In the center of a North Dallas neighborhood, Amanda Walls shares her home and her life with her husband, Brandon, their two daughters and one very large dog. But behind what may seem like a typical middle-class existence is the story of God’s redemption and restoration for Amanda from a lesbian lifestyle.
Amanda grew up in Oklahoma with parents who prized high moral character and desired to teach their daughter how to be a good person. However, her dad’s struggle with alcohol abuse and depression created a confusing and sometimes scary home environment.
“I experienced emotional abuse and witnessed physical abuse,” Amanda said. “My dad was very loving and could be very warm, but his parenting strategy kept me on a short leash. I was terrified of failure. I was a good kid, but not a godly kid. I loved—and still do—love to perform for acceptance or praise. I strived to do exactly what anyone in authority wanted.”
Amanda participated in sports throughout school and worked to make good grades, but she struggled with her identity. During early high school, Amanda met her best friend who, later on in their friendship, disclosed that she was bisexual.
“I didn’t grow up in a family like the one Brandon and I are creating,” Amanda said. “We actively teach our girls who they are in God’s eyes. I didn’t have anyone telling me who I was. I was interested in sports—not boys, like my friends—so I thought, ‘Maybe I’m a lesbian.’”
For the next decade, Amanda actively pursued an outwardly lesbian lifestyle. While she played basketball in college, Amanda made friends with Keisha, a Christian teammate who answered Amanda’s questions about Christianity without judgment, but with patience and kindness.
“I hated the Bible and thought the entire Christian world was bigoted—except Keisha,” Amanda said. “I just always felt loved and accepted by her, which meant a lot at a time. I had felt so unacceptable to most people.”
After graduating with a business degree, Amanda returned to Oklahoma for law school. She became immersed in the party scene and eventually was dismissed from law school. She moved to Houston after accepting a job as a transportation broker. There, Amanda continued dating an older Christian woman who encouraged her to start reading through The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren.
“I don’t think [my girlfriend] ever reconciled her strong Christian beliefs with her lifestyle,” Amanda said. “I remember telling her, ‘I believe in God but I don’t believe He made me a certain way only to tell me to not be that way.’ I felt this was at the core of who I am. My girlfriend replied, ‘You don’t know what God can do,’ and hung up the phone.”
She struggled to believe that God could transform this part of her that she believed might just be unchangeable.
Amanda’s law school experience was the beginning of a downturn in her life. Over the next year, Amanda’s dad committed suicide, her girlfriend broke up with her, and she was fired from her job. But instead of grieving or slowing down, Amanda kept moving.
“I always just powered through things,” Amanda said. “I was a ‘pick yourself up by the bootstraps’ kind of girl and was taught by the strong women in my family to just deal with things. Toward the end of that year, I started to know the Lord.”
Amanda returned home to Oklahoma for a short time before accepting a job in Dallas in order to rebuild her life. She took a job as a personal trainer and was invited by a woman she was dating to attend The Village Church.
“We were dating but trying not to date at the same time because we were trying to do all the things that Christians do,” Amanda said. “We would attend service, and I would leave feeling horrible, like a worthless person. I see now it was the Lord saying, ‘Yes, you are worthless without me.’ It was terrible, but I couldn’t help going back for more every Sunday.”
These feelings led Amanda to seek out godly women to learn from. She found a mentor and joined a Home Group. She also began to see a Christian counselor who helped her see that Jesus was at the center of everything. In 2007, Amanda was baptized in front of her Home Group and her old college friend, Keisha.
“Here I am, terrified of getting baptized in front of our whole church, and as I am walking down the hall, I see Keisha’s dad, and I learn that Keisha and her family are there visiting. I got so excited,” Amanda said. “They knew my life before Christ and everything about me. I had been a blatant feminist and very proud lesbian, and here they were now witnessing my baptism.”
Amanda continued to meet with her Home Group and tried to live in a godly manner, but her feelings for women stayed the same. She struggled to believe that God could transform this part of her that she believed might just be unchangeable.
“I began to feel anger toward the Lord. I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve done all this stuff, Lord. You’ve not fixed me. My desires are still the same,’” Amanda said.
The struggle and doubts overwhelmed Amanda, and she went back to everything she had fought to change. Soon, Amanda had a steady girlfriend again.
“My Home Group just really didn’t know what to do with me,” Amanda said. “I wanted that lifestyle back because it was comfortable and ‘fit’ what I believed, at the time, was how God really made me to be. I thought what felt right must be what was true.”
Even after Amanda’s girlfriend broke up with her, Amanda couldn’t break the urge to contact her. To combat this, she continually repeated 2 Corinthians 10:5 to herself: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Amanda repeated the verse over and over until the thoughts left. It was then she realized Jesus was there and had never left her. Amanda rested her face on the floor and said, “Lord, I can’t do this. I don’t know what to do anymore. I need You.”
Unlike earlier times in her life, her fight today is not against God, but is God fighting for her.
“I was a baby Christian; I didn’t know my Bible and the book of Ephesians came to mind,” Amanda said. “I walked over and flipped to the first chapter. It told me who I am, that I am not only His adopted daughter but that He chose me to be His. I finally knew He was there and would never leave me.”
Within two weeks, everything changed for Amanda. Her desires weren’t just fully changed; her mind was transformed. She felt the Lord open her heart to the knowledge that she was made in His image.
“I was no longer white-knuckling, trying to be different, trying to be like the other Christians,” Amanda said. “I was different. God’s design for my life began to make sense and I needed the Truth to fight the lies I’d believed for so long.”
Within the next year, Amanda met Brandon, and they married. Even seeing all the transformation God brought about in her own life, Amanda still fought with knowing that He loved her.
After the birth of her first child, Amanda experienced depression and anxiety that still arises. Last year, she suffered a particularly low period of depression and anxiety, where she was unable to get thoughts of herself dying or visions of her dad’s death out of her head. Friends joined to pray over her, and she finally grieved losing her dad in a way she hadn’t a decade before.
“I think the depth of the grief of my dad’s passing had taken 10 years to realize,” Amanda said. “I was able to see some ways my dad felt that I would never have known before. This low point in my life helped me grieve the relationship that I always wanted with him and I think he would have wanted as well, but just couldn’t work it out in himself.”
Amanda still struggles with depression and anxiety. She has also feared, at times, that she will be like her dad. However, unlike earlier times in her life, her fight today is not against God, but is God fighting for her.
“This [depression and anxiety] may be a fight forever,” Amanda said. “Maybe the Lord will take it from me like so many other things, maybe not. For now, there is peace just in knowing that He’s there and He is truly a good Father who loves me deeply.”