Community vs. Lonliness

Loneliness is a dangerous thing. For years I was surrounded by people but felt so lonely that at times I thought my head would explode as I was processing emotions and information by myself.

Since Shea came out 5 years ago, my husband and I kept it very private…actually secret. He and I barely even discussed it with each other, though Gary was very supportive of Shea from the beginning. I have a lot of super close friends, both from work (I work for a large church) and also from my youngest child’s social network (sports, Girl Scouts, school, etc). My girlfriends from work were with me through the ugliness of the beginning but then it seemed like they didn’t know what to say so we didn’t talk much about it after the initial shock.

Even though I had those girls, the years of silence on the subject made me feel extremely lonely. I think there was fear of talking about it. All of us were at different places in our beliefs on the subject so it wasn’t exactly light, lunchtime conversation. Even through the loneliness, I was never upset with them for the silence. I loved them for still loving me and my family.

But these past couple months, I feel like I’ve been brought back to life. Through some wonderful connections with Linda Robertson and her Just Because They Breath group I have become part of a virtual community of other moms who Get It! Some are where I was 5 years ago, some are in a similar place I currently am, and some are way ahead of me. They are loving advocates for their children…our children. I have yet to meet any of these ladies in person, but we encourage one another, pray for each other, and turn to one another in times of need and celebration. We are community!

Since becoming a part of this amazing group, I have found strength and encouragement in finding my voice. I have started this blog, I have met with our pastors, and I am reaching out to help others. But one of the most exciting things is being able to talk openly with my friends, not just the “work girls” but others close to us including some of the volunteers who serve in ministry with me. The openness and vulnerability has enabled us to process together. I have found that once they hear our story, people are more open to conversations, researching scriptures for themselves, and some are reading books and blogs I have recommended. They have encouraged me to be more open and it feels so incredible. I am blessed to have the friends I have both physically close to me and those I know virtually through some private FB groups. They are walking along side me through the tears, sadness, happiness, and celebrating progress within the church and culture. This journey is like none other and we are not designed to go through life alone.


Sea Glass

sea glassThis morning I took a long walk on the beach. I longed for having my toes in the sand, smelling the salt air, hearing the crashing of the waves. I felt so close to God. He was part of all my senses.

I love sea glass, I have collected it for years. Today I found 3 pieces, different colors, different sizes, and at different stages of softening their sharp edges. I saw the parallel of our soul in the sea glass I found today. Sharp, broken, imperfect, yet beautiful and in the middle of transformation.

Just as glass is tossed into the sea, sometimes tumbled gently in the rolling waves. Yet other times further broken and sharpened by the ferocious ocean. We are tumbling about in this present life. We are broken, sharp, imperfect. Our hearts are softened only by the waves of life. These waves make us more beautiful just like a piece of sea glass. Eventually, if we allow God to work in us, and through us, we learn grace and humility through our transformation.

And just as the piece of glass that never makes it into God’s great, vast ocean remains broken and sharp-and cuts like a knife. Our hearts would not become softened, grace-filled, and more beautiful if God was not present in our every breath as our lives are tossed around.

My prayer today: Enter me Lord. Give me courage, strength, and wisdom. Continue God, to work on softening my heart. I praise you God for this journey, no matter how rough. I praise you for the transformation in me.

The Beginning of Our Journey

Shea and II will only write from my perspective, maybe one day Shea will want to share his story in his own words. But this is my story. When Shea first came out, he came out to his high school pastor at church. At the church where I am on staff. Yes, that complicated things. The pastor called me and said he and Shea wanted to meet with me the next day. I immediately drilled Shea until he told me that he felt he was gay. That night became even darker than it was at that 9 o’clock hour. My reactions went from denial to shame to embarrassment to totally freaking out. I am so ashamed of the things I said to him and the way I acted. It has taken us years to develop an open and unconditional relationship again.

The day we met with the pastor, I was numb and I can only imagine how frightened and ashamed Shea felt. The pastor talked about having to face temptation everyday but being strong enough not to act on it. He told Shea to read his bible and to pray harder. He also asked Shea to take a break from serving at church until he could sort it out. I went along with it, I was coming from a religious upbringing that homosexuality was a sin. It was a choice. I wanted to believe it was something he could change if he prayed hard enough and turned to God.

There were failed attempts at counseling; the Christian counselor told Shea that homosexuality was a bigger sin than any other sin. How could I make him go back to that? I agreed that he didn’t need to go again. We limited his cell phone access and his internet access because I just knew that he would be prowling gay chat rooms and fall prey to some gross, old gay man. Overreacting? Yes. Then we tried not to talk about it at all, if we ignore it then it isn’t. I regret to say I looked forward to the day he would go to college because then it wouldn’t be something we’d have to deal with at home. God, I was so cold hearted, so unloving, so condemning. I was the opposite of everything he needed.

If he wasn’t in school, where he excelled; he would spend most of his time in his room watching T.V. He didn’t talk a lot, he definitely didn’t laugh very often, and he was so unhappy. He was mad to feel less than, of no value. Looking back, I seriously don’t know what kept him from committing suicide. He had every right. I caused him to fall into a deep, dark place that only by the grace of God did he come through it.

By senior year, things seemed better. It wasn’t as raw but it still wasn’t something we talked about much. He was busy applying for colleges, writing essays for scholarships, and planning for his future. Shea has always been very driven academically and has pretty much known from the time he was five that he wanted to work in some form of law enforcement. As he got older, his goals became loftier; I wonder if it was his way to finally feel valued. What shocked me was his list of universities he was applying for-all Christian! The very thing that was stripped from him; he quit attending church because he felt he wasn’t welcome and all eyes were on him. Though through it he never lost his love for Jesus and wanting to deepen his faith.

He is amazing isn’t he?

He was accepted and offered a hefty scholarship at a school a few hours from home. Oh, I was so fearful. This school of course had a code of conduct and being gay was not accepted. I asked him, “are you sure you want to subject yourself to this, you know the rules”. A few things you should know about Shea is that he really is comfortable with who he is, he is passionate for standing up for social injustices (he financially sponsored a human trafficking victim when he was in high school), and he is incredibly strong in character and integrity. He has done very well and is now starting his 2nd semester of sophomore year. I will write more about his influence at school at a later date.

One night when we were texting each other, I finally texted “we need to talk more openly, this is our life so lets accept it and carry on”. That was a huge turning point for both of us. I was compelled to just put it out there, it is what it is, so lets face it and live our lives together. I had come to a decision guided by my heart and much prayer to accept otherwise, he was going to live life without me. No way was I going to give that up!

That text opened up a whole new dialogue and these days we are completely open as a family. The love and laughter has returned and I am happy to say now more than ever, we really should have our own reality t.v. show!!!

Through all of this my faith has been tested. My love for the church as an organization has suffered but having Jesus walking this journey one step at a time with me has kept me afloat. I often would reflect back on Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.

I am thankful for this journey and for all we have learned from each other. We take one step at a time but the load is lighter and there is love in every step.