Love listens…

You would have to be living under a rock to miss all of the bickering going on these days…especially on social media.  Everyone has an opinion about everything.  Now don’t get me wrong…having opinions is not a bad thing.  However, how we express those opinions or how we treat each other when expressing them is another thing.

With all of the divisiveness…it can be easy to get sucked into arguments and misunderstandings.  One of those misunderstandings comes about when discussing opinions and beliefs related to the LGBTQ community.  A question that I’ve been asked a lot recently is this…

“Lesa how can I let the LGBTQ community know that I love them, but also let them know that I hold to my beliefs about what the Bible says about homosexuality?  It seems that they think I hate them because I don’t agree with their “lifestyle.”

When I press in to that question and ask if the person they are communicating with has actually expressed that they feel like the person hates them, the answer is usually no.  They tell me that the person hasn’t said those actual words, but they tell me that the discussion usually makes the person upset.

I have to tell you…I hear this A LOT.  People I know in the Christian community think that because they have a certain belief that the LGBTQ community thinks they hate them.  Now don’t get me wrong.  The community does get hate directed at them from some in the Christian community.  Sadly it is really bad especially in some areas of our country.  What I think is more accurate in these conversations is not the LGBTQ person thinking the person is being hateful…I think the LGBTQ person is trying to convey that they are being hurt by the conversation.

Here is something to remember when having these conversations…

By the time someone shares with you that they are LGBTQ, chances are that they have known this about themselves for years.  It is a secret that they have kept…and in more cases than I can count…keeping that secret nearly kills them…literally.  Even though no one knows their secret, chances are great that they have experienced a great deal of shame.  Where does this shame come from?  It could be from their parents.  Possibly overhearing them speak poorly about the LGBTQ community.  It comes from society saying that they are disgusting, that because they can get married they are ruining the family and society in general, etc.  It comes from the church.  Even if it isn’t preached from the pulpit.  Most of the time the message that is communicated to them isn’t that acting on their “gayness” is bad.  The message that they hear is that “they” are bad because they are gay.  It’s the first thing that my son said to us when he came out.  “I’m a bad person.”  He was only 15 years old.  He hadn’t done anything bad.  He hadn’t even acted on his feelings.  But the message he had gotten was that because he had same-sex attraction he was a bad person.

When someone shares their secret with you and you tell them that you love them, but you don’t agree with their “choice” it doesn’t feel like love.  I think part of this is because you are jumping too quickly into making a judgement about what they just told you (not talking about being judgmental here).  I think you need to enter their story more and learn what it means to them to be LGBTQ.

Another piece of this puzzle is this…

Suppose you grew up in the church.  Got baptized as a child who was old enough to make that decision.  Enjoyed serving with your church.  Enjoyed going to church services as you grew into an adult.  Loved Jesus with all of your being.  When you share that you are LGBTQ, you are told that you can’t be LGBTQ and Christian.  People tell you that you can’t be Christian because you are sinning by choice.  You, however, know that you wouldn’t have chosen this in a million years.

The LGBTQ Christians that I know have studied the “clobber” verses extensively (as have I as a parent of a gay child).  They have searched God on the topic.  They have prayed their guts out.  In some cases, had yelling matches with God.  They reach a place where they finally feel accepted by God.  Because of their studies, they theology changes and they no longer think homosexuality is a sin.  They feel loved by God and they finally feel comfortable in their skin.  And then they have these conversations that tell them they are sinning and the people they love can’t accept this part of them.

Take all of the history that they have been through…the shame, the rejection, the bullying in many cases, the struggle with their faith in God, and hold it up to those words that you’ve just said to them.  You’ve just told them that their struggles, their searching, their prayers, their faith….are wrong.  You read the Bible one way…and they read it another.  It’s a difference in theology.  You are telling them that your theology is right and theirs is wrong.  You are telling them that what they have felt from God and the Holy Spirit is wrong.

This isn’t so much about hate…but hurt.  Are you really listening to what they are telling you?

Going back to the original question…

“Lesa how can I let the LGBTQ community know that I love them, but also let them know that I hold to my beliefs about what the Bible says about homosexuality?  It seems that they think I hate them because I don’t agree with their “lifestyle.”

You are projecting your beliefs onto them.  And your message is that your beliefs are the only ones that matter.  It’s not what they need and therefore why they don’t feel loved.

I’m not saying you can’t have your beliefs.  Of course you can.  Just as they can have their beliefs.  Just know that it doesn’t come across as love at times.  Some LGBTQ people can live in that tension.  Others can not.  I have found that it really depends on their history and how bad things were for them as to whether or not they can be in relationship with someone who thinks the fact that they want to be loved is wrong.

Of course this is just scratching the surface.  There is so much more to this…and I know it’s not easy.  And I can only speak from what I’ve seen…I can’t speak for the community.  Which is why it is so important to listen.  And listen for a long time before jumping in to giving your opinion on what you think the Bible says about it.

You may find that by being heard…they feel loved.  And love matters…

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What would you do…

Some day…when you least expect it…someone who has been in a lifeboat for years may show up at your front door.  What will you say?  What will you do?

I’ve talked about the amazing B.T. Harman (Brett Trapp)  here before.  You will find his story on my resource page.  He has it in written form and as a podcast.  It’s called “Blue Babies Pink.”  Weird title…right?  I had that title in the back of my mine the entire time I read and listened to his story.  When he reveals the meaning at the very end (don’t cheat if you ever read or listen to the podcast!), I wept.  It perfectly described my son.

Well I am very excited that Brett has turned one of my favorite episodes into a short film (it’s less than 5 minutes – you gotta watch it!).  I can’t read, listen or now watch this episode without crying.  I have the written form of it printed out and I take it with me to every PFLAG meeting and event that I go to where I may run into a parent who has just discovered a child who has stepped out of the lifeboat.

Please watch this powerful film and share it far and wide.

Brett talks about love in this film…it matters.

Here’s the film…

It’s not a phase…

Me sitting on my grandmother’s backyard steps.

Apparently when I was a little girl I was a bit of a flirt.  My aunt was only 10 years older than me so when she was 16 years old I was 6.  There were boys that would hang out by my grandmother’s house…clearly to see my aunt.  I can remember standing at the fence talking to them and at one point I announced that one of them was my boyfriend.  I believe his name was Chuck (I remember the last name too, but I will keep that to myself – wink).  I think they all got a kick out of it so he went along with it.  Very innocently of course.  When he would stop by, he would tell everyone he was there to see his girlfriend (me – smile).  I can remember standing at that fence like it was yesterday.

It’s been fun to see all of the back to school posts from my friends and family on Facebook.  I am no longer in that phase of life so it’s fun to relive those times through the posts.  The stories are fun as well.  The answers to the question of “How was your first day of school?” have been funny at times.  One of my friends posted that her daughter came home and was just going on and on about a boy in her class.  When my friend questioned her further about it, her daughter just simply said, “Oh he’s my boyfriend.”  She’s in kindergarten (smile).

In my last post, I shared that 9-year-old Jamel killed himself four days after school started.  He was being bullied for being gay.  It was disheartening to me to see the response this story received.  There was a lot of outcry about it, but not because 9-year-old children bullied a classmate to the point he couldn’t take it any longer.  The outcry was about how a 9-year-old could know he was gay.  There was also a lot of shaming of the mom for “letting” her son be gay at that young age.

You know…when I was six and announced that one of the boys visiting my aunt was actually my boyfriend…not her boyfriend…no one batted an eye.  No one was shocked or appalled.  No one told me I was too young to know whether or not I liked boys.

I’ve seen the same response with the Facebook post of my friend.  No one questioned her daughter’s age and declaration of liking her boy classmate.  When young children come home and announce that they have a crush on someone of the opposite sex, people think it’s adorable.  They know that it’s innocent.  They know that these kids aren’t thinking about sex.  It is puppy love pure and simple.

I’ve written before about the first boy that I “dated.”  I use quotes because we were in 6th grade and didn’t even hold hands.   Despite that…we were considered a couple.  I thought he was cute.  I liked him.  We danced together at the rec dances and that was it.  My mom and dad didn’t sit me down and tell me that it was a phase I was going through.  They didn’t tell me that I couldn’t possibly know that I liked boys because I didn’t have any experience in dating.  They didn’t tell me that you needed to kiss a boy or have sex before you knew for sure you were attracted to them.  They didn’t suggest that I date a girl too to make sure I wasn’t confused about this boy that I liked.  Yet, this is what gay kids are told all of the time…

Are you sure?
You’re too young to know whether or not you are attracted to someone.
It’s just a phase.
Why don’t you go out with (insert name of someone of the opposite sex)?  You might decide you like them instead.
You’re just confused.
You haven’t had sex yet…how can you know for sure.

That’s disgusting…you can’t like (insert name of same-sex person).
You just haven’t met the right person (of the opposite sex) yet.

The list goes on.  And instead of their attraction being described as sweet or adorable, they have shame heaped onto them for having feelings that they didn’t ask for.

If you grew up attracted to the opposite sex, did you need to explore with someone of the same-sex to make sure your attraction was real?  Did you need to have sex to know you were attracted to the opposite sex?  Of course not.

So yes…young Jamel knew that he liked boys.  He was excited to share with his friends…just like we as straight people like to do.  He was shamed for it and told to kill himself.  And he did.

How many kids will have to die?  How many kids will have to walk around thinking that God hates them?  How many kids will destroy themselves with their secret because they are afraid they will lose your love?

Love matters…

 

How many tears…how many lives…

My kiddos are 19 months apart.  Man was it hard at first, but it worked out because they are the best of friends and have a lot in common since they are close in age. Towards the end of my pregnancy with McKensie, I would take Kyle to McDonald’s on Fridays for breakfast.  He loved the pancakes and sausage (maybe I did too).  I would get an order and we would share it.  I didn’t mean for it to become a “thing” for us.  The first time I went it happened to be during the time that the retirees were there eating breakfast and drinking coffee, visiting with each other.  They fell in love with Kyle and asked me to please come back.  So I did (smile).  This tradition started when he was 16 months old and they were just amazed at how well he sat and ate his breakfast.  He used his fork and not his fingers.  He said please and thank you.  They called him a little man.  He was a smart cookie, but more than that he just liked to do what I did so he paid attention and did what I did.

A few months after my mom passed away, my aunt and my cousin took my kids out to lunch to spend some time with them and to give me a break.  McKensie was two and a half at the time.  As they were eating lunch, someone pushed back their chair from the table and it made a loud scraping noise on the floor.  McKensie exclaimed, “Oh that startled me!”  My cousin was amazed that she would use such a big word being so young.  She also was a little sponge and soaked up what was done and said around her.  In fact, my kids are not special in this regard.  I think ALL kids do this.

Unfortunately, not all kids learn good things from the adults around them.  I know many parents of kids who are LGBTQ that get nervous this time of year.  Why?  It’s time to go back to school.  There have been some good first days, but even though school has just begun…there have also been some awful days.

A family in Oklahoma is moving for the safety of their 12 year old transgender daughter.  Moving.  The school district had to shut down for two days because of what parents were saying in a Facebook group that were threatening to the 12 year old girl.   ‘Adults had referred to her as “this thing” and a “half baked maggot” threatening to “make him a female” with a “good sharp knife.” ‘  You can read the full article here.  They encouraged their kids to bully the girl so that she would leave the school.

Who do you think was watching these parents?  Listening to these parents?  Their kids.  So is it any wonder that we are finding  kids younger and younger bullying others…to the point where they take their lives?  Nine year old Jamel Myles from Colorado took his life four days after school started.  He had come out as gay to his classmates and the bullying was horrible.  Classmates told him he should kill himself…so he did.  (Instead of being outraged over the bullying, people were debating how a 9 year old could know he was gay.  I’ll address that in another post)  A mother of an eleven year old found her son crying himself to sleep after reading that story.  The previous year he had been urinated on in the boys bathroom by several boys…some of which were his friends…some from his church.  When that happened to him, he contemplated jumping off of an interstate bridge to end his life.  He felt survivors guilt that he was still here.

Is it any wonder why the beginning of the school year would cause stress for parents and their kids?  Kids learn from their parents, but they also can get caught up in bad situations.  They go along with the bullying because they don’t want the bullying to turn towards them.  Talk to your kids about this.  Give them some tools to learn to step away from a bullying situation, or tools to stand up for the kid being bullied.

Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t just come from an individual.  Sometimes it’s from something much bigger than that.  Like the Church.

My friend’s son came out last summer.  This year when he went back to college she was rearranging his bedroom.  When she moved his dresser from beside his bed, she found this written on it.

As you can see, it is written in the handwriting of someone young…not in college so it’s been there for some time.  I can’t speak for my friend…that is her story to share.  But I can say that this breaks my heart.  To think that this precious boy laid his head on his pillow next to what he had written every night for years is beyond what my heart can take.  Where did he learn this?  The Church.  And let’s be clear here.  You don’t have to say the words “God hates you” for this message to get imprinted onto a young person’s (or old for that matter) soul.  The Church can think that they are handling things with “truth and grace,” but that is not the message that is heard.  This happens when the person giving the truth and grace doesn’t really know the person or their story.

I would say that silence is just as deadly.

There are LGBTQ youth sitting in church pews hearing that they are destroying America.  They hear that wanting to be loved will destroy straight marriages and family values.  They are wondering what in the world they are doing to cause this.  They wonder why people think this about them.  I would go as far to say that there are people I know that have suffered emotional and spiritual abuse from the church.  And because it comes from people within the church, these kids see it as what God believes about them.  “God hates me.”  If you are abused by your earthly father, it is hard enough to come to terms with that and heal from it.  How much harder do you think it is when that abuse comes from God (through God’s people)?  We tell people who struggle to go to God for help…that He loves them…that He’s for them…that He never leaves or forsakes them.  He can get them through everything and anything…but then tell the LGBTQ person that the same does not apply to them.

What hope do they have?  You feel abuse by the One that is supposed to save you.

I’ve said it before…I’ll say it again.  We must do better.  Lives are at stake.

This month is National Suicide Month.  If you are LGBTQ and need help, reach out to The Trevor Project.  You can call, chat, or text.

Love matters friends.  How we love matters.  Lives depend on it…

 

 

It will get better before you get married….

This was my dad’s mantra growing up.  Actually there were two…

Don’t do that…
And
It will get better before you get married…

If you went to him with an injury and said something like, “Dad it hurts when I bend my arm.”  He would respond with, “Don’t do that then.”
Or if you went to him with a bruise, cut, or some other minor injury he would respond, “It will get better before you get married.”
Or if your friend got mad at you…he would just simply say, “It will get better before you get married.”  Sigh…
(He did take care of serious things…these were minor)

I have no idea where he got this saying.  Knowing him he made it up because he didn’t have a solution.  His answer could be annoying at times, but at the same time it seemed to be a sufficient answer for my sister and I.  Since neither of my kids at this time want to get married, I can’t use this “cure-all” for them.  For those minor ailments or problems I’m left with something lame like, “I don’t know what to tell you.” (smile)

It will get better before you get married…

What if the fact that you are getting married is what causes the problem?  What if those closest to you aren’t happy with who you love?  What if they refuse to attend the wedding?  Even worse…what if they cut you out of their lives because of it?

Some say that gay people getting married is ruining marriage and family values.  One thing I know for sure…the legalization of same-sex marriage three years ago has not impacted my marriage at all.  In fact, in about four weeks Mike and I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary.  What I have seen is families torn apart by not accepting who their child or family member loves and intends to marry.

The thing most often said in these situations is…
“I love you, but I can not accept this lifestyle that you are choosing.  I can not go to your wedding because that would mean that I’m ok with it.”  People will defend their stand saying that they can love someone and not be ok with everything that they do.  Well I think it’s pretty safe to say that just about everyone that we love does something that we may not agree with at one time or another.  The difference here is how differently the person who is LGBTQ is treated.

Once again, I would like to point out that people do not choose this.  It is not a lifestyle.  It is who they are and when you don’t accept all of who they are…when you don’t accept who they love…it doesn’t feel like love at all.  Your words are hollow and meaningless.  You can argue your love to the cows come home.  It won’t matter.  You just don’t understand the depths of pain you cause them.

And it saddens me because so many don’t try to understand.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “I just want to follow the truth of the Bible,” I would be a very rich woman.  As if those who support the LGBTQ community have just completely thrown the Bible out of the window.

I can give you examples of thousands of parents and LGBTQ individuals who have scoured the Bible on this topic.  We are accused of listening to what our “itching ears want to hear”.  We don’t research the Bible trying to figure out how to be “ok” with having a gay child or being LGBTQ.  I would say for many of us we start out trying to figure out how to “fix” our loved ones or ourselves.  What we learn is that it isn’t something that needs to be fixed.  You don’t have to agree with that, but knowing that may help you to understand why your love isn’t felt.

So many people I know join Bible studies.  People (some famously known) who have studied certain topics or passages and develop classes, DVD’s,  or books with study guides to explain what they’ve discovered.  People flock to these things.  I’ve been part of some of them.  Learning the original language and historical context of a passage is exciting.  Sometimes you learn that looking at a particular verse in the historical context looks completely different from how you were applying it today.

Sadly many of these same people won’t touch a book that delves into the scriptures used to condemn the LGBTQ community.  We refer to them as the clobber passages.  These books also look at original language and historical context.  These books, however, are seen as un-biblical.  Did you know that reading a book like that shows love to an LGBTQ individual?  The fact that you are willing to even look at them?  You can read them and still not agree with them.  You might be surprised, however, at what God will show you.

I’ve seen too many families broken.  I’ve seen too many children take their lives.  Too many kids kicked out of their homes (two just in this last week).  There have been too many empty chairs at weddings.

God loves these children…are you better than God?

There’s hope…If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have support, there is an ever-growing group of mama bears that are willing to step in and offer that support.  Just send me an email via my contact page.

It will get better when we all learn how to love better…

LOVE MATTERS

 

Do you have a before and after story…

I am totally and completely OBSESSED with the house flipping/house make-over shows.  Lucky for me there are SO MANY to choose from (smile).  I watch any and all that I can find and I have HGTV and the DIY channel to feed my obsession.  I love me a good before and after story.  If I had the money, I would totally flip houses for a living.

Some of these folks are really brave because they buy the house sight unseen.  Talk about taking a risk!  And sometimes it really bites them in the butt.  But for the most part, the hosts of the show buy a house knowing that it needs some TLC and they proceed to transform it into something stunning.

I was reflecting on this 10 year journey I’ve been on recently.  I realized that in order to help parents new to the fact that they have a child that is LGBTQ I need to stay connected to parts of my journey that are painful.  It would be easy to move on and leave those parts in the past, never to be thought of again, but in order to help someone who has just gotten the news I need to keep those parts somewhat close to my heart.  I have found that sometimes people who don’t do this tend to be a little bit harsh when trying to help a new parent.  For me personally, I find it helpful to remind myself that I didn’t get here overnight.

I’ve shared before some of the stages that parents can go through when they learn their child is LGBTQ…anger, denial, grief, etc.  Sometimes when I talk with someone who is struggling with a parent coming to acceptance they shut down the conversation when I try to convey what their parent might be feeling.  I think part of the reason why this happens is one of the things that a parent goes through which I’m sure is really hard for the child is….selfishness.

We really don’t mean it, and in most cases don’t even realize that we are being selfish.  We have tons of processing to do.  And unfortunately instead of processing within ourselves, it comes out sometimes.  In most cases, our child has known this about themselves for years, but for us it’s brand new.  And I would say the number one thing driving the selfishness is FEAR.

What are people going to think?  Will they think it’s my fault?  Will they think badly of our family?  I’m worried my child is going to be discriminated against?  I’m worried they will be hurt/bullied?  Will I ever get to plan a wedding?  Will I get to be a grandparent?  Will they lose friends over this?  Will I?

Me, me, me.

We had dreams of what we thought our child’s future would look like.  Now that is all gone with this revelation.  We really are concerned about our child, but it can come across that we are only thinking of ourselves and in some ways that’s true…at first.  We ultimately know that we don’t have control over our children’s futures whether or not they are gay or straight, but knowing that doesn’t help at the time.

I can only imagine how completely frustrating this is for the person who has just come out to their parent.  We parents also have a tendency to ask really stupid questions that we don’t understand are stupid at the time.  Probably the most frequent one at the top of this list being:  Are you sure this isn’t just a phase?

In cases where the parents may seem selfish or ask stupid questions, it just means they aren’t educated on the matter.  Give them some time to get there.  We are like the houses that look fine on the surface.  But when you start taking a peek behind the walls or under the floor surfaces, you see that there are some areas that need tending to.  Maybe it’s bad theology that has been taught to us.  Or maybe it’s what we grew up hearing from our family or society in general.  We need to find those places and start the process of making them more structurally sound.

Just like in the make-over shows, sometimes we have to completely demolish our old thinking and educate ourselves in order to rebuild things.  We learn that sometimes we can’t keep something original to the house that we thought made it special.  We learn that sometimes you have to let that go.  In the midst of the mess, we wonder if we can survive the rebuild.  Will the new layout work?  Will it make sense?  Just wait for the reveal!

Try to have patience with your parent.  If possible, connect them to a parent that has stayed connected to the painful parts to help them.  They will be able to share with them their before and after.  They will be able to show them how their broken parts were rebuilt into something more beautiful than they could ever imagine.  They will be able to share with them that love is love and that there can be weddings and grand-babies.

At the end of the process, they will have their very own before and after story.  They will stand back in awe at how far they have come.  They will be amazed at the transformation.  They will tell you they just didn’t see it before, but it’s been there all along…they just needed to let go, provide a little TLC, and learn some things.

I realize that this isn’t the ending that everyone gets.  There are some whose parents never get to the after part of the story.  They get stuck in the before.  I’m sorry.  I wish there was a way to get every parent there.  I am part of a private FB group of moms (mama bears) that are willing to step in and offer love and support for those who don’t have it.  Reach out if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have support.  We mama bears have big hearts and lots of love to give.

Because love matters…

 

 

 

Are you listening…

I can remember when I was in middle school (late seventies, early eighties), there was a big to do about rock music.  Being in Catholic school, we were told that rock music was evil.  In fact, there were even rumors that if you played your records backwards you would hear satanic messages.  No joke.  Well you can’t tell kids that and not expect them to try it (smile).

My friends and I took our AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and all sorts of other albums and carefully placed the needle on the record.  We then took a finger and slowly turned the record backwards.  Well let me tell you…it sure sounds evil!  I’m sure it’s because they put that in our minds.  We would lean in and strain to see if we could hear any words that would prove that in fact our rock music was evil. We really couldn’t make heads or tails out of what we were hearing…which makes sense since it was basically hogwash.  That didn’t make me feel any less guilty for listening to the music though.

If you google “The Art of Listening,” you get a ton of hits with everything from books, Ted talks, videos, etc.  It seems to be a popular topic…as I think it should be.  Listening is very important and I think nowadays it has become a lost art.  I think it’s referred to as an art because it takes patience and practice.

I’ve been in situations when talking to someone in person where I’ve had to really concentrate on listening to them.  It becomes difficult when they something that I don’t agree with or something that I think is wrong.  My brain just immediately wants to think of a rebuttal to what they are saying.  I have to make the conscious decision to keep my mouth shut and listen instead.  I’m the type of person that needs to process.  If I said something right away, chances are it would not be the most loving response.  I tend to have a short fuse and I need time to digest things and reflect on what the person has said to me.

In this politically charged climate, many people have opinions on just about every subject.  Some people’s opinions are based on facts.  They have taken the time to research all of the “noise” that’s on social media, on the television, in the newspapers, etc.  Other people’s opinions are based on falsehoods because they haven’t taken this same time to make sure they are basing their opinions on things that were actually said or done.  The majority of us I believe fall into a third category of opinions which are based a little on truth and a little on the not so true…mixed in with our experiences.  Let’s face it…our lives are busy and we don’t always double-check to make sure what we’ve read is completely factual.  Especially if it speaks into our experiences.

It is what it is…but it becomes very important when we are dealing with others.  This is especially true when on social media.  I find that people say things on social media that they wouldn’t dream of saying to someone in person.  Don’t get me wrong…some absolutely would, but I think that many of us have said something that we may have regretted later.

The art of listening is becoming lost.  We need to wade through what people are saying and sharing.  It’s one thing to disagree with someone’s opinion, but I am finding more and more that people are disagreeing with someone’s actual life experiences.  People are so worried about arguing their point and being right that they are totally dismissing what the person is sharing with them.  They aren’t listening…or in social media’s instance…reading with a listening ear.

I have literally seen someone share that they wanted to die and the person they were “debating” with online totally ignored the deep pain the person shared and continued to argue their point.  It happened to my son when he was in a discussion with someone after the Pulse shooting.  Some pastors expressed their approval of the murders.  The person was lamenting about Christians being discriminated against and how they are all lumped into a category of being hateful people.  It’s ok to express that, but the person totally ignored the part of people actually wanting my son dead.  He kept trying to express what that felt like and the person never acknowledged it.

This is happening every day, every hour, every minute, every second in our society right now.  People are trying to argue why they are right and you are wrong and totally missing the heart of what people are trying to share.  (I’m not referring to standing up to injustice that is being seen).  It’s one thing to dismiss someone’s opinion that you don’t agree with….maybe you have facts that are contrary to what they are sharing.  It is a totally different thing to dismiss someone’s personal experience.  I see it happen almost every day.

A recent example was the fire storm on social media when Judge Kennedy retired.  It scared a lot of people in the LGBTQ community.  He was instrumental in getting the law passed for same-sex marriage.  I saw some people take some heat for their feelings about it.  The people who were downplaying their feelings were from states where marriage was legal before the supreme court made the decision.  Not to mention that the people doing the arguing were straight!  Their marriage or future marriage is not in jeopardy.  I see it regarding bullying and discrimination as well.  If your gay child wasn’t bullied or discriminated against, it doesn’t mean that is the experience of someone else’s child.  It makes sense right?  You wouldn’t believe the arguments about it.  Some states are safer than others.  So it makes sense that people are going to experience things differently.  Heck my state is a mixed bag.  Just go a few miles to the north and the KKK is still alive and well.

All these years later, I can’t hear one of the songs that was supposed to be “devil music” on the radio today and not think of being told that in middle school.  I think of it every time.  It has stuck with me.  Many of our experiences are like that.  Can we remind ourselves that it is the same for others?  Listen to what they are saying…or typing…and respond in love…or don’t respond at all.  We are all entitled to our opinions.  Chances are you aren’t going to “argue” someone out of them.  Personal experiences are different and shouldn’t be argued about.  Acknowledge them.

Let’s practice the art of listening…let’s respond in love…because love matters.