When my kids were little, there were three types of injuries that occurred. The first being the I’m not really hurt, but I’m mad because I fell down or tripped. There would be tears, but no real injuries. In these cases, I would “spank” the offender (usually the sidewalk). Yes I looked like a crazy woman yelling at the sidewalk and giving it a swift stomp, but I would do anything for my kids…even if it meant looking like a raving lunatic (smile). These shenanigans would usually get a giggle and the crying would stop. The second kind was a little bit more serious. They would fall and skin their knee a bit, but a quick kiss on the boo boo would fix things and they would be off playing again. The third kind was the most serious…a fall that would produce crocodile sized tears and ice would be needed to prevent swelling. These desperate times called for…the boo boo bunny. A terry cloth bunny that held ice to make fixing the boo boo a little less traumatic. It was cute, it was soft, and it wasn’t quite as cold as putting ice directly on the boo boo. The bunny gave them something to focus on and before you knew it they were off playing again.
I recently saw a post from an affirming pastor (Stan Mitchell) on Facebook. It was a request for prayers for a gay 17-year-old boy who messaged him asking if he could talk to him sometime. He had come out to his parents and they took him to his youth pastor and the pastor of their church and things went horribly wrong. He told the pastor that he messaged that he didn’t think he “can make it much longer.” Thankfully the next day Stan shared on Facebook that the response he got from his original post was “an avalanche of love.” The teen read every post and so did his parents. They want to speak with him because as he states, “they are broken open by your love.” Many of the posts of love were from my fellow mama bears who have gay children. Once again we see that love matters.
This young man was hurting and his parents weren’t able to be there for him. I see this often with kids that come from Christian families. I’ve heard horrendous stories and most times the parents think they are doing what God would want them to do. The consequences of their actions are often devastating.
I’ve been contacted by a lot of parents on this journey, but lately there has been a change. Recently I’ve been contacted by several young adults whose parents can’t accept them and they are looking for help. Their parents won’t listen to them. So I wanted to say a few things about that tonight.
From a Christian perspective, I know it is not easy when your child comes out to you. It can literally take your breath away like you’ve been sucker punched right in the gut. And it can be really hard not to go into full on panic mode. With this knowledge, you probably think your child is destined for hell. In your mind, their very soul is at stake. Rather than reacting I’m going to ask you to take a step back. Breathe. Let your child know that you love them no matter what. That’s right…say “no matter what”. God is not going to hate you for loving your child.
You may struggle with denial. You may think it’s a phase. You didn’t raise them this way…it can’t be true. You may get angry at them. How can they do this to you? Are they rebelling? What did you do to deserve this? You may bargain with them. You are going to want to ask them not to tell anyone…I mean after all…are they really sure? How can they be so sure? They haven’t even dated yet. Maybe they just haven’t met the right person. You may get depressed. How did this happen? How can you fix it? What are people going to think? You may feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Again…take a step back. All of these things are about you when really this is about your child. Telling you this information about themselves was not easy. They may have been suffering for quite some time before coming to you. It will be really hard for them to process your reaction so keep it to yourself…at least in the beginning. Give yourself time to process. If you can, find other parents of gay kids to talk things through. Read as much as you can get your hands on and talk to God. He will give you answers. If you really think God is big and in control, you taking some time to figure things out is ok. If you believe in the Holy Spirit, take the time to listen. And in the midst of this…love your child.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve told my kids it doesn’t matter how old they are…they will always be my babies. And you know…it doesn’t matter how old your kids are…you will always be their parent. Chances are you will still be a place they go with their hurts no matter their age. Remember…they are still the same child with the scarred knees that you kissed when they fell down all those years ago. You don’t want to cause scars that are the emotional kind that can take years to get better. You don’t want them to feel like they can’t “make it much longer.” Show them “an avalanche of love.” It will mean the world to your child if they see you trying to understand them.
Love changes things…because it matters.