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    Prodigal Pursued
    Michelle Smith
    Journey with Michelle into and back out of the LGBT lifestyle. Find out why she has such a passion for outreach and evangelism to the LGBT community, committed to reach the lost and hurting—even those who don’t know they are. What made her change her mind enough to change her life?

    Price:  $5.99

    book excerpt

    I was in law school, living with the married couple, when the phone rang.

    “Hello?” I answered.

    “Michelle? Michelle Smith?”

    “Yes.” I recognized the voice and my heart dropped into my stomach.

    “This is Pastor Mike Angell, from Emporia.”

    I hadn’t spoken to anyone in my family five years at this point. I figured he was calling to tell me my dad had died.

    “How did you find me?”

    He laughed, and said, “Well, it wasn’t easy, but I did it for your brother. You know, your folks and your brother, they’d really like to talk to you again. Your dad’s not doing too well.”

    It was a shocking conversation, but I agreed to call my folks when I got off the phone with him and I did. I was fearful and the conversations were tentative and sporadic. It took me a couple of years before I could work up the courage to go back home for a visit. I wouldn’t go alone and took my girlfriend, Ann, and her daughter, with me. My mom was very warm and welcoming, even loving towards all three of us. I thought perhaps things had changed.

    She pulled me aside and said, “Michelle, I love you, and you are all welcome to stay here tonight, but you’ll have to sleep in separate rooms.”

    I was mad, but I understood and appreciated the forewarning. We went to a hotel.

    Mom continued to love on us by sending cards and money on birthdays and holidays. I joked it wasn’t fair Ann got the same amount of money on her birthday as I did from my parents.

    Eventually I returned to Kansas for a position as an assistant prosecutor in Wichita. It was painful leaving the boy who was still part of my heart, as well as Ann and her daughter. I was certain Ann would join me in Kansas after a few months. That never happened and I lost touch with her within the first year of moving.

    I became immersed in the black and white law enforcement atmosphere and my search began for normalcy. I was exhausted from my years of frenzied questing for fulfillment. I thought perhaps if I looked in the same places everyone around me looked, then I could find it. Whatever “it” was.

    I was beginning to calm down, to live a more stable life, one which wouldn’t cause the neighbors to blush. Normal. I thought perhaps I should also pursue a more normal religious identity. I was still seeking God. I knew I couldn’t return to mainstream Christianity, just the thought of it still gave me the heebie-jeebies, but I had a deep longing I couldn’t satisfy. I was still writing, reading, and viewing porn. Shortly after moving to Kansas, I entered a relationship with another female attorney, which would last for eight years. It was my longest relationship.

    I began studying Kabbalah and the Zohar (both Jewish mysticism) and I decided I needed to talk to a rabbi, to learn as much about the foundational aspects of Judaism as possible before I could truly attain proficiency in Jewish mysticism. At the time, this seemed to fall within the realm of “normal” for me. I met with a rabbi in the Reformed tradition, one who assured me it was okay to continue my life as a practicing lesbian. (I hardly needed the practice. I was quite proficient). Reformed Judaism, he informed me, was open-minded about such things. I began to study Judaism with him, eager to proceed along this path of conversion.

    As with everything in my life, I began to read voraciously in this new area of study. This reading led me, rather obviously, to the Bible. Although the thought of entering a Christian church or speaking to any of my former mentors and friends who were Christians almost sickened me, I could read the Bible if I was doing it to pursue Jewish knowledge. I stuck to the Old Testament, which kept me safe from the pesky and disturbing writings of Paul. I couldn’t deal with Jesus either, but that was okay for now. He seemed safely ensconced in the New Testament.

    What I didn’t intend during my course of study was to have feelings about God emerge. I began to sense an awareness of Him again. My previous experiences into other forms of spirituality (or non-spirituality) had always been to soothe an ache, but had always been unsuccessful. They were fun, scary, encouraging, or wishful, but never fulfilling. I began to pray the serenity prayer and the 23rd Psalm. These seemed safe and they were without emotional baggage.

    More than a year passed as I met with the rabbi once a week, alone and in a small group. I rarely went to synagogue. I am an introvert by nature, and couldn’t seem to break into this Jewish family in any meaningful way. Finally, Rabbi M. told me it was time to pick a date for my official conversion ceremony. He said I was ready.

    Within days of the announcement, I received devastating news. Aunt Jan, dearly beloved and only 11 years older than me, had died unexpectedly. My entire family felt this loss deeply. I drove with my girlfriend to Oklahoma to the funeral.

    As I sat in the funeral home chapel, listening to a sermon by a very inexperienced friend of my uncle’s, I heard a voice say to me, “You can’t give up Jesus.”

    I turned my head to the left and to the right, but no one was looking at me.

    “You can’t give up Jesus.”

    Again, I looked around and no one was paying any attention to me. It repeated again, and perhaps one more time.

    I found myself saying, “I can’t give up Jesus. I can’t give up Jesus.”

    The voice of the minister had faded. I wasn’t aware of anything except that thought. I knew to convert to Judaism . . .
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