A picture is worth a thousand tears…

Well that isn’t exactly the saying is it?  It should be, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but this morning that wasn’t the case.

Pictures are amazing things.  They can transport us back in time in a blink of an eye. Sometimes they are memories that make us laugh.  Sometimes they are memories that make us swell with pride.  Sometimes they reduce us to a puddle of tears.  That’s what happened to me today when Facebook decided to remind me of a memory.

The picture that greeted me this morning was one that most people would think would be a happy memory.  After all…it’s a picture from a vacation 8 years ago.  But it was a reminder of one of the darkest times my family has experienced.  And in light of losing another young person to suicide this past week, it hit me hard.

Here’s the picture.  We are at the beach having our yearly end of vacation bonfire. img_1193Roasted hot dogs and of course smores were on the menu.  You can see how happy McKensie is with her marshmallows.  Now look at Kyle’s face.  Can you see it? When I look at this picture, the pain I see is palpable.  It crushes me.  And it brings me back to the fear and desperation I felt.  This was taken 3 months after we learned he was gay, and just four months before he landed in the hospital for suicidal thoughts.

I share this because of the suicide I mentioned that happened this week.  The young man who took his life was afraid to tell his parents that he was gay.  I don’t think people understand what a traumatic experience this is for the LGBTQ community.  I posted this on Facebook, but wanted to share it here as well in hopes that it might prevent another tragedy.

Why would a child be afraid of their parents?

  • They may hear them speak about the subject of being gay in an unfriendly, unloving manner.  Watch how you speak about it.  At least 50% of the parents I come in contact with had no idea their child was gay.  It totally threw them through a loop.  Why?  Because they have a stereotypical idea of what being gay is in their minds and their kid didn’t fit that mold.  Be careful what you are against because it could be the very thing you love most in the world.  Our.Kids.Are.Listening.
  • If they come from a Christian home, they may have heard that it’s a sin and that gay people are going to hell.   Let’s commit to love our kids towards God…not away from God.   Let your kids know you love them without putting the word “but” in the sentence.
  • They may know kids that have been kicked out of their homes for being gay, and they are afraid their parents will do the same thing.

There could be many more reasons.  Silence can be deadly as well. Talk to your kids. Having a difficult conversation with them is sure as heck better than burying them.

Of course parents can do all the right things and still may face the tragedy of their child taking their lives.  I’m not here to place blame or shame anyone.  I just ask us all to think about how we treat others.  This could have very easily happened to my family and I want to prevent it to happening to any others.

Fast forward almost 9 years and look at this picture.

15873064_10210942955391587_3781901443963125537_n

 

I hope you can see the difference that I see in Kyle. This is the face of love and acceptance.  Not just our love and acceptance, but the love and acceptance that he has for himself.  He couldn’t have gotten there without our love and support.  We went through such a dark time. This is what love, acceptance, and freedom look like. You can get there too.

 

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or ending your life and feel like you have no one to turn to, contact The Trevor Project.

trevor

 

 

 

Again, this post isn’t to place blame on anyone.  It’s just a reminder that words matter. Attitudes matter.

But most of all…love matters.

 

Advertisements

I’ve had the radish…

When my family planned a trip to New England a few years ago, my friend from Vermont taught me a few of the sayings that are from there.  Her family was traveling with us so it was really fun to have our very own tour guide.  We visited Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine both times that we vacationed together up there.  The saying, “I’ve had the radish” was the funniest to me.  I mean…what do New Englanders have against radishes (smile).  She explained to me that when her mom was at her wit’s end with her and her brothers she would let them know that she’d had the radish.  They knew then that they better settle down or they were going to get it.  They would also say it when something was worn out or ready for the trash.  Pretty funny, but then again being from Baltimore has its own little world of sayings as well.

This is how I’m feeling right now…I’ve had the radish.  I’m wondering seriously if this is even real life.  Am I living in one of my crazy dreams?  It feels like it.  My chest physically hurts, and the only thing that keeps going through my mind is what breaks God’s heart is breaking mine.

broken-heart-with-hammer

A young man who I met about a little over a year ago took his life yesterday.  I remember hearing his story.  I remember sitting with his mom as she tearfully told my group that her church refused to baptize her son.  How distraught she and her husband and her son were about that….rightfully so.  I can’t get his face out of my mind.  His shy demeanor, his intelligence, his compassion.  The church was going to meet with them to discuss this with them further.  After many attempts to do so…and simply just being blown off…I guess they waited too long.  I wonder if these leaders will sit down with this family now.  (he suffered from depression, but I promise you the church’s response did not help)

The church and their statements…their policies…I wonder as they sit in their meetings if they consider the consequences of their decisions.  Do they know any LGBTQ people?  Have they learned their stories?  Asked what they needed?  I am often asked, “Why don’t the LGBTQ people who aren’t happy with their churches find an affirming church?”  The answer is simple…in many areas of our country…there aren’t any affirming churches.  There are the churches that will say they are welcoming, but they don’t have anyone LGBTQ attending.  If you were truly a welcoming congregation, you would have them attending because they would know that you were welcoming.  In many cases, churches tolerate the LGBTQ community and then pat themselves on the back that they let them attend.

The Mormon church recently introduced a policy in November regarding the LGBT community.  Since then there have been 32 LGBTQ suicides in the last 81 days.  Let that sink in…  While it’s impossible to know whether the new policy triggered the reaction of these suicides, the circumstantial evidence can’t be ignored.  The church was asked about this and they replied, “they do not reject LGBT members.” Really?  Have you asked them how they feel about your new policy? Clearly there is a disconnect.

I gotta be honest.  I feel sick…I feel hopeless…and I feel helpless.  It makes me want to have NOTHING to do with the church.  I know that’s harsh.  I know there is a good possibility that we all may never agree, but making people feel as if they are unworthy of love…thrown away…is not how we should handle that disagreement.

If you have a conversation with someone about God, Christianity, the Gospel…whatever the topic regarding faith…and they leave feeling less than, unloved, belittled, etc…you are DOING IT WRONG.  As Christians we are to bear good fruit. What kind of fruit are you bearing?  How many lives must we lose?

For now I will remind myself of Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

beauty-from-ashes

Lord bring us beauty from ashes.  Love each other…love matters…and how we love matters even more.

 

 

 

Say what?…

I recently watched a funny YouTube video of a comedian.  He was explaining how he and his friends like to go out to bars on karaoke night.  They like to sing and this gives them the perfect opportunity…you know…since they aren’t in their own rock band and all.  He talked about how surprising it is to him when he picks a song that he thinks he knows inside and out…only to find out that when the words start to scroll on the screen he has the lyrics completely wrong.  It was hysterical hearing what he thought were actual lyrics in songs I know.  (I would share it here, but it had some bad language).  He would mention what he thought the lyrics were in certain songs and then he would play them for the audience.  It was really hard to hear the right lyrics once he told us the wrong ones!

It’s happened to me before too.  For the longest time I thought the Age of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks lyrics were “just like the one winged dove” instead of “white-winged dove.”   And the GoGo’s song Our Lips are Sealed I thought for sure said, “how does it feel.”  And then there is Blank Space by Taylor Swift that I could have sworn said, “list of Starbucks lovers” instead of “got a long list of ex-lovers.”  Maybe it’s because I love Starbucks (smile).  This is why as a teenager I loved when an album came with the lyrics.  Score!

I think this type of thing happens in other areas of life as well.  How about when it comes to the Bible?  Do you think that there are times when people read something and think it means one thing when in fact it means something completely different?  This happens a lot when people take a verse from the Bible out of context and use it to make a point.  That verse can completely lose its original meaning when we do that.

If you look at history, you will find some pretty significant controversies about misunderstanding the Bible.   For instance, there was a time when people believed the Bible taught that the cosmos was geocentric (Earth is at the orbital center of all celestial bodies).  Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the Earth is the center of the universe yet for centuries people believed it.  Here are just some of the passages that they thought proved geocentrism:

Ecclesiastes 1:5
The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.  

They believed that if the sun moved, the earth must not move.  And they had passages to prove that as well.

1 Chronicles 16:30
tremble before him, all earth; yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved.

Psalms 93:1
The Lord reigns; he is robbed in majesty; the lord is robbed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Psalms 96:10
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

It’s easy to see why when Copernicus and, later, Galileo, who taught the sun-centered (heliocentric) theory, came along they caused a controversy in the church.   People were considered heretics for believing them.  Now if you believe God created the universe, and you believe that scripture is God-breathed then this can cause a real problem for you.  Obviously God knew how He created the universe.  He knew how He set the solar system in the sky.  It was man who misinterpreted the scripture. Bad lyrics if you will.

One of the things that comes up often when I discuss the subject of homosexuality with people is that they tell me they want to follow the “true” scripture.  They want to follow the truth.  My question to them is, “Whose truth do you want to follow?” And they respond, “God’s of course!”  Since we don’t actually know the mind of God, we kind of have to go by how we interpret the scriptures.   And history shows that we don’t always get it right.  It’s hard to get an accurate count, but as of 2012 there was an estimated 33,000+ different denominations in the world.  This doesn’t mean that they all believe completely different things about God, but there are enough differences in theology that they separate themselves from one another. Even if that number isn’t accurate (you know…not everything you read on the internet is true) smile…having even 10 different denominations proves that we can’t agree on everything.

Another thing that comes up when I talk to folks is they tell me they don’t want to look at outside sources…they only want to look at the Bible on this topic.  Since I don’t know the original language that the Bible was written in, I’ve had to look to Biblical scholars for some of what I’ve learned.  However, I don’t look to them as my authority…that’s God’s role in my life.

I’ve read many books along this journey and they have been really helpful.  But I think people misunderstand when I say how much they’ve helped me to mean that they have become my “bible.”  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  For instance, the book Torn by Justin Lee that I mention a lot helped me to realize that you can be gay and a Christian.  I never understood the teaching on that, but I believed it because it’s what I was taught.  It was so refreshing to read Justin’s journey.  He writes about the controversial Bible verses in his book also, but at the time when I read it I wasn’t ready to delve into that part of things.  That came later in my journey.

I’ve done tons of research, but when it comes right down to it…I don’t know what God thinks about this topic.  I know what He’s spoken to my Spirit.  I know without a doubt what He wants me to do.  I have my beliefs…how I now interpret certain passages.  Could I be wrong?  Absolutely…but so could you.

I am so thankful that the disciples asked Jesus the question they asked in Matthew 22.  It is a question I so would have asked. I would have been like, “Jesus…it’s been great hanging out with you.  A lot of cool things have happened and you’ve taught us a lot, but I have to say…sometimes the stories you tell I just don’t understand.  What is the one thing I need to be doing?  Like…if I can’t do anything else…what should I make sure I get right?”

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When the lyrics of life get complicated and are hard to understand…
This I get.  This I understand.  This I can do.

Love each other…because it matters…a lot.

Abracadabra…

When my husband and I were dating, he shared a childhood story with me that made me heart ache for him.  He was in the 5th grade and his school was having a talent show.  He was really into magic at the time so he decided to do a set of magic tricks.  He had the costume, the gadgets needed, and a handy-dandy assistant to help.  Everything was going well until he got to the grand finale.  The trick was to pour a pitcher of liquid into a hat and then turn the hat over and place it on his head with the liquid magically08694ef872b480b865a5aad55437c710 “disappearing.”.  He chose milk for the liquid in the pitcher so that it could be seen from a distance on stage.  Little did he know that his assistant had previously fooled around with the hat breaking the device that kept the liquid from escaping.  He proudly poured the milk into the hat…and you guessed it…put the hat on his head only to be instantly dripping in milk from head to toe. He was devastated AND totally embarrassed.  I’m pretty sure tears were involved.  I think at that point he wished he could make himself disappear.  I can’t imagine how he must have felt and I just wish I could give that little 10-year-old boy a big hug.

Did you know that gay people are good at disappearing?  Well…not really, but it seems that way.  A phenomenon that happens to many parents of LGBTQ children is that our kids seem to no longer exist.  You run into someone at the grocery store that you haven’t seen in a while and they ask you about all of your children except your gay child.  They know how many children you have…they just don’t ask about the gay child or children. I hear this all the time from the parents that I speak with that have LGBTQ children.  It’s happened to me as well.  In fact, it happened just recently.  A member of our church that heard me speak on a recent Sunday about having a gay son came into my office the other day.  I have a bulletin board above my desk with pictures of my family…my husband, son, daughter, and my dog Lucy.  This person stopped in for something and took notice of the bulletin board.  They commented and asked questions about every picture on that board…except the picture of my son.  They even mentioned my dog.  Poof! Invisible.

I’m not sure what people think we as parents are going to say about our gay children if they were to ask.  Maybe they skirt around the questions because they think we are ashamed?  I’m not sure, but I can assure you that we are not ashamed. We are proud of our kids.  And…we would tell you the same sort of things we say about our straight kids.

People who have known my son over the years have said things like this:

“He is a fine young man.”

“I really enjoyed spending time with him.  He is a delight.”

“We just love him.”

“He is so funny!”

“Man he is smart.”

“He is a loyal friend.”

I could go on and on.  It makes me a proud momma (smile).  At the time these things were said, the people saying them did not know he is gay.  For some people when they found out, it didn’t make a difference.

For others, their response when they found out was, “But he’s so nice.”

This is a common response when people find out you have a gay child.  They can’t compute what they know of the person with this new information about them.  I’ve heard it and I know many other parents who have heard the very same thing. I want to point out that the person hasn’t changed.  They are the same person that you knew just moments ago.

I admit that I struggle with this when it happens.  I have a sarcastic nature and my tongue can be sharp.  I have to really watch my response when people insinuate that somehow my child being gay makes him a bad person.  He is the same awesome person you just thought he was before you knew.

picture-110
Please think before you speak or comment on something about a person…or a person’s child.  And don’t make people feel invisible.  They matter to God and they should matter to you.  Love them…because love matters…and 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.

Perspective…sometimes it knocks you off your feet…

“Lesa!  Watch this!” my sister called out to me.  It was Sunday and we were visiting my grandparents like we did every week.  I was playing touch football with friends that I had in my grandparents neighborhood, and my sister, well she was finding fun of her own. “Niki, don’t do that.  You are going to break the window,” I replied.  “No I’m not…watch.” she insisted.  My parents car was parked in the alley and my sister had collected some rocks from said alley and was tossing them over the car. She was pretty proud of herself.  Each time she made it, however, she would take a step back, pick up another rock, and toss it over the car. Window I heard several of those “Lesa!  Watch this!” exclaimed at me.  And then it happened.  Step, toss, SMASH!  She didn’t quite make it and this time I heard, “Ohhhh, I’m in trouble!”  She tried to talk me into going into the house with her to tell my parents that she broke the car window, but I told her she was on her own.  I’m pretty sure I added, “I told you to stop doing that!” in my most annoying big sister voice (smile).

Her perspective was that since she made it once…she would always make it.  The mistake she made was not taking into account her changing circumstances (stepping back each time and choosing different rock sizes).  I’ve certainly done that before, but instead of rocks and car windows, I’ve done it with God.

I’ve suffered with chronic fatigue and pain for the last 21 years.  About 15 years into my illness, I had a Christian friend tell me that God wasn’t healing me because I didn’t have enough faith that He could do it. (Gay people are faced with these types of statements all of the time)  I remember feeling like I had been punched in the gut.  How could this person possibly know how much faith I had in God?  How could this person truly know about my relationship with God?  For them, it was very simple.  I wasn’t praying hard enough and lacked faith.  Then this person got cancer.  Their circumstances changed…and so did their perspective. When the tables were turned, they understood that you can have all the faith in the world, and pray continuously for something…but not get the answer that you want.  Sadly this person lost their battle.  Perspective.

It’s really easy to think of what someone else should do when faced with certain circumstances.  I’m often asked what changed my mind about what the Bible has to say about LGBTQ individuals.  The easy answer…circumstances….perspective. The longer answer…well really I would have to answer that in person.  But I can say that when life’s circumstances change…you are sometimes driven to look for answers to questions you never thought you would have in the first place.

I did lots of reading…

I did lots of research…

I did lots of soul-searching.

It was scary because it brought up lots of other questions.  I’m so thankful that God was faithful to be with me through the whole process.  He was ok with my questioning.  I don’t have all the answers…I never will…and I’m totally ok with that.  It took me awhile to get there…and honestly sometimes I get scared about whether I’m “hearing” God correctly…but each and every time I wonder that, I get what I feel is a sign from God to keep pressing on.  He is cool like that!  The greatest thing I did for myself in all of this was to put myself out there and meet more LGBTQ people.  THAT is what cemented my perspective for me.  I’ve met the most amazing people and I’m a better person because of it.

There was a time when the Bible was used to support slavery.

There was a time when the Bible was used to persecute Jewish people.

We look back and think…how could people back then do that??  And then things changed.

Circumstances…perspective…sometimes it knocks you off your feet…and sometimes it knocks you off your pedestal.

 

perspective

Love each other…because love matters.

Hold on loosely, but don’t let go…

My church is moving, and since I’m on staff I’m pretty involved.  Moving is one of my least favorite things.  I don’t like the stress of the timing of everything. The whole process also messes with the perfectionist part of my personality.  So, things have been a bit crazy.  I’ve been thinking about this post for some time now.  I’ve briefly mentioned it before, but my pastor did a whole series on it recently so it’s been on my mind again. It’s allowed me to look back on my journey to see how far I’ve come.  It’s good timing as I’m growing weary of the journey lately.  The series that we just did was “Letting God Out of Your Box.” It’s funny because I had a dream last night that reminded me of the incident I’m going to write about.  I hadn’t thought of it in a long time, but my dream brought it back to life.  I haven’t really talked about my dreams here, but oh lordy do I have some doozies.  I almost never feel like I sleep because my dreams are so vivid.  Now I’m rambling…which I warn you now may happen again as I mentioned…my church is moving…stress, busy, brain overload.  I just need to get these thoughts out of me so I can stop thinking about them (smile).  Oh, and the events below are real life…not a dream.

When I was 16, I started dating a boy in my neighborhood.  He had just gotten out of a pretty long relationship, but they had broken up and the girl was actually dating someone else as well.  It was a warm summer day and there was a little league baseball parade followed by a game down at our neighborhood park. My friend and I were at High’s (our neighborhood store) getting some supplies for our picnic at the park to watch the game.  As I was leaving the 6ccaclflstore, a pickup truck filled with people pulled into the back of the parking lot. My boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend got out of the truck (her current boyfriend’s) and called my name.  She told me that she had something for me to give to my boyfriend and was holding out her hand. I was carrying a six-pack of glass Coca Cola bottles in my one arm so I held out my free hand.  When she got up to me, her hand that was once outstretched like she was carrying something turned into a balled up fist.  Before I knew what was happening, she was wailing on me.  I was getting punched in the head, the face, and upper body.  I was trying my best to fend her off while holding the glass bottles, but as you can imagine it wasn’t easy.  I had two thoughts…I didn’t want to drop the glass bottles because it would make an awful mess, and more importantly I was concerned about my contacts.  I was getting hit in the eyes and I didn’t want my contacts to get damaged.  I know…but if you’ve read my other posts you know how much I hated those glasses and how long I had waited for my contacts.  They were really expensive back then and I knew if I lost them or they got ruined I wouldn’t be getting another pair.  As these thoughts were going through my mind, I was trying to use my free arm to push her away.  I eventually was able to step back enough to kick her off of me. That was enough to stop her and some words were exchanged, but that was the end of it.  She basically didn’t want her ex with anyone else.  My friend who was with me…she was still in the store…afraid to come out.

I’m not sure why, but when I remembered this incident from my childhood it reminded me of this journey I’ve been on these past almost eight years.  With the above incident, I didn’t put my safety first. My first thought was to protect things….the bottles and my contacts.  I was holding onto those bottles for dear life because I didn’t want them to shatter.  In the beginning of my journey, I was holding onto my faith for dear life so it didn’t shatter.  They say hind sight is 20/20, but man I wish I would have gone about things differently.

I had God in a box…neatly packed away…out of sight.  I thought I was doing all the right things.  In fact, I would have told you that I had sprung God from the box in a big way.  I was asking for BIG things…out of the box things.  I remember walking my dog Lucy begging God for a “do over.”  Apparently I had screwed up royally and I wanted a chance to make things right.  I wholeheartedly believed that God could give me a “do over.”  I knew that He could make that happen just for me. That somehow I could relive the last 16 years my child had been on this planet.  I knew God was big enough to do that…and I asked Him to…and I was dead serious.  God can do anything…right?  Of course He didn’t answer that plea…He didn’t need to…He knew it wasn’t necessary.  I however had not gotten to that point yet.  I went to three Christian resources for information about homosexuality.  I didn’t stray from those resources.  Anything else would be from the world…right?  That would be bad. These resources were full of stories of change.  I had found the answers I so desperately was searching for all this time. So, I rearranged my God box with the things I was learning from these resources.  I packed them up and neatly tied a bow of hope on them.

For five years I carried that box around. I would peak into it wondering why the stories I had read about weren’t happening for my son.  I prayed everyday for the change that I had read about in others for my son.  There wasn’t one day that I didn’t say those prayers. Not one.  For five years.  Why God?  Why, why, why???  And then it happened.  A friend gave me a book.  A book that was outside of the “Christian” world that I had created for myself.  The author stated that they too were a Christian…and they were gay.  This went against what was in my box.  I unwrapped the bow, but I put the box down.  Could this be what I’m supposed to do?  Am I supposed to expand my resource list that I had so carefully selected.  I picked the box back up and gently lifted the lid…just a little bit.  I peaked inside afraid to disturb the contents.  Am I doing the right thing?   I carefully lifted the lid off of the box and instead of telling God what I thought He should do, I instead asked Him what I should do.  Imagine that.  I was so busy bossing God around and hiding Him in my box that I neglected to ask Him what HE thought about this subject.

The book that sprung God from the box was Torn by Justin Lee.  I will be forever thankful to Larry Dennis who gave me that book.  I had to take a hard look at my theology…or lack of it.  I realized that I was just repeating what I was taught or what I had read without any thought.  I never looked into it myself, or more importantly hadn’t asked God what He thought.  Now I don’t for a minute think I know what God thinks.  He is too big for that thank goodness.  But I do feel that the Holy Spirit has led me through this process.  Going along with what I thought I was supposed to be doing hurt me and it hurt my son. I’ve had conversations with him that I desperately wish I could take back.  I have to move forward from that and thankfully he has accepted my apologies.  The resources I had put so much faith in later turned out to be lies.  I don’t at all think that they were being malicious.  I don’t think they meant all the hurt that they caused.  They were trying their best to do what they thought they were supposed to do.  When they couldn’t pretend any longer, and when they saw all the hurt they were causing they finally came out with the truth.  Public apologies were made by some which I think is really important.

I said I wish I would have done things differently.  I wish I wouldn’t have been so afraid to go straight to God with my questions.  I was so afraid.  Fear isn’t from God.  I would have looked at those resources differently.  Not the be all and end all. I should have put my trust in God.  In the end, He surprised me and my faith is so much stronger because of it.  It’s definitely a balance.  One that I continue to learn.  I haven’t discarded all that I’ve learned about God in my lifetime, but I hold it loosely.  I instead rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me to a greater understanding of who God is and what He wants from me.

And with that I remind you that love matters….but how we love matters even more.