At the risk of everyone thinking I am totally cuckoo, I’m going to share a childhood story with you. When I was really little (well…young…people would say I’m still little), my parents got me a pet rabbit that I named Puff. I don’t remember my pet rabbit because I was so young, but apparently when Puff went to heaven I was one sad little girl. My mom told me I would stand at the back door and cry, asking Puff why he left me because I loved him and wanted him to be with me. I guess my parents felt bad for me so they got me a goldfish…which I named Puff. Now don’t get me wrong. I can appreciate the beauty of fish, and really enjoy fish in aquariums, but a goldfish in a glass bowl just was not meeting my nurturing spirit to love an animal. I remember my fish Puff and I remember how sad I was when he died. So, my parents got me a bird. You guessed it…Puff the parakeet. (Don’t ask me why I named every pet Puff. Maybe it was because I was young and didn’t have a very large vocabulary.) Now Puff the bird was better than Puff the fish, but I found that having a bird was still not quite meeting my need to share love with a pet. I can remember putting my little fingers through the cage bars to try to pet him and he would peck at them. It hurt! I remember crying asking him, “Puff why did you bite me. You hurt me! I love you. I want to pet you.” Well occasionally my parents would let Puff out to stretch his wings and he would fly around the house. I became very good at sneaking up on him. I would wait until he was at a level I could reach, and I would move very slowly towards him and snatch him up when he least expected it. I would then run with him to a very small coat closet that we had so he couldn’t get away from me, and I would hold him close against my chest and stroke his little head and hug him. I can still remember the feeling of his little heart beating a mile a minute against my chest. Now don’t worry. He never got hurt. I just desperately wanted to show my love to him and I so wanted to be able to hold him all the time and hug him. Pretty weird, huh?
I’ve gotten lots of questions since coming out about my son being gay (yes, the parents have their own sort of coming out). One of the most common questions/comments I get is this: “I know that we are supposed to love everyone. But when it comes to someone who is gay – I’m not sure what that is supposed to look like.” I have to admit…I’m a little taken aback when I hear this. To me, this sounds like conditional love. I’m not sure why love would look different. If it’s because they take the stance that being gay is a sin, aren’t we all sinners? Should I ask how I should love the proud, the addict, the gossiper, the adulterer? I don’t think so.
I read a post the other day that has haunted me. I will add the link at the end of this post so that you can read it for yourself. I don’t want to misquote it. The post was discussing the GCN Conference that took place in January. GCN stands for Gay Christian Network. The annual Gay Christian Network conference brings hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ together for fellowship, worship, support, Bible study, and more. It’s for the LGBT community, but anyone can attend and sometimes parents attend with their gay children. Here is a quote from the post regarding the conference:
“The parents had their own meeting time to share their stories with each other and be support for each other. What they decided to do later that day was beyond amazing. Those that were comfortable enough agreed to line the hall outside one of the meeting rooms and give hugs to those of us that needed and wanted them. When they made that announcement, I realized I still carried a lot of pain due to my father’s reaction. I KNEW I was going to get a hug from a dad!”
Shew! Still makes me cry reading it. Imagine…being rejected by your parent and wanting to be accepted so badly that a hug from a stranger takes some of the sting of rejection away. So, how does it look to love a gay person? It should look the same as loving your spouse, your children, your neighbor…because that is what God commands. You have no idea the pain and suffering that they’ve gone through. They are rejected for how they were born. They didn’t choose to be gay. Picture that hallway…and the line of men and women…young and old…waiting for a hug. Some human contact that lets them know they are loved and accepted simply for being themselves. We need to change the perception that is out there. This can’t continue. I’m so glad that God grabbed a hold of my heart and taught me how to be different. I’m so glad I listened. My son will never have to stand in that line. It is one of my life’s missions now to one day be at that conference. To stand in that hallway…and hug and show love to as many people as I can.
If you consider yourself a Christ follower, how you treat people matters. You are an ambassador of Christ. Do you want to turn people away from God, or turn people towards God?
When Puff the parakeet died, my parents got me the pet I wanted all along. I was at my great grandmother’s house and my mom walked in with a brown paper grocery bag. She sat it down in front of me and it started to wiggle. I peaked inside and saw a tiny little ball of black fur. My very first dog! No, I didn’t name her Puff…my parents wouldn’t let me (smile). Can’t you just see the joy on my face as I give her a hug. I know she doesn’t look as thrilled (and she could really use a haircut in this picture), but she became my best friend.
Give someone a hug…because hugs matter too…
The post I reference is from FreedHearts. If the link doesn’t take you directly to the post, the title is “When he hugged me, I just fell into his arms.” There is also a link to the GCN website. Hover over the name (both FreedHearts and Gay Christian Network) and it should give you a link to click on.