A time to be brave…

Have you ever been stunned by something that you witnessed?  I would imagine the answer to that question for you is probably a resounding yes.  And more than likely it has happened on more than one occasion.  If not, I’d say you might need to get out a little more often (wink).

The first time it happened to me I was six years old.  I was in my pediatrician’s waiting room with my mom, one of my aunts, and one of my cousins.  It was the type of office visit that strikes fear into all little children…vaccine (shot) time.  When my kids were little, they literally asked me every time they had to go to the doctor if they were going to have to get a shot.

Well the nurse called both myself and my cousin back at the same time.  You see he was two years older than me and they were going to use him as an example of how easy it was to get a vaccine.  I can remember it so clearly.  We each had our own chair to sit in and we were right next to each other.  The nurse gently rolled up the sleeve of my cousin and said, “Ok brave boy.  Let’s show your little cousin how easy this is.”  Well instead of getting the shot, he shot out of his chair like his life depended on it.  He was yelling and crying and literally running around the office while the nurse chased him.

I was stunned.  I couldn’t believe it was happening and even more shocking…that he was getting away with it.  Another nurse then turned to me and said, “Ok sweetie.  Let’s show your cousin how brave you are so he will come back and get his.”  I took it like a champ.  Was I scared?  Of course I was, but I was a rule follower and I wanted to be brave.  It didn’t work though.  The other nurse was still chasing my cousin around.  They practically had to lay on him to give him the vaccine.  After everything was said and done, we both got a balloon.  I remember at the time I thought that was unfair, but looking back I understand how traumatic that was for him.

Fear is a tough thing.  There is fear of the unknown, but sometimes I think it can be even harder if you know what’s coming.  I think that was the case for my cousin that day.

Earlier this week, I was greeted by a post on Facebook by one of my friends.  A young man in her area was the victim of a hate crime.  Both of his jaws were broken, he had shattered bones in his face, a broken nose, and his lip had to be sewn back on.  Why?  Because he is gay.  Another friend posted that her son was beat up in a bar when the bouncer discovered he was transgender.  And another posted that her daughter was refused the wedding venue that she chose because she is marrying a woman.

Unfortunately these things are nothing new to me or the people who posted them.  Things that don’t make it on the national news.  It’s a fear that we live with daily for our kids.  It is really difficult not to let it consume us…or at least it is for me.  I have to make it a daily practice to push fearful thoughts from my mind.  I muster up the bravery of my six-year-old self.  I know that living in fear isn’t healthy and it’s not how God wants me to live.

As parents, we all want what’s best for our kids.  And bad things can happen to anyone really.  But those of us with LGBTQ kids live in this reality…our kids leave the house with a target on their back.  I want my child to have the same privileges as straight kids.  I want him to get a balloon too.

This picture was posted in my mom’s group today asking how we would title it.  There were some really good ones.  Some that were funny, some that were profound.  The picture reminds me that sometimes we don’t know how strong we are until we have to be.

As scary as this world can be to a mom of a LGBTQ child, imagine how scary it is to them.  They are the ones that have to carry themselves through it.

It’s why we should love whomever we meet and wherever we go…because love matters.


Apples and oranges…

Mondays are my Target days.  I try to get there as soon as they open so it’s not too crowded and I get what I need for the week…and maybe things I didn’t expect to get.  If you are a Target shopper, you know what I mean (smile).  This past Monday I walked past the make-up aisle as I do every week, but this week my eye caught the L’Oreal lipstick display.  I’m not a lipstick person.  I’ve tried and tried mainly because I’m getting older and my lips are losing their color (by the way what is up with that??), but I just can’t find a shade or brand that I like.  But back in the day, my friends and I liked a shade of L’Oreal lipstick that was pretty neutral so it was doable for me.  I think it was called satin mauve.  You know mauve was big in the 80’s (wink).  I went past the aisle, but was compelled to turn my cart around and go back to the lipstick.  Memories came flooding back to me standing there in front of that lipstick.  Isn’t that weird?  Maybe it’s because there has been so much negativity in the world lately and I just wanted a little nostalgia.  I wondered to myself if it still smelled the same.  Again weird…but the lipstick had a scent that I distinctly remember and I just had to buy a tube.

I had forgotten about it when I got home.  This morning I noticed that I had not emptied all of the Target bags so I grabbed them to put things away.  And there it was…the lipstick.  I had to laugh because I went by the look of the color when I picked it.  The name?  Saucy mauve…I guess mauve isn’t just an 80’s thing (smile).  At the risk of sounding loony, I opened it up and took a long, deep sniff.  Oh my gosh!  It still smells exactly the same!  I took another smell and it came to me…PEZ!  It smells like PEZ candy to me.  Who knew that after 30 years L’Oreal would have the same formula??

Again a bunch of memories came flooding to me just from a simple smell of lipstick.  It made me think of some of the commentary I’ve seen on social media lately towards this generation of kids.  So many of the comments start off with, “Well when I was a kid we would never get away with this behavior.”  They usually go on to say how this generation is a bunch of over sensitive babies.  Having graduated from high school 33 years ago this year (yikes!), I can say that things today are nothing like what I encountered when I was a teenager.  Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t a cake walk by any means, but I can say with confidence that kids today face much higher pressure then we did back then.

Social media plays a big part in that.  Back in the day, you would hear through the grapevine that someone didn’t like you or was talking about you.  Today it is blasted on social media for all to see.  When I was a teenager if you were in a fight, people would hear about it, but today it’s video recorded for the whole world to see.  It has taken bullying to a whole new level.  I know adults who have a hard time with comparing their lives to their friends lives on FB…imagine what that’s like for a young teenager.  Pressure!  I could go on and on, but I won’t.

The scariest thing I had to deal with as a teenager was taking public transportation to high school through the city.  I went to an all girl Catholic high school and we didn’t have a school bus so I took an hour-long ride every morning and afternoon on the mass transit system.  I saw some sights…the most disturbing being a man exposing himself to me.  You can’t get away when you are stuck on a bus going to school!  My classmates and I also had to deal with boys at our bus stop by our school trying to pick us up and making sexual comments about us in our school uniforms while they were huffing paint…baggies of it.  But none of that compares to the fear of being shot while in school.  That thought NEVER even occurred to me.  To me comparing what life was like for me back then and what kids deal with today is like comparing apples and oranges.


The negative commentary I’ve been seeing on social media towards the teens that were part of another tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida and the uprising of teens who support them have been mind-boggling to me.  Especially since they have all been from adults.  Things like:

“These kids are spoiled brats.”
“What a bunch of babies!”
“They are being paid by anti-gun lobbies to be victims.”
“Their parents just need to give them an ass whipping.”
And when the kids laid down in protest in Washington, I saw someone comment, “Where’s a car bomber when you need one?”

I’ll stop there.

Like I said it’s been mind-boggling to me.  I truly do not understand.  I don’t care what your stance is on gun control or politics…these are children.  Children who have gone through a horrific ordeal.  Since I have been seeing so many back and forth conversations (or social media fights) about how the gun used isn’t that dangerous or yes it is dangerous, I decided to look up the gun that was used.  I checked several sources and this is what I found in regards to what the gun used in this particular shooting does to the body (source quoted):

ALL GUNS CAN kill, but they do not kill equally.

Compare the damage an AR-15 and a 9mm handgun can do to the human body: “One looks like a grenade went off in there,” says Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona. “The other looks like a bad knife cut.”

A bullet with more energy can do more damage. Its total kinetic energy is equal to one-half the mass of the bullet times its velocity squared. The bullet from a handgun is—as absurd as it may sound—slow compared to that from an AR-15. It can be stopped by the thick bone of the upper leg. It might pass through the body, only to become lodged in skin, which is surprisingly elastic.

The bullet from an AR-15 does an entirely different kind of violence to the human body. It’s relatively small, but it leaves the muzzle at three times the speed of a handgun bullet. It has so much energy that it can disintegrate three inches of leg bone. “It would just turn it to dust,” says Donald Jenkins, a trauma surgeon at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. If it hits the liver, “the liver looks like a jello mold that’s been dropped on the floor.” And the exit wound can be a nasty, jagged hole the size of an orange.

These high-velocity bullets can damage flesh inches away from their path, either because they fragment or because they cause something called cavitation. When you trail your fingers through water, the water ripples and curls. When a high-velocity bullet pierces the body, human tissues ripples as well—but much more violently. The bullet from an AR-15 might miss the femoral artery in the leg, but cavitation may burst the artery anyway, causing death by blood loss. A swath of stretched and torn tissue around the wound may die. That’s why, says Rhee, a handgun wound might require only one surgery but an AR-15 bullet wound might require three to ten.

So toughen up buttercup and get your butt back to school.  Nothing needs to change…you are just fine.

Maybe these people making these comments have never been through a tragic event.  It never totally leaves you and you never know what may trigger a reaction.  You can better believe that when I get a bad headache, and I get them often, I am reminded of my mom dying suddenly from a brain aneurysm.  It freaks me out a little.  What these kids experienced and saw is horrifying.  Something that they will never un-see.  Sounds they will never un-hear.  Friends they will never see again.  Not to mention survivors guilt.  Can we have a little compassion for Pete’s sake?!  Would you say the things you type on social media to their faces…to their parent’s faces?  To the faces of the parents who lost children?

If speaking out for gun safety empowers them, I say more power to them.  If demanding something is done makes them feel like their friends didn’t die in vain, I say demand away.  If laying down in front of the White House helps them feel like they are doing something to make a difference, I say I’ll lay down with them.  I don’t know these kids.  But I can put myself in their shoes, and I can have empathy for what they are going through.  Parents shouldn’t have to buy their children bulletproof backpacks.  They sell those now.  How sad is that?

Let’s put aside all the political bullcrap and say:

“I hear you, I see you, and I’m sorry you live in a world where this is your reality.”

And then tell them that you love them.

Because love matters…


Radical love…

What do you say when your kids ask you “Why does our world lack empathy?”

“Why don’t people care that kids are being killed in their schools?”

“Why do people care more about having guns then the safety of others?”

What do you say when your kids tell you that they don’t see any good in the world.  At least their part of the world.  When they tell you that they feel hopeless.

Do I tell them that they are just little “snowflakes”?  That I didn’t raise them to be tough enough.  Do I remind them that life just isn’t fair and they need to get over it?

I couldn’t answer their questions because I have the very same questions.

I’m seeing people say on social media that God puts people who He wants into power.  For instance, the president of the United States.  Those same people then go on to argue that we need to have access to assault weapons in case our government goes hay wire and we need to protect ourselves.  Is this confusing to anyone else?  Do you trust God or not?

And there’s the “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Along with, “People get killed by cars, but we aren’t banning them.”  It’s exhausting.

I get that this is a big problem with LOTS of aspects to consider.  There don’t seem to be easy answers.  But to me…there do seem to be places to start or consider.

I’m not against people owning guns.  I think that is perfectly fine.  I have friends who own guns for sport, some for safety concerns and some are hunters.  I have one friend who provides for his family by hunting.  I wouldn’t want his gun taken away because his family would go hungry.  That’s crazy to me.  I do, however, think it is perfectly reasonable to say that average citizens should not have weapons that can kill masses of people easily.  And I think that it is perfectly reasonable that someone should have to go through licensing and training to own a gun.  You need a license for far less dangerous things.  To me it’s a no brainer.  But that’s me.

My kids asked why don’t people have empathy for the parents who have lost a child to gun violence.  I think lots of people feel bad about it.  I think lots of people are distraught and want things to change.  But it seems that many aren’t willing to go that extra step to say enough is enough and we need stronger regulations on guns.

It is a completely different situation, but I can’t help but think of some of the parents that I’ve met who have gay children.  They are actually surprised by their reactions when their kids come out.  Why?  Well because they would tell you that they love gay people.  In fact, they don’t have a problem with them at all…live and let live they would say.  They’ve worked with gay people without a problem with it and some have even had gay family members.  But their kid comes out and they are devastated.  Something is just different when it is your own kid.

I think this situation may be similar to that.  People don’t like that it’s happening, but it’s not happening to them.  At least not yet.  They may find themselves walking a different walk and talking a different talk if it one day ends up being their child that’s gunned down.

I believe a lot of what all of this boils down to is a love problem.  The lack of it.  Love matters and when it is absent devastating consequences happen.  Jesus came to this earth to show us the Father.  And what did Jesus do?  He loved…unconditionally.  When crowds were gathered and he was teaching, or feeding, or healing, he didn’t poll the crowd to see who was worthy of the Word, or the food, or the health.  It was for everyone.  There wasn’t a criteria that needed to be met.  We need to pay attention to that and stop the bullying, and the attacking, and the isolating of those we deem unworthy or too weird or too…whatever.  Especially when it comes to kids.

I wasn’t going to say anything about this, but looking into the faces of my children I couldn’t be silent.  Especially since God is the one that told me love matters.  Of course it does.  It’s His greatest command.

What if we loved radically like Jesus?  Would it make a difference?  I think it would.

Because love matters…



THIS is the gay lifestyle…

This whole week I’ve been walking around thinking and chanting to myself, “I’ve had the radish!”  It’s a Vermont saying (well at least that’s what my friend from Vermont told me).  I explain it here, but it pretty much means I’m fed up.  Apparently I was feeling the same way two years ago.  I wrote a blog post with that as the title and it was my Facebook memory for today.

On Sunday, I shared a blog post from Benjamin Corey that was also written two years ago.  I found it to still be valid today so I shared it.  It has the following quote from Franklin Graham in it:

“We have allowed the Enemy to come into our churches. I was talking to some Christians and they were talking about how they invited these gay children to come into their home and to come into the church and that they were wanting to influence them. And I thought to myself, they’re not going to influence those kids; those kids are going to influence those parent’s children.

What happens is we think we can fight by smiling and being real nice and loving. We have to understand who the Enemy is and what he wants to do. He wants to devour our homes. He wants to devour this nation and we have to be so careful who we let our kids hang out with. We have to be so careful who we let into the churches. You have immoral people who get into the churches and it begins to effect the others in the church and it is dangerous.”

I find it incredibly sad that the first two comments I received about the post were about whether or not the homeless statistic in the post was accurate because the person couldn’t believe that is was…and the second asking at what age do I think children should be allowed to decide whether or not they are gay or transgender.  Nothing about what this man of God said about precious souls.  It was the same old conversation…it’s a choice, it’s a lifestyle, they are sexual deviants, etc.

So although I’ve written about this before, I guess there needs to be a refresher course so I am calling this:

The key to living the Gay Lifestyle is to first decide to be gay.  Now that means that you are attracted to both men AND women.  I mean if it’s a choice you need something to choose between and if you aren’t attracted to both…then it isn’t really a choice.  Right?  Everyone goes through this process and at the end of it you are either straight or gay…

But wait.  I’m straight and I’ve never been attracted to BOTH men and women.  So how could I choose to be with the opposite sex?  It’s not a choice.  I was just naturally attracted to men.  There wasn’t a thought that went into it…no decision to be made.  It just was what it was so to speak.  So I guess you could say that since I didn’t have a decision to make, and it wasn’t a choice…I was born this way.  Well it’s the same for gay people.  They don’t decide…they don’t choose…it’s how they were born.

So scrap the first part of the Gay Lifestyle…you don’t decide to be gay.

I know lots of gay people, but since my own kid is gay I’m going to use him as an example to explain this gay lifestyle.

He has blue hair.  That is your first clue that he is living the gay lifestyle.

But wait…my daughter at one time had red hair, blue hair, and green hair and she is straight.  In fact, lots of straight people that I know have had different color hair.  So I guess that isn’t a clue into the gay lifestyle.

So scrap the second part of the Gay Lifestyle…different color hair isn’t part of it.

Let’s see.  Each day my son wakes up,  goes to school, comes home, does some homework and then goes to work.  But sometimes he wakes up and goes to work, comes home, does some homework and then goes to school.  Some days he doesn’t go to school or work, but that’s rare.  But that can’t be part of the gay lifestyle either because I know lots of straight people who do the same thing.

So scrap the third part of the Gay Lifestyle…working and going to school doesn’t count.

Maybe it has to do with his interests.  Well he likes to snowboard.  He likes to go camping (and I don’t mean glamping).  He will go for a week, in a tent, to far out of the way places where there are no bathrooms and no showers.  Yuck!  Not my idea of a fun time, but he loves it.  He likes to swing dance…and is quite good at it.

But his interests don’t explain the gay lifestyle because he does all of those things with straight friends.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that he has a boyfriend.  When his boyfriend comes over to the house, they meet up with my daughter and some other friends and they either go out to eat dinner, or they cook something up at the house.  After dinner they play games.  Sometimes it’s video type games, sometimes it’s board games.  Scandalous…I know!

Now that I think about it.  Maybe there isn’t anything to this Gay Lifestyle that everyone keeps bringing up to me because when I look at the gay people I know…they are just like the straight people that I know.  The only difference is in who they love.

The difference I see between gay and straight people are how they are treated.  The bullying tends to be worse.  They are discriminated against. They are denied services.  They are called sexual deviants, perverts, pedophiles.  The list goes on and on.  This week one of the kids in my mom’s group received death threats.

So until you really know what it’s like to be gay.  Please don’t talk to me about the gay lifestyle that you don’t agree with…it looks like lazy Christianity to me.

And church if you are ok with a man of God saying  that “We have to be so careful who we let into the churches. You have immoral people who get into the churches and it begins to effect the others in the church and it is dangerous.”, then you are a big part of the problem.

Where is the love of Jesus…it matters…



Something beautiful…

It was a simple request.  “Tell me something beautiful you saw over the weekend.”  It was a post that a friend of mine put on Facebook.  It didn’t take me long at all to think about it.  My something beautiful came to mind immediately…and it was Facebook.  I know right??  Really…Facebook?  Well it wasn’t exactly Facebook, but what was posted there.

This weekend was the GCN (Gay Christian Network) conference.  If you’ve been around for some time, you know that I went last year.  You can read about it in these two posts “On Holy Ground” and “The Best Parts” if you missed them.  I go into detail there about what the conference is about, but you can also check it out on their website Q Christian Fellowship (they announced their name change this weekend).  I want to get to the something beautiful (smile).

So this year I was unable to go, but I had a lot of friends that were there.  They posted on Facebook throughout the weekend and because I had been before it wasn’t hard to imagine being there.  I wish there wasn’t so much hurt in the LGBTQ community, but I’m glad that this conference allows for some “something beautiful” moments:

On Thursday night, they have an icebreaker and this year one of the moms got to sit at a table with about 11 LGBTQ young people.  She explained to them that she has a gay son who she loves and supports.  She told them that she has tried to shield him from the condemnation from the church.  A young man sitting across from her covered his face and wept.  She assured him that he didn’t deserve that kind of hurt.  Something beautiful…

One of the moms met a young woman who came to the conference because she had heard about the “free mom hugs.”  Stop and think about that for a moment.  You go to a conference to receive a hug from an affirming mom because yours isn’t.  So sad, but she was able to experience…Something beautiful…

Hundreds of people gathered for a worship service…hands raised and faces turned towards Heaven…tears streaming down their faces as they worshipped.  For some, it’s the first time they’ve been ALLOWED to worship with other believers.  Here they are welcomed.  It reminds me of this C.S. Lewis quote:

“If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical Worship, the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note.”
C.S. Lewis – The Problem of Pain

Something beautiful…

Stories of children having to hide who they are from their parents.  Some who have recently come out and have been rejected by family and church.  When you spend your whole life in church, to then be rejected by it, where do you go?  You go to a conference that’s filled with love and acceptance and parents who give you hugs.  Something beautiful…

I’ve been a part of those hugs…at the conference last year…and also at the march in DC and the pride parade in Baltimore.  When someone collapses in your arms and sobs telling you that they’ve never felt so accepted, believe me when I say you are in the presence of God.  Something beautiful…

I’m so thankful for this conference.  When I went last year, it was life changing.  I hope to go next year.  In the meantime, I’m going to hug people who need them.  I’m going to love as God calls me.

Love is important to God…because it matters.


Looking ahead to 2018…

Another Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone.  So much preparation…and just like that…it’s over.  It’s all worth it though.  Actually our Christmas isn’t quite over yet as we will be getting together with family to celebrate this Sunday.  We just couldn’t squeeze in all the fun in December so we are extending it into January (smile).

As I’m sure everyone does, I’ve been reflecting on 2017 and looking ahead to 2018.  It’s so nice to feel like we get a clean slate each year.  New goals, new adventures, stepping out into the unknown and embracing what lies ahead.

Each December I think of a word that can be my focus for the coming new year.  I know a lot of you do this.  It’s fun.  I pray about it and see where or how God would want me to place my focus.  Honestly the last four years or so I didn’t have any word come to me besides LOVE.  So…I just rolled with it.  This year, however, I was so excited to have a new word come to me.  And it was unexpected.  When I began praying about it back in December, the word INTENTIONAL came to me.  Huh…I thought I was intentional about things.  After some reflection, and a bit of “Are you sure God?”, He revealed some things that I have not been intentional about.

The word has come through so strongly that I know I’m on the right track.  I’m really excited to see where this year takes me as I strive to be more intentional with what God has laid on my heart.  But what about love??  Well, I think that is a permanent word for me at this point (smile).  It’s not going anywhere.  I get a little teary every time someone posts something about love on my FB timeline, or posts a picture of a heart.  It’s a reminder to me that the message is getting out there.  Love matters!

I hope that you have a word that you can focus on this year, and I pray that 2018 is a year of health, happiness, and healing, if need be, for you.  And of course, I pray that this year is filled with abundant love.

This year I had 3,398 views from people in 58 countries (fun facts that I like to look back on) (smile).  The following posts were the most popular:

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Tears
I Don’t Know Where I’m Going, but I Sure Know Where I’ve Been
Sometimes a Bark Comes Without a Bite
On Holy Ground
A Mother’s Heart

If you missed one, be sure to check it out.  And as always, thanks to everyone who have commented on or shared a post.  You are helping to spread the love.

Because it matters…

Happy New Year everyone!


A sacred space…

When I was little, I loved books.  I couldn’t WAIT until I could actually read one.  Things back then were different then when my kids were in school.  They were reading in kindergarten.  I don’t remember reading until the 2nd grade and even then it was SO painful.  Those darn Dick and Jane books.  So boring to me!  I wanted to sink my teeth into something a little more adventurous then “See Spot run.  Run Spot run!” (smile)

Well as it turns out, maybe the elementary school that I went to in the city was a bit behind.  They wanted me to skip the 3rd grade and go into the 4th because I was ahead of my class.  My parents didn’t want to do this so they pulled me out and I started going to a private Catholic school.  Good thing!  Boy was I behind…especially in math.  The kids in my class were reviewing their time tables at the beginning of the school year and I had never learned them!  And so began the time in my life that I refer to as flash card hell.  Hours upon hours sitting at the kitchen table with my dad going over those darn times tables.

Being behind in my studies was hard, but for the first time in my young life I realized that I was different.  At least different then my fellow classmates.  As I mentioned, this was a Catholic school…and I wasn’t Catholic.  I was the only non-Catholic in my 3rd grade class.  It made me feel a bit like an alien.

So now I was in this new school trying to catch up on my math skills and I had this new thing I had to learn….religion.  Specifically the Catholic religion.  I had to learn it, memorize a lot of it, pass tests about it, but I wasn’t allowed to practice it.  After all…I was not Catholic.  It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.  From the 3rd grade all the way through 12th, I was left to sit in the pews while my classmates participated in sacraments like communion and confession.  At my 8th grade graduation, I was not eligible for the scholarship for high school because…you guessed it…I wasn’t Catholic.

I don’t regret my time in Catholic schools.  In fact, I really liked the sacredness of the mass.  When I go to a Catholic mass these days, I still remember all the words…when to sit and when to stand.  To this day during communion in my non-denominational church I still say these words to myself…”Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but just say the word and I shall be healed.”  But I can say that as a young child, I felt out of place.  I felt like I was not good enough.  And I felt like because I wasn’t part of this special “club”, I was going to hell.  After all…that’s what they taught us.

Here’s the kicker though…if I had wanted to…I could have become Catholic.  All it would have taken was going to some classes and voila…I would be Catholic.  I didn’t think that was necessary though.  Even though I didn’t have a lot of knowledge at the time about God other than what I was taught in school, I just didn’t think I needed to change who I was for Him to love me and not send me to hell.

When I think back to those times, it gives me a small inkling as to what my LGBTQ friends must go through everyday.  There are many differences, but the big one that stands out to me is the fact that they can’t change who they are like I could change my religious affiliation if I had wanted.

Many people tell me that change is possible because they know someone who was gay and is now no longer gay.  There were several stories like that when I did some research when my son came out.  I held onto those stories for dear life.  And quite frankly I wasted 5 years of my life clinging to those stories while my child was contemplating leaving this world.  Each story that I had found years later turned out to be a lie.  Maybe that is too strong of a word.  I think the people truly wanted change and thought it was possible.  Some of them were of the mindset of “Fake it to you make it.”  Sadly many hurt people were left in their wake.

I’m not going to say it isn’t impossible.  God can do anything after all.  But I think taking one person’s story and expecting it to fit thousands of others is just wrong…in fact I think it’s cruel.  If a person is given a miracle and cured of cancer because they prayed to be healed, is it fair of us to tell other people who aren’t receiving that miracle that their faith is too weak, or they aren’t trying hard enough?  Gay people are told if they just surrender to God or have faith in God, then they can change their sexuality.  What many people don’t realize is that many of them already have faith in God, have turned their lives over to God (often times before they even know they are gay), and have surrendered to God.  And you know what happens?  They are told that they aren’t broken.  That they are loved just the way they are.

I have heard so many stories from gay Christians about how their family or their church think it would be easy for them to change.  Many of them are heart wrenching.  Today I have the privilege of sharing part of my dear friend Elyse’s story.  I met Elyse at the Reformation Project conference in DC back in November of 2014.  It was my first conference regarding the LGBTQ community.  It was amazing and I met a lot of great people…Elyse being one of them.  We became friends on Facebook and kept up with each other through the years.  I got to see her again this past January at the Gay Christian Network conference.  And just recently we went to the Our Shared Humanity conference in Baltimore together and she was able to spend a few days with my family.  It was during this time that I learned a little more of her story.  I’m happy to be able to share it here as I can only shed so much light on this topic.

Elyse’s story:

Although I would not have actively taken my own life, I was at a place in the mid 1980’s where I was praying to die every day. In the loneliness and despair of an unhappy 10 year marriage, I tried desperately to pray away the gay.

I felt I was a failure as a Christian, and a wife. I believed I was just a broken human being, incapable of being normal after years of unanswered prayer to remove this burden, this thorn in the flesh. I believed it was my cross to bear, but it was too heavy.

In the last year of my marriage, I began to lay down every day, to hold my breath, and try to will my heart to stop beating. Even though I wanted my life to end, I wanted my death to appear to be from natural causes. After years of professing faith in a wonderful, loving God that sent Jesus, I didn’t want to tarnish God’s reputation by taking my life. I wasn’t worried about going to hell, I just didn’t want to tarnish my testimony and make people think God was powerless.

It never occurred to me that perhaps God wasn’t answering my prayers to be cured of these unwanted feelings, because there was nothing wrong with me. I simply believed that the failure was mine. Somehow, I just wasn’t praying the right way, or doing enough to change how I felt inside.

Thankfully, God didn’t answer my prayers to die. I was nearing 40 before I began to allow the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to a new way of understanding the scriptures that I had believed condemned me all my life.

During the first year of my marriage, God spoke to me in a voice that was so loud and clear, it was nearly audible to the ear. God said, “I want to empty you out of all your preconceived ideas about me, and all the things that man has taught you, and I will teach you anew.” That was in 1976.

Ten years later, I am getting a divorce, feeling completely broken and “empty.” While in prayer one day, after reading one of my favorite devotionals about laying all my burdens at God’s feet, I cried out saying, “I just can’t live like this anymore. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I know I just can’t do this anymore.” Once again, a voice came through, loud and clear. God said, “it is about time you recognized that, now I can finally begin a work in you.” I immediately felt a great peace, and that a great weight had been lifted, after years of inner turmoil. I had been “emptied out,” brought to the end of myself, standing at the edge of a cliff with nowhere else to go. Now God could begin fulfilling the second part of teaching me anew.

It still took many years for me to reconcile what I now felt in my heart about God’s love, with my understanding of the scriptures. It has been a long incredible journey. I am going to be 66 years old in less than a month, and I am so grateful for an amazing life that God has blessed me with. I still haven’t found the life companion that I strongly hope for, but there is such freedom in at least believing in the possibility that there might be someone out there for me, as opposed to believing that what I long for could never be because it’s an abomination to God.

I now know what it means to be truly free in Christ. Free to ask hard questions, and to live each day in the confidence that God’s love for me is without end. There is such freedom in knowing that there is nothing I can do to make God love me more than he already does, and that there is absolutely nothing that can ever make God stop loving me.

I hope you can feel the love that Elyse has for God in her story.  It’s not something that she took lightly.  She didn’t just “believe what she wanted to believe.”  She spent years searching the heart of God.  There are many stories like hers.  I hope you will remember her when you are in conversation with someone from the LGBTQ community or about the LGBTQ community.  If you have a question for Elyse, or would like to hear more of her story, let me know.  I’m protective of her so I’m not going to put her contact info here.  She is open to conversation so if that is something you are interested in I can get you in touch with her.

Thank you Elyse for opening your heart to us.  It is sacred space.  Love you friend.

And love matters…