The face of courage…

In the weeks following speaking at church, people have been telling me that I am brave…that it took a lot of courage to do what I did.  I appreciate their kind words.  It would have been much harder to get up there if I didn’t have so many people praying for me.  I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true.  I really felt like Jesus was sitting on that stage with me.  It gave me the strength to share what I did.  The harder part for me has been the aftermath.  I knew it would be difficult…living in the tension of wondering what people are thinking of me.  The tension of worrying about people being upset and possibly leaving my church…just for having the conversation.  I know that discussions are taking place, but I don’t know the content of those discussions.  I knew all of this going into that Sunday morning, but courage doesn’t mean things will be easy.

Courage looks different depending on the circumstances:

The little girl who is afraid of water, but trusts her dad and leaps into the pool into his arms…has courage.

The little boy who rides his bike without the training wheels for the first time…has courage.

The child who raises their hand in class to answer a question…has courage.

The parent who teaches their child how to drive…has courage…can I get an AMEN (smile).

The recovering addict who swings their legs over the edge of their bed in the morning and faces the day sober…has courage.

The soldier who defends our country…has courage.

The family who waits for their soldier to come home…has courage.

There are many courageous things that people do every day.

I didn’t want to write about this topic.  I felt there had already been a plethora of discussion about it already.  You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard all the verbiage about Caitlyn Jenner recently. Especially when she received the Arthur Ashe award for courage.  Many were up in arms about her receiving such an award.  I like the saying…’Comparison is the thief of joy,’ but I think comparison is the thief of a lot of things.  I don’t think anyone has the right to tell someone they aren’t courageous just because their courage looks different then someone else’s. My guess is that the people who had a problem with her getting the award have never known a transgender person…or the parent of a transgender person. They’ve never buried a transgender child or held vigils at a hospital bed because someone tried to murder them. How would they know what any of them have gone through? How can they judge their courage?

I felt prompted to write about this when I first saw the courage comparisons that were being posted.  I ignored it.  Like I said…so many people had already written about it.  Unfortunately, I still see the jokes on FB about Caitlyn Jenner.  And I guess the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back…was my birthday.  On July 23rd, a transgender woman was murdered…the eleventh this year.  She was 66 years old and was stabbed to death…left for dead in the street.  So you see, the meme’s that you post on FB about Caitlyn Jenner and others make a difference…in a bad way.  They contribute to the misunderstanding of other human lives.  They portray that person themselves as a joke…and I think that is dangerous.

So whether you agree with the person or not…think about what you post.  Think about who may see that post.  The suicide rate among transgender teens is staggering.  Please don’t contribute to their pain.  Think of what it might be like to walk in their shoes…

 

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Love each other because love matters…but how we love matters even more.

 

Sacred moments…

It’s finally a nice enough evening to sit on my deck to write.  It’s been a while because there has been tons going on.  Good stuff, hard stuff, meaningful stuff.  It got me to thinking about the sacred moments that God gifts us with when we slow down long enough to pay attention.  I think they happen more often than we realize…I mean God is omnipresent so how could they not.  Right?  Some of those moments though are so big that they can’t be missed.  I had two such moments like that recently…

The first being a weekend away.  Seems normal enough…but this was not your average get away.  It was two days spent with the most amazing women I am lucky enough to know.  A group of kindred spirits who for many met for the very first time…myself included.  It took place in North Carolina and was about a five and a half hour drive from my home.  But really I would have driven 20 hours to meet these women.

I’m part of a private Facebook group of moms with LGBTQ kids.  When I joined sixteen months ago, I was number seventy-eight…now we are over five hundred strong (smile).  The group is a safe place to go with questions, hurts, fears, victories… We support each other via cyberspace and we are located all over the United States and other parts of the world.  We share a common goal…to love our kids unconditionally.  The group is a remarkable place for resources and has been a life-saver to many.

As remarkable as it is to be a part of this group on the internet, it is even more meaningfull to get to meet a mom face-to-face. I’ve had the opportunity to do that with some of the moms that live closer to me and I’ve made incredible, life-long friends. But on this particular weekend, I got to meet twenty-five of these amazing moms (there were twenty-seven of us, but I had already met two of the moms in person).  We got to break bread together, cry together, laugh together, and share our powerful stories about our kids and the path that they’ve put us on and the journey that God has brought us through.  Each person’s story has a piece of our own…different…but the same.  And when the pieces all come together…fitting intricately each intertwined with the other…you get the perfect picture of God’s abiding love.

Me and Justin

Me and Justin

On Saturday, we had two special guests join us for breakfast.  Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, and the author of Torn:  Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate, and John Pavlovitz, pastor and blogger who shepherds another private FB group of moms of LGBTQ kids where I am also a member.  It was lovely meeting them and I especially enjoyed my time chatting with Justin letting him know how much his book changed my family’s journey.  He is gracious and humble and it meant so much to me to let him know that his heart shined through his book and is making a difference.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend.  This group of women and all of the women who couldn’t be there are some of the strongest and courageous women I know.  We refer to ourselves as the Mama Bears because we fiercely love our children and will go to great lengths to protect them.  We have a mom in our group who is a graphic artist and she came up with the graphic below for us.  (If you are a mama or papa bear, or even a grandma bear and would like to visit her shop you can do so here.)  We could be our true selves without any fear of judgement.  We didn’t have to worry about what we said or how we said it because we knew our hearts were safe with each other.  It was an incredible, God-filled, sacred moment.  The timing of this weekend was a huge blessing to me as it led into my second sacred moment the following weekend.

Graphic design by Jennifer Stake White

Graphic design by Jennifer Stake White

If you ask anyone who knows me well how I feel about public speaking, they would tell you I would rather eat dirt then to do so.  I’m not a fan of being in the “spotlight.”  I’m more of a behind-the-scenes kind of girl.  So when my pastor asked if I would speak about my journey in front of our congregation I said yes with some fear and trembling.  I don’t like to speak in public, but more importantly, this had the potential of ruffling some feathers (to put it mildly).  The LAST thing I ever would want is for something I did to hurt my church.  I took it very seriously and honestly put a lot of pressure on myself.  The series that my pastor is currently doing is on Ephesians and this particular Sunday he talked about Paul standing in the gap for the Jews and Gentiles.  He felt that my journey of standing in the gap for gays and Christians would be a good modern-day example.  I didn’t hesitate to say yes because God had already been whispering in my ear that I would one day speak about this. Part of me hopes that this is all God was referring to (smile), but I’m not so sure about that.  Yikes!

So why was this a sacred moment?  I’m not going to tell you what I said because I’m going to include the link so you can listen for yourself if you like.  It was sacred because God was present.  I had weeks to think about what I was going to say.  I had conversations with my pastor asking if particular things that are part of my journey were ok to discuss.  But how do you sum up an eight year journey on a Sunday morning when SO much has happened?  You let the Holy Spirit take over (smile).  I let go…I told God that this is the journey You’ve taken me on…You tell the story the way You want it to be told.  And He showed up…in a BIG way.

I woke up that morning shaking so badly from nerves that I could hardly get my the toothpaste on my toothbrush.  I knew I had lots of people praying for me and took a moment to zone in on those prayers.  I had an incredible sense of peace come over me.  So much so, that I had to remind myself while sitting in the pew waiting for my turn that I was actually about to get up there and speak (smile).  I got up there and shared my journey.  I survived!  The response I’ve gotten has been overwhelming now that the message is on the internet.  I can barely keep up with the comments I’ve received and I’m humbled to be used in such a way by God.  It was a sacred moment…one that I hope you will take a moment (well a long moment – smile) to listen to:

Standing in the Gap  – I come in around the 20 minute mark.  I have this in written form as well.

 

sacred moments

Love matters…but how we love matters even more.