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…
When 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…