Dear Billy Part 2 – The Big Homosexual Elephant in the Church’s Foyer

***Prologue:  While writing this piece, I read a lot about the closing down of “Exodus International”, one of the largest and most well-known organizations dedicated to “curing” people with “homosexual tendencies” for over 30 years.  The president of EI also issued a statement of apology for all those that had been harmed by their practices and the plan is to start over and radically change their approach.  It is also in the news that in the next week or two, the Supreme Court of America will decide on what “equality” looks like in reference to homosexual marriage.  In Australia the issue of gay marriage is constantly being brought up and one would assume that in the not too distant future, there will be a major vote on the issue by Australian Citizens.  Now more than ever, the church needs to decide if they are going to continue responding with apathy or the same rhetoric of “love the sinner, hate the sin…and fight them with fire in the courts”, or if they are going to rise up and truly make a difference to be proud of.  History will look back on this time and pass judgement on how those who called themselves “Christians” and “Christ Followers”, dealt with this issue and the millions of people it affected.   Most importantly God will pass judgement and I think the question that we need to be asking is “What did we do for the least of these?”***

 

Dear Billy,

Once I went off to college, a conservative Bible college no less, I thought that as long as I “loved the sinner but hate the sin”, I was doing pretty well.  After all, many Christians were still just downright disdainful of homosexuals and didn’t have a clue about who they were as people.  I had a best friend who was gay AND I still loved you!  Surely I was “better” than most and deserved a pat on the back for my “open mind”, right?

Then something happened…It was more than few years since I left Bible College, got married and moved to Australia.  It was either right before or right after my first child was born and I had reconnected with some old friends from college on Facebook.  I began talking to my friend Jeff and somehow I found out that he was gay too.  Yep, another friend who went to Bible College with me had “come out”.   Jeff and I had been in the same “circle” of friends at college/uni and were always friendly with each other.  I remembered him being a bit quieter at times, more careful with his words, a bit more mature than some of the other guys in the group.  My personality often spurred on teasing, but Jeff didn’t do that as much, I remember him actually being kind and like he had a bit of empathy for me.  Looking back, I wonder if maybe he just understood better than most young, “hetero” men his age, what it was like to be different…to be a target…and so treated people accordingly…how he wanted to be treated, if people knew the truth about him.  This is all me looking back and speculation, but I just remember him being different… and I am thankful he was.

Jeff and I began chatting online and with great resolve I told him that I loved him but couldn’t agree with how he lived his life, thinking he would be so grateful to hear me say that.  However I remember so clearly what he said back to me (the essence, not necessarily his exact words), he said “Katie, do you know how offensive that is?  How would you feel if I said I loved you, but I just couldn’t think it was right that you had married a man?  That I couldn’t be okay with such a huge part of who you were?”  I remember it well…because I sat there stunned.  I’m embarrassed to say now, that THAT thought had never occurred to me.  Surely gay people should just be happy to be loved, why would they care if we didn’t like or approve of who they loved?  But then when the question was posed to me, very simply, it was the start of a colossal shift in my world view on this matter.  I remember feeling confused and confronted at what my friend had said to me and began to question, really question, if I had any idea what the gay community was going through.  I realized my empathy was not full because it was ignorant and had been, rather blissfully so.

Not long after that exchange with Jeff, I was online with you.  I was starting to wonder about you and where you were at spiritually after all this time.  So I asked you if you still held to your Christian faith and I remember predicting that you would probably come back with some answer about being spiritual, etc. but not pointing back to Jesus as your Saviour, because how on earth could you reconcile your “lifestyle” with being a Christ follower and with what the Bible said about homosexuality?  You wrote me back and told me that your faith was intact and solid.  You told me how you had wrestled with it for a while and it caused you to really search the scriptures and your heart.  You then shared with me about The Gay Christian Network (GCN) and gave me the link to “The Great Debate” on their site.  (I encourage anyone reading this, to go directly to this link http://www.gaychristian.net/greatdebate.php right after you finish reading my post).  I’m so thankful to you Billy, for sharing this with me at that time!

While reading the two men’s essays, who share their views on the Biblical context of homosexuality, I was “introduced” to one of the writers, Justin Lee.  Justin is a Christian, a Christ follower, who loves his Saviour, believes the Bible to be the word of God and he is gay.  I read with earnest his research, interpretation and conclusion of what he ultimately believes the Bible indicates (not just what it says) when it discusses homosexuality.  I couldn’t believe it!  He was just like me!  He loves Jesus and he calls Him Lord, AND Justin believes the Bible allows him to be in a loving, monogamous relationship with another man…how could this be?

I continued to read, certain he could not totally refute all the scriptures that are used to condemn homosexuality, but he did…he does.  If you read his essay, you could not have a more thorough commentary of this topic and all the Biblical passages involved.  Justin does not hide from scripture, he addresses it head on.  And here’s the thing….he made sense….perfect and complete sense.  His arguments and points were as valid as any taught to me throughout my years being brought up as a conservative, “traditional”, Christian.   I also read the essay sharing the other side of the debate, by a gay man who believes he is called by God to be celibate.   I did not find myself as convicted or convinced by his arguments nor did I find his sharing of that side, very well organized or presented.  Someone else might read his “side” and be more convinced, but what Justin had to say really hit my heart.

And here’s the thing in GCN, they have people with beliefs covering both sides of this debate (and everything in between).  The Gay Christian Network is there to bring understanding and allow people to really communicate in a safe and respectful place on this issue.  They call it “Being on Side A or Side B” and they have resources for both and keep the doors of communication open.  For that I applaud the GCN, Justin and the rest of those running it, for being so bold and honest in how this topic is approached.

When I finished reading both essays and when I was all done exploring the GCN website, I was just overwhelmed with conviction.  The church (as a generalized, corporate whole, though of course there are specific churches that are indeed being diligent and courageous in how they are dealing with this) was getting it wrong…I had gotten it wrong…for so long!  I felt a fire in my soul to stand up on this issue, so I began to speak up.  Not loud at first, I was still wrestling with what I felt had been revealed to me by God through you, Jeff and Justin, and what I had been indoctrinated in.  I wrestled to reconcile the two.  I fought to ride both sides of the fence.  Eventually, I couldn’t.

Because here’s the thing, am I 100% sure that you, Justin, Jeff and ALL the other homosexual Christians (and I am referring to them, because they are the ones who would be feeling the need to address scripture on this matter) who believe God blesses their relationships, are right?  Nope, not sure if I will ever know for sure.   BUT, I am 100% sure that Justin and the GCN are doing what the Church (again, as a whole body) has failed to do.  They are opening their arms to all homosexuals, transgenders, etc. and concerning themselves with preaching the gospel and love to them, rather than trying to force change.  They are showing Christ’s love to one of the most marginalized and jeopardized groups of people in the world today, without demanding any changes be made first.  They love without insinuating fault.  They are accepting without pushing a moral agenda.  They are reaching out without expecting personal gratification from manipulating someone to alter who they are.  They are challenging “the status quo” with respect, care and integrity.  They are saying, “Hey, the Church has been wrong about scriptural interpretation before!   Please look, see and know that God created us too and therefore we deserve to be able to worship alongside every other sinner in church!”

What I know for sure is this:  As a Christian woman, I am called to “love my neighbour as myself” and to “Love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind” and I have decided that even if (for the sake of argument) homosexuality is considered a sin before God, how does the Church trying to get a secular government to pass legislation on personal relationships (that may or may not acknowledge God as the head of that relationship), get anyone closer to loving God?  How does denying someone the right to marry who they feel called to, who their heart loves, point them towards the cross?  No one in the church has yet to answer these questions, adequately anyway, for me.  If the Great Commission is our true mission here on earth, should we not filter everything through whether or not it promotes that ultimate cause?  I believe we should and I know that the church being the loudest voice opposing gay couples from marrying and having the same rights as every other married heterosexual couple, has not done one thing to uphold Christ’s last instruction to us.  How does one make disciples of the One who was sent to abolish the law, by vehemently trying to impose the law on a very specific population of people? 

I am so passionate about this dear friend, because I see the harm done.  I see the people who are so hurt, so cold, so not interested in even pursuing God or the church because they really do believe they will never be accepted.  How can one pursue the throne of God, when they are blocked by His “followers” who demand a price before being allowed access to Him?  How can the church look at the history of using the Bible and the Christian faith to justify the Crusades, slavery, the oppression of women, tyranny and national gluttony which lead to nearly driving out whole races of people from many lands and THEN not even entertain the concept that maybe, just maybe the Church has gotten it wrong in its interpretation of scripture on the issue of homosexuality?  Because Billy, I like you, am not questioning or denying the authority of scripture.  Far from it.  I am questioning with my heart, soul and mind the traditional understanding and interpretation of a handful of scriptures that have allowed the church to put so many on the fringes.  I am questioning the use of these scriptures to endorse the body of Christ, rallying to deny homosexuals the same rights and freedoms in relationships, that we all long for.  I am challenging the Church in its mass obedience to the letter of the law, rather than examining the spirit of the law!    

There are smart, intelligent, God-fearing people on both sides of this debate.   There are people who are true followers of Christ and interpret the scriptures about homosexuality traditionally (and who I honestly believe do not realize or fully understand the hurt caused by their views) and there are those that have started really questioning the “old” understanding of those verses.  I love what Rachel Held Evans once shared on her blog: 

“We are tired of fighting, tired of vain efforts to advance the Kingdom through politics and power, tired of drawing lines in the sand, tired of being known for what we are against, not what we are for.

And when it comes to homosexuality, we no longer think in the black-and-white categories of the generations before ours. We know too many wonderful people from the LGBT community to consider homosexuality a mere “issue.” These are people, and they are our friends. When they tell us that something hurts them, we listen. And Amendment One hurts like hell.

Regardless of whether you identify most with Side A or Side B, (or with one of the many variations within those two broad categories), it should be clear that amendments like these needlessly offend gays and lesbians, damage the reputation of Christians, and further alienate young adults—both Christians and non-Christian—from the Church.

So my question for those evangelicals leading the charge in the culture wars is this: Is it worth it? Is a political “victory” really worth losing millions more young people to cynicism regarding the Church? Is a political “victory” worth further alienating people who identify as LGBT?  Is a political “victory” worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with gays and lesbians?  And is a political “victory” worth drowning out that quiet but persistent internal voice that asks—what if we get this wrong?”   For the full blog post and additional context check out:

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/win-culture-war-lose-generation-amendment-one-north-carolina

I admire Rachel and consider her a true hero in the progressive, Christian feminist movement.  She is smart, she is compassionate and she makes it so simple.  Yet as much as she has shared her faith, she has had it challenged simply because of her views on gay marriage and homosexuality.  The authenticity of her whole world view has been called into question, because she is willing to ask the tough questions.  And I know by writing this there are those that at the very least will question my ”spiritual maturity” or my “understanding of scripture”.   I know there are those who will cast judgement on me and possibly my children (or pity them because they will obviously be raised in a home where their Christian parents “don’t quite have it right”) from our local church and Christian school community.  I know there are those who will read all this and see the links for the evidence of “the other side” and still refuse to even acknowledge the smallest possibility that an alternative way of thinking needs to be explored within the church on the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage.  I know all this and still believe with all my heart that I need to be part of the growing number of Christians who are speaking up.  I need to raise my voice with others who love Christ and want my gay brothers and sisters in Christ and those looking in on the fringes, too scared to pursue God because of the prolonged failings of His followers, to know that they are loved and valued by the God who created them too! 

I truly don’t believe we will ever know for sure what God was trying to relay in the scriptures dealing with homosexuality, until we get to heaven.  BUT what I am certain about is that the Bible has a theme running through it and that theme is love, redemption and unconditional grace.  To me that means, that what makes sense and what is logical when looking at the big picture of the Bible, is that like it says in Psalm 139 we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that means Billy, that you were made exactly how you were meant to be.  And if “a bad tree bears bad fruit and a good tree will bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18); if you are/were “living in sin”, shouldn’t you be bearing some bad fruit by now?  Shouldn’t Justin Lee be lashing out at those who oppose and hate him, showing an angry spirit?  Shouldn’t you have turned your back on God and the church for what happened in high school, rather than humbly seeking God out and using your life to serve Him and others?

You, Billy are an example of a “good tree bearing good fruit”.  You are personal proof to me that what Justin Lee wrote about in “The Great Debate” and the compassion and acceptance that Philip Yancey speaks of   http://www.philipyancey.com/q-and-a-topics/homosexuality , is what is right and true.  Regardless of what one thinks of homosexuality or any other “sin” mentioned in the Bible, my approach and inspiration has been how Jesus dealt with the woman at the well and the adulterous woman about to be stoned; He loved them first, He rescued them first, He reached out and put Himself on the line first.  Jesus made Himself an abomination first for those He set out to love and rescue.   And let’s not forget that when Jesus rescued the adulterous woman, He was stopping the religious leaders of the day from fulfilling and following the only spiritual law they had ever known!  By Old Testament standards, they were doing the right thing and Christ was now the sinner in their eyes.  But today, we know He was showing them/us how to move forward and love as He loved. 

Jesus saved and loved before He gave any moral mandates and He was the Son of God.  The church should take note of this order of things and ask, “What IS the point of legislating sexual morality?”  If the point is not to shine a light on the Cross and bring others to understand that “God so loved the world…” but rather to maintain a sense of power and religious presence within a secular society, then it is wrong…completely.

Is the homosexuality of today a sin and an abomination in God’s eyes?  I don’t think so, but I am happy to wait and be sure once I get to heaven.  And while I wait to know for sure, I will continue to stand in the gap for my homosexual friends and the Cross…hopefully being a voice of love, reason and true grace, showing them the way home.   I will continue to speak up for justice for all and fight for everyone to have the right to love who they feel called to, because I would rather err on the side of grace and trust the Holy Spirit to convict where man should not.  I believe the Bible IS the true word of God and I believe that we as fallible human beings have often gotten our understanding of it wrong.  Today I stand up and say, “I think I got it wrong…I think the church has got it wrong!  Thank you Billy for starting me on this journey and showing ME true grace and love along the way.  You have shown me how it’s done.  I pray I can follow well in your footsteps!”

With Much Love & Eternal Thanks,      Katie xoxoxo                                                                                                    

PS – And when you & Troy finally get to be joined in marriage…I WILL be there with bells on!!  xoxoxo

 

Tribute to Julie: How My Dying Friend Showed Me How to Live…Fiercely!

I knew it was coming.  We’d all been preparing for it for weeks, if not months and still last night, when I got the news, that my dear friend Julie had died, after a courageous fight against ovarian cancer, I felt like I wasn’t ready.  I was blessed to have a few “good-bye” moments with her in the months and weeks leading up to her passing, during each one, I thought it would be my last time hugging her and telling her I loved her…and then I would be blessed again, with one last chance to have a bit of time with her and say our farewells.  Even with multiple good-byes, I still felt like I didn’t get to say it enough…still felt like I could’ve said more, held on tighter.

But I guess that’s the point…no matter how much preparation one has, death is so permanent and so isolating for those left behind, you don’t ever really “get it”, until the person is gone and no matter what you might post on Facebook or Twitter, the person you want most to reply, isn’t going to.

What’s funny is I’ve only really been friends with Julie for the past 18 months or so.  Before that, we would’ve been “friendly acquaintances” at church, whose children were closer than we were.  Our girls were about a year apart and ran around together with a few of the other little girls at church.  I had always watched Julie and her husband Steve from afar and would think “They look cool, would be fun to get to know them…” and then I wouldn’t do anything about it…absolutely nothing.

I remember being at a Ladies’ Tea event at church, for the new mom’s in our church.  I had been asked to share something with all the other women that day.  I remember I shared about how God had put on my heart lately to really appreciate my child’s personality and to be aware of her strengths and weaknesses…to be careful to discipline poor behaviour, not annoying personality traits that needed to mature.  I shared this and afterwards, Julie came up to me and said what I had shared really was relevant to her at that time.  She shared a few struggles that she had been having with her little girl and I related very well…our girls are very dominant, expressive 1st borns…as mothers we connected on this.

We had a great conversation, I felt like she was someone I could really bond with possibly, I walked away feeling like she might be someone to pursue a friendship with.  Then I went home and again did nothing…at all.

I had really been struggling since moving to Australia to find friends within the church.  Women who “got me” and even though they may not agree with me on some things or find my personality a bit quirky, they would still want my friendship.  I had/have close friends outside of the church, but there was a part of me that was craving relationships with women who shared my faith.  I spent a lot of time not pursuing people and telling myself that “they probably wouldn’t like me anyway” or the reverse of that, passing judgement on them and not taking the time or making the effort to really dig deep to form firm friendships.

I was scared of rejection.  I was worried about attaching to people and having to move again…as a Defence wife, that doesn’t seem to be something I can get used to.  I was convinced that all the women at church had enough friends, people they had grown up with or knew for decades, none of them needed or wanted a new, close, friend.  So I didn’t try.  Oh I made efforts here and there, but I didn’t extend myself beyond what was comfortable, for my baseline shy, rather insecure personality.

Julie was one of the people I was too scared to approach.  Then our congregation was told about her cancer diagnosis and right away, my heart was in my throat…it was like I had a panic attack for her.  As a mother, with two young children who were of similar ages to Julie’s, I just could not grasp what she was facing.  My heart screamed for her struggle.  So at that time, I decided I was going to actually make the effort I should have ages ago.  I didn’t know how many friends Julie had, I didn’t know if she needed anymore and I decided I didn’t care.  I was going to be there and I was going to let her know I cared….and I wouldn’t stop.

Julie had surgery and she continued to fight hard.  She had barely stopped her first chemo treatment, when the cancer was back…and it didn’t go away.  Julie was then told by her doctors that she probably wouldn’t reach her 40th birthday, she decided to treat her 39th birthday this past November, as her 40th.  I immediately felt this intense need to do something…to make this dang party happen and make it awesome!!  I asked Steve and Julie if they minded me pursuing a few radio stations to sponsor a special party…they said to “go for it”, so I did.  The rest is history…SAFM Adelaide got my letter and ran with it.  Adelaide rallied around the Hall family and we were able to throw Julie the most amazing birthday party ever….it was truly epic and something I know I will never forget, along with many others.

What amazed me about Julie and what has left such an impact on me, was how she just kept going…she just carried on, through all the pain, all the sickness, all the medicine, all the exhaustion, all while knowing her time was limited.  My gut tells me that I would have struggled not weeping every day knowing I wasn’t going to see my sweet babies grow up.  I didn’t know how she just kept that radiant smile on her face while she tackled one more amazing memory after another.   I know she cried, I know she grieved; I know she had dark days, but she kept bouncing back and leaned on her Saviour the whole way.   I like to think that if I was in Julie’s position, I would’ve risen to the occasion the way she did…but as time went on, I just don’t know if I could’ve gone for as long as she did, as full force as she did.  And it wasn’t because she was scared of dying, oh no, she knew she would be with Jesus soon, but every day God gave her, she wanted it to count for her, Steve and her kids.  Could I do that???  To the end???  I don’t know.  Her example continues to humble me.

Julie was fierce in facing death.  She prayed hard and asked for a miracle, but she knew in the end that her miracle might not come until heaven.  With that knowledge she set out to just attack each day and live it to the ultimate fullest.  Watching Julie do this and getting close to her over this time, made me realize how foolish I had been to not have pursued her (and others) for friendship.  How much of God’s goodness had I missed out on, simply by not being secure in who God made me to be??

Then I realized how petty I have been at times….how incredibly wasteful I have been with the time I have had with many people.   How many times do we all just not reach out to someone because we are scared of rejection or we think we are too different to really “gel” as friends???  How many times does God put people in our lives that we don’t even acknowledge???  I squandered so much time with Julie….and now I was facing losing a dear friend and a friendship that God could’ve done even more in, had I trusted Him and let Him…had I not let fear dictate who I let into my life.

The more I got to know Julie, the more I saw we had in common….and get this, I even saw a few of her flaws (very similar to some of mine!) and found we differed on some things….things that in the past I may have made a big deal about in my head and used as an excuse to not try and be better friends.  But because I had already determined to stick by her and let her know I cared to the end, there was no backing down.   The things we differed on didn’t matter because she was now my dear friend and we only had so much time.  

 Julie was dying and it was amazing to watch the clarity she seemed to live her life with.  She knew what mattered and she knew what was important in the long term.  It was a joy and fascinating to watch and hear about her, Steve and the kids’ vacation adventures.  Money was not suddenly just pouring in for them, but they were trusting God for His provision as they set out to make sure Julie’s life with her kids, counted for every moment!  Again, how often as families do we struggle through life always worried about “the future” and often not taking the time to just embrace the time God has given us with those we love???  We watched the Halls go on their trips and then as my husband returned from a long over-seas trip, he and I had a talk and we both agreed, we needed a family trip ourselves and so we just did it….we booked a trip to QLD with our kiddos and we created our own memories and pushed any second thoughts aside.  Yes, Julie helped us finally decide that a family vacation was worth the expense…and it totally was!

I am not sure all that I have learned from Julie and I know I haven’t yet realized all the ways that she has impacted me with her life and death.  I just know that God showed me in a big way that it doesn’t pay to hesitate in life and in pursuing friendships.  If you are in someone’s life and they are in yours, ask yourself why that is.  I’m not saying everyone you come into contact with is meant to be your next BFF, but what I am saying is, if you meet someone and think you could be a good friend to them or they to you, or both…ask God to create the opportunity for it to happen…don’t walk away and do nothing.   Right now, all I can think is Julie was such a great friend and I would have had SO much more time to get to know her, if I had just reached out.  I’m glad I did reach out when I did, but a life altering lesson has been learned by me.

One night Julie and I were texting and I shared with her my thoughts and regrets on not pursuing her for friendship sooner.  I told her I was so sorry that I just hadn’t made the effort and that I wished I had more time with her.  She wrote me back and said she understood the whole “insecurity thing” too…and then she said that we needed to make sure that our girls didn’t make the same mistakes or have the same “hang ups”.   Next week when I go to Julie’s funeral, I will be thankful for the time I was able to call her “friend” and I will say a little prayer that our girls grow up fierce.  I will pray that they both and their other friends grow up living without fear of rejection or failure or loss;  that they will trust God with abandon and pursue whatever they feel called to.  I will pray that they won’t ever be scared to be a friend to anyone and will not be ashamed to be the first one to say “Hi!” or make a phone call.  Julie was my dear friend….a great friend….she let me in during a dark time and still managed to shine light into my life….I wish I had more time to call her “friend”….xoxoxo

 

 

Dear Billy, Part 1 (An open letter of apology, conviction & hope, to my gay best-friend)

*** Please note, this is an account of something that happened almost 17 years ago.  To my knowledge, everything I am writing about is true & accurate from my perspective and memory.  Billy’s name is being used with permission and he has come along side me for the writing of this post. ***

Dear Billy,

This letter has been a long time in the making.  I hope this letter will express to you (and hopefully many others) some of the most important thoughts and feelings I have ever shared.  I am known for being longwinded once I get talking or writing on something I am passionate about, so I will try to be as concise as I can be so as not to lose you…but I pray and hope I leave nothing out that will take away from what I need to say…what I must say.

I need to apologize to you for “that summer.” I want to say I’m sorry and I want to remember out loud here, so I never forget or make the same mistakes that I know caused you harm.  I want people to know what I have to be sorry for….what so many need to be sorry for….

I’m wondering if you remember the summer of 1996 as vividly as I do.  It was so huge for me for so many reasons (I met my husband for one, probably one of the few positives from that summer), but I know it’s unforgettable for you too—and  not for good reasons.  My heart breaks still, that I was such a big part of something that I know was so horrible and gut-wrenching for you.

I remember flying home to Virginia for that summer, excited to be on my own (sorta) and able to hang out with you and other friends from school and church.  Friends I missed SO much after my parents moved us to Ireland two summers before.  I remember being eager to call you and organize a time we could hang out and catch up.  You were one of my most faithful friends after the move and looking back, I understand more now why that probably was.  You had been the MK (missionary kid) when we were in elementary school and you had left your childhood home in Ecuador to return to the states, which really hadn’t been your home yet.  You of all people knew, really knew, what I was going to face moving to a foreign place and being “the outsider”.  You knew and you kept your letters coming; you wrote me SO much and to this day, I look at those letters and see them as the ultimate picture of your true loyalty.

So you had been writing me and I had been writing you and now we finally had a whole summer to hang out…the summer before our senior year in high school…it was gonna  be great!

I called you up and we were talking….chatting away…I mentioned something about our parent’s thinking we were going to date one day and I might have said something about how I didn’t think that would happen, but I wasn’t sure because you were my best friend.  You then said to me “Katie, that won’t ever happen….” And you paused, I wasn’t sure why you sounded so serious, I think you were waiting for me to ask “Why?” but I don’t remember if I did and you said “….because I’m not like that, I mean, I don’t like girls”….”Billy are you saying what I think you are saying??”….”Yes, I think so…” I want you to say it, I want to hear you say it, so I know…”….”Katie, I’m gay…”

I don’t remember the rest accept that my head was reeling, my heart was in my throat, I know I began to ask you lots of questions.  I think I asked you if you were “sure”….I think I asked you if you “knew what THAT meant???”  I was dying inside…I wanted to scream…because to me, you might as well have told me that YOU were dying….with everything I had been taught at church and in the Christian School we both attended,  what you were telling me was equal to telling me that you had sold your soul.

I remember getting off the phone with you…it was dark….it was fairly late, which meant it was super early in the morning in Ireland.  I was devastated and could not wait until morning to call my parents.  When I called, my Dad answered the phone, and it was obvious I had woken him up.  I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t stall, I answered back in a sob…I’ve only had a few times in my life where I can remember being so upset, that my body literally pushed my cries out….I’m sure I sounded like a wounded animal….I was beside myself as I told my Dad about our exchange.  I didn’t know what to do….you had “confessed sin” to me and told me that your parents didn’t know and that you weren’t ready to tell them yet.  I told this to my Dad….my Dad who also considered your parents friends and your Dad (our church Missions pastor!) a mentor.  Dad quickly advised me to get in touch with our church’s senior pastor and ask him for counsel on what I should do.

 Right away the issue seemed to be about how to get you to “confess” to them and repent of your sins….Being just 17 (being a very naïve and innocent 17 too) and thinking anything church leadership (and my parents) advised me to do MUST be right….I contacted our pastor.  He told me to come in so we could talk.  My plan was to not give your name…and I think I started off doing that, but either he let me know he knew who I was talking about, or if I felt secure enough at some point, believing it would all be confidential, so I said  your name.

He told me that I needed to get you to confess to your parents that you were “living in sin” and get you to “repent”—and that I had two weeks to do it.  IF I could not get you to do that, then we would have to go about the biblical way of confronting people in the church: have you come in to see the pastor with me and we would both confront you; then if you still wouldn’t “repent” and let your parents know what was going on, the pastor and I would go to your parents and tell them for you.

I remember feeling such pressure.  I remember feeling so horrible because you were one of my life-long best friends and now I had betrayed you once and was being pushed into a situation where I would probably have to betray you again.  I remember questioning our pastor about the “timeline” he was giving me…why was it so short???  Am I going to have to lie to get him to your office?? 

You and I hung out…I remember pestering you with questions….even asking you if you had ever been abused as a child, because maybe that triggered it (AHHH, the ignorance!!).   I pleaded with you to tell your parents…begged you. But you kept telling me that you just weren’t ready.

Finally I let our pastor know that you weren’t budging.  I can’t remember how we got you to the church, but I think he called you saying he wanted to chat, but didn’t tell you I would be there.  I got to the church ahead of you and ran into one of the other pastors in the foyer….he was part of the “executive team” that our head pastor had to talk to about “such matters”, so he knew I was there.  He stopped and told me how proud he was of me for being so courageous. At the time, I felt good that he thought so highly of me.

You got to the church, saw me there, saw our head pastor and I saw it “click” in your eyes.  You knew, but you went with me into his office anyway.  He knew that you knew and wasted no time in saying something like “Billy, you are living in sin and you need to stop and you need to tell your parents…”  Without skipping a beat you looked right at him and said “Frankly, I don’t think it’s any of your damn business…” and then you got up and walked out.  At the time, I was floored and devastated, but looking back, I think what courage and guts it would’ve taken to do that, that day!!

As soon as you left, I looked at our pastor and said “What do we do now?”  He told me that we would call your house and if your parents were home, then he would go over…I could go if I wanted.  At that point, I felt horrible for what had just happened and was sick thinking about him telling your parents….I knew I needed to “finish what I started”, so I said that I would go.  He got your parents on the phone, they were home and he asked if we could come over.

We got to your parents’ house and he was pretty quick to the point…again.  From memory he told them and I sat there, just confirming what he said.  I’ll never forget your parent’s reaction….and I know you know how they felt about it, more than I ever will….but the tears flowed…and we all prayed.

After all that, our pastor took me to his house, because he had to go back to the church, but I was obviously devastated and his wife said she would chat with me and bring me home later.  I sat there and listened to another, Godly person who was part of our fast becoming “mega-church’s” hierarchy, tell me how “brave” I was and how I had done the right thing and honored God by the choices I made, even though it was hard.  I listened and I am sad to say, it helped me feel better…I felt important…grown up….like I had just made a lot of really “Godly people” proud of me, so surely it would all work out.

I think I spent the rest of the summer apologizing to you for “how things went down”, because I knew I had not been truthful with you, in order to make sure you went to the church for that meeting.  I felt more awful about lying to you than anything else.  Miraculously you didn’t hate me and you seemed to forgive me pretty quickly; though you did let me know that I was NOT a favourite of any of your high school friends when you told them what I did.  To this day, I’m not sure how you kept being my friend after what I did…or at least how you seemed to let it go so quickly…but then I guess it’s just one of the many things that speaks of your unmatched character and selfless love.

 I went back to Ireland after that summer very skinny because by the end of it all, I could no longer eat without getting sick.  The whole experience had been so stressful and I was just happy to get home to my family by the end of it. We still kept in touch, but I’m not sure how much and the following summer, we hung out before we went off to college/university.  You had become very secure in  who you were and in “being out” while I still tried to be as close to you as we were in the past, while questioning  your “choice” and weakly trying to convince you to “change”.  It was a rough summer and I remember feeling tension, a bit, between us.  You were great and continued to be my faithful friend, but I struggled with what I had done and felt very insecure in my friendship with you…it took me awhile to really forgive myself, even though your forgiveness had been swift and total.

We went off to college and went our separate ways.  Neither one of us kept in very good touch, but what happened “that summer” was something I replayed in my mind often and from pretty early on afterward, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, I knew how everything happened with our pastor and you being “outed” by him before you were ready, was wrong…just plain wrong.

 I look back at this summer as one of the lowest, most stressful times of my life where I am genuinely ashamed of how I acted, the choices I made and the hurt I caused.  I also look at how “the church” handled it all and I am appalled.  I try to say to myself “Well, this was like 17 years ago, everything was different then, surely they would respond differently today…” and maybe they would, but the fact is, you were not respected and it was more important to church leadership to get you to “confess and repent” so as not to cause a church scandal, rather than to get to know you and just love you where you were at.  They were more concerned about being right, than being a safe place for you to fall….to go to and be loved while seeking counsel.  I remember you telling me that you never felt like you could talk to any of the pastors about it all, when you were wrestling with it before coming out, because of all the gay jokes that went around youth group and how the youth pastors took part and/or did nothing to stop it.  I think of THAT and it makes me so sad…so sick in my heart.  As far as I know, no apology was ever given to you for how this all had happened…no one has ever looked back and confirmed that the way you were treated and your privacy totally disrespected, was wrong.  You know it was…I know it was…I think the people in authority who called the shots have yet to really know it.  If they do, they obviously haven’t felt any conviction to reach out to you and that ultimately disgusts me. 

Another interesting side note, is that after all this, the two pastors who were the main ones involved in encouraging me to do what I did, who sung my praises and made me feel like some uber-spiritual ingénue, had very little contact with me after all this was done and put to rest by them. I look back at that time and see where I first experienced blatant spiritual manipulation that bordered on abuse, in terms of how they pulled me in and then cast me aside once I had done their bidding.

I remember a few years after all this happened, I was driving home late one night.  Can’t remember where I was coming from, but at a stop light I looked over and there you were, alone in the car next to me on the road.  I saw you and I instantly KNEW I needed to follow you to wherever you were going.  We had not spoken or seen each other in months, if not a year or two, but I knew in my heart I needed to let you know, once and for all, how sorry I was….how full of regret I was, for what happened that summer….for all of it.  Luckily, you weren’t going far and you pulled into the parking lot of the Starbucks where you used to work.  It was late, not many cars around, you were meeting friends I assumed.  You parked and got out of your car, I jumped out and called to you….I walked up to you and you seemed genuinely happy to see me.  I remember I started crying almost right away…and I just poured out my heart about how sorry I was for what happened “that summer”…how I knew now the way it all happened was so wrong and I should never have let myself be a part of it…I asked you to forgive me.  You smiled….you comforted ME…and you said “Katie, it’s okay…I grew up in that church too…I know how it was…”  And I think I just kept crying….so much guilt and emotion and sadness for a piece of our friendship that I felt like was destroyed, just poured out.  And that was it….we chatted a bit more…I calmed down and I think we agreed to catch up properly some time.

So that’s how it all happened….that’s how I committed the biggest betrayal in my life up to this point.  I had never done anything like it before this incident and haven’t done anything like it since.  I like to think of myself as being a loyal person & friend, but I know if anyone read or heard about this incident without knowing me at all, they would come to a very different conclusion.   This is a story that I am ashamed of and the only thing that makes me not totally loathe myself over it still, is knowing that you and that summer helped shake me up enough to start thinking for myself more…on this matter and many others.

A lot of time went by…we kept in sporadic touch and I even invited you to my wedding, but you were on vacation during that time.  Our contact was minimal leading up to and after I got married, but because of that whole experience, the ground work was laid, a journey was started for me on how I would view this “issue” in light of my faith and in light of what I was raised to believe the “Bible said” on this.   The events of the summer of 1996 would shape my perspective and eventually drive my passion to speak out in defence of you and so many others.

Then Facebook happened….we got back in touch more often….and you, along with another gay friend that I went to school with at Moody Bible Institute, shared two things with me in a matter of months of each other that turned my worldview on this, upside down.  I could no longer just “hate the sin but love the sinner”….there was a battle going on….

(To Be Continued)

People are not topics: a problem in biblical interpretation

I’m not sure about “re-blogging etiquette”…but I have often thought you are not meant to repost another’s blog until you have some huge following…or that it’s not deemed “worth it” until such time, maybe?? However, I’ve decided to just stay blissfully ignorant on the protocol of this and do what my heard leads. I am relatively new to blogging but I’m loving it and fast becoming passionate about my writing as well as reading other people’s. I thought this was written really well and very relevant for Christians and the church today! Hope it stirs your mind and touches your heart…..

slouching towards emmaus

In an article from several years back, Cynthia Briggs Kitteredge paid a thoughtful compliment to feminist interpreters of Scripture: “They understand women as historical agents who contributed to the formation of early communities of Christ-believers, rather than as ‘topics’ addressed by biblical writers.” [1]

Embedded in this compliment is a challenge to how, at least in my experience, we generally interpret the Bible. We tend to abstract “topics” from what were concrete struggles between flesh-and-blood people, and interpret where a certain author may or may not have “landed” on a specific “topic” from his or her writing.

My concern is that we go to Scripture looking for guidance on “topics,” be it the role of women in the assembly, household structures, the role of elders in the church, or even the big scary bugaboos of our day like gay marriage. We want to draw a line between the “topic” addressed…

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How Boston shined a light on our “entitlement issues”

So I have been home for a couple of weeks after going home (like how I don’t know which place to refer to as “home”, so I just call both places that??!! Even I’m confused!) to the USA for 2 weeks to celebrate my Dad’s 60th…and decided I needed to get back into my writing.  The trip home was great but very busy and a bit of a whirlwind!  Before going I had fantasized a bit about all the food I was gonna eat when I got there and then once there, I was actually pretty conservative.  I don’t know, maybe another sign of how “Australian” I’m becoming…or have become.

In anticipation of going “home”, I was wondering how I would take it all after not being back for 4 1/2 years.  I actuallly think it was easier than the last time I was there (maybe because I was “kid free”, ha!!) but I still noticed the materialism (though not as much, but maybe THAT is because I feel like Australia is becoming more materialistic itself) and the constant busyness…thist constant desire to have more…”be more”.  So much choice everywhere you turn and I still don’t know where that stops being a sign of hard work and ambition and starts being a sign of mass discontent and a population that is never satisfied with the life God has given them…(but alas, that is probably a discussion for a whole other post!)

Overall, I had a great time and wasn’t too overwhelmed by the differences…but I just think I know what to expect there more and how to objectively compare it to life in Australia…my home now.

Then this week, the horrific bombing at the Boston marathon happened.  I saw it on the news and it wasn’t even that I was surprised so much…just devastated as an American watching from far away and broken for the victims and their families.  But I’m watching the news coverage and I’m seeing this female news anchor talking about Boston and then switching to talking about the bombings and deaths in Iraq.  She insists on talking about Iraq and not only that, she highlights how the news coverage about what was happening in Boston was so over-emphasized in relation to what had happened there…even though the death toll and severity of devastation, was much larger in scope in Iraq.

I’m watching the news and I’m impressed that this anchor woman is so determined to highlight these discrepancies and I’m wondering how the news in America will cover both events.  And then I think to myself “Why does this always happen??  A bomb goes off and lives are lost in America or Europe and the news is relentless with it’s coverage, interrupts shows and stays up through the night with updates…the same happens in Africa or Asia or the Middle East and it’s mentioned somewhere between the sports and the weather and never talked about again!”  I can’t stop thinking about it and wondering what the deal is….

And then it sorta hits me….the western world has learned a sense of entitlement…We think we are entitled to peace, to safety, to no chaos or innocent lives lost “randomly”.  We have grown up with several generations now, never knowing what it is like to live in danger as a whole country or with a real threat of war coming to our homes….our shores.  I think this is a huge blessing and something we should all be grateful for, but unfortunately I’m not sure we are all as grateful for it as we are just expecting it…almost demanding it in our sub-concious.  So when something horrible and devastating DOES happen, the news goes nuts and people say “How could this happen??” as if we are owed it NOT to happen.  We almost let it out…let slip…that somewhere deep down we think it’s okay or acceptable for bombs to go off and children to die in the Middle East, because well that’s just a “volatile region”, but things like that just “shouldn’t” happen where we live.

I think we need to think about the indignation we all have mixed in with our sorrow when these things happen.  We need to remember that we are not entitled to or owed peace.  We in the west have been blessed with it for many, many years now…but at any time that could change.  It really, actually could….and if our own tragedy and sorrow becomes more common and expected like it does in many other parts of the world, how would we feel if the rest of the world responded to us with the same desensitized indifference that we often find ourselves doing to “them”.   How would we feel if our most devastating losses were covered after some sport star’s latest accomplishment…and then dropped.

Just something I’ve been mulling over.  Not saying we shouldn’t be sad or angry when things like what happened in Boston occurr…not at all.  I just think we need to try really hard to feel those sad, despairing feelings and then force ourselves to be thankful it doesn’t happen often where we are….and then think further about the places where it is almost a weekly (or even daily!) occurrence…and pray for those places that see such horror and loss on a regular basis, when we pray for our own, thankfully less common, tragedies.

I want to be someone who sees and hears about these horrible events in my home country (either of them) and is moved quickly to feel empathy for those who experience it SO much more than we do.  I want to regularly and without giving it a second thought, pray and cry out for Iraq or China, as fast I would for Boston….because I know God must weep for them ALL.  Lord, “Break my heart for what breaks yours…”, please!!    xoxoxo

Mommy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, VERY Humorous Morning!

Today I had one of those mornings where at the end of it, all I could do was laugh…because while I was sweaty, flustered & fairly stressed (not to mention slightly embarassed), I knew that IF I were me reading about someone else going through what I just did, I would’ve laughed out loud and thought “SO glad I am not the only one!!”…so I DID laugh, at my own expense, because I know we all have these mornings (or FULL days if you are really lucky!) and I’ve decided to share it….so you can laugh at my expense and feel encouraged when your own “one of those times” hit.  Enjoy….

I guess looking back, I should’ve known I was in for it, before I even left the house.  I was frantically running around making lunches, which was taking longer than usual because I had no clean bottles, no filtered cold water (I know, the inhumanity!) and had to cut pieces of Fritz (the ONLY meat my picky 6 year old has approved to have in her lunch, NOT even on a sandwich mind you) from a new roll (yuck!) picking off the plastic….yep, the life of luxury I/we lead is amazing some times huh?? 

So I’m in the midst of this, listening to my 2 year old whine “Mooooommmmyyyyy!!!” repeatedly on the monitor letting me know he is up & ready to go (I take a moment to praise Jesus for those door knob covers that keep him from being able to open his door and bust wildly into my day, before I am ready!)…WHEN, Maddie yells from her room that she can’t find her other school sandal and of course she has looked “EVERYWHERE!”  I haven’t even done her hair yet!!  I check the clock…it’s 7:40, we should be leaving in 10 min., my inner voice laughs at my wishful thoughts…..

I get to Rocco’s room (that’s the 2 year old, by the way), let him out because I just can’t handle the whining and he is obviously more than ready to get up.  I quickly change him, while yelling at Maddie to find her dang sandal or she can wear her other school shoes, then usher Rocco into the kitchen, throw him a squeezie yogurt, rush back to Maddie’s room, help her look for that DANG sandal, can’t find it so order her to put the other shoes on because if she wants mommy to attend her assembly (where this morning’s REAL fun happened, read on!!) then we need to leave PRONTO!!

I hear more whining about how her other school shoes don’t feel good on her ankle…I tell her that’s too bad because it’s her responsibility to keep track of her shoes so if SHE can’t find HER sandal, then she is stuck wearing the other shoes….Maddie puts on the other shoes…I do one last check in her room for that cursed sandal and what do you know??  I find it….under a pile of books!!  I don’t waste too much time telling her my opinion on THAT, I just rush her the shoe, get her to change and quickly do her hair….

As we are rushing out the door she is busy reading me her very own “book” that she made and trying to show me her illustrations…because apparently all my rushing, badgering and using my “cross voice” had NOT gotten the point across to her that WE. ARE. IN. A. HURRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Once we are in the car, everything is good and off we go….

We make it to school pretty much right on time.  I drop her at the kiss & ride, so I can park, get the pram out and walk myself & Rocco over to her class to go with them to the school hall.  I don’t normally attend all school assemblies, but it was her Year’s turn to present something and her class was singing a cute song about a worm falling into a soda can (I know, gross right??  But it was actually pretty funny!)….so I was going to watch her.  And really, I was excited as her mom that she seemed excited to be doing it after the struggle we have had helping her adjust to this “new” school, so I was looking forward to being there for her.

As I was getting Rocco out of the car, I quickly decided to bring his little daycare bag in that had his milk bottle on the side, because I didn’t want the milk to go gross in the car.  Now I should mention, that Rocco is 2 1/2, he really doen’t need a bottle anymore, but we give him one before nap & bed usually….and because he barely drinks from a bottle we only have like 2 or 3 nipples for the bottles left and they are ALL completely chewed through, so there is a gaping hole on the nipple and he drinks his milk like it’s coming from a grown-up water bottle.  Don’t judge me…all us mommy’s cut corners somewhere (right??  RIGHT??!!)…I choose to let my boy drink from his “ghetto nipples” allowing him to knock back his bottle like a thirsty man drinking a beer…it works for him.   Saying this, in about 30 min, I would regret not having proper nipples on his bottles OR not having gotten rid of his bottles altogether….

We get to the assembly hall.  Maddie is with her class, I am sitting with another mom of a boy in her class who is also new this year and Rocco is nicely strapped into his pram, happily eating a bag of veggie chips.  I’m sitting there thinkin’ “Ok, I got this, we are good…”, WHEN Maddie leaves her class and comes to me crying about how she is scared to get up in front of the assembly with her class.  And in what I’m not so sure was my greatest parenting moment, in desperation (because I knew her tears and attitude could get dramatic fast!) I tell her that I have come to see her class do their song and if she isn’t going to go up there with her class, then there is no point in mommy staying, so she better go back to her class.  Yep, I know, I know, such empathy I showed, huh???  Like I said, I was trying to get her to pull it together and not create a scene….only time (say 10+ years) and a possible therapy session or two, will tell if what I did was anywhere near “good parenting”.

Whatever it was, I get her to go back to sit with her class, with the promise that I will move closer to watch, once she gets up to do her song.  Her class was 1st to “do their thing”, so minutes later, they were headed up.  I took Rocco out of the pram to hold him and move closer….as I did, I apparently knocked his diaper bag, which tipped over the bottle, emptying it almost entirely of ALL the milk in it, onto the CARPETED gym/hall floor!!!!  (Now remember, a bottle tipping with a PROPER nipple would not have ordinarily caused such a mess, a trickle maybe would’ve come out, but oh no, we have our patented “man-hole” nipples to thank for this little catastrophe!!)

I was unaware about the milk spill, until the mom I was sitting next to, came over to me and told me.  I turned around and saw the massive puddle in front of my chair and I’m sure my eyes were wide with horror.  That same kind mom had also let a staff member know (who happened to be the principal, awesome), who came back in with paper towels.  She started cleaning it up because I was still holding Rocco and Maddie kept waving her hand at me (mid-performance mind you) to come closer.  I eventually got Rocco back in the pram and helped the kind lady pick up MY mess (whoever created “wet-ones” should win a Nobel prize for SOMETHING!).  Once we were done, I sat back to watch the very tail end of Maddie’s class song, WHEN my phone, that is almost ALWAYS on silent, started to ring on full volume!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I literally looked at the mom (that was now practically my BFF) next to me and I can’t even be sure I didn’t swear (I really hope I didn’t!), but I do know I said out loud “Are you kidding me???!!!”  I grabbed my phone and quickly answered then hung up, figured it was my husband, who again NEVER calls me that early in the morning, but apparently he was calling me to let me know he wouldn’t be contactable most of the day, so he’d call that night (uh, thanks babe).

I then decide (because I must have been temporarily insane!!) to let Rocco go sit with Maddie, who had already come back to me AGAIN, after her performance, in tears.  I explained to her about the milk and how she did a good job just by sticking it out and standing up with her class (see, I AM a good mommy dang it!!).   So I let Rocco go to her and he sits in Maddie’s lap quite nicely and for about 30 blissful seconds I am lulled into thinking my children have settled and I will be able to sit through the assembly and possibly restore some of my motherly dignity…..

But Rocco had other plans.  He quickly got restless, started talking to Maddie and one of her friends, then he started inching his way closer to the stage…I knew I couldn’t wait, I jumped up and grabbed him just as he was moving past the principal, who was seated right in front of Maddie.  I grabbed him and mumbled an apology to the principal, who genuinely looked annoyed.  In fact, if in the next newsletter that goes home there is a note that says “When attending school assemblies if all families could please keep any wild, unruly toddlers firmly in their prams or locked in a portable cage and not provide them any food or water during the presentation, we would greatly appreciate it!” I will try really hard not to take it personally!

On the way back to our seat, Rocco struggled a bit and ended up kicking this elderly man who was seated in the row of chairs in front of us, in the head!  By this point, all I could do was profusely apologize and luckily he gave a little smirk and didn’t seem to be losing consciousness, so I quickly resumed getting Rocco seated.

In the end, Rocco would just not cooperate and he was getting a bit loud, so I had to strap him back in the pram and get out of there!  Luckily, the kind mom next to me (who I found out had a name too….it’s Tanya) who had been helping me the whole time, helped me AGAIN by gently prying Maddie away from me as I hugged her one last time and left.

I got outside and again thought to myself “Are you kidding me???!!!”  But hey, while I know without a doubt I appeared to be the most unprepared and totally frazzled mom during those 30 glorious minutes, I think I might have made another “mommy ally” in the process….because through it all, I didn’t feel judged by her or the other mom’s around me, one of whom said “Wow, you’re having a good morning huh?”…but rather I could feel them looking at me and thinking “WOW, what a stressful start to the day….so glad it’s not me!” as they flashed me knowing, yet not judging or accusing, eyes and smiles.  Today…in the mess….I was proud to be a woman who could take a crazy, not so fun morning and laugh at myself….while other women looked on in humored empathy….and I think a lot of times, that is all it’s about…showing empathy and acknowledging the funny side, midst the frenzy!

SO…Make sure to smile at yourself and others, in love and understanding, when the crap hits the fan in “mommy land!”   xoxoxo

The Mommy Files

Well, I know it’s been awhile and was really hoping to be more consistent with this, but the last couple of weeks have been “full on” as they say, so didn’t have the brain power or energy to write anything. Currently psyching myself up for “the blog post of all blog posts” (for me and in MY mind anyway!) about homosexuality, gay marriage & the church….but again, need to be really “switched on” to take off and punch that one out…but still…I’m close….something I have wanted to write about for about the last 5 years or so…and I’m done procrastinating (almost!).

ANYWAY….in the mean time….felt like using tonight’s post to vent a little…and hopefully encourage….we’ll see how it goes ;0)….

So I’ve been having one of those weeks as a mommmy that has just nearly brought me to my knees….and tears. And yeah, I AM PMSing (so don’t worry, have factored that in to how I THINK I’m feeling about this all), but just having so many moments this week where I truly did not think that I (or my husband, let’s be honest) had the slightest idea what we were doing with our daughter. Like no, seriously….not saying it to be modest or get a bunch of “of course you do, she’ll be fine”, because I have genuinely been at a loss a few times this week and today, it just made me throw in the towel for a bit…I went and took a nap.

See our sweet girl is 6 1/2 and she is just one, big, over-the-top ball of emotion and constant contrary thinking. And lately, that has manifested itself in her “hating” EVERYTHING. She hates school (it’s a new one), she hates church (her 2 closest girlfriends weren’t there today), she hates her brother and me a few times a day….it’s like she is 6 going on 16 and I am convinced she must have hormones driving some of her extreme thoughts & feelings…I mean, how can a 6 year old be THIS admant…THIS passionate….about everything??? I know with her that “the apple does not fall far from the tree”, TRULY…I remember being this extreme at her age…I remember believing that everything I felt was SO real and I’m not sure there was much my parents could have done to help me, but just be there. I’m trying to be there….trying to let her “vent”….be angry when she needs to be, not try to rationaize with her when she thinks her world is ending and be ready to hug her when 10 minutes later she wants to have a tea party with me or show me a drawing she drew JUST FOR ME. BUT this week, I felt like I couldn’t “be there” on a few occasions because all I wanted to do was scream at her….and I HAVE raised my voice and I’m pretty certain have had a few “bad parenting moments” and today I was beating myself up over it…feeling like I was going to just “ruin” my daughter because I couldn’t “get it right” when I felt she needed me to most.

And then…I started thinking about my friends…those I interact with quite a bit and have seen be good parents…GREAT parents. I have also seen them “lose their shit” a few times. I was NOT thinking about them and going to myself “WELL, at least I’m not like so-and-so”…No, I was thinking about them and I felt like God was saying to me “Are THEY bad parents?? Do they NOT love THEIR kids?” and I thought “Of course not God, I KNOW that THEY love THEIR kids! DUH!!” and He said back “Well then???” And I just felt like it was God handing me some grace through my friends, when I needed it. Because, yeah I have stuffed up a few times this week and I have not responded in a helpful, patient, instructive manner to my girl, whom I love more than life itself…BUT I STILL love her more than life itself….and I still do my best the way all my other wonderful “mommy friends” do…and I think as mom’s if we aren’t going to pass judgement on our friends, we dang sure need to be gentle on ourselves….ya know?? So yeah…I’m happy many of my friends have let me see their “bad days” or horrible parenting moments, because I saw them and when I did I felt for them, because I have been there…we all have. I think we need to be able to let our friends see us “lose it” every once in awhile (I mean, don’t plan it, because that’s just counterproductive), but as moms in our circle of friends, we need to be able to support each other, even when if a stranger saw us parenting in that one, bad, horrible moment they might be tempted to call social services, we know our friends are standing by with the pram/stroller, ready to help you pin down that screaming toddler and get the heck back to the car!!

So yeah…it’s been a tough week…I have not been happy with my daughter or myself…but I felt like God showed me a glimmer of grace and reality today. And another “light” I saw was when I heard Maddie talking so excitedly and vividly about “Charlie & the Chocolate Factory” (no joke she has probably watched it 15 times at least!) and how she wanted to make her own Chocolate Factory one day. And she doesn’t say these plans in a whimsical, “yeah it’d be nice” way, but with conviction as if she WILL do this and if she doesn’t, her life might not be complete! This week she even made her and her little brother (one of the times she was loving him and doting on him) their very own “Golden Tickets” (her’s was purple, his was blue so not sure she understood the whole “Godlen” part, but I am certaintly NOT pointing out that fact and I dare anyone else to!). My sweet girl, who feels everything like her mama was so enthralled with the story of Willy Wonka & Charlie she was on the phone to both sets of grandparents telling them she was visitng a Chocolate Factory…and then she couldn’t believe it when they actually believed her and were asking her where it was (gotta love grandparents and their “senior moments”, ha, ha,ha!). I’ve been watching her just fall in-love with this story and want SO badly to be a part of it and I see myself…I saw the old version of the movie growing up and I too was obsessed for awhile, with great earnest, about building my own “candy land” one day. It’s like real, genetic deja vu watching Maddie! Seeing THIS side of her made me realize, “Yep, she is her mommy’s daughter, the bad, the good and the uniquely awesome” ;0). Trying to be thankful for ALL of her this week….but boy has it been a DOOZY!! And thankful for God giving me glimpses of hope, encouragement and the good side of a some times tough reality, of being a flawed mommy!

The next time YOU are feeling like you are wrecking your kid because you just couldn’t console them ONE more time about something trivial (“Yes honey, I am SURE your head-less LalaLoopsy Doll will be whole again in heaven one day!!”) or discuss AGAIN why they have to go to school 5 days a week instead of 3…think about me….and your other friends…who are probably not doing a “perfect” job of parenting in some moment of that day. BUT we still love our kids bunches, just like you do and in the end we just have to truly believe that THAT love, will overpower any of our mistakes or inherited “flaws” that we may or may not help them navigate…depending on the day, hours of sleep the night before, overall attitude towards life, if our husband pissed us off that morning, etc. Our kids WILL get the “big picture” one day….they will…and your love, MY love will be in the centre of the chaos and mess!

Keep pressing on towards that goal….whatever it is! xoxoxo