Nose as long as a telephone wire…

Kids have the craziest sayings.  At least they did when I was growing up.  Things like, “I’m rubber and you’re glue.  Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!”  We would say this if someone said something mean about us.  It wouldn’t really be about us (because we are rubber and the word would bounce off of us), but would rather stick to the person who said it because they were “glue.”  I can remember having little “wars” with these sayings. You always wanted to be the person to get the last word.  Then there was the infamous, “Liar, liar, pants on fire…nose as long as a telephone wire!”  Memories…

2014.06.27 14.12.02.567When my daughter was about 4 years old, she came up into my bedroom to tell me about an “incident” that had happened downstairs.  For the life of me I can’t remember the actual incident, but it was regarding something that was broken or a really big mess that was made.  She interrupted what I was doing and proceeded to tell me the biggest whopper of a story I have ever heard.  It was very intricate, very detailed, very much hogwash…I could just tell.  I waited for her to get to the end of her convoluted fib, and then with a confused look simply said to her, “What?  Can you repeat that please?” She then proceeded to burst into tears.  She knew there was no way she could come up with all of that again (smile).

I know how she felt.  When I discovered that my son was gay, I didn’t tell a lie, but I very much felt like I was living one.  I didn’t tell anyone for 3 weeks (my husband was the only other person who knew).  But I soon learned how damaging this was to me and I just couldn’t take it anymore.  One day at work (I work for my church), I went out into the courtyard on our property with my Bible.  I sat on a bench and just prayed and asked God “Why? Why did this happen, what did I do wrong, how could I fix it??” And like my daughter I burst into tears.  I knew I needed to tell the staff because I felt like I was lying.  I felt fake.  So that day they learned my secret.

If I thought it was hard for me to live with that secret, it was a million (actually there aren’t numbers large enough to describe) times harder for my son.  Growing up in a Christian family, going to church, going to a private Christian school made it even tougher.  Before my husband and I realized he was dealing with this, he spent two years praying and calling out to God to change him.  He lived in fear of our rejection, God’s rejection, and the rejection of friends and family.  So, he pretended that he was someone else. When he couldn’t take it any longer, and started opening up to people, he was bullied.  This led to depression, anxiety, hopelessness, self-hatred, and self-harm.  That is no way to live.  I watched him go from a happy, silly kid to a depressed and dark place.  It was terrifying.

We are taught that lying is wrong.  To me, asking people to deny who they are is like asking them to lie and in some ways I feel like that is what the church is asking people to do.  And at the same time…coming out is so hard and scary.  They face being rejected by friends and family, hate crimes, discrimination, etc.  But I truly feel that all of those are less harmful than living a lie and pretending to be someone you are not.  It does major damage to you emotionally and psychologically.  When my son finally accepted himself, he went from that dark depressed place to one of light.  He is happy, more confident, and less anxious.  The risk is worth it, because the secret is too damaging.

It took several more years before I came out to more people, and as of September 2013, to the world when I started this blog.  I understand to some extent the freedom that someone feels when they come out (I touch on this in my In Christ Alone post).  It is so nice to feel like you aren’t living a lie.  Now it takes everything I have not to wrap myself in a rainbow flag (rainbows are a symbol for the LGBT community) as I’m out in public to let people know that I am a safe place to land.  They can share their secret with me.  They can be who they truly are…and I will love them.

Because love matters…Rainbow-flag

I don’t want to be a Christian…

My daughter and I were out and about one day and decided to stop in Chipotle Mexican Grill to get a bite to eat. The line was really long and it was quite loud with a lot of activity.  I don’t know why, but I was nervous about the chipotleprocedure of ordering because I couldn’t remember exactly how to do it.  I knew it was something like Subway…tell the first person what you want and then someone else build’s upon it.  When it came to my turn to order, I told the young man I wanted a burrito.  And then this happened…

Me:  I would like a burrito
Young man:  Would you like pinto beans or black beans?
Me:  Yes
Young man:  What?
Me:  Chicken!

What can I say?? I panicked.  I don’t know why.  I couldn’t hear what he was saying exactly.  I heard, “Do you want black beans?”  Which I replied yes because…well…I really like black beans.  When he said, “What?” I thought to myself, “Oh no!  I did it wrong.”  I couldn’t really hear him so I thought maybe he asked me what kind of meat I wanted because you have your choice.  Hence me exclaiming, “Chicken!”  Well, I can tell you the look on his face was priceless.  When I saw that look, I realized I had totally screwed up.  So, I just simply said, “Can we start over?” (smile).  Once again I was asked what kind of beans I preferred which I promptly replied that I would like black beans.  Then he slide my burrito over to the next person who asked me what kind of meat I wanted.  It was painful, but I survived getting my order.  My daughter and I laughed about it all the way home.  She said, “Mom, you really yelled out – CHICKEN!”  It is now a running joke with all of my friends.  When we have a loss for words, we just simply yell “Chicken!”

It was a really busy time for me and I was a bit frazzled.  Have you ever had one of those weeks?  Or months? (sigh).  When everything is going in every direction, and you have a hard time keeping up.  You have so many “balls” in the air and eventually one or all of them come crashing down on you.  Instead of exclaiming “chicken” they are yelling “failure”, “worthless”, “stupid”, “not enough.”  Those kind of days, weeks, or months are rough. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s really hard to pull myself out of them.

I had one of those weeks last week.  I mentioned in my last post some “not so nice” commentary that was out there on the internet.  It wasn’t just what the individual person said…it was all of the comments that followed.  A lot of people expressed their strong opinions in a very strong, negative way.  It was overwhelming…really overwhelming.  It hurt my heart.  It was discouraging.  I couldn’t stop it from occupying my thoughts.  (Ok…the song Let It Go just ran through my mind) Ugh.

My first reaction was one of wanting to run away…from the church…from my situation.  Honestly, I had just had it.  I was done.  I didn’t even want to go to church on Sunday.  I was trying to get over it, but I had a hard time quieting my mind.  I couldn’t get past asking God what He was doing.  I’m involved with the LGBT community because of my son…yes, but God has called me to put myself out there (one way is writing this blog).  And although the comments weren’t directed to me, they spoke volumes to me.  I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.  As I said before, I felt beat up.  I didn’t want to read the Bible and I didn’t want to pray.

So I started my prayers by literally telling God that I didnt’ feel like praying.  I told Him that I didn’t even know what to pray, and I sat with that for a few days.  I asked Him to soften my heart to those who persecute others without really knowing their story.  If I’m called to love, I can’t be selective in my love either.  Slowly He began putting the pieces of my heart back together.  He reminded me again that not everyone will delve into the reasons for homosexuality like I have because of my family.  I realized that I had taken it upon myself to try to change people’s minds about this issue. I can’t do that. It’s too big.  But although it is bigger than me, it’s not too big for my God. I’m just a messenger.  It’s up to God to do the rest.  I didn’t realize how much pressure I was putting on myself and when I read those comments I just felt like a failure.  If my journey makes just ONE person realize that this issue isn’t as black and white as we try to make it, then that is success.

Our devotion at staff this week was by Andy Stanley.  It was about living in the tension of grace and truth.  It helped me to realize that this tension I live in every day will not and should not go away.  It’s exactly where I am supposed to be.  Jesus was radical and often times his actions didn’t make sense to those who were used to dealing with the law.  I want to be like Jesus. Radical in my faith.  I don’t want to be a Christian…that’s not what the disciples were considered.  They were Jesus followers and I want to be a follower of Jesus.

These were good reminders for me this week:

It’s always good to remember that God is in control.  I needed to let go of control, and ask God to help me to not act out of control in my anger.  And although I would love to change the world, and hope to make a difference in it, I realize that I need to make the necessary changes in myself to make that difference. I will never have it all figured out.  That’s why this life is a journey.

 

So…who’s up for some radical love…because love matters.

 

coffee for your heart

At my wits’ end…

Wits-end-770x433I feel beat up.  It’s been a rough week. I’m going to heed my mom’s advice that I mentioned in my last post…if you don’t have anything nice to say….don’t say anything at all.  And I honestly don’t have anything nice to say.  I am frustrated.

Here are two things that have come out this week:

John MacArthur was recently asked by a reader how they should respond to an adult child who has acknowledged they are gay. His parenting advice?

Alienate them.

Separate them.

Isolate them.

Refuse to have a meal with them.

Turn them over to Satan.

 

Then there was this:

Scott Esk is a conservative Republican running for a seat in the Oklahoma state Legislature, and he says he wants to apply Biblical principles to Oklahoma law. He also thinks that gay people should be put to death by stoning. And he isn’t doing much to hide the fact that he believes gay people deserve to be murdered, either.

I just don’t have any words to convey what this feels like.  My heart isn’t in the right place so I’m going to sit with it for awhile.  Prayers appreciated.

Is that something in my eye…

“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  How many of us have heard that over the years from our mothers?  Not a bad motto to live by, but it seems that some people just can’t help themselves.  I’ve run into my fair share of bullies.  It seems that they didn’t learn the “golden rule” of being nice.  For the most part, I eventually learned to ignore them.  My sister on the other hand had a bully that tormented her endlessly.  She was more sensitive to it and offered the reaction that the bully was looking for time and time again.  She would come home in tears day after day because this boy scared her and bothered her on the bus ride home.   It got to the point that my dad knew something needed to be done.  So he sent me.

One day I waited at the bus stop for her to get home.  I was about fifteen which means she was 10.  This bully lived in our neighborhood so I knew that he would be getting off at the same stop.  So there I was on the busiest Seddie12street in our neighborhood….waiting (wearing my catholic school uniform no less).  My sister got off the bus and I had her stand behind me.  The young man got off as well.  He was older than my sister and had no business picking on her.  I marched up to him, grabbed him by his shirt collar (probably had to tippy toe because he was taller than me), and told him that if he ever bothered my sister again I would rip his face off.  Then I gave him a little shove as I let go of his collar.  He never bothered her again.

Now I have said this before…I do not believe in violence of any kind.  As someone who was picked on for being small, sometimes my bark had to be worse than my bite so to speak.   But I promise I was and still am a nice person (smile).  Just don’t ever tick me off (wink).  All kidding aside this bully issue is a big deal.  The official definition says that to bully someone is to frighten, hurt, or threaten someone.  I think this list should include talking badly about people in a way that makes them feel small or less than.  I think sometimes we view bullying as physical or really threatening, but it can be subtle.

I was at lunch one day with a group of moms.  Our children all went to the same Christian school for years and that is how we all met.  These moms all professed to be followers of Jesus.  At the time, I knew my son was gay, but was not “out” with it yet.  One of the moms made a comment that she was never watching the Dr. Phil show again.  When someone asked her why, she proceeded to say that he had a gay person on his show.  She felt that was wrong.  In fact, she thought God should strike all gay people dead and send them straight into hell.  I felt bullied.  I felt like my son was being bullied and he wasn’t even there!  I was really taken aback by her disdain for gay people.  What did they ever do to her to evoke such a strong reaction?  I had to hold back the tears.  This was my child she was talking about.  (I held it together though and I promise I didn’t threaten to rip her face off) (smile).  I forgave her because I knew she didn’t understand.

I’d like to say that was the last time that happened to me, but I can’t.  And as upsetting as it was to me, I cringe when I think about my son hearing something that hateful.  The psychological damage is great.  What many probably don’t realize is gay people tend to already have that negative language in their minds about themselves  because of what they’ve been taught.  Add to that the verbal attacks from others and no wonder the suicide rate is so high.

Every day people are bullied out of their jobs, denied service in stores and restaurants, and are not invited to family gatherings because they are gay.  I saw a post on FB about a lesbian being hired by the Girl Scout organization.  The person who posted it was appalled that this could happen.  I have to wonder…what do people think is going to happen?  That her lesbianism is going to rub off on the girls?  That she is going to teach them how to be a lesbian?  Do they think that this lesbian will not be able to control herself around these girls?  All misconceptions of gay people.  I bet the person who posted it never thought that they could be contributing to the possibility of ruining that person’s livelihood, but it happens a lot.

Unfortunately, in some cases church goers are the biggest bullies in this area.  Christians use the Bible to put others down.  I really think they feel that they are helping…that somehow they are “saving” those that they are pointing the finger at.  But what they don’t understand is that they come off as “holier than thou”.  It may not be their intent, but the Bible also tells us to worry about our own sin before we point out someone else’s (Matthew 7:3).  That goes for any topic of concern. You don’t know what is in someone’s heart.  You don’t know the conversations that they’ve had with God.  Your “helping” could be the very thing that makes them run as far as they can from God.  Do we really think that is what He wants?  Lord help me to always check my eye, my heart, before I check my neighbor’s.

I got coffee from Starbucks this morning and this was written on the sleeve:

blossom

 

 

The negative things we think about someone and how that comes out is what ultimately makes them shrink down to less.  We should be building people up.  So don’t think that you have it all together and know everything when engaging with someone.  God has created everyone with a unique purpose to achieve what He created them to be.  Don’t be the one to get in the way of that.

This is really easy if you love each other…because love matters.