I do believe with deep conviction that living open and transparant lives "in the light" (1 John 1:7) will keep us from a myriad of troubles. However, as with so many things, after my daughter opened my eyes to what was going on in her life and her decision to live with her girlfriend, the prospect of sharing that deeply personal and confusing information about what was happening with my children wasn't met with the same depth of conviction in me.
There were all those questions, "Who should I tell? Would they blame me? Would they look down on me and my ability to parent? Would they question my spirituality? What would they think of my daughter? What would they think of me? It was a confusing time, but a time again that God had brought me to that left me looking for answers in the Word, in prayer and in my own heart. In all the turmoil and praying through this I felt overwhelmingly protective of my daughter and at such a deep level hesitated to share what was going on.
We, as a community of believers have all studied the Bible, we've come to an understanding of our sin and stood at the foot of the cross asking for forgiveness and have been blessed with the grace that has come through Jesus, but we have all had different life experiences that filter our view of the world. I didn't know how people would react, I certainly didn't want anyone that might have this information to struggle with judgment or prejudice, and I certainly didn't want to subject my daughter to anyone's opinions about her choices, there was a lot to figure out first.
I suppose first off I wanted to figure out how I felt about the whole situation. Had anything in my heart changed toward my daughter? Could I still love her in the same way? We had been taught to look at things as black and white, no gray areas, no shades of sin, right and wrong, those were the only options. This didn't seem black and white to me at all. In my day, I have challenged people I love to stop smoking, repent of hatred, turn from being self focused, to love more deeply. Wasn't this just another "sin" to deal with that way? "Just stop."
I sat with my daughter the night that she "came out" to me and listened to the torment in her heart, I heard her share that this was who she was, her identity, the fabric of her being, she couldn't continue to live a lie. Did responding with, "Just stop" seem to answer the questions and address the outpouring of her heart? Of course not. So there was a part of me that was faced with the fear that there would be a trite response to my disclosure of this situation in my life. I needed someone who would listen, someone who wouldn't try to have all the answers and would help me love my daughter more deeply than I ever had, all the while walking with me as I drew closer to God and the strength and truth I knew I would find in Him.
For every parent that finds themselves in this situation, it is important to find someone to share your heart with about what is going on with your child. I was given some great advice when I was going through this and that was not to make my daughter carry the burden of my sadness or confusion. She had enough to deal with and I needed to be a constant source of love and safety for her, I needed to take my feelings to God and to a confidante.
I did finally go to women I trusted and was given so much support and encouragement. I needed the prayers and the shoulders of those women to help me carry all the emotion I felt, and having them to process all this with was invaluable. Not only did it help me, but ultimately it helped my daughter. I was free to leave my feelings aside and love her deeply and completely.
Be discerning and wise with whom you share. You are sharing a personal thing about someone else with others and that needs to be respected as confidential. Your relationship with your child is so precious and as parents we are in the "bridge building business". In situations small and big, we need to respond with grace and love. We need to listen when we want to scream, we need to hear when we want to cover our ears and run away, we need to love even when we hurt. The relationship we have with God, the relationships we have with the people around us hold us firm to weather these times. It takes all the courage and faith we have, and I do believe that if God didn't believe we had what it took to deal with these situations He wouldn't have given them to us, and really, if God believes we can do this, who are we to question. Reach for the love and support that God gives us in one another, there is treasure there.
Kathy MacBrien is the Director of Family Ministry with SIW. She brings rich experience to this unique area of ministry; she was raised by a lesbian mother, and also has a daughter who currently lives a lesbian lifestyle. This has led Kathy on a very profound journey of learning how to emulate God's heart of grace and compassion. As well, she has been a vibrant and active member of a strong Christian community for almost 30 years in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as a member of the Toronto Church of Christ. She is amply qualified to offer practical, and Christ centred support and advice, to Christians who have a family member who is homosexual. Kathy has a background in pediatric nursing, and as a result, has worked with children with a variety of special needs for almost two decades. She is currently employed by the Toronto District School Board working with children who have autism. She is married and has raised two amazing children, and has recently become a grandmother.
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