(AgapePress) - It was December 1994, and Carol Moore never knew the secret she held for over 20 years would be revealed in such a painful way.
Her daughter wrote her, telling of her decision to lead a lesbian lifestyle.
Carol herself grew up as "the perfect Christian," worked as a missionary, but her own faithfulness in Baptist churches didn't prepare Carol to confess the feelings she harbored since high school.
Because of her daughter's revelation to her parents, said Carol, "I knew I had to tell her my story."
Carol's story was about her own romantic feelings towards women since her late teens. She wrote her own letter to her daughter, explaining her struggle with homosexuality and how God helped her change her life. Days later she gave her husband Roy, whom she's now been married to for 33 years, copies of both letters.
Overcoming his initial shock and disbelief, all Roy could do was embrace Carol after learning of her lifelong difficulties.
"In one sense there was a little bit of relief in what was suspected had been revealed," he said.
The relief was only beginning for Carol.
Carol grew up in Benson, North Carolina, as the older of identical twins - by 3 minutes. Camille, her sister, was the more feminine, withdrawn child. Carol was outgoing and tomboyish.
"Friends complained to my dad about how rough I was playing football," remembered Carol. Because her father made her quit playing, "That really made me mad."
The girls (and another sister, 12 years younger) were raised with what Carol calls a "strong Christian upbringing," one she thanks God for to this day. Her family was part of a Southern Baptist church, and Carol loved it.
"I was there every time the doors were opened," she said. "I had a dedication to God. I always wanted God to call me as a missionary. Those hymns...I always meant them with all my heart."
She joined the church at 11-years-old, assuming she was a Christian. She and Camille were model children, obedient to a fault. Carol was co-valedictorian in high school; Camille was salutatorian. Carol was the star player for the basketball team.
However, although perfection was what Carol always strove for, she suffered a date rape experience as a senior in high school, which made her feel less than worthy. Furthering the problem, she continued the relationship with the fellow through her freshman year while at Women's College of North Carolina (now University of North Carolina at Greensboro).
"I think I immediately hid that. I blamed myself and felt tainted," she said. "I would not even admit to myself, much less to anyone else, what I was doing."
She broke the relationship near the end of her freshman year, and worked at a Baptist church camp near Hendersonville that summer. The experience made her realize she wanted to work with troubled youth through Christian ministry, and her goal was to become a missionary. She changed her major to physical education and joined the Baptist Student Union when she returned to school. The BSU asked her to be their international ministry leader - a liaison to foreign students at schools in Greensboro.
"That was the beginning of a new life for me. It was like putting a fish who'd been on dry land all it's life into water," said Carol. "I loved it, I loved them, and they loved me."
But at the same time, Carol started having her first romantic thoughts towards other women - not sexual relationships yet, but unhealthy emotional attachments.
After college she spent two years as a missionary in Nigeria. It was during her missionary training that she says she truly understood the gospel and got saved - in July 1965.
"All I know is that was what happened," she said.
In 1967 she married Roy, whom she met during that inspirational summer five years earlier. It was after the birth of her son in 1970 that her struggles with lesbianism crossed the line into a sexual relationship with a close friend. It lasted about nine months. Another similar relationship followed 10 years later.
"That was when I was literally in the worst hell of my life," said Carol. "I was suicidal, in a dark cold."
The suicidal feelings were shared by Camille, who took her own life in 1976.
"That was probably the most difficult thing I ever dealt with," said Carol.
Carol and Camille were as opposite as they could be. Camille majored in home economics at college.
"I don't think there were any genetics as far as a homosexual gene," said Carol. "We were genetically the same, and I don't think there was an ounce of homosexuality in my sister."
"We had the same values, study habits, looked good. I always thought she was the pretty one. But I look at the pictures and we look the same."
But Carol's tomboy personality was affirmed by her mother, who would make statements like "Carol was the son we never had."
Carol said that labeling contributes to the development of homosexuality, in addition to a lack of bonding with the same-sex parent.
Her mother was a strict disciplinarian - so much so that after the girls reached one year old, she would seldom have to raise her hand in correction towards her daughters. Camille and Carol feared her and her overly critical spirit. It caused Carol to unknowingly build a wall between her and her mother, and it led to one being built between her and her own daughter.
"I am not in any way not trying to blame my parents," said Carol. "I just tried to figure out how I could have ended up in lesbianism and suicidal."
Once God called Carol to go public, it seemed that He truly began the healing process. She began confessing her sins and contacting ex-gay ministries. She learned that homosexual behavior is one sin among many, and pursued a more intimate relationship with Christ. She has also made "tremendous strides" in her relationship with her mother.
What Carol wants to see now is for churches to reach out to repentant homosexuals, and let them know there's a safe haven for those who struggle with that sin.
"Church is the place where they are most afraid of being known," she said. "Christians who are already active in church feel they'll be rejected if they let their struggle with homosexuality be known."
"Yet it is in being known that they will be set free. If there had been a speaker in a church, that other people struggled with this, I might have been able to avoid what I went into."
She said those coming out of homosexuality need a place to learn how to have healthy relationships with the same sex. Women who have lacked femininity need to have those traits brought forth. A man needs to learn how to "be one of the guys, because he has never felt like one of the guys."
Carol was once fearful to tell the story of her struggle with homosexuality, because of shame and embarrassment. It may now be that ex-homosexuals are coming out of the closet for the own healing and to help others.
"I am not proud of my past. But that is part of who I am, and God has given me a great joy in being set free."