That’s good enough…

Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do?  It’s happened to me…more times than I can count. From about the time I was five, until I was ten, I was best friends with my mom’s best friend’s daughter (did you get that…it’s a little confusing).  In the beginning of our friendship, things were good.  But as we got older, things began to change.  It became somewhat of a competition, but not one that I initiated.  As my friend and I hit school age, there were some differences becoming apparent with us.  I was skinny as a rail, and she struggled with her weight.  I got good grades in school and she did not.  I was popular…she not so much.  Jealousy began to rear its ugly head. There were many times that she and her brother would get into mischief and when things were discovered they always blamed it on me. There mad womanwere many days when my friend’s mom would get right in my face and yell at me…telling me that I was going to be responsible paying for the latest thing that her kids had broken.

Now that I have kids, I can appreciate how difficult and awkward this must have been for my mom since our mom’s were best friends.  My mom did the best she could to defuse the situations.  She even switched me from public to private school without telling her friend (there were other reasons for this switch as well, but she thought this might be a good break) only to have her daughter switched to the same school.  My friend became very possessive of me and would be really mean to me for having other friends. Things came to a head when I was in the fifth grade.  I had borrowed a book from the library at school.  I don’t remember what book it was, but I do remember it was a big book.  The kind that has several books published in one source.  When it came time to return the book, I couldn’t find it.  I knew for sure I had left it in my desk, but it was gone.  My parents and I searched my house to no avail and I eventually had to pay for it.  I remember it being a lot of money and I was banned from borrowing any more books from the school library for the rest of the year.

One day my mom and I were visiting with my friend and her mom.  I forget how it happened, but we discovered the book hidden in their house.  My friend had stolen it from my desk to get me in trouble.  My mom realized that this was getting serious and drastic measures were taken.  And when I say drastic, I mean drastic. Since we were neighbors, there was no real way to get me away from this girl…not to mention our mom’s being best friends part.  So, my parents put our house up for sale.  Yep…they sold our house.  AND, I changed schools.  But this time, we did it in secret.  It was so hard for me.  I knew at the end of the school year that I was leaving, but I wasn’t allowed to tell any of my friends.  The school actually called the following year to see why I wasn’t at school on the first day. Luckily my friend didn’t follow me this time.  I think they got the hint.  I’m not sure how much contact my mom had with her best friend after that happened, but I’m pretty sure all ties were cut.  It just wasn’t worth it and I think she realized at that point that I wasn’t exaggerating about how I was being treated there.

So, why am I talking about being accused of something I didn’t do?  There was some talk in the media this past week about some states dealing with bathroom laws concerning transgender individuals.  Now, I will admit I don’t know a lot about being transgender.  I have met some mom’s who have transgender children over the past year, but I certainly don’t have first hand experience.  I also don’t mean to imply that what I describe from my childhood above compares in any way to how transgender people feel when reactions to this bill come up.  It is just a small glimpse on my part into how they must feel being accused of something that they have no intention of doing.  I have noticed, and the media confirmed it this week, that every time this issue comes up (transgender individuals being able to use restrooms that they identify with) the topic of child predators comes up.  Comments that people make imply that transgender people have an agenda of molesting children in restrooms.  They may not mean to imply this, but it rings loudly to me so I’m sure it does to the transgender community as well.  Just so you know…transgender people aren’t lurking in the shadows…waiting for each state to pass a law allowing them to use restrooms of the opposite sex so they can molest children.  I mean really??  I’m pretty sure actual child predators aren’t biding time until such laws happen as well.

The definition of transgender is this:

Transgender is the state of one’s gender identity or gender expression not matching one’s assigned sex. Transgender is independent of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc; some may consider conventional sexual orientation labels inadequate or inapplicable to them.

Now I understand wanting to protect children.  As a matter of fact, I never let my children go into public restrooms alone when they were little.  Period.  Problem solved.  A transgender individual who is going to use a restroom will use the restroom they are most comfortable using.  So, a transgender male to female will use the women’s restroom, and a transgender female to male will use the men’s restroom.  Chances are they will look like that gender when they use the restroom.  So a young girl will probably not see a man come in the girls restroom.  I can’t imagine how it feels to be labeled as a child molester when all you want to do is use the rest room.  As a matter of fact, transgender people are much more likely to be violated and have been attacked when out in public.

This only scratches the surface of this issue.  It is a complicated one.  But trust me when I say that transgender individuals go through a lot of turmoil in their life just trying to be who they feel God created them to be.  I don’t know enough about the bills trying to be passed to say that they are the best way to handle this situation.  I do feel, however, that everyone should have rights.  At the very least, let’s change the way we talk about issues like this so that we don’t abuse the people who are in these situations.

I don’t have personal experience with a transgender child, but Debi Jackson does and she does a great job of explaining it here:

I just had to say something about this…even though I don’t have personal experience.  My heart breaks for individuals who have to go through this because it’s been described as being trapped in the wrong body.  Instead of being judged by people who have no real knowledge about what they go through, they deserve our love and understanding…because love matters…to everyone…no matter what.

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And they called it puppy love…

When I was a little girl, my parents were in a lot of bowling leagues.  It was a hobby that they really enjoyed.  I especially remember Saturday nights at the bowling alley because I was allowed to have a small soda.  I couldn’t have soda during the week so this was a really special treat.  A little cup of heaven each week (smile).  So, every Saturday I skipped to the snack bar and got myself a small soda.  I was about 8 years old.  There was a young guy (I’m guessing he was a teenager, but to me he seemed like a man) that worked the snack bar on those Saturday nights.  He was always young_lovereally nice to me and would chat with me while I drank my soda. There was nothing weird about it…he was just an outgoing friendly guy and my parents were always near by.  At the time, I didn’t realize what it was, but in looking back I realize I had developed a bit of a crush on him.  I not only looked forward to my soda on Saturdays, but I also looked forward to chatting with my friend.  Back in the day they called this puppy love.  I really had no idea about sex, or even kissing for that matter, but I knew that I liked this person.

I received an email from someone last week, and in the email they explained their beliefs about homosexuality.  Overall it was a very encouraging email as this person explained that they felt gay people should be loved and treated with respect.  Yay!  However, twice in the email they mentioned about the person’s choice of “lifestyle” and choice of sexuality.  I go back to my story of being a little girl.  If you had asked me what sexuality meant, I would have no clue.  I just knew that I liked something about the young man who worked at the snack bar.  The same as a little boy might have a crush on his teacher. It’s all very innocent.

As I got older, I continued to notice boys.  I can say that I was never attracted to girls.  I feel that if you are going to say that someone is making a choice about their attraction, then you are saying they must be attracted to both sexes in order to have to make that choice.  Did you make a choice to be a heterosexual?  I didn’t either.  It just happened…it’s who I am.  If you are married to someone of the opposite sex, has anyone ever said to you, “I’m so happy you chose to live a heterosexual lifestyle.” My guess would be that you haven’t.  Yet, I get comments all the time about gay people choosing a homosexual “lifestyle”.   I may have said this before, but I think where communication breaks down on this topic is there are some people who think of gay people as being straight with a “sex problem”.  That is not the case at all.

I wish people would stop for a moment and think of what it might be like to realize you are gay.  I said realize because that is how it happens.  If you knew the difficulties that gay people face, you would understand that no one would choose it.  And if you happen to be someone in a Christian home who reaches puberty and realizes that you have an attraction for the same-sex, you believe all the things you’ve been taught about homosexuality…about yourself.  This is why so many suffer from depression and shame.  When they finally get the courage to speak up, some are exposed to some horrific practices to try to “cure” them.  It’s called conversion or reparative therapy.  To get a glimpse of what this might be like, I invite you to read Sam’s story:

Born Perfect – Sam Brinton’s Story

I can’t even begin to imagine how someone overcomes that treatment.  I know just seeing how distressed my son was in the beginning of his journey caused emotional scars for me.  I had to change my ringtone on my phone because it was triggering memories of him being in the hospital (we would get calls from his counselor).  And songs that brought me comfort during that time, I can’t listen to anymore.  When I hear them, I see my son hurting himself in front of me in the hospital and I hear him screaming at us when we had to leave him there.

We need to be more interested in listening to people and their stories, rather than judging them and making assumptions that we can’t possibly understand.  And above all else, we need to love…because love matters.

(NCLR has launched #BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy in the next five years by passing laws across the country to protect LGBT kids, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices. You can learn more about them (here).  I will also be adding them to my Resource page)

No turning back…

Last fall my husband and kids participated in the Tough Mudder (Want to know what a tough mudder is?  You can read more about it in my post “Proud of My Tough Mudders.”)  The very last obstacle was a doozy. There were wires hanging down in an area that you had to run through.  Some of the wires had an electrical DSC03122charge so if you touched it…you got zapped.

My kids got ahead of the group they were with and somehow managed to get to the last obstacle alone (most of the time a whole group went through at the same time).  My son ran through, but my daughter took a different approach.  This is her standing in the mud with the wires all around her.

The very first wire she touched zapped her so she decided she was going to go through very carefully.  There was an emcee at this last obstacle and he got a big kick out of this.  When the wire shocked her, she stopped and the emcee proceeded to announce the following:

“Uh oh.  Something happened with the little one out there.  She stopped.  Wait…she is scrunching herself up as tightly as she can and trying to walk between the wires.  Isn’t that adorable!  It’s like she has cat-like reflexes.  Meow, meow.”

Yeah…he was a bit obnoxious.  Let me tell you if looks could kill that guy would have been in the mud. My daughter was definitely giving him the evil eye (smile).  You see…after that first shock she had a choice to make. She could have stepped back out of the mud pit and quit.  But to finish well, she had to get through the electrical wires.  A few steps in she still had the option to turn back.  She could back track her way to where she started, or she could move forward and continue to where people were cheering her on to the finish line.  For her, there was no turning back. She made it to the finish line…without getting shocked again I might add (smile).

A few weeks ago one of our pastors spoke about “no turning back.”  He talked about those moments in our lives that are difficult.  During those difficult times, we have a decision to make.  Do we move forward with Jesus, or do we turn back to our old ways of handling things?  I haven’t been able to get this out of my head.  Those moments in life that test our faith.  So, I decided to think about what those moments were for me:

  • When I was 10 years old, mental illness struck my family.  I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I knew that something had changed.  It was difficult, it was frustrating, and I had moments of great guilt because of that frustration.  At the time, I really didn’t know how to deal with it so I internalized it.  Why would God let this happen to someone I loved?
  • When I was 16 years old, my grandfather died of a heart attack.  He was my buddy.  He would talk to me for hours about gardening, how different things worked, history, his job.  He taught me how to fish.  I still miss those times with him today.  Why God did I have to lose my grandfather when I was so young?
  • When I was 17 years old, my grandmother died of cancer.  Our family found out that she was sick and six weeks later she died on her 60th birthday.   She was in a coma and unable to come to my high school graduation.  She died two days later.  She was like a second mother to me, and the loss was hard.  It seemed that people I loved were being taken from me.  Why was God allowing this to happen?
  • Starting at 21 years old, I had to deal with a family members alcoholism.  Phone calls in the middle of the night, suicide attempts, homelessness, children in jeopardy…the list goes on.
  • When I was 27 years old, an illness took over my body and now 20 years later I’m still dealing with it.  Instead of living my life…many days I feel like I am surviving life.  Why God?
  • When I was 28 years old, my mom had a brain aneurysm while playing with my children.  She died the next day at the age of 50.  Not only did I have to deal with my own grief, but I also had to deal with the grief of my son who was 3 at the time.

These were all moments that caused me to question God, and question my faith.  Was I going to keep moving forward trying my best to understand the plan God had for me, or was I going to give up on Him and turn away?

  • When I was 40 years old, I found out that my son was gay.  Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts had taken over him.  This tested my faith the most, and I questioned it…big time.  But the hardest part of this moment in my life was the fact that it caused other people to question my faith.

I don’t share these moments to say, “Oh poor me…look at all that has happened to me.”  We have all been through trials.  It’s more to say, “look what Jesus helped bring me through.”  Like my daughter stuck between all of the wires, I had decisions to make along the way.  Do I give up?  Do I turn back and go to what I know instead of facing what is unknown?  There is “muck” behind me, and there will be “muck” ahead of me.  But do I want to face it alone, or do I want Jesus to walk through it with me?  Do I want him cheering me on at my finish line?  Or do I want to try to go it alone?  I choose Jesus…because he loves me…and love matters.

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coffee for your heart

Can you keep a secret?…

I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago.  It’s probably the time that I miss my mom the most.  She always made aDIARY-pink415 big deal out of our birthdays.  So I’ve been reflecting on birthdays of the past and remembered a funny story. When I was turning 10, my mom and sister went shopping for a birthday gift for me.  I was hanging out at my grandmother’s house while they did their shopping. My mom of course explained to my sister, who was 5 at the time, that the gift was going to be a surprise and she needed to keep it a secret.  Well, they got to my grandmother’s house and my sister busted through the door and exclaimed, “Lesa, we got you a diarrhea!”  Uh, thanks???  What she meant to say was diary (smile).  So much for keeping it secret!

Growing up I was always taught it wasn’t nice to have secrets.  If I had friends over and I was caught whispering something in one of their ears, my mom would say, “No secrets!”  I think it was her way of making sure that no one felt left out.  Sometimes secrets are fun…like for bridal or baby showers, or a surprise birthday party.  But sometimes secrets are painful.  Things we may have done that we aren’t proud of, or something that has happened to us that makes us feel shame.

I was with a friend recently who had information that she couldn’t share for several months.  Something that she wanted to secretshare, but had to wait.  She explained how hard it was to not mention it when someone would ask how she was doing because it was something really big in her life and she wanted to share it. It struck me when she explained that to me.  I lived that way for six years.  I had a secret.  My son was gay.  There were many reasons why I didn’t share my secret at first.  Like my friend, people would ask how I was doing.  I would smile and reply with the usual “fine” even when my son was in the hospital.  It was hard not to share, but I eventually realized it was God’s timing…not mine…for when the secret should be revealed.

Now that my secret is out, I have realized that I can never go back.  I don’t want to. There are some possible changes coming up in my life and with those changes I want to make sure I can continue on this journey of sharing my story.  I don’t want to go back in the closet.  I can’t.  The most important thing to me going forward is that I can continue to be who I am and pursue my passion of being a voice for the LGBTQ community.  No matter what that looks like.

So, as you encounter people remember that you probably don’t know their whole story.  There may be something that they are keeping inside because they are too scared to let it out.  Tread gently with each other.  Will you be that safe place where someone can share their secret?

My Secret

I have a secret.  Do you see it?

Can you see the pain in my face…my soul?
Do you see my shame….my fear?
Have you noticed the light in my eyes is gone?
Do you see my sadness?

I want to tell you my secret.  Do you hear me?

Do you hear me say that this is something I didn’t choose?
Do you hear me when I tell you I’ve read the Bible passages?
I know what they say.
Do you hear me when I say that I’ve prayed for it to go away?
Oh how I have prayed.
Do you hear me when I say this is who I am?
This is how God created me.
Do you hear my cries?

I told you my secret.  Do you still love me????

I hope so….because love matters.

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