JAC First Person: Identity
by Tara Foster
“If you abide in My word, you are My
disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth
shall make you free.”
Jesus’ words in the light of today’s
worldview can seem so confusing. Everyone is told to find
their truth, but really, Jesus didn’t say know your truth. He
said you shall know THE truth. The freedom that comes from
knowing and living a life with Christ is truly something the
world cannot give you.
As a child I was exposed to horrors no
one should have to endure. Physically, sexually, and
emotionally abused from as young as 2, I bounced in and out of
foster care. The only light in that time came from my
grandparents, who provided my younger brother and I with the
only stability we would ever know as young people. They
ensured we got a Catholic education, and our grandmother would
take us to church.
Throughout my teenage years I couldn’t
understand why God, who was able to move mountains if He so
desired, allowed so many horrific things to happen. I decided
that if He was real, He definitely didn’t love me, and I
wanted nothing to do with Him.
As a teenager I was often angry, and
just desperate to feel like I mattered, that even people would
care if I was alive or dead. The trauma of the abuse left me
with a huge distrust of people, but men particularly,
something I’m sure many trauma survivors resonate with.
From about the age of 13 or 14 I
started to realise that I wasn’t like most girls my age. I had
always been a tomboy, but it was different. I was different. I
began having feelings of attraction toward other girls, and
eventually I came out as a lesbian.
Coming out was terrifying.
I was scared of how people would react, in particular
my grandparents with their ‘Christian’ beliefs.
All the while, I was still asking the question why did
God make me this way?
No matter who I asked, the only answer I would ever get
was that I was born this way, and I should be proud of who I
was. So, as a
result, my sexuality became my identity.
I found myself looking to relationships
with other girls as well as drugs and alcohol to fix the
brokenness that my childhood had left me with.
At the end of 2013, a knock came on my door that I’ll
never forget. My Mum had died, at just 44 years old.
Mum’s death had an effect that I never saw coming.
Even though we had a complicated relationship, and
often didn’t get along, I was filled with guilt and anger for
the way things ended and even blamed myself for it.
Eventually I moved back to the city and
it put even further pressure on the already unhealthy
relationship I was in.
The pressures and stress of my dysfunctional life
caused me to become the worst version of myself.
However, the Lord in His graciousness created
opportunity for me to play drums at The Salvation Army and I
strangely accepted it.
The first thing I noticed about these Salvo Christians
is that they were nothing like I thought they would be. They
really loved Jesus and I could clearly see it.
Somehow, during my time of trying to
deal with my Mum’s death and attending meetings with the
Salvos, my relationship with my partner came to an end. My
inability to deal with my trauma in a healthy way had left
both of us unhappy and unfulfilled.
I decided it was too hard to keep
attending church because it was just too hard to keep hiding
my hurt. Besides,
I thought I didn’t need God and that it was best to cut myself
off from the ‘Jesus people’.
Once again, I fell deeper into the darkness that had
become comfortable and turned back to old habits to numb the
The Lord however is so gracious, and
faithful. He never gives up on us, even when we try to give up
on ourselves. The Lord used my officers, who kept trying to
reach out, and even went as far as to show up to my final
graduating recital of my music degree.
In the weeks following, I found myself
back at church. Immediately, I could tell something was
different. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but now
I understand that I was encountering Holy Spirit for the first
time in my life. I can’t explain how it happened, but I
suddenly had a desire to learn about this Jesus that everyone
was so in love with.
So, I approached the officer and asked if I could
borrow a Bible. He
replied by saying, “No, you cannot borrow a bible.
But you can keep one… only if you promise to read it.”
I agreed and started reading the Bible.
For the first time in my life, I found myself believing
it and desperate for more.
As an LGBT youth, I was constantly told
that I was born gay and that I should be proud of my
could change it because that was ‘who I was’. My definition of
myself and my self-worth was summed up in the word
‘homosexual’. But, as God began to soften my heart, I began to
listen to His voice.
My sexuality defined me. I considered
it my identity. But if that was really who I was, then why has
there always been this empty hole in my heart?
The healing I experienced in the months
following my encounter with Holy Spirit left me knowing in my
heart the answer. Jesus was what I had been missing. Only
through Him could I ever find the true peace and happiness I
so desperately craved. I was seeing answers to prayer in a way
I could never have fathomed, and at first, I struggled to
As I learned to love God more the issue
of my sexuality kept coming to my mind. Throughout my life I
had been told by most people that there was nothing wrong with
same-sex relationships. ‘Love is Love’. While it’s become more
of a noted conversation now, at that time, even at The
Salvation Army it was very rare to hear people talk about
homosexuality in church, and the truth is, it didn’t really
come up at all in any of the Sunday meetings I attended.
Yet, as I read the Bible and reflected
on the life of Jesus, this is exactly what God kept bringing
to my attention. I
decided I had to repent and give it over to Him. I found
myself willing to surrender every part of myself, no matter
what it cost, because my identity is found as a child of God.
Not anything the world can tell me. When I did, an
indescribable peace came into my heart!
My whole life the one thing I had been
missing was Jesus. It may sound surprising, but God has even
helped me forgive the person who abused me as a child.
His power truly is limitless.
My purpose, my heart’s desire, and especially my
identity come from Him.
I no longer call myself a lesbian. I
simply tell people that I’m a Christian.
Saved by grace through faith and a
loved daughter of God!