 And as I started to really journey
21:31 on through this experience, you know,
21:34 it wasn't like the attractions never came back in
21:38 because they did at times.
21:40 But God was just trying to help me to see things
21:42 from his perspective on the process
21:45 just like he helped me to see them before.
21:49 There are still things that He's been teaching me
21:50 along the way, and there's still many things
21:52 that I'm sure that He will teach me.
21:56 And it has been a process.
21:58 And one of the things that has really helped me
22:01 is how God has helped me to relate to beauty differently
22:04 because, after a while, I would meet a person and I think,
22:11 "Wow, she's really beautiful, I really appreciate her."
22:14 And then I would start to think, "Oh, no!"
22:15 You know, "I can't like her, this isn't okay,"
22:18 and, "what's wrong with me."
22:19 You know, it's easy to be hard on ourselves.
22:22 And, you know, I really believe that it was just
22:25 the Holy Spirit that said, "Danielle, God created beauty,
22:29 He created all the beauty in the world,
22:31 He created us to appreciate beauty,
22:32 He obviously appreciates beauty.
22:34 And it's not sinful for you to appreciate her character
22:38 and to see her as a beautiful part of God's creation.
22:42 But it's what you do with those thoughts that determine whether
22:45 or not it becomes sinful.
22:46 Are you going to dance around with those thoughts
22:48 or are you just going to say, 'Thank you, Lord,
22:50 for this person who You've created,'
22:52 and, you know, set down those thoughts
22:55 and not allow them to be cultivated
22:56 and to grow into something that is sinful."
22:58 This has been a really easy process, hasn't it?
23:01 Or has there been any difficulties along the way?
23:04 Could you tell us what is the hardest part
23:06 about walking with Christ or is there a hard part?
23:11 There are hard parts.
23:14 There are hard moments and there are hard seasons.
23:18 It hasn't always been easy.
23:20 I think the hardest part for me in the Christian experience,
23:26 it takes perseverance.
23:28 You know, and I think the hardest parts
23:30 of my walk have been when God has really
23:33 opened up my heart to me and He has shown me
23:37 the shadows in the corners of my soul
23:40 and He has helped me to see my sin for what He sees it as,
23:45 for what it really is and how it's hurting me,
23:48 how it's hurting the people I love,
23:49 and how it's hurting Him.
23:51 And those seasons of my life have been the hardest
23:54 because I've seen myself in my sinfulness,
23:57 and it's been so convicting.
23:59 But at the same time, it's been beautiful too
24:03 because he's called me away from those things.
24:08 And so, you know, that is hard.
24:11 It's hard to lay down the things
24:14 that we're clinging to.
24:15 And I think the hardest part about walking away
24:17 from those things is that usually
24:19 when God comes in and says,
24:21 "Danielle, you know, these are the shadows,
24:22 these are things that I need you
24:25 to surrender to me,"
24:27 those are usually the things that I'm clinging to
24:29 for a sense of identity or a sense of comfort
24:32 or a sense of solace.
24:33 And so it is hard, but...
24:37 So there is a flipside also.
24:40 There's great blessing even though there's a struggle.
24:42 Yes. There's a great blessing.
24:43 Yes, there are beautiful parts of even the darkest moments
24:47 of those challenging experiences
24:50 because it's developing a relationship with my creator,
24:56 a dynamic between Him and I where I see Him for who He is.
25:01 I see His character.
25:03 And by beholding, I become changed.
25:05 You know, I was changed into the image of the world
25:08 by beholding it.
25:09 But as I behold God more and more,
25:12 I am changed and my character has changed so much.
25:16 And seeing Himself show Himself strong in my life
25:21 and show Himself real has just been so powerful.
25:26 And learning how to claim His promises has made
25:30 that even clearer for me because it has given me
25:32 vivid opportunities to see Him work for me
25:35 and see Him move.
25:37 So much of your life was centered on self.
25:40 Do you now have a different center?
25:45 I mean, as you were focused on self,
25:48 there's a lot of wandering and meandering down the way.
25:51 But now is there a new center and does He keep you on course?
25:54 Yes, there is a stable centering point,
25:58 and that is my daily time with my God.
26:04 And I realized very quickly, if I don't have that time,
26:08 everything starts to teeter and waver.
26:12 So my daily time with the Lord and service for Him,
26:15 I think, is pivotal.
26:18 You know, He's brought me into ministry,
26:21 He's given me a work to do for Him.
26:23 And that has been so necessary for me
26:27 not only to share Him
26:32 with other people but to stay on the journey myself
26:35 and to keep growing in Him.
26:38 In the last moment that we have here,
26:40 do you have a word of advice for someone that is wanting
26:46 to find a way out of the gay life
26:47 but may not know exactly how to walk away from it?
26:52 I think the most pivotal and important part is for us
26:55 to just acknowledge that we need help.
26:59 You know, my sister told me that my mom told her friend
27:01 that she was praying for me, and I got angry,
27:04 I said, "I'm not broken.
27:05 I don't need you to fix me." Yeah.
27:07 Even though I saw that my life was a mess,
27:09 and I think that we just have to acknowledge
27:11 that we need help and just believe
27:14 that Christ is able.
27:16 And He will do everything else. Thank you so much, Danielle.
27:18 What a powerful testimony.
27:20 And, you know, testimonies like yours and mine
27:22 and the others in our group are quite often referred
27:25 to as extreme conversions.
27:28 But our extreme conversions really just reveal
27:31 an extreme God, His extreme love,
27:35 His extreme compassion, His extreme patience
27:37 and mercy, and His extreme power.
27:41 We want to thank you today for tuning in to Pure Choices,
27:45 and we invite you to join us again at another one
27:49 of the Pure Choices programs upcoming.
27:53 Thank you, and God bless you.