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.

31 thoughts on “How Love Wins: Moms of LGBTQ Children Share Their Stories, Part 1

  1. John, thank you so much for your posts. They are like medicine, good medicine! I have a question — I am a mom of an LGBT kiddo, and have seen you mention the FB group a few times, and I’m wishing I could connect with that group. It would be wonderful to have support. Is there a way to access the group?

  2. How do I join the “Mama Bears”? I’m sitting here crying. My Trans son is one of the most courageous people I know. I’m struggling every day with my grief and confusion, and joy and love. Left our church because he couldn’t be loved there.

  3. Wonderful testimonials! I feel sorry for the Pharisees (I just can’t think of them as followers of Christ) who rant about gays but don’t actually KNOW a gay person. If they did, their opinions would be different. One of my dearest friends is gay and I know of the fundamentalist haters knew her as I do, they would love her, too. It’s sad to see the judgemental ignorance in otherwise intelligent people.

  4. Thank you John for posting this from the moms. Some folks don’t realize that parents of LGBT children can be hurt by homophobia. I am a straight female and I care deeply about all the LGBT community and support them anyway I can.

    • When someone starts making homophobic statements my standard reply is now ‘Do you have a gay child?’ 100% of the time their answer is no. So then I go on to say ‘until you have a child come to you and cry in your arms because they are gay and don’t know how to tell you, you have nothing to add to this conversation. Take a seat and be quiet.’ That usually puts an end to further discussion. I had one enlightened individual say ‘tell me more about your child and what’s it been like as a parent of a gay child. Is there anything I can do to support you?’ I almost kissed them. I wish more people would realize that parents are subject to homophobia as well. But in no way am I trying to compare my feelings with that of a LBGT person’s feelings, just to make that clear.

  5. Simply beautiful, strong, hopeful words. thank you !!! I would never have imagined this kind of outpouring of love and understanding when I was a teenager.

  6. John, Thank you for giving your time and attention to our group this past week and thanks for giving the moms in our group a chance to be heard!

    If anyone is interested in joining our private facebook group for moms of lgbt kids send me an email at lizdyer55@gmail.com and put “Mom’s Facebook Group” in the subject line.

  7. Wowser !!! THANK YOU MAMA BEARS !!!

    Now. Where are those Dads you mentioned?

    Like, Hey, Dad !!! Love you !!! Want you in my life for real !!! Love you, Dad !!!

  8. If the self-proclaimed Christians who judge and condemn the LGBTQ community only knew how much hate they are spreading, how malicious their rhetoric is, and how unbiblical their dogmas are, the world would be a much better place. What does God actually hate? I believe you can find it in Proverbs 6:16-19.

  9. Congratulations mothers!!!

    The greatest mistake the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals made—apart from nursing their hatred of LGBTQ people so much—was the reality that nearly every extended family in the United States has genetic, bloodline LGBTQ members who are greatly valued and loved by their families—-and always will be. I have at least two in my extended family, and everyone—and I do mean everyone—in the the family loves them—including me. The fundies failed to understand that both blood and love are a lot thicker than any water and a lot thicker than any hatred they can mount. Love has overcome them, and it will continue to overcome them—because as Jesus showed us—it is the most powerful force in the universe—and nothing can withstand it—nothing.

    The Bible identifies the term “fool” as a label for a Jewish person who does not believe in God. In the English language, the word “fool” means something entirely different from that, and I am about to use that word strictly in the English sense—and I want all Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals to hear it.

    “On the LGBTQ issues, you all professed yourselves to be wise—although I have no idea how encouraging parents to hate, hurt, and desert their own children is in any way wise—you became fools in the English sense. Your current national efforts to institutionalize mean-spirited discrimination against LGBTQ people is equally doomed to failure. The rope you seek to hang your fellowman with is in reality coiled around your own necks—and the tighter you pull on it—Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism will choke and breathe its last breath in the United States—and the day it dies—I am going to organize a United Methodist Church committee to go over and dance on its grave. On that most Holy of all coming days, every atom in the universe and every nonhuman creature on this Earth will breathe a sigh of relief and break out in song:

  10. Hi. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior around age 7 and grew up in a non-denominational Bible teaching church. In my 20’s, I went through a period of questioning everything I had been taught and was introduced to homosexuality at college. I abandoned my family, the church, and everything I had known for a period of time. During that time, I was deeply committed to another female, with plans to marry and adopt children, etc. My parents disowned me when I made the announcement. All I really wanted from them was the reassurance that they loved me unconditionally, as Christ does. I had been set free from a life of trying to please my mother, who was never content with her own life. After some time, the Holy Spirit began speaking to me, which I tried to ignore. That didn’t work for long before I was literally physically ill by the presence of Him. I finally acknowledged Him; then days later, I asked God the question about whether or not I could lose my salvation over choosing a lifestyle He can’t approve of. I was compelled to pick up my Bible that had a layer of dust from sitting on the shelf for over three years and let it fall open. It happened to open to Romans 1:26-28, which answered my question. If I am a true believer, anything that is an abomination to God will be to me also because I have the indwelling Holy Spirit. But if I still choose to go my own way independent of God, He will eventually let me go because He does not hold us hostage against our will. There are plenty of scriptures He has provided for our understanding. https://www.openbible.info/topics/homosexuality

    It is my responsibility to be sure my own children and others who I cross paths with know the God News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is then up to them to choose their path and who or what will be their God. God pursues us; we do not pursue Him. He first loved us and gave His life for us. My parents, as well as other people, let me down and fell short of my expectations or meeting my needs; but God did not abandon me or reject me when I was rebellious, disrespectful, and disobedient. When I was reminded by Him of His love for me and realized that the choice was fully MY choice, I chose Him. I chose LIFE. I chose to do what was the hardest thing for me to do at that time in my life to follow Him and let Him be not only my Savior, but Lord over my life. That meant surrender. That meant fully trusting Him with the rest of my life and my future. I think it is critical for parents to be truthful and open with their kids, especially when it comes to sin, death, and the consequences of their choices in the here and now that will forever impact life after. We have that obligation and those of us who are Christians will be held accountable by God for sharing or not sharing truth. All of truth isn’t rosy. There are consequences for sin, because sin separates us from God. Read and study the story of The Prodigal Son. It is a picture, not only for earthly parents and their children, but a beautiful picture of the lost or rebellious coming to or returning to God, our heavenly father. We must be careful not to condone a sinful lifestyle, leading our children to believe that it is acceptable and excusable. If we do, we are not truly loving our children. We are a stumbling block to them coming fully to repentance at the throne of God. We are robbing them of the complete truth. Yes, God is loving. He IS love. But let us be sure we understand the difference between the four types of love and study to understand what love is. God’s Word provides us with the answers we need to understand and apply it. The deepest kind of love involves a bigger picture than cuddling, breast feeding, nurturing, and comforting. It includes doing hard things, consequences, correction, discipline. Children need to be taught that. They need to understand that there are boundaries in life and consequences when you cross those boundaries. If we do that, they will know exactly what they are doing when they choose to act independently of God. At the age of accountability, God holds each and every one of accountable for our choices. Teaching our children that IS loving them. Show them truth by living it out. Yes, the churches have failed, because we live in a fallen world…we are all fallen. The enemy and his lies have infiltrated the organized churches; however, the Body of Christ = THE CHURCH, has not and is not failing. It is persevering. Look at truth and you will look at The Church differently. You will have your eyes opened to see how to love and love completely, the way that God does. God has made Himself transparent and approachable through His Word. We can’t pick and choose only the parts we like and throw out the rest. That isn’t accepting or loving God for who He really is. Those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and Truth. We are only fooling ourselves if we think that it is acceptable to God for us to muddle the truth for sake of sparing the feelings of our children and others who have no interest in truth because it doesn’t appeal to their own desires or support their ideas that are contrary to God. Choosing to be a slave to Christ and truth is freedom for the Believer. When I chose to surrender my will to Him, I was truly set free. My joy is full and have never looked back at what I left behind.

    • If that is how the Holy Spirit has convicted you to live, then kudos to you. We each have our relationship with God and no one can say which is right or wrong for another person.

  11. Hi John…been following your posts for a while now and came across this. How do I join the Mama Bears? Your work speaks to my heart and has really helped me in my quest to be the best mum I can be. Thanks. Tracy

  12. This is so beautiful. I was upset with the news (6/12/17), and I decided to return to something about family and pride, and you provided it. Thanks Be To God, for this has calmed my anger.

  13. Your posts are so encouraging. I cant wait to refer my lgbtq friends to the true message of God. As some of them are off put by the “new pharisees” message of condemnation for the wonderful community of lgbtq people.

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