Why I Give My Kids Cake for Breakfast

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Sometimes my kids will ask to have cake for breakfast.

Yesterday reminded me why I never say “no.”

My 6-year old daughter Selah was sitting in the front yard with our dog, and I took a couple of quick photos. When I scrolled back to look at them I thought to myself, “Oh my God, where did she go?”

Smiling back at me through the screen wasn’t the person I was expecting. This wasn’t my little baby girl. She looked different to me, as if in the snap of the shutter she’d been replaced by an older girl who resembled her.

Most of the time you don’t realize the rate at which your children are changing. That acute farsightedness is the tax on sharing daily life with them. But once in a while you get to see them with new eyes and it just steals the breath from you; how much is gone, how rapidly life is happening, the version of them that is now only a memory and a photograph.

People tell you constantly how quickly the time with your kids goes and you think you get it, until one day you see it through the viewfinder of your phone or across the room or looking back at you at dinner—and it just levels you.

That’s the thing about parenting. No one prepares you for how achingly bittersweet it is to watch your children grow-up; the way you both celebrate and mourn the changes in equal measure. They don’t tell you that you will rejoice greatly at the milestones and the growth spurts and the lost teeth, while simultaneously grieving what it means you have to say goodbye to.

No one tells you that you will want desperately to freeze time even while trying with all of your strength to get your children to the next step, the next grade, the next thing, the next day. You will be both propelling them forward and looking backward the whole time.

And this is why I let my kids have cake for breakfast.

Because they’re kids.
Because they ask.
Because cake for breakfast seems right and good and lovely.
Because the idea of having cake for breakfast may one day seem strangely inappropriate and reckless to them.
Because one day they will be proper adults with proper adult worries and proper adult problems.
Because that day will come far more quickly than I want it to.

And right now I want to savor every silly, nonsensical, impulsive second of this time with them, because I know how precious and fleeting these seconds are. I know that I can’t fully see the changes happening as they are happening. I know that one day soon I will look into my daughter’s eyes and so miss this version of her and wonder where that girl went so quickly.

Cake for breakfast? Sure!
Cookies in bed? Of course!
Pixie Stix on the way to the dentist? Why the heck not?!

Moms and Dads, go look at your children.
See them with new eyes.
Notice the changes.

Celebrate the new things.
Mourn what you have to say goodbye to.

And then, cut a couple of slices of cake for you and your kids—even if it is only 7AM.

How Love Wins: Moms of LGBTQ Children Share Their Stories, Part 2

LoveWinsHands

One of my great joys is serving as honorary pastor for a private Facebook group of over 1,000 moms with LGBTQ children. These amazing women (who refer to themselves as “Mama Bears”) are from all places along the theological spectrum, an all walking out their own amazing stories of trying to love their children well.

Instead of me talking about them, I thought I’d let you hear from them. I asked them a simple question, and here were there responses:

What is the greatest/most important you’ve learned since beginning this journey with your child(ren)?

 

I learned that the truth was never hard to find. It was there every time I looked into my child’s eyes.
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How everything I had been taught and believed about God was small, confining, and judgmental. And that He is the opposite: large and loving. And that you can totally change your worldview even as an adult!
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That it’s more important to rest in the love and acceptance that comes my and my children’s way than to get all bent out of shape over people who don’t accept or understand. Why would I care anyway?
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That I had a wall up in my heart that I didn’t realize was there. My son tore that wall down. He taught me what I thought I already knew—unconditional love!
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Some religious people preach love and acceptance, but only when it does not conflict with what they believe. Then it is hate and ridicule.
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I cannot control my child’s journey. I am only here to enjoy the ride.
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The struggle of faith is real! And it’s OK to wrestle with God and his word.
Also, it really is ok to believe something different from your Baptist minister father. Truthfully, I think I’ve been choking on the dogma since Bible College.

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I’ve learned to just shut out the Christian world that judges my daughter and know that when I’m with her, nothing will taint our relationship because our love is a safety net against the world of judgment and condemnation that comes from some Christians.
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I’ve learned to be more open-minded; that all my beliefs and assumptions might need a closer look.
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That love is most important. That it’s OK to rethink what you were brought up to believe. That religion and being a Christian are not the same.
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That we are ALL THE BELOVED OF GOD. I truly believed I may die when our son first “came out.” I felt that I was being tested and this would be my salvation moment (what I was originally taught about the Abraham and Isaac story), but God NEVER left my side. Even when I was in the absolute depths of despair, I could FEEL the Spririt of God sitting with me when most of my “Christian” friends had fled. This journey has made my relationship with God more powerful than ever. Everybody has a story. I just LOVE better.
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That my judgment in the past was blocking me from experiencing God’s love for all people in profound ways.

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Love, love, love! It’s not about ME!

That the “hard” things are often the best things, that it’s important to listen, that everyone has a story, and that it’s possible to have true peace amidst all the questions.
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That once I really understood what my son was going through all these years before he told us. Now I understand (took a while).
Try my best to be very supporting to him and all the kids we have come to know through him who are also LGBTQ, and those kids who do not have a family that loves and supports them. That is from reading your blog a few yeas ago that made it all clear and these momma’s.

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God is amazingly different from what I had been taught, and that even at my age I can learn and grow in His love, and the love of my kids.
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To love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you 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. I will take my chances, when I meet my Lord, explaining who and why I loved rather than who and why I didn’t.
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Choice is not involved.

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That each one of us have a role to play in our world, and our kids are a beautiful part of it !!! Through it all God is exposing the hatred that exists in the Church, we are to be known by our Love .
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I have learned God gave His sweet son to me to love and learn from this side of eternity—and no part of that was a mistake. We were both fearfully and wonderfully made and redeemed, and the God of the universe knew we needed one another. I step out in faith from there with confidence, compassion, and peace as best I can.
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I am also learning patience. My son just told me a few months ago and I am still the only one that knows. I love that he trusts me completely but I hate that he doesn’t trust anyone else. This is something that he will have to navigate and I can’t do it for him, just wait with him and love him and help him to not be afraid.
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That love trumps theology, God’s love for his creation, Jesus’ love for the outcast, my love for my child.
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To always tell my own story, and let my kids tell theirs. Their story isn’t mine to tell.
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That I was easily able to put my money where my mouth was.
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That I can’t be the Holy Spirit to any of my kids. I have to trust Him with their lives. That I can’t go through life living in fear of what others think. I have to do what is best for my family, and just be who He has called me to be, even if friends fail.
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That I don’t have to have all the answers. Faith is stronger when I don’t actually, as I have to trust in God, not in myself nor in my wisdom
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There is so much more hate and bigotry than I had imagined, even from otherwise good people who almost don’t even realize how they affect people.

Moving out of my comfort zone, while scary, has been liberating. I’m not afraid to voice my opinion to people or point out how their words/actions feel to those who are already marginalized. I’ve found that there really is no one I care about offending when I say “What you are saying is that you don’t believe my son should have the same rights that your son has.” I’ve lost friends. I’ve gained friends. But seeing the look on my son’s face when I actually said that sentence to our former pastor? Priceless.
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I’ve learned a lot about true love and true friendship. They have both shocked me, hurt me and blessed me.
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I’ve learned that pain grows compassion, that I am stronger than I knew, that this is my daughter’s journey and I am just here to love and support her. I’ve also learned that some just don’t have the capacity to have real empathy and compassion, they are not wired for it, and that I have no control over that.
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And this thread makes me weep. I love you Mamas.
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My first thoughts were: I don’t want to be this person with a gay son. I learned those were my son’s words way before they were mine. Our family loves each other with a deeper love and I wouldn’t want my son any other way now.
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I didn’t really believe that gay people were equal in the eyes of God. I thought I did but this truly tested me and I am so thankful for that. It also opened my eyes to the hypocrisy of evangelicals. I fought with the church the last 40 years or more and now I realize why. I can never go back to that and it is so freeing.
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I’ve learned that while young adulthood is challenging for everyone, LGBTQ kids have a more difficult time coming of age. Their conflicts are magnified and loving them through it isn’t as easy as it should be. They sometimes shut you out and they sometimes embrace you. But the bond that develops is profound and the adults that finally emerge are whole and perfect.
I am looking forward to meeting my son as an adult. Hopefully he will come through all of this triumphant; comfortable & happy with who he is!
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He has a big heart. He is more forgiving & loving than most people I know.
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Enjoy the ride because it goes by so quickly. Enjoy!!
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The most important thing I learned was I can trust God with my son.
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That raising teenagers (LGBTQ and otherwise) is hard, and can be overwhelming and full of anxious moments (and many tears) as a parent. As another mom said, it gives you great opportunities to trust God and to trust your own mothering instincts over any church doctrine. Having a gay son has given me a chance to be more accepting and compassionate to others who are on their own individual journeys too.
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I’ve learned so much, mostly about how culture and my own biases shape my perspective… How there is so much more I don’t know than I do, and that God is so much bigger. Micah 6:8 is where I land now.
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I feel like my heart has been burst open. I feel like I have more compassion, understanding and love for all oppressed individuals than I have ever had before. It took having an LGBTQ child to do that and not my years and years in church. God has been with me all the way on this journey.
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It’s all about love, really. But on the other hand, I’ve found it’s hard to be the nail that sticks up.
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ALL are fearfully and wonderfully made and loved by God. Not sure I believed that fully before our son came out. I do now though!
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Nothing can ever affect the love I have for my son.
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I have always known that I love my children unconditional. But this journey has taken it to a whole new level. Not only for my son but all of the LGBT community God has shown me how to love all of them.
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I look like a mama mouse. But I’m really a mama grizzly.
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“You hate gay, until someone you love is…”
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That we need to love people and let God sort out the details.
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That all kids aren’t alike! I haven’t posted this to the group yet but my child has asked me to stop posting so much “gay stuff”. She told me that “although she appreciated that I did what I do” she didn’t like how “obsessive” I seemed to be. I was so hurt I “unfriended her” but with her permission. I told her that I couldn’t stop my advocacy at this point and that if I was causing her undue pain, I would unfriend her and she agreed.
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That my child is well spoken and thoughtful beyond measure when someone questions his authenticity as a gay Christian. I have read some of his responses to friends and pastors and they have always been full of love and compassion. I totally want to be just like him when I grow up.
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Loving people is way more important than “being right”.
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I have learned to speak up on the side of love and acceptance in any situation and to anyone.
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I love my child more than other people’s approval. I put my trust in God.
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God speaks to us through our hearts as well as our heads. I should have trusted my mother’s heart voice because it had been shaped by the love of Jesus for years.
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That the end of one world is usually the beginning of another, infinitely more beautiful one. And that personal revelation trumps all else.

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The thing you are most afraid of ends up in your lap.
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I’ve been very sadden and shocked to learn how many close minded and scared people there are who have no problem using the Bible as a weapon. I’m very confused to find out that in 2016 there are people who will condemn my children to Hell based on their core being and who they love. Happily I’ve learned that I have a tribe who gets me without needing to unpack before I start taking, but are more than willing to look at my STUFF if I do share it with compassion and love.

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I consider this the gift of having a transgender child: you pretty quickly know who is good enough to keep in your circle.
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I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. I no longer live in ignorance or fear or a closet either. I am so grateful for it all.
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The gift is knowing that your teenager has found himself in every sense of the word. His fear is gone.
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That however I feel is okay, even after 27 years of knowing. Denying my feelings only makes them fester. Exposing them to the light of day and accepting them allows me to move past them.

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I also truly believe that if/ when a person leaves their comfort zone and gets out and meets others unlike themselves, listens and learns more about that person; opinions are often changed, a lifetime of hatred or disgust about a certain group can be erased. People just need to get to know one another. Our perceptions are often very different from reality.
I guess what I am trying to say, is that I have been most surprised at how people change when they respect another human being. Suddenly the fact that the person is gay or trans no longer matters. Love really does win!!
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I have learned that there are some mountains worth dying on. And some that definitely aren’t. And day by day, I am acquiring the wisdom to know which is which.
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We have to get the word out to parents—it gets WAY better.
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That fear of something outside the norm paralyzes the mind’s ability for so many to achieve understanding and acceptance.
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There is far too much doom & gloom for so many people. They NEED to know there is a pot of gold.
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God has gotten so much bigger since I started studying to understand what the Bible really says about homosexuality!
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I didn’t ask God for gay sons, but I am SO grateful that He gave them to ME! He trusted ME with them! He knew I would love them regardless. I have learned more about unconditional love, compassion, not judging and striving to walk as Jesus did THROUGH THEM and their friends than I ever would have learned from sitting in church.
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All of my children are wonderful little people and they each have their strengths. But my gay son is more compassionate, more forgiving & more accepting than the rest of us. We have all learned a lot from him; about love, affirmation, and how we should treat others.
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That I’m not alone
That even though I’m strong, I’m weak
That the impossible is possible
That I never run out of tears
That I’m a mama bear
That sometimes I’m too tired to fight this fight and sometimes I’m too eager to fight this fight
That love wins
That the people you think will be there won’t
That it is possible to let it go
That I don’t have to have it all figured out
and finally…
That taking it one day at a time is the best
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I have learned more about forgiveness from my sons that I ever knew was possible. They have loved me and forgiven me for my weakness and for not standing up quick enough for them. I was so brainwashed by the church, that I allowed the gay issue to torment me for months. But, thankfully, once I knew better, I did better. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever knew I was, once the scales were taken off of my eyes, which were put there by my ex-husband and the church. I have learned total peace and contentment. And, I have learned that my boys being gay is a beautiful thing and that they are perfectly and wonderfully made. I adore them and I would not change a single hair on their beautiful heads.

Read Part 1 HERE.

How Love Wins: Moms of LGBTQ Children Share Their Stories, Part 1

LoveWins

One of my great joys is serving as honorary pastor for a private Facebook group of over 1,000 moms with LGBTQ children. These amazing women (who refer to themselves as “Mama Bears”) are from all places along the theological spectrum, an all walking out their own amazing stories of trying to love their children well.

Instead of me talking about them, I thought I’d let you hear from them. I asked them a simple question, and here were there responses:

What is the greatest/most important lesson you’ve learned since beginning this journey with your child(ren)?

 

That God can handle my anger; not my anger for having a non-binary child, but my anger at Him for the loss of space in His church and my anger at his children who spew hatred, cast judgmental looks, or who offer lukewarm love and acceptance. And not only can He handle my anger, He loves me and stands next to me faithfully (even when I have my back to Him, arms crossed and broken).

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That I need to constantly practice love for my fellow humans, never assuming anything.

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That it’s important to speak your heart. You never know who needs to hear what you’re saying.

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That I am much stronger than I thought I was.

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That love is truly stronger than hate, and fear.

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I’ve also learned how hateful many Christians sound when speaking about this. Now that it is on my radar, I am deeply saddened at what I hear people saying; people who call themselves Christians!

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That I can stand up to bigots and bullies and nothing truly terrible will happen.

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I’ve learned that you can’t put God in a nice tidy black and white box. Living life in a black and white world may seem easier, knowing everything with much certainty may feel much more steady, but the real world of God is rainbow-colored and so much bigger than I ever dreamed. Feeling unsure and questioning is okay.

You won’t get struck down.

That there is a whole world of people who love God and are wonderful “Christians” who may not believe exactly the same as I was taught. I learned how to love fully!!! I learned that I was living in such a small comfy world and I was missing out on so much life!!!!! My gay kids have opened my “box” and I am now living in a beautiful rainbow-colored world!!!

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I learned to be more compassionate. I learned so much more about the Bible that I would have never have discovered. I learned that being gay is not a sin at all.

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When our son came out to us I told him that I did not understand why God would make him gay and that it made me angry with God. My son said maybe God made him gay so that I would learn tolerance & love. It took me a while but maybe there is some truth to this, I will never really know. But I do know that I believe God picked my husband and myself to be his parents so that he would have loving, accepting parents even though he is gay. I find this a gift from God and love my son with all my heart.

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That it gets better. It really does.

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That the truth will set you free.

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Even though I have always considered myself an ‘ally’ even before my son came out to us, even though I’ve always tried to speak up positively and lovingly in Bible studies when ‘homosexuality’ came up (I find I hate this word now because I’ve heard it used negatively SO much), even though I went to seminary and tried to study in depth the clobber verses—I knew NOTHING really until it was my own kid. My dear friends who just happen to be gay, I’m more in debt to them than I can possibly express in words. I’m in debt to them because if they hadn’t been able/willing to live authentic lives while being friends with my naive self, I might not be the mom I am today to my son. When my son came out to me, I phoned my best friend from my seminary time who happens to be gay, and asked her, “I told him I love him just the way he is. Now what? What do I do?” In short, I quickly learned that my educated self isn’t really that educated.

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It’s not about me. I know that sounds selfish but the dreams I had for my son have now become “how will my trans daughter be able to make it in a world that is not accepting”. How will she deal with discrimination that will follow her all her life?

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I’ve learned more about myself than anything, how wrong I was, how self-righteous I was, how fallible I was. I’m a much better person now.

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That gay people are just people, and that my gay kid is just a kid, fundamentally no different from my two straight kids.

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The best gift we can give our kids is to love them for exactly who they are. I’ve spoken at lots of church conferences advocating for LGBT folks, and it breaks my heart to hear the stories of how parents have tried to change their kids. Gay men in their 40s have said to me, “I wish you were my mom.” It moves me to tears, but it makes me sad. I wouldn’t change a thing about my son. I adore having a gay son. Love our kids. It’s just that simple.

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 I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is my comforter and I don’t need to have all the answers, but I do have peace like never before.

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Humility. I’ve learned lots about humility. And I’m much less judgmental.

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That everyone is created equal.

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I’ve learned not to judge people (most of the time anyway) because I don’t know what motivates their behavior. Because of my unconditional love for my kids, it has made me see God more as a loving parent, than a judge.

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That I’m never sure about anything anymore and that’s a good place to be, because black and white ‘living’ was an illusion; and that my love for my child and other people’s children is the strongest force imaginable.

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 I’ve learned the most important thing in the world really IS to love one another.

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I knew almost before my son could really talk that he was different. Around 3 or 4 I realized that he was probably gay. At the age of 12 he finally told me. Luckily my whole family has been nothing but supportive and loving and accepting of him. As I grew in my faith and went on this journey with my son I realized that our God is a loving God, who loves everyone! I learned that our God knew who my son was before I knew and therefore he was always loved and accepted in the eyes of God I also learned that not everyone sees this love and that even in s world full of love there is still so much hatred and judgment.

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I have learned that God has no limitations. And He doesn’t need Christians to save the world for him. He just needs us to love and trust Him to do the rest….. And also that I don’t like “Christians” all that much….sigh.

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That new information might take a bit to process, but it’s never the end of the world, and that knowing something new about my kid doesn’t change who she is or how I love her.

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Let her know she has a safety net: me.

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That I am not in control of anything—and that’s Ok.

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I have learned that I used to be in a little box, judging anyone outside my box. Now I live in an unlimited space, no judgment (at least that is what I strive for). My life experiences have expanded and I have met the most wonderful amazing LGBT people and allies I would never have dared to meet if my children were not gay/trans.

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Humility, unconditional love. Letting go of control. LOVE.

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Be patient with yourself and your child’s journey. It is a process of education and understanding for both of you. Forgive yourself for things you may have done or said when all of this was new to you.

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I’ve learned to listen.

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To listen without agendas. That my child’s journey is theirs and that it’s a privilege to be invited to be a part of it.

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That my son’s coming out has been my greatest blessing. Otherwise I would still be a close minded fire and brimstone preaching evangelical Christian. Now, I am an open-minded loving, non-judgmental and affirming Christian.

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What unconditional love really means. I knew I loved my kids unconditionally but was so saddened to see that one of my own parents really didn’t have that for me or my children. But I also unlearned a belief that I needed that person.

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I’ve learned to seek to understand vs. trying to be understood.

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 #lovewins

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 That God is much bigger than what I had believed. That I don’t have to have everything figured out; just love like Jesus did.

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Definitely learned to love whole heartedly and I’m still amazed by my bravery standing up for my daughter. 

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 How amazed I am by her bravery! How amazed I am by a big and mighty God able to handle big and mighty things.

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How to love and give out grace by the bucketful to those who aren’t ready yet to open their hearts to this.

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The Christian world with all of its hate and judgment says, ” it’s them or us.” Well I’ve learned on this very difficult journey that there is only “us”. I truly understand and it’s so clear now;the Cross, all are included and welcomed, it’s not behavior modification but a heart transformation. The Grace of God has been freely given. I’ve learned to LOVE well. I want my son and his friends to see a Christian who can love them and see them as Christ does. His beautiful children. So when hate, judgement, and rejection comes from friends or family, I have learned to keep my eyes on Jesus because he will never leave me nor forsake me. 

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It has explained some of the behaviour and events that happened in the past, and why certain things happened as they did.

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The unconditional love of my friends.

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True love.

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I learned that I’m not alone and that there are so many amazing moms, parents, and kids going through the same stuff. We have each other!

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I’ve learned that questioning and studying is a GOOD thing; that my daughter is one of the bravest people I know; and that I dearly love these “different”, amazing kids and will fight for them!

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I have learned who our true friends are.
What it means to truly fear for your child’s safety.
That most people are just completely ignorant, because they have never been exposed to this experience. They rarely mean to be so rude, hurtful or demeaning—they just don’t have a clue. Many have been blinded by rhetoric and ritual. 
I have learned that the heart knows no bounds and love is limitless. 
Mostly I have learned that I am one of the lucky ones.

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I have always been open and affirming long before I knew one of my kids was gay-but I learned how judge mental and hateful I have been in other, equally harmful ways. I have been able to truly see both sides of many different issues and truly feel broken-hearted and compassionate toward SO many people. My son coming out has brought out some of the best things I have been carrying along with me but loving him has given me the balls to love everyone more deeply and fully. _____________________

There is a lot of grey in our black and white world. It’s not as easy as “because the Bible tells me so” anymore.

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That my daughter is exactly the same person that she was before she came out. And that Christianity (particularly Catholicism) is profoundly disappointing. But I can deal with it all!

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All of the above! And I will kick some hiney if needed to protect my kids!!

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I’ve learned to love more.

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I have learned so much, but the most important is that God doesn’t make mistakes, He loves everyone! We are to love everyone as well.

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That a PFLAG meeting is more genuine, accepting and “connected” than any church service I’ve ever attended.

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I have learned that the lessons I needed to learn, although very hard, have been made easier, richer and more deeply felt than I ever would have thought, because of these special ladies in this group. I know in my heart that love wins, but not necessarily in our time. The pain we share is carried by many others for us.

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That the Bible magnifies the mysteries of God, that I do not have all the answers about God or the Bible, and I am very peaceful with my mantra to love and not judge and accept God’s mysteries.

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That it’s not my journey.

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I’ve learned that everyone matters. Everyone deserves to be seen and heard. I’ve learned to go overboard with kindness towards strangers because I never know what they are struggling with in the moment. I look at the young, homeless men and wonder if they are veterans or LGBTQ who were kicked out of their homes. I learned I can fully trust that still, small voice that has guided me through so much. I’ve learned I am much angrier than I knew towards those kind of Christians who cause so much pain. And I learned how much I needed support and to be heard when I thought I had it all together.

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That even though I’m strong, I’m weak. That the impossible is possible.

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That there’s a big wide world beyond my comfort zone. That it’s less important to feel safe, than it is to be a safe place for others. Especially my kids. That I am a hair-trigger away from some crazy-ass mama bear anger. That the mama bear in me is fierce enough and loving enough to encompass entire communities (still figuring out what to do with that).

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 I have learned that trying to control every situation is absolutely RIDICULOUS. Life is SO much better since letting go!

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That what my son has tried to tell me all along is what matters. He loves us, knows we love him.

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 I thought I knew the grace of Christ. I had no clue.

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I have learned just how strong my bond is with my daughter. It is a wonderful thing. 

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How deeply I love my kids for exactly who they are and how deeply Jesus loves them too. This journey has definitely been hard sometimes, but there have also been blessings I wouldn’t trade for anything. I see things differently than I did before and believe God has shown us His truth:)

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Everything will be okay. When I told my husband about our daughter being bisexual, I was upset and he said ” it is what it is, it doesn’t change anything”. Great words of logical wisdom from my engineering husband!

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Never to judge ANYONE!

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The power of story and authenticity.

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That there will be people who say they are accepting and affirming, but aren’t; that there will be those who surprise you with their love and support. Let the first group go, and hold tight to the ones who support your child.

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That my view of God and our world was way too small!

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I learned that my relationship with my son, was far more important than anything I thought or believed about homosexuality.

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The opposite of love isn’t always hate … sometimes it is indifference or silence or polite but meaningless interaction.

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That I was ignorant! And life is so much better now that I know that my world is no longer black and white…. but instead very, very colorful. I just needed to open my eyes and see the beautiful colors that show LOVE… they way Jesus loves.

 

Read Part 2 HERE.

You Need to Know: You’re Doing Just Fine.

momboyshoulder

Yesterday I said something careless to my ten-year old son, Noah.

He’d been playing outside with his six year-old sister and she’d gotten hurt. In my knee-jerk response to her sobbing I made him feel responsible for her injury, accusing him of somehow not taking good enough care of her. It was a lazy, reckless statement but probably less rare than I’d like to admit.

I saw the hurt in his eyes the second it came out of my mouth and I realized I’d failed him.  

I didn’t just feel bad for what I’d said to Noah, but particularly because of the conversation we’d had only the day before. He’d dropped something in the house, and a few minutes later I’d found him in his room, his eyes blurred with tears.

“I just feel like a failure all the time.” he said. ” “I feel like a terrible son and a bad brother. The kids in the neighborhood make fun of me for being too sensitive. I don’t do well in school…”

My heart ached for my son because I love him dearly—and because I understood exactly how he felt.

I’ve lived for a few decades like this and I recognized the pattern well. I could see him doing exactly what I’ve learned to do with great skill: how in moments of frustration and disappointment I so deftly play prosecuting attorney, listing off all my many failures and flaws and mistakes, until I have an airtight, iron-clad case against myself and I feel hopeless.

I think we’re all a lot like Noah.

I think most of us spend our entire lives, and no matter how much we accomplish or how well we do, no matter how much we learn or overcome as adults–we still feel like scared, frustrated little kids who can’t get it right.

Maybe it’s the cruel, critical words someone said to us when we were younger, that we’ve never gotten freed from.
Maybe it was the sting of comparison that came early, when our grades or appearance or achievements never seemed to match up to the other kids.
Maybe it happens when we inventory our adult lives and wonder just where we veered from the wide open promise of our youth.
Maybe it’s that we see our weaknesses so clearly that can’t see our own goodness anymore.

I imagine you might need what Noah needed yesterday.

You need someone to stop you, turn your shoulders gently, look you right in the eyes and with great love tell you:

You’re doing just fine. You really are.

This life is difficult, friends. None of us are qualified for it. We’re all doing exactly the same thing: trying to make it through a day we’ve never been to and course correcting in real-time when things go wrong. We’re all flailing around, trying to grasp excellence and competence, usually settling for mediocrity and skinned knees.

I always tell my son to do his best and trust that is enough. He has trouble with this. It’s a difficult lesson for most of us to learn.

Often I’ll look back at the end of a day and realize how many opportunities I missed, how much I forgot or screwed up or got wrong. “You didn’t do your best today!” I’ll tell myself with great malice.

What I’m learning though, is that it was my best. It was the best I could do given the day and the conditions and the state of my soul. If I became impatient or cut-corners or got frustrated; that impatient, corner-cutting, frustrated version of me was the best I was capable of being—and that’s OK.

I don’t know if you understand what it’s like to feel like Noah felt; to be perpetually disappointed with yourself or convinced that everyone else surely is.

I don’t know if you live with the continual soundtrack of critical voices telling you you’re not doing enough or making enough or being enough.

I don’t know if you too, inventory your day and begin to mount the case against yourself until you are all but certain that you are a failure.

You’re not.

You need to know that today.

Do your best and rest in that.

Your best is enough.

Breathe and keep going.

You’re doing just fine.