Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I am thankful for many things, but the thing I am most thankful for is this journey that God has placed me on.  It has changed me for the better.  Praying for all of my friends who can not go home to be with their families because of their rejection of them.  I pray that will one day change for you.  Keep pressing on.

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I’m coming out (sang like Diana Ross)…

The other day I heard the song “Lady” by the Little River Band on the radio.  Boy did it bring back memories.  I’ve mentioned before that I LOVE music.  When I hear a song, it takes me right back to whatever was happening at that time in my life.  Well this was 1978.  I was in the 6th grade.  Every Friday night my friends and I would go to the rec center in my neighborhood for middle school dances.  I thought I was sooo grown up because I would get home just as the television show Dallas was coming on.  That show came on at 9pm (smile).  I was “big stuff” alright.

These dances were so much fun.  They had contests for different dance styles (disco, slow dancing, etc).  They evenNapoleonDynamiteDancing had some singing contests…kind of like karaoke but without all of the fancy equipment.  I never did the singing, but I did participate in the dance contests every week and even won a few.  As fun as these dances were to me, there were some pretty scary moments as well.  Being an 11-year-old girl, waiting for a boy to ask me to dance, was pretty terrifying.  What if no one asks?  What if someone does (smile)? Awkward times for sure.  Being in this scenario as a young gay person, however, adds much more trepidation.

I’m often asked why gay people feel the need to “come out.”  Why can’t they keep what happens in the bedroom private?  If we were just talking about sex, that would be a valid point.  But coming out, isn’t a declaration about sex.  I haven’t read one “coming out” story that included anything about sex actually.  I want you to know that for most people coming out is a painstaking decision.  It is not taken lightly…there is a lot at stake.  It takes some people years to take that step.

If you were single for any length of time longer than what your family thought was reasonable, you were probably bombarded with tons of questions at family gatherings by well-meaning relatives.  “Have you met anyone interesting lately?” “What ever happened with so and so…he/she was nice?”  “What are you waiting for?  You aren’t getting any younger you know.”  “Don’t you want to have children?”  Pretty annoying.  Now imagine being gay and getting these same questions.  Over and over again…not just by relatives, but by well-meaning friends as well.  “I have the perfect girl/guy for you.”  You politely decline the “set-ups.”  But eventually, these situations are too painful to bear.  It’s not just a matter of answering the questions.  Sure you can say you haven’t met anyone, but having to do this over and over again starts to feel like lying.  Let’s face it…some people are pretty aggressive when it comes to pursuing someone.  Having to tell someone “no” many times can be daunting.  Especially if you don’t like hurting other people’s feelings.

I can’t speak for someone who has come out, but I have a little glimpse into what it is like because I went through a coming out process as a parent of a gay child.  You know how it is when you haven’t seen or spoken to someone for a while who knows your children…the first thing you do is catch up with each other and what your kids are up to.  Someone would ask me about my son and I would say he is doing well when in reality I was surviving day by day just trying to keep him alive.  I didn’t feel genuine.  Instead of facing reality, I was pretending.  Coming out and telling my story freed me from those feelings.  I am so glad that part of my journey is over.  After the initial fear of putting my “news” out there, I felt freedom that is indescribable.  I wanted to shout it from mountain tops because it was healing…but singing the Diana Ross song that is in my title sufficed (smile).

I don’t mean to make light of the process.  I’ve talked to many gay people who have described their coming out process. Many of these stories are painful.  This past weekend I actually got to hear some of these stories in person at The Reformation Project Conference in Washington, DC.  My heart is still breaking from some of the stories that I heard that weekend.  The people who shared that part of their lives with me have left an imprint on my heart that will be there forever.  I met some AMAZING people…so full of love and grace even when treated horribly.  And even though there are many sad stories, I also know that there are lighter souls out there because they are being true to themselves.  The outcome with family members and friends may not always be what they hope for, but it is often during this process that they realize that God loves them just the way they are.

Of course, not everyone’s journey is the same, and people come out for their own personal reasons.  But, if someone comes out to you, treat them with grace and dignity.  They aren’t flaunting their sexuality.  They are fragile. They are trusting you with their very lives and hearts.  So love them…

Because love matters.

One of these things is not like the other…

Disclaimer:  I got permission to share what is in this post.

I was awakened by the telephone ringing.  I opened one eye and looked at the clock.  4am.  I knew who it is was, or so I thought.  There was only one person that would be calling me in the middle of the night…my sister.  I picked up the phone and said hello dreading what I was going to hear from the other end.  I had been here many times before.  A male voice asked if I was Lesa Schepers.  My heart quickened as it was not who I expected.  “Mrs. Schepers, I’m officer ____ and I am here with your sister.  We need you to come to your parent’s house.”

The police officer explained that my sister called 911 and was threatening to take her life.  He said that she was drunk.  They confiscated all of the alcohol that was in the house and told me that I needed to come get her.  It was New Year’s Eve a year after my mom died and my dad wasn’t home.  I told them I was on my way.  I hung up the phone and explained to my husband what was going on.  He was not happy that I would be traveling an hour in the middle of the night…especially a night that there was a high incidence of drunk driving.  At the time, I didn’t realize I could say no to the officer.  I thought I had to go.  So I left my two babies, aged 4 and almost 3, my angry husband, and I drove to my parent’s house.

To say that my sister was drunk was an understatement.  When the police officers left her (they did not wait for me to get there), she proceeded to drink all of the cough medicine that was in the house.  I got there at 5:30am and after chatting with her for about an hour I decided that I would try to get her into rehab.  I brought her to my house where I could do some research with her insurance company and they found a place near my house.  It was approaching evening by the time we got there and she had not completely sobered up yet.

We walked into the facility and they took her into a room to chat with her and go over her insurance.  I was sitting in the lobby when suddenly a very angry young woman (a resident at the rehab) came up to the Christmas tree, knocked it over, and stomped on every glass ornament that was on the tree breaking them.  She was upset that she wasn’t going home for a visit that she felt she should be allowed to do.  I sat there contemplating if I was doing the right thing.  I felt guilty…wondering if my mom would agree with me pushing my sister to do this.  I had always been my sister’s protector and this place didn’t seem very safe so far.  Someone from the office came out and escorted me to another room so that they could clean up the mess.  In that room, residents were sneaking back into the facility through the window. Needless to say, it was quite the adventure.  I was definitely rethinking this particular place for my sister.  Turns out her insurance wouldn’t pay for the stay after all and I left bringing her with me.

I would like to say that things got better after that, but sadly they got much worse.

So why do I bring this up?  I’ve heard it mentioned many times from Christians that they believe being gay is like being an alcoholic.  I don’t quite understand that logic.  Alcoholism is a disease.  A person’s sexuality is not a disease.  A person can choose to take a drink, but a gay person can’t choose their sexuality.  Not like the otherAlcoholism destroys lives.  I’ve seen it first hand.  I’ve shared this story because I have been in the trenches of addiction with someone.  It is ugly and it ravages lives.  It makes the person addicted very selfish.  Their alcoholism can also be destructive to their family and any one who loves them.  A person who is an alcoholic eventually learns that the alcohol is their enemy.  If they take the steps to stop drinking, their lives change for the better.  They are able to bear fruit.   Asking someone who is gay to give up their sexuality does the opposite of what happens when an alcoholic stops drinking. It causes them to hate their sexuality and since sexuality is a part of who they are…they end up hating themselves.  This often causes depression and unfortunately thoughts of suicide for many.  It’s a very different picture from a recovering alcoholic.  I guess some would argue that a gay person accepting their sexuality and acting on it causes destruction in their lives, but that is a conversation for another time (smile).

Note:  I am happy to say that today my sister has been sober for 11 years.  She made the decision to get clean 7 years after our New Year’s Eve adventure. She has shared her story and helped to change many people’s lives over the years.  I am very proud of her.  She is one of the strongest and most resilient people I know.

Remember to love each other…because love matters.