While it has gained the support and interest of many, the book is primarily intended for mental health professionals and educators. However, the book is reader-friendly and can also serve as an indispensable guide for clergy, lay counselors, mentors, friends and especially family members of women with same-sex attraction. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, this book is dedicated to and for the women who are themselves struggling or looking for greater understanding into their lives. The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction has gained international recognition and is being translated around the world. Polish and Spanish translations now available. German version in process. Contact office for more information.
I was having lunch with several of the lawyers I was working with at the time (in my past life I was a legal secretary and natural resources paralegal). We were taking turns sharing our dreams of what we would like to accomplish before we die. When it was my turn, I casually announced that I would like to write a book but that I first needed to become an “expert” in something in order to write about that something. I didn’t realize that my statement was more or less prophetic.
It took me thirty years after that comment (which had always lingered in my mind) to realize the fulfillment of that dream. Never in a million years would I have expected to become an “expert” in female homosexuality. It is indeed quite a miracle. First, my life had to be supernaturally redirected from a career in law to counseling. Second, I had to immerse myself in the lives of homosexual women and men and their families. Third, they had to allow me in. Fourth, I had to persevere through one of the most (as described by one of my friends) “exhilarating, hard, want to quit, never will quit, frustrating, rewarding, monumental, exasperating, laborious, exciting task” I have ever accomplished in my life. And therefore, fifth, God had to help. In all my years in ministry, I have never seen such faithful provision, support from others and overall supernatural strength sent my way. It was an amazing journey thanks to hundreds of others who literally kept the writing project and me alive.
I had now been working with Christian women with same-sex attraction for over 10 years. My heart ached for them, especially in light of the lack of understanding or support they received from their churches, friends and even counselors. I knew a book on how to walk alongside these women was desperately needed. But as I pondered the possibility of undertaking such a task, I essentially panicked. I thought, God, “Who am I to do such a thing? I am not a writer – number one. I do not have a Ph.D. – number 2. Number 3, I haven’t a clue about anything related to putting a manuscript together. And I don’t even really know what I’m talking about. I’m not qualified!” So, I decided to help God find the right person. I contacted every therapist or qualified leader I knew across the nation….There were a few that I tried to tell that God had told me they were supposed to write the book. I even tried to tell a few that God had told me they were supposed to write the book. But, they didn’t take the bait. They all turned the tables and insisted that I was the one to write it and that they would be happy to help me.
So, the project eventually got launched. That was in 2002. I wish I could say that the journey was characterized by my deep faith and centeredness in what God wanted to do through me. I wish I could say that I was at peace and rest knowing that I was merely a vessel through which God would speak His words and wisdom.
Needless to say, throughout these years I was frantic, insecure, scared and doubtful. I questioned God again and again. “Why am I doing this? What if they don’t believe me? What if they can’t see the truth of what I am speaking? What if I can’t say it right?”… BLA BLA BLA. For over five years I stressed, I labored, I sacrificed. I sacrificed my practice, my weekends, my summers, my family and my income.
At times the project overtook me. I became obsessive, confused, shortsighted and ultimately buried in all the material. Years into the project, I felt myself going under. I didn’t think I could continue. It was killing me emotionally, physically and spiritually. But I had already spent so much of my time – quitting felt like such a waste. Over 50 people had contributed their time and energy at this point. Over $15,000 had been raised to fund the project. How could I disappoint them? I was trapped. I called out to God for help and at other times just screamed, kicked and whined.
But believe it or not, through it all, a manuscript was being formed. And through it all God provided all of the financial support needed for a project of this nature. God provided very special people to come alongside and support me every step of the way. But, frankly, from my perspective, it was never enough. I wanted ease. But ease was not to be found.
Finally, the manuscript was completed and sent to the publisher for copyediting. I was spent. There was nothing left. I could feel the years of exhaustion and stress taking their toll. However, the process was still not over.
I waited anxiously to receive the edited version back from the publisher. I visualized that I would have a time of rejoicing as I read a beautifully edited and condensed version of my raw manuscript. The day came; a 3” thick package arrived in the mail. I set myself up with a cup of coffee and pencil in hand.
First the prologue, then chapter 1 – into chapter 2. My heart sank. I was absolutely devastated. The entire tone of the book had been changed. It was dry, flat, academic, and worst of all, boring. I could hardly continue reading. I think the blood actually ran out of my face. The copyeditor had deleted all of my creativity and had changed the meaning of very important points that I had slaved over to communicate ever so clearly.
The title of the book was to be “The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction.” The publisher had literally taken the heart and soul right out of the book. If the book had lost its heart, then the message that I so wanted to communicate had also been lost. And what good is a book that is so boring that it will not be read? I was sure that the women that I wanted to help would, therefore, still not get any help.
I was gripped with fear. “Did I just waste six years of my life? Lord, I can’t believe this.” I felt flattened – emptied, utterly in shock.
The next day was Sunday – raced to church for prayer. The advice that I received from some very close friends and mentors was to reject the edited version and insist that the publisher cooperate with my original vision for the book.
Later that day I contacted my friend who had acted as my personal editor on the project. She recommended the same thing suggesting that I request that the publisher redo the copyediting. My heart sank again. This meant that the entire project would be delayed. I was not even sure the publisher could delay the project. If I reject their version and if they are not willing to reconsider – then I’ve lost my publisher…. I couldn’t bear the thought of spending yet another year on this project. Again, I felt trapped.
Not being sure I was ready to fire the publisher, I spent the rest of Sunday editing the first Chapter. It about did me in.
Early on Tuesday, I drafted a three-page letter to my publisher, explaining all of the different angles that had been lost but were essential for a book such as this. Prior to sending it however, I had a thought: I had better review several more chapters and compare them with my original manuscript. I wanted actual examples of the type of material they had cut. So I reviewed chapter 1 – nothing much cut, just rewritten text changing some of my original words. Chapter 3 – nothing seemed to be missing content-wise and nothing was substantially changed. Chapter 6 was almost identical to how I had submitted it. There were formatting changes and some paragraphs had been inadequately rewritten, but the bulk of the text still had my words and my voice. Now I was really horrified! But I was also a bit relieved that I hadn’t sent a scathing letter to my publisher. Then I felt the shock of realizing that the manuscript was my book and I HATED it. It wasn’t what I had wanted. It wasn’t what I had hoped for. It wasn’t my dream.
I was now in a whole new space. I was filled with anxiety and fear. “What is going on here God?” As I sat there facing my desk, I again felt the utter exhaustion of the last five years and now the devastation of what I had thought was the death of my original vision for the book. It felt like I was facing a still birth – my baby was dead. I felt dead…. Flashes of all the years, all the pain and labor… wasted.
It wasn’t until Wednesday that I was able to center myself and actually talk – or rather listen – to God. “God, my book is ruined. It is not right – it is not what I wanted. God, why – how could you let this happen?”
I was surprised to hear Him respond almost immediately. “Janelle – first of all – this is not your book. It is mine. From day one, I AM the one who gave you the burden, the vision and the heart for these women. From day one I AM the one who gave you the wisdom – my wisdom – to build your theories and framework. I AM the one who equipped and prepared you for such a task.
“Second, this book is much more than inked words on a page. I can make these words come to life. The material in this book that seems dry and boring and flat to you is meant to speak truth, life, and compassion. The book is just the way I want it.”
“I have many purposes for it, purposes that are beyond your limited vision. Will you, Janelle, receive the book that I have written and established through you? Will you, Janelle, trust me? Will you follow my voice – my spirit? Will you allow me to breathe life into the book? Will you allow it to come forth? Will you bless it?”
I said yes.