It’s not a phase…

Me sitting on my grandmother’s backyard steps.

Apparently when I was a little girl I was a bit of a flirt.  My aunt was only 10 years older than me so when she was 16 years old I was 6.  There were boys that would hang out by my grandmother’s house…clearly to see my aunt.  I can remember standing at the fence talking to them and at one point I announced that one of them was my boyfriend.  I believe his name was Chuck (I remember the last name too, but I will keep that to myself – wink).  I think they all got a kick out of it so he went along with it.  Very innocently of course.  When he would stop by, he would tell everyone he was there to see his girlfriend (me – smile).  I can remember standing at that fence like it was yesterday.

It’s been fun to see all of the back to school posts from my friends and family on Facebook.  I am no longer in that phase of life so it’s fun to relive those times through the posts.  The stories are fun as well.  The answers to the question of “How was your first day of school?” have been funny at times.  One of my friends posted that her daughter came home and was just going on and on about a boy in her class.  When my friend questioned her further about it, her daughter just simply said, “Oh he’s my boyfriend.”  She’s in kindergarten (smile).

In my last post, I shared that 9-year-old Jamel killed himself four days after school started.  He was being bullied for being gay.  It was disheartening to me to see the response this story received.  There was a lot of outcry about it, but not because 9-year-old children bullied a classmate to the point he couldn’t take it any longer.  The outcry was about how a 9-year-old could know he was gay.  There was also a lot of shaming of the mom for “letting” her son be gay at that young age.

You know…when I was six and announced that one of the boys visiting my aunt was actually my boyfriend…not her boyfriend…no one batted an eye.  No one was shocked or appalled.  No one told me I was too young to know whether or not I liked boys.

I’ve seen the same response with the Facebook post of my friend.  No one questioned her daughter’s age and declaration of liking her boy classmate.  When young children come home and announce that they have a crush on someone of the opposite sex, people think it’s adorable.  They know that it’s innocent.  They know that these kids aren’t thinking about sex.  It is puppy love pure and simple.

I’ve written before about the first boy that I “dated.”  I use quotes because we were in 6th grade and didn’t even hold hands.   Despite that…we were considered a couple.  I thought he was cute.  I liked him.  We danced together at the rec dances and that was it.  My mom and dad didn’t sit me down and tell me that it was a phase I was going through.  They didn’t tell me that I couldn’t possibly know that I liked boys because I didn’t have any experience in dating.  They didn’t tell me that you needed to kiss a boy or have sex before you knew for sure you were attracted to them.  They didn’t suggest that I date a girl too to make sure I wasn’t confused about this boy that I liked.  Yet, this is what gay kids are told all of the time…

Are you sure?
You’re too young to know whether or not you are attracted to someone.
It’s just a phase.
Why don’t you go out with (insert name of someone of the opposite sex)?  You might decide you like them instead.
You’re just confused.
You haven’t had sex yet…how can you know for sure.

That’s disgusting…you can’t like (insert name of same-sex person).
You just haven’t met the right person (of the opposite sex) yet.

The list goes on.  And instead of their attraction being described as sweet or adorable, they have shame heaped onto them for having feelings that they didn’t ask for.

If you grew up attracted to the opposite sex, did you need to explore with someone of the same-sex to make sure your attraction was real?  Did you need to have sex to know you were attracted to the opposite sex?  Of course not.

So yes…young Jamel knew that he liked boys.  He was excited to share with his friends…just like we as straight people like to do.  He was shamed for it and told to kill himself.  And he did.

How many kids will have to die?  How many kids will have to walk around thinking that God hates them?  How many kids will destroy themselves with their secret because they are afraid they will lose your love?

Love matters…

 

Advertisements

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.

 

The best parts…

“What was your favorite part about the conference?” It’s the question I’ve been asked the most by my friends who know how much I wanted to go.  If you read my last post, On Holy Ground, you know they are referring to the GCN Conference.  I’m on week two since being home and I’m still processing.

img_1121I would have to say I have a favorite parts.  The worship was powerful, the speakers were inspirational, the breakout sessions were informative, meeting some new moms and reconnecting with others was fun, the vigil was moving…it was all really good stuff.  A time that I will remember forever.  But what were my favorite parts?…the atmosphere and the people.

The atmosphere was relaxed, affirming, loving and well…fun.  So many smiles.  A place where you felt totally free.  You could be yourself.  It felt really good being there because I didn’t have to worry what anyone thought about my family, I didn’t have to worry about what anyone thought about my parenting, I didn’t have to hold anything back or feel censored in what I wanted to say…it was amazing.  I was so happy for the LGBTQ people who were there.  If I felt the way I did as an ally and parent there, I can’t even begin to imagine how they felt. Being your authentic self is healing.

My other favorite part…the people.  They were genuine.  There is something so intimate about being invited into someone’s story…someone’s pain.  I mean think about…we didn’t know each other, but in one of the breakout sessions we sat in a circle and they shared their deepest img_1120feelings and experiences.  I just wanted to scoop every one of them up and bring them home with me because in the midst of the smiles there was also pain.

And the hugs.  I want you to think about this for a moment. How many strangers would you go up to and hug?  It’s perfectly normal to hug our family members, and we tend to be ok with hugging our friends…but strangers?  That might seem a little strange.  But for some of the people at the conference, this is a healing thing for them.  Human contact that they are denied on a daily basis.  Several of the people who shared at the mic night on Saturday mentioned how much they liked the “mom hugs,” …one even saying that a hug from a mom is better than Prozac.

So…atmosphere and people.  Since I’ve been home these two short weeks, I’ve learned of a mom in Brazil who stabbed her 17 year old son to death because he was gay, a young man who was attacked outside a Target and hospitalized because he is gay, and a young transgender girl who took her life because of bullying.  Being in an atmosphere that is accepting and being with people who are affirming is not only life changing as many attested to…but I would venture to say…is life saving as well.

I leave you with this post from the lesbian daughter of one of my dear friends in reference to the inauguration.  Many are told to get over it, but this is what the LGBTQ community lives with on a daily basis and why this conference is so important:

“I love my job, I really do. I figure as long as my back allows me too I will keep my CNA license and use my gifts as a caregiver. Yet tonight as I made my way from room to room, every TV tuned to the event I did not want to see, I held my breath and thought this could be it. In a state with no statewide LGBTQ anti-discrimination law, at a Christian non-profit organization, working an already high-turnover position, serving a population with a drastically different worldview, though I love those I care for dearly and feel loved dearly, I worry. I worry I will slip up when I give my standard why I don’t have a boyfriend answer, or why I cut my hair like this. I worry a coworker will intentionally or unintentionally “out” me at work. I worry the lady ranting about how the “gays” are ruining America will see that twinge of pain in my eyes as I gently lay her down in bed. I worry someone will ask me about it and I will have to lie again, because it has happened and I’m worried about that day coming when I could be told you are not allowed to use your gifts.”

I love this girl…and I love her mama and the many, many more who I have crossed paths with and even those I haven’t.  I invite you to do the same.

Because love matters….

The Voice of a Mom…Part III

I have a secret.  It’s one that I’ve been holding onto for 44 years.  My younger cousins will be shocked to know this secret as they think I never did anything wrong as a child.  I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone this secret.  It happened when I was four years old.  My mom and I were carving a pumpkin for Halloween.  My dad was on night shift so it was just the two of us.  We started the process and cut the top off of the pumpkin.  Next we scooped out the guts.  My mom needed to use the restroom and before doing so she left very strict instructions not to eat any of the guts that we just scooped out while she was gone. Well that made me very curious.  I waited until I was sure she was all the way up the stairs and in the bathroom before I proceeded to take the teeniest, tiniest, ittiest bittiest piece of pumpkin pulp…and popped it into my mouth.

She came back downstairs and we completed the carving of our pumpkin.  And then it happened.  I got very sick.  I mean really sick.  I don’t remember how many times I threw up, but it was a lot.  I can only remember one other time 44 years later that I was as sick as I was that night.  She asked me over and over again, “Lesa are you sure you didn’t eat any of that pumpkin?”  And each time, “No I didn’t eat any.”  Liar, liar pants on fire!  I have no idea if the pumpkin made me sick.  I mean…isn’t that where we get the pumpkin for pumpkin pie?  Maybe you have to cook it before it’s edible?  Could it have been my guilt from knowing I did something I wasn’t supposed to do that made me so sick?  I guess we will never know…unless there is a pumpkin expert out there that will indeed tell me that raw pumpkin will make you deathly ill (smile).

My mom was trying to protect me and in return she got a sleepless night with a very sick little one.  Protecting their children is something that is just a natural instinct that comes with motherhood.  I have lots of examples of her fierce love and protective nature over me and my sister.  This is just a small example and it’s a simple one.  But for many moms, protecting our young is one of our greatest tasks.  I think you will hear that in the “voice” of the next mom that is going to share with us. As you read her story about her transgender child, you will hear the protective mama bear coming out. And when you have a LGBTQ child, this task is even more daunting as so much of the world is against your child. (here is another article that will help explain that transgender is not a choice).

This mom has a child a bit further in the journey than the first mom who shared.  Again, a very personal story will be shared with you.  Please be respectful if you decide to comment.  She is another amazing mom with a beautiful daughter and I am so happy that I’ve gotten to know her and proud to call her my friend.

10177861_10203423196682319_2655426038570311619_nAnd now the voice of a mom part III:

I am doing this writing for my friend Lesa that asked me to speak on behalf of myself & my transdaughter. I am doing this in hopes that it opens people’s eyes & hearts.

First some background…Although our journey that led us to another daughter began in my eyes many years ago, it has really only just begun.  Let me explain…Drue is my 14-year-old daughter.  She was born as Andrew (a boy).  I was so excited to have a child and didn’t care of the sex as long as my child was happy and healthy as most moms I am sure would say.  Drue joins our family with 2 other sisters. My husband and I are pretty easy-going parents and do everything with our kids.   Never in the mom handbook or “What to expect with your toddler” did it ever have a chapter on raising a transgender child.  I am damn glad it didn’t.  I didn’t need some book telling me how to prepare myself for the amazing transformation my child was about to undertake in the future ahead.

We have been so blessed with this amazing, talented, fun-loving gift.  I could tell from a very young age that Drue was different from the other little boys.  He was always very nurturing, kind, loving & sweet, so artistic and loved to learn.  He would watch every move I made and try to mimic them. I thought, “Ok, this is normal because my oldest daughter did the same.”  He carried a blanket around everywhere and would put it on his head and pretended it was his long beautiful “girl” hair.  He would wear my heels around the house and even outside on the concrete to hear them on the sidewalk.  I told myself, “What kids don’t do that?”

At around age three, Drue would play with toys that I thought were enjoyable “boy” toys, but he never seemed happy when doing so.  My oldest daughter had Barbie dolls all over the house.  One day Drue picked a Barbie up and an enormous smile filled his face…one that I haven’t ever quite seen. It was a different kind of happy.  Drue joyfully played with that doll endlessly and Barbie went everywhere with us

When we went to the store, he always chose the “girl” aisle of toys and I thought “Ok, so what…it’s just toys.” I would try to take him and almost force him to pick out “boy” toys.  Sometimes, unwillingly, I could tell he would just pick one only to satisfy me.  Finally I said to myself, “That’s it.  It is plain to see that girl toys make my child happy.”  And if he is happy so am I.  Parenting sometimes involves compromising.  You learn this pretty early.

Several years of pain and suffering inside his own head trying to figure out who he was and where he belongs really took a toll on his life.  At around 4th or 5th grade, he was bullied in school and begged me to remove him and home school him. It got to the point that he asked me to take him to the hospital for help and even said to his older sister I just don’t want to wake up. I knew at that moment I would do anything I had to do to make sure I didn’t lose my child.

After years of therapy and loving support, our child finally figured out who he was and where in this world he belonged. Andrew was always a girl trapped in a boy’s body.  It was so clear now. There is no doubt this is how our child was born.  I brought this child into this world and I made a promise to love and protect this child no matter what life brings. I told her we will make it work. We will do whatever we need to do and that she had mine and her dad’s support.  As I was saying this out loud to her, I meant every word… I really did.  I just didn’t know if I really could follow through with that.  As a mom, we always fear for our children’s safety.  This was so out of my control that I really didn’t know if I always could protect her but I know I will do my best.

As a parent I never felt a loss of a son. My child was always there…just in a different body.  I love my child for the person she is and the heart that she has.

Now for the questions that Lesa outlined:

1.  How do you know this isn’t just a phase?

A phase is a small part of life that someone can go through, but it’s not followed through with for a very long period of time.  It’s kind of like when someone changes their hair color all the time to keep up with the new “phase”.  You know it’s not a phase when it has always been there and showed up in many different ways.  When I hear people say that this “lifestyle” is a choice it burns me up inside.  No person, especially a child, would ever choose this life. It is a life full of questioning, wondering, re-building. It’s full of bullying, harassment, depression, drugs and sometimes suicide.  I wish people could understand that these are precious children full of a ton of love that are simply born in the wrong body.

2.  Are you hurting your child by giving them hormones or puberty blockers? Should you wait until they        are older?

The answer for my child’s situation is absolutely positively without a doubt NO!!  It would actually harm my child to not have blockers or start on hormones.  My daughter received a puberty blocker at age 13.  This is all a part of saving her life. So along with doctors who agreed it was time to start, the puberty blocking process began. The reason it’s so important is if you can only try to imagine being born a woman and growing a beard…no woman wants that.  Well that’s horrific to my trans daughter. This process stops facial hair, Adams apple, and voice deepening etc…   For our daughter to survive this had to be done.  In a few short months, she will start hormone therapy so she can feel more and more like a young lady as her other girlfriends do.

3.  Aren’t you saying God made a mistake?

God doesn’t create junk or mistakes.  God loves all.  This child was NO mistake. This child is one of the absolute greatest gifts in not just my life but everyone she meets. She loves deeply with no judgment on anybody.  Frankly, I feel that more of us could learn from her.  I firmly believe she was brought into my life to teach pure love & acceptance.   If we say God made a mistake, then that’s passing judgment and how can we do that as Gods children?  Are handicap children mistakes? Are drug addicted born babies mistakes? No and neither is a child that was born in the wrong body.

4.  What’s the big deal with the bathroom?

This is a touchy question and it’s been a battle that I hate arguing about.  No person understands what it’s like to walk in the shoes of our transgender children.  The bathroom and locker room is a very scary place for my child.  My child has changed clothes for gym and uses the toilet in the nurse’s office for 2 years now. The nerves and anxiety kick in and its tears and so many fears about what someone is going to say next. The funny part is when we go into a bathroom…we are going in there behind a door to use the toilet. We are not standing there to check people out. Hate to break it to everyone also but transgender people have used the restrooms for decades and guess what?? Nobody’s ever known.  They are human beings like us and they deserve to share the same rights we all have.

In ending, this is definitely not the life I pictured having, but I honestly can’t imagine it any other way.  I am the blessed one because I get to see life through Drue’s eyes.  She wants to try to better this world and I will continue to do so for her and many others.

I recently asked her if she wanted the pictures removed off the wall of her past…the old “Andrew” photos.   She said no because it was all part of who she is and the journey we are on. I couldn’t be more proud of her.  She is a pure loving child that I know is exactly where she is supposed to be in life.

Thanks for listening with open ears and I hope you have an open heart now as well if you didn’t before.

Lesa here:  Thanks once again for taking the time to read another mom’s journey.  I think it helps us to understand (as best we can) what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.  I also think it is an act of love to step outside of ourselves to try to gain an understanding of something before we have a strong opinion on it.  I love this mom and her family and I would protect her “cubs” as if they were my very own.

Because love matters…

I’m just a bill…

I think my feet must have magnets in them.  I can’t tell you how many times my family have stepped on the back of my feet…usually when I’m in flip-flops.  My husband and both of my kids are guilty.  It is extremely jarring when you are walking along and someone steps on your shoe and you keep going, but your foot doesn’t.  And when it comes to my toes…my dog Lucy is famous for stepping on them.  She may be little, but owie does it hurt!  Well today I’m going to do a different kind of toe stepping.

stepping-on-toes

image_b1cc3b4bI love this little guy.  I really do.  He brings up such fun memories from my childhood.  Good ole’ School House Rock (SHR).  Saturday morning cartoon time (yes that was the only time cartoons were on back in the day) was not complete without the songs from SHR.  I passed many a test while singing those informative songs in my head.

I’m just a bill.
Yes, I’m only a bill.
And I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.
Well, it’s a long, long journey
To the capital city.
It’s a long, long wait
While I’m sitting in committee…

Well if you have been paying attention to the news lately, you know that there was a bill that was passed in North Carolina that didn’t have a long, long journey.  It was passed in 12 hours.  The media have been referring to it as the “religious freedom” bill and often call it the “anti-LGBT” bill.  Yes it does have some things in there that discriminate against the LGBT community…especially transgender individuals and bathrooms, but did you know it also has these items:

Section 143-422.3 eliminates wrongful termination on the basis of an employee’s skin color. Section 143-422.2 eliminates the existing law remedy that now protects – but will no longer – a Christian who has been terminated on the basis of religion. It also eliminates any state law claim for discrimination in the workplace on the basis of national origin or ethnicity.

I think people hear “religious freedom” and they jump on the bandwagon not even knowing what’s in the bill.  Especially since it is really talked about as an anti-LGBT bill.

Mississippi also recently passed a bill with a lot of the same language.  This new law states that it protects “sincerely held beliefs or moral convictions.”  This bill, however, has something in it that people may not realize it has until they go out to dinner.

Mississippi is one of the states that has a high rate of obesity so they added something to this bill to try to take care of the problem.  I guess you could say it’s the anti-gluttony bill.  Restaurants have the right to deny people service who are overweight. There are some restaurants that have gone as far as hiring extra hostesses (bouncers) that stop people from even entering the restaurant.  And if you happen to be on the cusp of what someone thinks is overweight, you are allowed in the restaurant, but you can order only from a special menu that they feel will help you with your weight loss.  Some restaurants have even gone as far as putting “no fat people allowed” in their windows.  And if you are overweight because of medical condition, be prepared to have medical records to prove it to be allowed into the restaurant.

Pastors who have supported this bill have been asked how they can be behind such a blatantly discriminatory bill.  They have answered with statements like, “Well we aren’t asking people to put a knife to their throat.  The Bible clearly states in Proverbs 23:2 that is what should be done when given to gluttony.”  And, “Gluttony is making your stomach a god as stated in Philippians 3:19  and that can be considered idolatry.  Your body is a holy temple and should be treated as such.” So far 40% of the restaurants in Mississippi have embraced this new bill and the governor is hoping for 100% by the end of the year.  When a Christian restaurant owner was asked why he supported the bill, he commented that he wanted to follow the truth of scripture and serving food to these people would be helping them give in to their evil desires.  “Clearly you can’t know what is in the Bible and be overweight AND Christian.”

So, who wants to take a trip to Mississippi with me?  How’s your blood pressure doing?  Are you thinking, “What the heck is wrong with people??”

Luckily this part of the Mississippi bill is not true.  I made it up.  It does discriminate against the LGBT community, but not overweight people.  Look at it as a parable if you will.  You might be thinking that this is comparing apples to oranges.  I respectfully disagree.  This is discrimination.  Period.  It doesn’t feel good and it’s ugly.

My son can be denied a job, housing, services, etc. because he is gay.
There are signs in stores across the country in store window fronts that say, “no gays allowed.”
I know of a boy whose pediatrician refused to continue seeing him when he told him he was gay.
I also know of someone who was beaten to the point of seizures in a bar and the police refused to file a police report.  The person was told to leave or they would be arrested.
I know of a transgender woman whose ID was checked by a police officer when coming out of a rest room in North Carolina.
And many times people have said to me that it’s impossible to be gay AND Christian.

I’ve heard people say, “Why can’t gay people just get over it already?”  If you lived in the conditions stated above, would you be able to just “get over it?”  People’s rights are being stripped away and it is wrong.  I just wonder how you would respond if you faced the same discrimination.  And by the way, these bills discriminate against just about everyone so the scenario in Mississippi isn’t too far fetched.

I felt really mean writing this post.  I don’t want anyone to think that I am judging them.  I think maybe God placed it on my heart in this way because He is just tired of His babies jumping off of overpasses into oncoming traffic, stepping in front of tractor trailers, shooting themselves in the head, overdosing on drugs…because society doesn’t understand what they are doing to them.  And quite frankly I’m sick of it too.

Was Jesus all about religious freedom?  Were his disciples?

I know one thing…Jesus was all about love…because love matters.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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…

 

walk_a_mile_in_my-101006

 

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