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 (SSA). 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. A Polishand Spanish translations are currently available.
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 SSA. 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 gay women and men and their families. Third, they had to allow me in [read more of the story as to Janelle’s first steps into their worlds]. 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.
A “Coming Out” Story
“Coming out” of our deaths, our bondages, our dark-nights of the soul, is rarely straightforward. Remember Moses, the one who had been “drawn out” and called to “bring God’s people out?” When God showed up in the form of a burning bush and told Moses that his destiny was at hand, Moses questioned God, “Who am I to do such a thing?”
Well he was the one with the same heart and passion as God! When Moses was still a Prince in the land of Egypt, he rescued one of his fellow Hebrews by fighting off an Egyptian slave driver. “Who was he to do such a thing as bring God’s special people out?” He was the one who had already fought for justice and mercy.
But perhaps Moses had forgotten who he was – or perhaps he was separated from his true heart. Regardless, Moses definitely had no problem arguing with God about his “coming out mission.” He challenged God asking, “What if they don’t believe me – that you sent me?” Still resisting the job, Moses pleaded, “But God, I can’t speak very well, they are going to think I’m stupid.”
And finally he implored, “God, please please – I can’t do this, send someone else. I don’t want to COME OUT of my place of hiding. I don’t want to fail – I don’t want to look stupid. I simply, don’t want to do it.”
And what about the children of Israel as they were “coming out”of Egypt? Did they come out with a deep center of trust and gratefulness for God’s deliverance? Did they come out with joy and excitement? No, within three days of the Red Sea, they started complaining and resisting their journey. They whined about what appeared to be a scarcity of water. And then they whined about what appeared to be a scarcity of food. They then whined about the type of food that was being provided by the God. And finally,
all the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, ‘If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?’ And they said to each other, ‘we should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 14:1-4, NIV)
That generation of people decided to not “come out.” Those chose to return or remain in the desert – their tomb. This is the reason why they wandered for another 38 years. It wasn’t because God was being lame or negligent; it was what they chose – death in the desert or tomb of Egypt instead of moving forward in life with God. I really wonder what history would have looked like if Moses hadn’t finally stepped up to the plate and “come out” of his hiding. I wonder what history would have looked like if Lazarus hadn’t followed Jesus voice to “come out” of the tomb. Perhaps Lazarus had no choice in his original illness or subsequent death. But it may be possible that Lazarus did have a choice in “coming out.”
I long to be like Lazarus – who probably eagerly “came out” and rejoiced in his second chance for life. But sadly, I can relate more to Moses and the Children of Israel. About eight or nine years ago I felt wooed by God to write a book. I had now been working with women struggling 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.
My Truth and My Message
“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 into communities that are being lulled to sleep with falsehood. 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?”
Lazarus came out of the tomb still wrapped in his death clothes, still restricted, smelly, anxious, fearful, weak, fragile, confused, shocked, insecure, embarrassed, ashamed, questioning, unsure what he would find...but he CAME OUT.
And so I said to God, “Yes, I will bless it – I will allow it to COME OUT.”
The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction, published 2008 by Janelle Hallman (with supernatural help from a God who lives, loves and calls us all out!)
Janelle Hallman on Same:Sex Attraction: A Book Review by Katherine R. Cooper.
American Psychological Association Review of Books - PsycCRITIQUES
“A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? Outdated Views for Serious Problems,” by Judith Glassgold. Must pay to retrieve critique.