Looking for love…

While I was running errands last week, an old song came on the radio.  It’s called “Lookin’ for Love” by Johnny Lee.  I’m an 80’s girl so of course I knew the song (smile).   I think it was in the movie Urban Cowboy.  In one of my recent posts, I asked if anyone had questions.  It seems people really struggle with stereotypes.  In the crazy way that my brain works, this song reminded me of that struggle and something that happened a few years ago related to it.

If you watched the mini series “When We Rise” last year, you got to see what being LGBTQ was like throughout history beginning back in the 70’s.  It ended with the supreme court’s decision in 2015 to make marriage a right for the LGBTQ community.  It was a good series.  Parts of it were difficult to watch.  Saying it was rough for the community is an understatement…on many fronts.  I am so very thankful for the people who fought so hard for their rights.  We still have much farther to go, but things are better than what they were back then.

Since I was born in 1967, I wasn’t aware of what was happening to the LGBTQ community back in the 70’s and even the early 80’s.  Watching the series helped me to understand where that generation got their ideas about the LGBTQ community.  Unfortunately, those ideals were passed down to younger generations.  Until I met gay people as I got older, the only information I had about them was what I heard the older generation say about them and it seemed to me that it all had to do with sex.

In many areas of our country,  it is still hard to be out even today.  Back then, however, it was even more difficult.  The LGBTQ community had to hide.  The series showed what it was like for them.  There were bars and bath houses that they would frequent to basically find people like themselves.  I am sure it was a very lonely existence.   Alcohol and drugs flowed in these places.  It seemed that promiscuity was the norm.  If you look at that era in general though, I think it’s safe to say that this was across the board…straight or gay in many places.

When kids come out, I have found that a big concern for parents is they wonder when their kid is going to start with the behaviors that they’ve been accustomed to hearing about the LGBTQ community.  They think their kid is going to change.  This is why education is so important and something that our PFLAG  chapter stresses to parents new on this journey.  We assure the parents that their kids are the same as they were the day before they found out they were LGBTQ.

A couple of years ago I was reminded of how big of a hurdle the LGBTQ community has in overcoming old stereotypes that are out there about them.  I shared my journey of having a gay child at my church on July 5, 2015.   I talked about our journey, this blog, and the mom’s I’ve met along the way.  My message was about love.  The following Sunday, one of our church members stopped me with a question.  This person went home and did some research on gay people.  I’m not sure what kind of research they did, but they focused on sex.  They were surprised that statistically gay men are having more sex then straight men.  They asked me if I knew why.

As you can imagine, I was quite taken aback by this question.  I felt defeated.  Is this really all this person walked away from when hearing my story??  It took a bit for my brain to catch up to answer their question.  At first, all I could think of was…

Why?
Where did they even find a survey like this?
And Lord help me be gracious as I answer because deep down I wanted to scream, “Why does everyone make it about sex?!”

I reminded them that I wasn’t an expert, but I had a few ideas.  I turned things around and asked them a few questions:

Do you think the research you read took into consideration the kids that have been kicked out of their homes?  Do you know what they often have to resort to in order to survive?  Many of them have to work the streets as prostitutes in order to have food or a place to stay.

If you were told over and over again that you were disgusting and didn’t deserve to live, how do you think you would feel about yourself?  Do you think you would look for love in healthy ways feeling that way about yourself?

If you came from a faith background and were told you were going to hell, would you care about how you lived your life moving forward?

If you were told that love was not for you and someone paid attention to you, do you think it would be easy for that person to take advantage of you?

They admitted that they hadn’t thought of things that way.

Taking all of these things into consideration is another reason why the number one piece of advice that I give parents new to this journey is to make sure their kids know that they are loved.  Granted that isn’t romantic love which many of them crave, but it will help them to have a healthy view of themselves.  Straight or gay that is helpful.  And it doesn’t matter what their sexual orientation is when it comes to whether or not they are going to have sex, when they start having sex, or how often they have sex.

The chorus of the song I heard last week is this:

I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,
Lookin’ for love in too many faces,
searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces
of what I’m dreamin’ of.
Hopin’ to find a friend and a lover;
I’ll bless the day I discover 
another heart lookin’ for love.

The only way to break the stereotypes that we’ve been taught is to enter the stories of the LGBTQ community.  They need our understanding.  They need our love so they don’t have to look for it “in all the wrong places.”

Because love matters…

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Welcoming AND Affirming…

I posted an article on my Facebook page this week and got a good question in response.  Since I’m sure others have thought this, I thought I’d answer my friend in a blog post.  The article that I posted was in the Advocate and you can read it here.  If you don’t want to take the time to read it, the article explained why the difference between an affirming church and a welcoming church is huge.  The person sharing their story had been through conversion therapy.  Here is the question that I got:

It could be 300-600 or more people sitting in a church for mass or service. Who would know who is different, in what ever way? 
Why does there even need to be a necessity to know anyone’s sexual preference, in a crowd, a bus, or in a church? 
This always confuses me about how people complain about not being accepted. 
Isn’t it someone who is unsettled or self-conscious about something that has the feeling of being unwelcomed?

I’m genuinely interested in the feelings people go through. 
I’d feel unsettled or self-conscious say… if I’d enter a room of tall, slender runway models. 
Of course, at my age now, it wouldn’t bother me as much because I’m much more comfortable being me. Authentic, shortness and all.

Great question right?  And I love that this person stated that they are genuinely interested in the feelings that other people go through.  Just like a skinny person may not understand why it might be a bit awkward to walk into a room full of runway models if you aren’t skinny…a person who is straight is not going to understand what it’s like to be LGBTQ walking into a church.  So it’s good to have conversations to try to understand each other.

First let me say that I am straight.  So I also don’t understand what it’s like to walk into a church being LGBTQ.  I do, however, have some experience as a parent of a gay child.  I’ve also been on this journey now for 10 years and I’ve been in lots of different situations, met lots of people, and heard countless stories of what others have been through.  I just want to make it clear that I’m not an expert, but I think I can speak into this question at least a little bit.  I am just going to scratch the surface on this because there are too many layers to go into in one blog post, but if you’ve been following me for a while you know that I’ve touched on many of these things in other posts.

We first need to understand the terms we are talking about.  Churches may understand these terms in their own way, but generally this is what they mean:

A church that is welcoming, in the context of the LGBTQ community, is open to welcoming everyone.  There is a distinction because there are churches that would not allow an LGBTQ individual to cross their front door (I will go into the question of why does anyone need to know in a bit).  So if a person sees that a church is welcoming, they know that they can attend there if they are LGBTQ.

A church that is affirming is not only welcoming, but they are accepting of the LGBTQ individual completely.  The church does not believe that it is a sin to be LGBTQ.  The church would allow the individual to be married, and they can serve in whatever capacity God has gifted them.

Now to the question.

If you are LGBTQ, you have the right to keep that to yourself.  No one expects you to announce it to the world…let alone the church.  But not knowing where a church stands  can be harmful.  For instance, there have been pastors that have said that all LGBTQ people should be thrown in jail, some that have said they all should be hung, and some that praised the shooting that happened at the Pulse nightclub almost two years ago.  These are normal, run of the mill churches…not extremists like Westboro Baptist that we are all so used to hearing about.  If you know that a church is welcoming, you at least can be somewhat guaranteed that you aren’t going to hear something like that from the pulpit.

I was incognito as a parent of a gay child in my church for some time.  If you asked people at my church what they thought about gay people, I think they would tell you that they loved them.  But yet, I heard things like:
“Gay people are freaks.”
“Gay people are going straight to hell.”
Referenced as “He, she, it…whatever they are”
“It’s just gross…we don’t need to hear about that or see it.”

That doesn’t feel good.  Call me names all you want, but don’t mess with my kid.  I’m an adult and I’m not gay.  Imagine hearing those things as a young person who is gay.  So yes, they can sit in a pew of 300-500 people incognito, but is it a healthy environment for them?  And what about when they do finally tell someone their secret?  If it is not a welcoming church, they could be kicked out.  Young teens have been kicked out of youth group when they come out because leaders think it is somehow contagious.  People have been fired from their church jobs.  So you could potentially attend a church for years…build friendships, and that is all stripped away when they learn this one thing about you.

So let’s now say that someone is in a welcoming church.  People know that they are LGBTQ and they have felt loved.  No one has said anything mean to them.  There haven’t been any condemning messages from the pulpit.  Life is good.    People tell them all the time they have a beautiful voice and they really like singing.  They decide to audition for the worship team.  They are told that although they have a lovely voice they can’t be on the worship team.  The church doesn’t want someone who is LGBTQ upfront on Sundays.  Although the church is welcoming, they believe being LGBTQ is a sin and you must have your act together if you want to represent the church on stage.

That hurts, but you really feel connected in this church so you try to let it go.  God has given you a passion for the homeless and the church has a ministry with the local homeless shelter.  You sign up and once a month you serve this important ministry.  God has grown you in ways that you couldn’t have imagined through your service there.  Your life outside of church is going really well too.  You’ve met someone and have gotten quite serious with them.  When the church finds out, they tell you that you can’t serve any longer.  You are welcome to serve if you stay single, but they can’t condone your relationship.  You are willingly sinning and they can’t overlook it.  In this church, that kind of love is not for you.

This is what it’s like to not feel accepted.  It’s not a matter of being comfortable in your own skin.  It’s dealing with this over and over again.  It tears a person down.  This is why affirming churches are so important.  These things don’t happen because the person is fully accepted.

To go back to the article…this person had been through conversion therapy.  The comment that someone from the welcoming church made to them reminded them of the horror they went through in that kind of therapy.  Conversion therapy has many different forms.  It could be “praying the gay away.”  Being told that you just aren’t praying earnestly enough.  You don’t have enough faith and that is why God isn’t “healing” you.  It takes much darker forms as well.  In some forms, they give the LGBTQ person a drug that makes them physically ill while they show them gay porn.  And in others, they put electrodes on their genitals, show them gay porn, and shock them if they get aroused.  Conversion therapy has been outlawed in several states, but there are many that still allow it to continue.

So that was a lot of info and it is just scratching the surface.  I hope that this gives at least a little bit of a glimpse into why this is important.  A church has the right to believe what it believes.  Although I would love to see all churches be affirming, I know that isn’t going to happen.  My son said he would never set foot in an non-affirming church.  I wouldn’t want him to.  I don’t want him ever to receive the message that God thinks less of him.  I don’t ever want him to get the message that he isn’t loved completely.

Because love matters…

 

Ebb and flow…

Growing up I was fascinated by the jade plants that my grandmother had growing in her kitchen.  Their leaves were fat….like you painted them onto the stems with puffy paint.  When I went out to San Diego back in 2016 for my niece’s wedding, I fell in love with the succulent plants that were in abundance there.  I found them to be so beautiful and so interesting.  They weren’t flowers, but some of them formed patterns that looked like flowers.   Just when I thought I had seen them all, I would discover a new one.   Such a variety of textures and colors.

I was really excited when I saw that our local craft store was starting to get some pretty realistic looking succulents.  I can’t have real ones because my cats will eat them.  I picked some of my favorites and put this together.  I love it because it reminds me of my trip out to California.

Last week I thought about faith a lot.  I was preparing for Easter.  There was a time when all of this faith stuff was much easier.  I hate to admit that I didn’t think of it much…it just…was.  Yes there were questions in the back of my mind, but I pushed them aside.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I was afraid of not having the answers.  Maybe I was afraid of where the questions would take me.  Maybe I was afraid of the answers I might find.

As I reflected last week, I realized that faith wasn’t easier then…it was more that I was just simply being lazy about my faith.  I’m so thankful for God bringing me…dare I say dragging me at times…out of the ditch my faith was stuck in.  I found that I’m not afraid of the questions any longer.  And even better…I’m not afraid of the answers…or the lack of answers.  It’s in the not knowing that we truly find the mystery of God.  It’s there that you discover how vast His unconditional love is for us.

Like the succulent plants that I discovered on my trip to California, my faith has more richness, more layers.  And I’m discovering something new at each turn.  It’s opened me up into a messy, deep, ebb and flowing kind of faith and I wouldn’t change it for anything.  It’s brought me to people I would have never met otherwise.  People that I love with a depth that I don’t even understand.

I had someone tell me recently that I felt like family.  That’s a good way to describe it.  My family has increased.

I know Easter was hard for many in my new family that has grown over the last 10 years.  Traditions of going to church have been replaced by new traditions because they are no longer welcome or they no longer feel safe there.  Families by blood being rejected by each other.  Pretty sure that grieves God deeply.

For God so loved the world…

Love each other…it matters.

 

 

Figure of speech…

The English language is a complicated thing to master.  Think about it.  We have so many words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings:

pair, pear, hole, whole, their, there, right, write

The list goes on and on.

In spelling class, we are taught “i” before “e” except after “c”…
and here’s a sampling of that not working out:

beige, height, leisure

Weird right?  (see what I did there – wink).

How about the figures of speech?  Yikes!  These were interesting when my kids were younger.  I would forget that they hadn’t quite mastered all the nuances of language yet.  They took things quite literally.  Like the time my daughter told me her leg was hurting.  I had her show me where and then I asked what the pain felt like.  She couldn’t quite explain it so I asked her if it was a constant pain, was it achy, or did it feel more like a shooting pain.  She looked at me with eyes opened wide and said, “I don’t know mommy…I’ve never been shot.”   Not exactly what I meant.  We were at the beach on vacation and we had just eaten lunch.  The rule was that you had to wait a half hour before you got in the ocean to give your food a chance to settle so you wouldn’t get a cramp.  I have no idea if that’s a thing, but that’s what I had to do as a kid so I passed it along to mine.  I was standing at the shore line with the other adults and my son kept coming up to me over and over again asking if he could get in the ocean.  Finally in exasperation I said, “Go ahead…knock yourself out.”  He looked at me with his little head cocked sideways and said, “Why would I do that?”  I just knew that figure of speech was going to land me on Oprah one day.  “You know Oprah…the trouble with my mom began when she told me I should knock myself out.”  The audience gasps.

Figures of speech can end up in some funny misunderstandings.  There are times though, where speech isn’t so figurative.  This type of speech has the ability to cut someone to their core.  I saw the effects of this first hand recently.  I can’t emphasize enough that entering someone’s story is the best way to gain understanding.  The labels just don’t stick when you are sitting face to face with someone you thought you had all figured out.

I had an opportunity to meet two young ladies who identify as LGBTQ.  They were both in their 30’s.  They both discovered that they were LGBTQ in their early middle school years.  I listened to them as they described what it was like to discover this about themselves.  They talked about the fear they felt of being found out.  So I asked them how they knew it wasn’t safe to come out.

For one of the women, it was when she was watching a movie with her mom.  The movie showed two men kissing.  She said it was a quick kiss, but her mother’s reaction let her know it wasn’t safe.  She was around 12 when this happened and her mom said, “That’s disgusting!” when the kiss happened.  She immediately thought, “Oh my god!  I’m disgusting!”  For the other woman, it was during a church sermon that she realized it wasn’t safe to come out.  The preacher yelled from the pulpit that being gay was an abomination.  She didn’t even know what that meant so when she got home she looked it up.  From that moment on she knew that people would think she was disgusting and would hate her.  She attempted suicide.

I could tell that as they were telling their stories that those feelings had stuck with them.  Even though they had moved on and were in loving relationships, the damage of those reactions and statements were being carried by them to this day.  I could feel it.  They took these words to heart.  They took them literally.  This was not a figure of speech misunderstanding.  Because of this, as I’ve stated before, coming out is a scary endeavor.  I am amazed by the harsh statements people make when someone comes out.  This is a very personal aspect of someone and they are trusting you when they come out.  Most of my experiences of telling people I have a gay son have been good.  But I have had people respond with, “I don’t agree with that.”   Really?  I was not asking you if agreed with it.  Then they go on to tell me that he is going to hell.  Well I don’t think I asked you about that either.  It’s happened to countless parents that I know and their children unfortunately.  I just can’t imagine saying this to someone.

How do you think things turn out for kids that don’t have support?  Being told over and over again that you are going to hell, that you are an abomination, that you are disgusting.  Do you think it ends well?

There are several passages in the Bible that warn about the tongue.  Maybe people should heed that since they can apply it to themselves and worry less with others.  Let’s leave that up to God.

Words stick with people.   Respond in love…because love matters.

Side note – I felt a nudge from God while writing this to ask if anyone has questions or topics related to the LGBTQ community or being a parent of someone from the LGBTQ community that you would like to see addressed here.  You can ask a question in the comment section or you can send me an email via my contact page.  You can comment anonymously and if you email no one can see it.

 

 

A time to be brave…

Have you ever been stunned by something that you witnessed?  I would imagine the answer to that question for you is probably a resounding yes.  And more than likely it has happened on more than one occasion.  If not, I’d say you might need to get out a little more often (wink).

The first time it happened to me I was six years old.  I was in my pediatrician’s waiting room with my mom, one of my aunts, and one of my cousins.  It was the type of office visit that strikes fear into all little children…vaccine (shot) time.  When my kids were little, they literally asked me every time they had to go to the doctor if they were going to have to get a shot.

Well the nurse called both myself and my cousin back at the same time.  You see he was two years older than me and they were going to use him as an example of how easy it was to get a vaccine.  I can remember it so clearly.  We each had our own chair to sit in and we were right next to each other.  The nurse gently rolled up the sleeve of my cousin and said, “Ok brave boy.  Let’s show your little cousin how easy this is.”  Well instead of getting the shot, he shot out of his chair like his life depended on it.  He was yelling and crying and literally running around the office while the nurse chased him.

I was stunned.  I couldn’t believe it was happening and even more shocking…that he was getting away with it.  Another nurse then turned to me and said, “Ok sweetie.  Let’s show your cousin how brave you are so he will come back and get his.”  I took it like a champ.  Was I scared?  Of course I was, but I was a rule follower and I wanted to be brave.  It didn’t work though.  The other nurse was still chasing my cousin around.  They practically had to lay on him to give him the vaccine.  After everything was said and done, we both got a balloon.  I remember at the time I thought that was unfair, but looking back I understand how traumatic that was for him.

Fear is a tough thing.  There is fear of the unknown, but sometimes I think it can be even harder if you know what’s coming.  I think that was the case for my cousin that day.

Earlier this week, I was greeted by a post on Facebook by one of my friends.  A young man in her area was the victim of a hate crime.  Both of his jaws were broken, he had shattered bones in his face, a broken nose, and his lip had to be sewn back on.  Why?  Because he is gay.  Another friend posted that her son was beat up in a bar when the bouncer discovered he was transgender.  And another posted that her daughter was refused the wedding venue that she chose because she is marrying a woman.

Unfortunately these things are nothing new to me or the people who posted them.  Things that don’t make it on the national news.  It’s a fear that we live with daily for our kids.  It is really difficult not to let it consume us…or at least it is for me.  I have to make it a daily practice to push fearful thoughts from my mind.  I muster up the bravery of my six-year-old self.  I know that living in fear isn’t healthy and it’s not how God wants me to live.

As parents, we all want what’s best for our kids.  And bad things can happen to anyone really.  But those of us with LGBTQ kids live in this reality…our kids leave the house with a target on their back.  I want my child to have the same privileges as straight kids.  I want him to get a balloon too.

This picture was posted in my mom’s group today asking how we would title it.  There were some really good ones.  Some that were funny, some that were profound.  The picture reminds me that sometimes we don’t know how strong we are until we have to be.

As scary as this world can be to a mom of a LGBTQ child, imagine how scary it is to them.  They are the ones that have to carry themselves through it.

It’s why we should love whomever we meet and wherever we go…because love matters.

Apples and oranges…

Mondays are my Target days.  I try to get there as soon as they open so it’s not too crowded and I get what I need for the week…and maybe things I didn’t expect to get.  If you are a Target shopper, you know what I mean (smile).  This past Monday I walked past the make-up aisle as I do every week, but this week my eye caught the L’Oreal lipstick display.  I’m not a lipstick person.  I’ve tried and tried mainly because I’m getting older and my lips are losing their color (by the way what is up with that??), but I just can’t find a shade or brand that I like.  But back in the day, my friends and I liked a shade of L’Oreal lipstick that was pretty neutral so it was doable for me.  I think it was called satin mauve.  You know mauve was big in the 80’s (wink).  I went past the aisle, but was compelled to turn my cart around and go back to the lipstick.  Memories came flooding back to me standing there in front of that lipstick.  Isn’t that weird?  Maybe it’s because there has been so much negativity in the world lately and I just wanted a little nostalgia.  I wondered to myself if it still smelled the same.  Again weird…but the lipstick had a scent that I distinctly remember and I just had to buy a tube.

I had forgotten about it when I got home.  This morning I noticed that I had not emptied all of the Target bags so I grabbed them to put things away.  And there it was…the lipstick.  I had to laugh because I went by the look of the color when I picked it.  The name?  Saucy mauve…I guess mauve isn’t just an 80’s thing (smile).  At the risk of sounding loony, I opened it up and took a long, deep sniff.  Oh my gosh!  It still smells exactly the same!  I took another smell and it came to me…PEZ!  It smells like PEZ candy to me.  Who knew that after 30 years L’Oreal would have the same formula??

Again a bunch of memories came flooding to me just from a simple smell of lipstick.  It made me think of some of the commentary I’ve seen on social media lately towards this generation of kids.  So many of the comments start off with, “Well when I was a kid we would never get away with this behavior.”  They usually go on to say how this generation is a bunch of over sensitive babies.  Having graduated from high school 33 years ago this year (yikes!), I can say that things today are nothing like what I encountered when I was a teenager.  Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t a cake walk by any means, but I can say with confidence that kids today face much higher pressure then we did back then.

Social media plays a big part in that.  Back in the day, you would hear through the grapevine that someone didn’t like you or was talking about you.  Today it is blasted on social media for all to see.  When I was a teenager if you were in a fight, people would hear about it, but today it’s video recorded for the whole world to see.  It has taken bullying to a whole new level.  I know adults who have a hard time with comparing their lives to their friends lives on FB…imagine what that’s like for a young teenager.  Pressure!  I could go on and on, but I won’t.

The scariest thing I had to deal with as a teenager was taking public transportation to high school through the city.  I went to an all girl Catholic high school and we didn’t have a school bus so I took an hour-long ride every morning and afternoon on the mass transit system.  I saw some sights…the most disturbing being a man exposing himself to me.  You can’t get away when you are stuck on a bus going to school!  My classmates and I also had to deal with boys at our bus stop by our school trying to pick us up and making sexual comments about us in our school uniforms while they were huffing paint…baggies of it.  But none of that compares to the fear of being shot while in school.  That thought NEVER even occurred to me.  To me comparing what life was like for me back then and what kids deal with today is like comparing apples and oranges.

 

The negative commentary I’ve been seeing on social media towards the teens that were part of another tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida and the uprising of teens who support them have been mind-boggling to me.  Especially since they have all been from adults.  Things like:

“These kids are spoiled brats.”
“What a bunch of babies!”
“They are being paid by anti-gun lobbies to be victims.”
“Their parents just need to give them an ass whipping.”
And when the kids laid down in protest in Washington, I saw someone comment, “Where’s a car bomber when you need one?”

I’ll stop there.

Like I said it’s been mind-boggling to me.  I truly do not understand.  I don’t care what your stance is on gun control or politics…these are children.  Children who have gone through a horrific ordeal.  Since I have been seeing so many back and forth conversations (or social media fights) about how the gun used isn’t that dangerous or yes it is dangerous, I decided to look up the gun that was used.  I checked several sources and this is what I found in regards to what the gun used in this particular shooting does to the body (source quoted):

ALL GUNS CAN kill, but they do not kill equally.

Compare the damage an AR-15 and a 9mm handgun can do to the human body: “One looks like a grenade went off in there,” says Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona. “The other looks like a bad knife cut.”

A bullet with more energy can do more damage. Its total kinetic energy is equal to one-half the mass of the bullet times its velocity squared. The bullet from a handgun is—as absurd as it may sound—slow compared to that from an AR-15. It can be stopped by the thick bone of the upper leg. It might pass through the body, only to become lodged in skin, which is surprisingly elastic.

The bullet from an AR-15 does an entirely different kind of violence to the human body. It’s relatively small, but it leaves the muzzle at three times the speed of a handgun bullet. It has so much energy that it can disintegrate three inches of leg bone. “It would just turn it to dust,” says Donald Jenkins, a trauma surgeon at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. If it hits the liver, “the liver looks like a jello mold that’s been dropped on the floor.” And the exit wound can be a nasty, jagged hole the size of an orange.

These high-velocity bullets can damage flesh inches away from their path, either because they fragment or because they cause something called cavitation. When you trail your fingers through water, the water ripples and curls. When a high-velocity bullet pierces the body, human tissues ripples as well—but much more violently. The bullet from an AR-15 might miss the femoral artery in the leg, but cavitation may burst the artery anyway, causing death by blood loss. A swath of stretched and torn tissue around the wound may die. That’s why, says Rhee, a handgun wound might require only one surgery but an AR-15 bullet wound might require three to ten.

So toughen up buttercup and get your butt back to school.  Nothing needs to change…you are just fine.

Maybe these people making these comments have never been through a tragic event.  It never totally leaves you and you never know what may trigger a reaction.  You can better believe that when I get a bad headache, and I get them often, I am reminded of my mom dying suddenly from a brain aneurysm.  It freaks me out a little.  What these kids experienced and saw is horrifying.  Something that they will never un-see.  Sounds they will never un-hear.  Friends they will never see again.  Not to mention survivors guilt.  Can we have a little compassion for Pete’s sake?!  Would you say the things you type on social media to their faces…to their parent’s faces?  To the faces of the parents who lost children?

If speaking out for gun safety empowers them, I say more power to them.  If demanding something is done makes them feel like their friends didn’t die in vain, I say demand away.  If laying down in front of the White House helps them feel like they are doing something to make a difference, I say I’ll lay down with them.  I don’t know these kids.  But I can put myself in their shoes, and I can have empathy for what they are going through.  Parents shouldn’t have to buy their children bulletproof backpacks.  They sell those now.  How sad is that?

Let’s put aside all the political bullcrap and say:

“I hear you, I see you, and I’m sorry you live in a world where this is your reality.”

And then tell them that you love them.

Because love matters…

 

Radical love…

What do you say when your kids ask you “Why does our world lack empathy?”

“Why don’t people care that kids are being killed in their schools?”

“Why do people care more about having guns then the safety of others?”

What do you say when your kids tell you that they don’t see any good in the world.  At least their part of the world.  When they tell you that they feel hopeless.

Do I tell them that they are just little “snowflakes”?  That I didn’t raise them to be tough enough.  Do I remind them that life just isn’t fair and they need to get over it?

I couldn’t answer their questions because I have the very same questions.

I’m seeing people say on social media that God puts people who He wants into power.  For instance, the president of the United States.  Those same people then go on to argue that we need to have access to assault weapons in case our government goes hay wire and we need to protect ourselves.  Is this confusing to anyone else?  Do you trust God or not?

And there’s the “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Along with, “People get killed by cars, but we aren’t banning them.”  It’s exhausting.

I get that this is a big problem with LOTS of aspects to consider.  There don’t seem to be easy answers.  But to me…there do seem to be places to start or consider.

I’m not against people owning guns.  I think that is perfectly fine.  I have friends who own guns for sport, some for safety concerns and some are hunters.  I have one friend who provides for his family by hunting.  I wouldn’t want his gun taken away because his family would go hungry.  That’s crazy to me.  I do, however, think it is perfectly reasonable to say that average citizens should not have weapons that can kill masses of people easily.  And I think that it is perfectly reasonable that someone should have to go through licensing and training to own a gun.  You need a license for far less dangerous things.  To me it’s a no brainer.  But that’s me.

My kids asked why don’t people have empathy for the parents who have lost a child to gun violence.  I think lots of people feel bad about it.  I think lots of people are distraught and want things to change.  But it seems that many aren’t willing to go that extra step to say enough is enough and we need stronger regulations on guns.

It is a completely different situation, but I can’t help but think of some of the parents that I’ve met who have gay children.  They are actually surprised by their reactions when their kids come out.  Why?  Well because they would tell you that they love gay people.  In fact, they don’t have a problem with them at all…live and let live they would say.  They’ve worked with gay people without a problem with it and some have even had gay family members.  But their kid comes out and they are devastated.  Something is just different when it is your own kid.

I think this situation may be similar to that.  People don’t like that it’s happening, but it’s not happening to them.  At least not yet.  They may find themselves walking a different walk and talking a different talk if it one day ends up being their child that’s gunned down.

I believe a lot of what all of this boils down to is a love problem.  The lack of it.  Love matters and when it is absent devastating consequences happen.  Jesus came to this earth to show us the Father.  And what did Jesus do?  He loved…unconditionally.  When crowds were gathered and he was teaching, or feeding, or healing, he didn’t poll the crowd to see who was worthy of the Word, or the food, or the health.  It was for everyone.  There wasn’t a criteria that needed to be met.  We need to pay attention to that and stop the bullying, and the attacking, and the isolating of those we deem unworthy or too weird or too…whatever.  Especially when it comes to kids.

I wasn’t going to say anything about this, but looking into the faces of my children I couldn’t be silent.  Especially since God is the one that told me love matters.  Of course it does.  It’s His greatest command.

What if we loved radically like Jesus?  Would it make a difference?  I think it would.

Because love matters…