Praying for Jen…..

(Before diving into today’s post, I want to reiterate my goal here at grace and a safe place is for people to have a spot to work through a difficult journey.  It is not my desire to push a certain theology, though mine is shared in today’s post.  It is still my mission to provide resources and perspectives for those who are personally affected, and those who hope to gain insights for their own growth and transformation in this community of beloved souls.)

I have been silent for quite a while. It’s hard to explain why. I’m not sure that I fully understand, or can easily express this latest part of the journey. I think one catalyst to speak now is the Jen Hatmaker interview and the result, even though the result can easily be predicted. I was immediately drawn to pray for her, hoping that she realized the cost before proceeding. I suspect she did, and chose to go forth. Praying is something that had been quite a rarity for me lately. So it felt very precious, to be prompted. I have spoke of the “loneliness”, and it has been very intense lately. I think partly due to me walking away from church mostly, and partly feeling that God has been silent. I feared that He had either walked away, or had been taken from me. I strongly suspected the second reason. The “script” that has been embedded in me in my corner of christianity has been playing into the silence with great intensity.  Because I support same sex marriage, and I embrace the full inclusion of LGBTQ people into faith communities, I have felt the growing distance with my faith as I have known it, and with my faith community. That old script has kept playing in my head. “You have caved in to culture.””You are on a slippery slope.””You don’t value scripture anymore,” and because “scripture is unchanging.””God only hears the prayers of righteous people, so He won’t hear yours.” This underlying current of hostility, or mistrust, of “science.”The very common answer,”it’s a choice to live that ‘lifestyle’.” The idea that this is just a spiritual issue (while ignoring that God’s WHOLE world is spirit, mind, heart, physical, relational). The idea that people need to believe the same theology in order to belong. And I could go on, but you get the picture. (Disclaimer: I always want people to know that our local church that we had been in was very supportive of us.  We were not asked to leave, or anything even close to that.)

I think the one that makes me so angry (and quite frankly turns me into someone I do not want to be), is that we (who support full inclusion and SS marriage) are assumed to “not value scripture.”I think this is a common response to people like Jen. That we just “cave in to culture.” Or for us parents, that we choose our children over God.  No.  I choose God and my child over my religion (because my religion may, or may not, be correct).  It’s probably the one response that makes me want to head slap someone!  Just being deeply honest here. You see, when someone begins to respond in this way, it hurts way deeper, than them just having a different theology on this.  I think that most of us can deal with having a respectful difference in theology.  It’s when we are reduced to “not valuing scripture” and so on…that it hurts and fractures relationships. Is my faith journey not equally as valid as yours? Is the result of my intense wrestling not respected and valued because it looks different than yours?  Well, let me inform you. We have studied it with such deep intensity, investment (it is our children and others we deeply love), and sometimes until we are blue in the face. We have prayed. We have pleaded, we have begged, bargained, and so on. We have prayed with groans and cries from our deepest core. And all from a deeply vested interest in eternity. Most of us will always do some of this until we die. And some of us come through that initial firestorm in support of our children, and other LGBTQ people that we love deeply. And feeling no condemnation from the Holy Spirit, but only condemnation from some of His children. You see, we also have the “God” piece of “relationship” with our beloved LGBTQ people. And that changes perspective in a profound way.

One of the ways things that Jen Hatmaker verbalized so well for us, is that we want all of our children to live full, whole lives; to be given the same spiritual support for their marriages and their families. I have recently had two of my three children get engaged, (one same sex and one opposite sex).  I am so excited for both of them, and I will celebrate fully with both marriage ceremonies. I pray that both have a good, deep, rich, and yes, holy marriage. I will do anything in my power to help each of them succeed. And it is my prayer, my greatest hope, that they will both find churches that will fully embrace them, and assist in this lifelong commitment as well.

I have found a good counselor whom I was recently discussing this very thing. I was telling her that I don’t regularly attend church anymore, I don’t pray very much, and do not feel that I have much in the way of a faith community. ( I do have a few very cherished people and you know who you are! I am deeply grateful!) I have felt great loss due to this. I shared how I had this feeling that my God, my faith, and my faith community had been taken from me; all due to this running “script” in my head. Her observations were that faith has always been so important to me; as well as a faith community (in the truest sense, not just attending the same functions), and service had been part of my life. She said that it sounds like my faith needs healing.  I may even need a new community where I am not “on guard,” where I can truly celebrate and seek God and find Him in this season.  Her advice was for me to seek a pastor to come alongside me with a different script than the one running through my head, the one I learned. Maybe that would be a start in healing my faith. And so, this is where I am currently. I’m in the beginning stages of this and I hope you’ll stay tuned. I’ll keep sharing with you.

(p.s. See the Resource page has been updated and there is more information from “all the pieces of God’s world.” There are spiritual resources, but also resources from a science background, one book that looks at not only religion, but culture, politics and how we have gotten to the point we are today. A couple of videos, and some very sad Statistics, etc.)

Gay Pride 101

I called this “Gay Pride 101” because this is written for those of us who have no idea what Gay Pride is, or how it came to be.  I always thought it was a big party and only knew of what I saw on TV.  I was asked to write a blog about “What Straight Christians Don’t Know About Gay Pride,” by a ministry called LoveBoldly.  I thought I’d share it here with all of you.  It was a very enlightening research project!  I hope this helps those of you who may not know, or who have a skewed image of what it actually is, to be more informed.  Click here to read.

The Solitary Journey

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything.  (We got a new puppy so I’ve been a little busy and preoccupied!)  I love the messages, texts, and conversations that some of you have had with me after my first post.  My hope is that you realize you are not alone, because parents of LGBT kids do feel quite alone at times, a lot of the time actually.  There is a private mom’s group on facebook (mother’s of LGBT kids) and our pastor, John Pavlovitz, has called it a “solitary journey.” I can share my story here, but there are thousands of us who sound very similar.  I’ve read some of their stories and thought how familiar it sounds, yet how different they can be, too. I thought maybe it is time to start sharing some of my journey.

I felt shock at first.  I cried all night long that first night.  I searched over and over in my head what I did that may have caused this.  I now know that it is not my fault, it is not a choice, it is something they are born with.  But let me tell you – the devil can really taunt you during this time.  He pointed to a lot of different things to show me it was my fault.  I questioned my marriage, my parenting.  “Was I an overbearing wife?” “Have I not had a good relationship with her?” (Both of these “theories” have been thrown out there by a couple of famous evangelical pastors.)  I’ll share more about that elsewhere.  But it’s not my fault.  It’s not your fault.  The evidence is out there, and overwhelmingly agrees that they were born that way. But still we grieve.  This is not what I dreamed of for her future, or mine.  And I grieved for her and the awful, horrible journey she has been on for years….alone…..

And then I got mad.  Like, really mad.  I’m talking raging “mama bear” claws out, fangs out fighting, protecting rage.  I was not mad at her.  And at first I wasn’t sure where I could place my anger.  Then I turned and unleashed it on “the church.”  I remember pulling into the parking lot of our church one Sunday morning and anger just welling up in me.  We went in and the worship songs began. You know, the songs about grace and mercy…..and it continued to well up.  I couldn’t sing.  I was on the verge of bawling like a baby because I sure didn’t feel like the church was pouring out love, grace, and mercy on gay people, on my beloved child.  And I, who knew her so well, knew that she was not an “abomination,” not choosing this “life of rebellion” or whatever else it gets called.

This next part is hard to share because I am exposing my most vulnerable parts in confessing this.  My “religion” began to unravel.  Honestly, I was ready to walk away from “church.” If not for my husband and trying to keep that relationship as good and respectful as possible, I think I might have left altogether.  I have no idea if it would have been a permanent thing or not.  I did, and still do sometimes, just opt out of going some Sundays.  (Let me clarify something.  My particular church has been nothing but supportive of us.  I have never heard things stated from up front that I have seen on videos of other churches since starting this journey.  Those hate filled, disgusting words said about LGBT people. But my church does embrace the traditional view of marriage and sexuality only, which at that point was all the reason I needed to justify my anger.)  I have been part of the conservative church all of my Christian life, about 30 years.  My friends and people closest to me are mostly conservative Christians as well.  So imagine what happened to my relationships.  This is where I went into the closet.  I no longer felt safe with those I had been doing life with for years.  I know that I have withdrawn by my own choice.  But I have done so to keep safe, to keep peace.  I am also learning to not make assumptions.  I don’t want people assuming things about me, my journey, my beliefs.  I should extend the same.  It is very hard though, when I have reached out and intentionally shared my first blog, or sent a heart felt email, and it was met with silence.  That is hard.  It hurts deeply and it gives the devil a playground in my mind to make up stories and make assumptions.  But I honestly am trying to choose every day to not make assumptions.

If you are going through something similar, remember to keep searching and keep reaching.  There have been some, who I was not necessarily that close to before, who now have come along side me and held me up, cheered me on when I need it.  And there are some who have surprised me and though they still have their traditional beliefs, have not condemned me or my child.  They have extended unconditional love and unconditional fellowship/community.  I have also made new friends in the circle of other mothers and allies of the LGBT community.  Reach out to me, I am here and I’ve been there/ am there, too!

My prayer for you today is that your heart is encased in God’s protective love; that it is filled with the Spirit; that you be given courage and strength for this life you’ve been given. I ask that you join me in continuing to pray that God takes me into water so deep that my feet do not touch, that I learn to trust only Him, and that He equips me to be so far from the safety of the shore.  I pray that He helps me and equips me to help others who are out here with me, too.  Amen

Distorted Love: The Toll Of Our Christian Theology On The LGBTQ Community

Love this man’s heart for the LGBTQ community and their families. Love the quote, “…regardless of our theological stance. We have to do better.” (He’s speaking to the Church.)

john pavlovitz

SadGirl


Love doesn’t always look like love.

When I published this blog post, I was prepared for some people to applaud it and for others to condemn it. That’s what happens whenever you put an opinion out there.

I was fully prepared for the waves of both support and hostility that accompany a vantage point on anything, especially a controversial topic like Sexuality. 

What I was not prepared for in any way, were the literally hundreds and hundreds of people who have reached out to me personally to thank me for bringing some healing and hope to their families: parents, children, siblings, and adults who have confided in me (some for the first time anywhere) telling of the pain and bullying and shunning they’re received from churches, pastors, and church members—professed followers of Jesus.

Scores of people from all over the world have shared with me their devastating stories of…

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Resources

I have been working on a “Resources” page that you will find here on this blog.  I have added some links with very helpful information.  I believe strongly in educating yourself as much as you can.  I was thinking back to my high school days, to a teacher who really shaped how I go about gathering information.  I wish I could remember her name. It was probably more like 2 or 3 teachers that strongly influenced my education, thought processes, and how to pursue knowledge.  I hear their voices in my head to this day saying things like, “Don’t believe everything you hear, or read, or are told.” “Investigate several sources of information and make sure they are reliable sources.” When we had to write a research paper, or debate a topic, she would make us write or debate the other side of the issue from which we currently believed.  That was very extremely helpful!  We had to try and prove the “other side” of the argument. I am so grateful for their influence.

The first resource that I want to highlight is a Grand Rounds presentation by  pediatrician, Dr. Joani Jack.  (For those who do not know what Grand Rounds are, they are an integral component of medical education. They present clinical problems in medicine by focusing on current or interesting cases.) Here is the link for her presentation on the genetics of human sexuality.  Don’t worry, it is written in understandable language!  After reading this it occurred to me that we (at least those in the church) approach sexuality from a totally spiritual view.  We do not look at it through a physical/medical lens.  (And my thoughts go back to how the same thing happened with viewing the world as flat, origins of epilepsy or mental illness, etc.) The nurse in me had that “duh!” moment.  I am one of those people, and one of those nurses, that believe in approaching care of people/patients in a holistic way.  Simply put, we are not just a physical being, or not just a spiritual being in this particular case.  Those are only a part of the whole person.  We have a physical part, an emotional/mental part, a relational part, and a spiritual part.  How magnificent and complex our Maker is, huh?

I hope that you will take the time to read the presentation and to reflect on what you have learned.  I strongly encourage all of you who read this to soul search with a holistic approach.  This world we live in is physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual.  Let us remember that.

Please share any links you may have that have been helpful in your journey.  I will continually be looking and adding these to the “Resources” page.

My prayer for you today is that you will be in awe of our Creator and that you will be able to embrace the mysteries you face.  I pray that you can become peaceful about not having all the answers.  I pray that you be an instrument of peace, of love, and of kindness.  I pray for protection from spiritual arrogance, both from within your own self or from others. I pray that all of us begin to sow seeds of grace and safe places; to allow others some freedom to be different, and having a respectful posture towards one another in that. This is my prayer for us today.  Amen

 

Lent begins….

I’ve always felt kind of odd in my spirit about Lent and choosing something to give up.  I think this is because whatever I seem to choose was actually something I should give up to be healthier, whether it is dessert, bread, or TV, or FB…….I love those things and they would be a sacrifice, but I just wasn’t always convinced they would be for God’s glory, or that they would have a lasting impact on my own spiritual growth or for some greater good in the kingdom.  Thanks to my friend Patty May for posting these verses from Isaiah 58, The Voice version or translation.  Now this is something that feels very meaningful to me.

Isaiah 58      The Voice (VOICE)

58 Eternal One: Tell My people about their wrongdoing;
        shout with a voice like a trumpet;
    Hold nothing back: say this people of Jacob’s line and heritage
        have failed to do what is right.

    And yet they look for Me every day.
        They pretend to want to learn what I teach,
    As if they are indeed a nation good and true,
        as if they hadn’t really turned their backs on My directives.
    They even ask Me, as though they care,
        about what I want them to be and do, as if they really want Me in their lives.

People: Why didn’t You notice how diligently we fasted before You?
        We humbled ourselves with pious practices and You paid no attention.

Eternal One: I have to tell you, on those fasting days,
        all you were really seeking was your own pleasure;
    Besides you were busy defrauding people and abusing your workers.
    Your kind of fasting is pointless, for it only leads to bitter quarrels,
        contentious backbiting, and vicious fighting.
    You are not fasting today because you want Me to hear your voice.
    What kind of a fast do I choose? Is a true fast simply
        some religious exercise for making a person feel miserable and woeful?
    Is it about how you bow your head (like a bent reed), how you dress (in sackcloth), and where you sit (in a bed of ashes)?
        Is this what you call a fast, a day the Eternal One finds good and proper?
    No, what I want in a fast is this:
        to liberate those tied down and held back by injustice,
        to lighten the load of those heavily burdened,
        to free the oppressed and shatter every type of oppression.
    A fast for Me involves sharing your food with people who have none,
        giving those who are homeless a space in your home,
    Giving clothes to those who need them, and not neglecting your own family.

Then, oh then, your light will break out like the warm, golden rays of a rising sun;
    in an instant, you will be healed.
Your rightness will precede and protect you;
    the glory of the Eternal will follow and defend you.
Then when you do call out, “My God, Where are You?”
    The Eternal One will answer, “I am here, I am here.
If you remove the yoke of oppression from the downtrodden among you,
    stop accusing others, and do away with mean and inflammatory speech,
10 If you make sure that the hungry and oppressed have all that they need,
    then your light will shine in the darkness,
And even your bleakest moments will be bright as a clear day.
11 The Eternal One will never leave you;
    He will lead you in the way that you should go.
When you feel dried up and worthless,
    God will nourish you and give you strength.
And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended;
    you will be like a spring whose water never runs out.
12 You will discover there are people among your own
    who can rebuild this broken-down city out of the ancient ruins;
You will firm up its ancient foundations.
    And all around, others will call you
“Repairer of Broken Down Walls” and “Rebuilder of Livable Streets.”

13 Eternal One: If because of the Sabbath you set aside your own pursuits and pleasure,
        and you honor the Sabbath and sanctify that day by leaving it to and for the Eternal—
    If you speak of Sabbath-delight but avoid speaking idle words,
        and refuse to get caught up and busy with your interests and concerns
14     Then you will discover joy such as only the Eternal can give.
        And I will raise you high and make your reach as wide as the earth,
    And you will live on all that I promised to Jacob,
        your ancestor, the heart of Israel.

The Eternal One said these very things.

Love and Blessings to you all!