Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private facebook group for moms of lgbt kids

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Serendipitydodah for Moms was created as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The group was started in June 2014 and as of June 2016 has more than 2,000 members. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBT kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBT kids. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a few days. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBT people, bloggers and public speakers.

 

For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

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Mama Bear Story Project #22 – Kimberly Shappley

The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

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Today I’m excited to be sharing two powerful stories with you that have a special connection.

This one from Kimberly Shappley. As early as 18 months old, Kimberly’s son started showing signs that he identified as female. In this essay Kimberly shares her story of being a conservative Christian mom of a trans child, and how and why she learned to embrace Kai’s transition. (This essay was first published by Good Housekeeping in April 2017)

The second story, Affirming Kai, is part of the “Stories That Change The World” series and is written by Kimberly’s friend, Niki Breeser Tschirgi. One of the toughest things that moms of lgbtq kids deal with is the loss of supportive friends and family members … but, thank goodness, there are those friends, like Niki, who don’t abandon us!

If you enjoy these two stories please consider sharing them with your friends.

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I remember one night when Kai was very young, and I was tucking her into bed. Her legs felt so cold that I became concerned, lifted the sheets and discovered she had taken a pair of panties off a baby doll and put them on herself. It was constricting her blood circulation and if she’d slept that way overnight, it could have become very dangerous. After that experience, I realized I could no longer ignore something very real about my child:

My son, born Joseph Paul Shappley, is a girl.

I was raised as a devout, conservative Christian with strong Republican values in the South. It’s a place where being different can not only be unforgiving, but unsafe. I had been a leader of a small ministry teaching Bible study at my local church, and I didn’t support or condone those living the “LGBTQ lifestyle.” That was just part what I’d been brought up to believe as a Christian and I knew I’d instill those same principles in my children.

But all of my beliefs and convictions were brought into question when, at 18 months old, Kai began exhibiting very strong female characteristics. From the moment my child was born, everything about Kai was geared toward femininity. She would pull T-shirts down around her waist to make them into skirts. She would tie long-sleeved shirts around her head and pretend it was long hair. I tried to force her to wear clothes with camouflage and superhero patterns, and even gave her severe, flat-top haircuts. Kai has five other siblings who are boys, so it was also a very testosterone-filled family environment, which I thought might help. Everything was fishing and spitting and boy stuff. But Kai just continued to be Kai.

As a Christian mother raising a Christian family, it was a very difficult time for me. I wasn’t ready to give in and allow Kai to transition socially — especially at such a young age. My internal struggle beat me up daily. I felt like I couldn’t go against everything I’d been taught to believe, and yet I also couldn’t let Kai live in such obvious agony. I wasn’t ready to face the fact that my one-and-a-half-year-old child was a girl and that battle lasted for a couple years.

Shortly after Kai turned 2, friends and family were starting to notice her behavior. Living in Pearland, Texas, that meant we were getting a lot of sidelong glances and questions. Kai would only play with other girls and girls’ toys. She said boys were “gross.” Family members were flat-out asking me if she was gay. It made me nervous, and I was constantly worried about what people would think of me, of her, of our family and of my parenting.

While family was questioning whether Kai was gay, a Christian friend of mine, who is also a child psychologist, asked me: “Have you noticed Kai’s feminine behavior?” It was such a gentle question, as opposed to the harsh accusations of others. I said, “I’ve noticed, but I figure she’ll just grow out of it.” I can laugh at that now. It’s so clear, in retrospect, that this was not a passing phase. But when my friend asked me that, I still wasn’t ready to accept it. As I continued to watch my child developing, my friend started pointing out red flags that there was something very real going on. She told me I needed to consider that Kai might be transgender.

By the time Kai was 3 1/2 years old, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. She was verbalizing that she was a girl at least six times a day. Everything was: “I’m a princess” and “I’m a girl.” Every time she’d say something like that, I’d get down on her level and firmly say, “No, you’re a boy.” It never worked. She would correct me by waiting until I was in the middle of something and unable to chase her around, then run into the room and yell, “I’m a girl!” and run out again. I did everything I could think of to cut off that kind of talk. There were time-outs, so many time-outs. There were spankings and yelling matches and endless prayers. I even contacted the daycare Kai attended and asked them to put away every single “girl” toy. They complied with it, but Kai never changed her tune. The tenaciousness and bravery of this child is something from which I’ve learned so much.

I started reaching out to more professionals, including a child psychiatrist who asked me, “If you and Kai were on a deserted island, would you let her wear girls’ clothes?'” I said, “Probably.” The psychiatrist told me it wasn’t God I had a problem with, but what other people would think of my child and me. That really got my gears spinning. I thought, Okay, I could start with girls’ panties. It’s something no one else will see. It took me three or four trips to Walmart until I could finally bring myself to do it. I’d go pick them up and then leave them in the store, crying as I walked out of the automatic doors. I would be so upset, and then I’d feel bad about not getting them. It was something so seemingly small, but it was a huge hurdle to overcome.

Guilt and confusion were eating away at me in a constant battle to find a solution. Kai was still 3 1/2 when I came across Leelah Alcorn’s story online. Leelah, born Josh Alcorn, had voiced a desire to live as a girl. Her parents said that, religiously, they wouldn’t stand for it. Leelah later wrote a note to her parents and a specific passage stuck with me: “Even if you are Christian or against transgender people don’t ever say that to your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate themselves. That’s exactly what it did to me.” Alcorn’s story ended tragically — she committed suicide because her parents wouldn’t let her be who God designed her to be. That hit too close to home. I’d heard Kai praying to please let Joseph go home and live with Jesus. I mean, this kid was asking the Lord to let her die.

After that, I started studying the Bible more intensely. I was compelled to know as much as I could about Jesus, His nature and character. I would read and reread His interactions with the religious people of the Bible who were always using scripture to justify their hateful actions. I noticed that over and over again Jesus would confront them and challenge them to view the scripture through the lens of love.

Online, I found a secret Facebook community of Christian moms of LGBTQ kids. It’s a beautiful group with a combined total of more than 2,000 moms now. There I found women who would pray with me and for me. They were the least judgmental and loving Christians I have ever met. They let me know I wasn’t alone. Their support and encouragement made me brave enough to rethink what I believed and consider that I might be wrong about some things.

Eventually, when Kai was 4, I was able to allow her to transition. There was still fear and confusion. I was defying the societal and cultural expectations of our community, family and friends. But I knew I had to choose to accept my daughter exactly the way God created her — and there was also a beautiful freedom in that. A few weeks after I stopped punishing Kai for “acting girly,” she put on a wizard robe she’d received as a birthday gift, making it her “first dress.” She stole my headband to make a belt and pulled her hair forward as much as possible.

When I look back at photos of that day, I have mixed emotions: Regret that I made her suffer so long. Pride for what a tough cookie she is. Respect for such a young child who has taught me so much about unconditional love. And then I just laugh … because, how could I ever doubt that this kid is a girl?

While my biggest personal struggle was the choice to let Kai, now 6, transition, my greatest trial as a woman of faith has been the persecution I’ve received from other Christians. Family members, friends and church members have judged our family and ostracized us to the point that we’ve considered moving. I’m so disappointed in the hatred they call “love the sinner, hate the sin.” You cannot have fresh water and salt water from the same spring. But despite the ignorance and hurtful words of others, I choose to arm myself with knowledge. I have to face the fact that my child is at the highest risk of suicide and/or being murdered in a hate crime and I have to do everything I can to compensate for the obstacles that Kai will face. I have to do everything I can to give Kai every opportunity to grow into a whole and healthy adult. That’s my job as her mother.

I have surrounded my family with transgender men and women who are leaders in the community. They encourage Kai to be proud of who she is and where she comes from. We’re building a stronger community together. When Kai was finally allowed to be her true self, she blossomed. I put princess panties in her drawer and she fell to the ground, hugging those panties and sobbing, saying, “Thank you, Mommy, thank you.” Within a few short weeks of letting her transition, she was no longer lying, no bed-wetting, no more nightmares. I now have a happy, healthy, outgoing, loving, beautiful, sweet little girl who loves Jesus and loves her brothers.

Yes, the emotional challenge has been great, but I’d rather face that challenge myself than have my child face it alone like so many transgender children have because their parents won’t let them transition.

There’s never been a moment of doubt or regret after making the choice to let Kai transition. I’ve learned too much about identity and faith in loving my beautiful daughter exactly the way she is.

She’s a loud, happy and joyful girl who expects that everybody’s going to be kind and good. It’s her persistent spirit that has enabled her to transition so young. She knows who she is and has no problem making sure that everyone else knows too.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

Stories That Change The World #36 – Affirming Kai

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Stories have the power to change the world … they inspire us, teach us, connect us. This is the thirty-sixth installment in the “Stories That Change The World” series.

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Today I’m excited to be sharing two powerful stories with you that have a special connection. 

One story is part of the Mama Bear Story Project. It’s an essay by Kimberly Shappley. As early as 18 months old, Kimberly’s son started showing signs that he identified as female. In her Mama Bear Story Project essay Kimberly shares how and why she learned to embrace Kai’s transition.

And this one by a Kimberly‘s friend, Niki Breeser Tschirgi. One of the toughest things that moms of lgbtq kids deal with is the loss of supportive friends and family members … but, thank goodness, there are those friends, like Niki, who don’t abandon us!

If you enjoy these two stories please consider sharing them with your friends.


Every child deserves to be loved and deserves to be safe. As a former foster parent and an adoptive mom of six, I believe this deep down to the very depths of my soul. I will always affirm a mother loving her child. Always. I affirm friendship. I affirm love. So, when a friend I love came to me with her incredible burden to help children and a raging personal storm in her life regarding her family, I did what I knew I needed to do. What I wanted to do. I affirmed her, and I affirmed her child.

One definition of affirm means to offer emotional support or encouragement. To support means to bear all or part of the weight. To hold up. To carry, prop up, brace, shore up, to back, champion, help, assist, stand behind, or defend. Support also means approval, encouragement, to comfort, friendship, strength, consolation, solace, and relief…and here we are just defining the word support.

What about the word encouragement? To encourage means to give support, confidence or hope to someone. To hearten, cheer, buoy up, uplift, inspire, spur on, fire up, revitalize, embolden.  Some synonyms of encourage are promising, hopeful, reassuring, cheering, comforting, supportive, understanding, helpful, and positive. Are those enough  definitions to give you an idea about affirming one another? About affirming one another in love?

Affirmation requires action.

I have known Kimberly for over a decade. Our friendship began in an apartment building one August afternoon in hot and incredibly humid Texas. My husband and I had moved down to the Houston area for his training in graduate school ., and  Kimberly was one of the first smiling faces I met as a young, bewildered mother of two who was trying to plant her roots down deep in Texas soil. Not an easy feat for a girl who grew up in Alaska and had just moved down from Washington State. Kimberly introduced me to cabbage and sausage fried in butter and Blue Bell ice cream. She introduced me to southern hospitality and southern friendship. Here was a single mother of five working her tail off to make ends meet. I had made my first new friend in my new city and my lonely heart lifted a notch out of my gut.

Fast forward a decade and now thousands of miles apart. Kimberly and I have remained friends. While visiting Las Vegas I spent time with her adult daughter and met her granddaughter.  As Kimberly pushed, sweated, and groaned her way through nursing school, I prayed and supported from afar. I was delighted to stay updated on her progress in school. She never ceased to amaze me with what she could accomplish, even with all her children under her care.

Then I received a Facebook message from her.  I wish I still had the message to put in this post, but I don’t. Kimberly was letting me know that her son, born Joseph Paul, was now her daughter going by the name of “Kai”… and was transgender.She wanted me to know that she understood if I didn’t want to be friends anymore because she had already lost most of her family and friends but was inviting me to like her new Facebook account if I wanted to continue in our friendship. Shocked that my friend was abandoned by those she counted closest, I stared gazing at my screen, formulating what to say to her and immediately wrote her back.

I told her I loved her and that in no uncertain way that I wanted to remain friends with her. I might not understand everything, but I wasn’t going anywhere and I would pray for wisdom and love to reign.

Later, while the media storm was erupting around her, her daughter, bathroom rights, and her passionate stance to protect her daughter, Kimberly told me her story. I could feel her remorse through the telephone of how she had done things wrong, but also her hope for the future of doing things right. From Kimberly’s earliest memories of Kai, she noticed that this child’s temperament was more like her oldest daughters than her other sons. Then, around the age of two, a family member asked if her child was gay because of this child’s flamboyant nature and love for all things girly. At the tender age of two-and-a-half, Kai announced she was a girl. Not long after that, a friend who is a Christian Psychologist asked her if she, Kimberly, noticed anything different about her child and discussed with her the science behind gender dysphoria. Then, at the age of four, Kai became adamant that she wouldn’t pretend “to be a boy” anymore.

Kimberly shared with me, that in her ignorance, she began to google conversion therapy and how to implement it. She asked the daycare to put away all girly toys and when her child insisted, “I am a girl”, she and others would get down on the child’s level and look Kai in the eyes and firmly tell her, “No. You are a boy.” Her child went into deep depression. Haircuts became a nightmare of screaming, “Stop. Stop. Please don’t mommy. Please don’t let them cut my hair.” But Kimberly was adamant her child had a boy haircut, boy- themed birthday parties, and boy- themed toys. She edited nearly every picture of Kai before sharing with family. Pictures taken around her home of Kai always had her in a t-shirt dress. Since before two years old she would make dresses and skirts from her shirts. She would use anything to make headbands. She cropped and manipulated photos so her family didn’t know that her son wanted to be a girl.

One day, after daycare, Kai got into the car sobbing. Kai’s best friend had a birthday party and Kai wasn’t invited because according to her best friend’s dad, “It was a girl party and Kai was a freak.” That night, Kimberly walked in on her sweet child praying for Joseph to go to heaven and live with Jesus. Kai was begging the Lord to let her die. At the age of four, Kai was praying for death. This was the moment that helped Kimberly realize transition for her child was necessary. She didn’t know how to do it, but she needed to help her child. The suicide rate for transgender youth is 41%. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for Disease Control, and the Trans Youth Project from the University of Washington all agree that transgender youth who are supported by family, peers, and community fare far better, than those who aren’t supported. Some research seems to reflect transgender youth who are accepted, supported, and validated have no higher risk of depression nor suicide attempts than their peers. Kai was not going to be a statistic on Kimberly’s watch if she could help it.

Armed with a scorching desire to help her child, Kimberly began her research regarding gender dysphoria in children and read studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, and the University of Washington. She reached out to other moms of transgender children and was loved and supported by secret groups of loving, hurting, prayerful Christian moms of LGBTQ children. Here, Kimberly found that she was not alone and that others too had been abandoned by family and friends. She found an entire community hurting and desperately seeking to connect with others who would stand with them, not against them –  those who would love them, not hate them.

Over the past year Kimberly has steadfastly fought for the rights of her daughter and the rights of other LGBTQ children. Some of her endeavors have included testifying before the Texas senate, speaking at press conferences, meeting with elected officials both in Texas and Washington D.C., filming PSA’s, and sharing her story with The Today Show, Vice HBO and Good Housekeeping.

Over twenty years ago, in my second year of college, I prayed a prayer. The prayer was, “Lord, what have you called me to do?” Quietly and gently He whispered to my heart, “Niki, I have called you to love people.” That moment with God has never left me. Ever. Over the past twenty years I haven’t done this calling perfectly, but I have tried to give it my best.

I may not have all the answers to the questions surrounding the plight of our LGBTQ community, but I do know the answer is not hate. Plainly, and clearly, it is love.

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About the Author: Niki Breeser Tschirgi


Niki Breeser Tschirgi is a stay-at-home mom who resides in Spokane, Washington, with her husband, Matt; six adopted children (four boys still at home, ages eleven through sixteen); and Moose, her standard poodle. She discovered her love for writing in the seventh grade and studied creative writing at the University of Idaho. Niki wrote for Blindigo online magazine while living in Houston, Texas, and over the years has published several blogs, including “The Stars Are Bright—How a Northern Girl Became a Southern Woman and Everything In-Between” and “Rock a Child’s World,” a blog that raised awareness for adoption in Texas. Niki’s first book, Growing up Alaska is a memoir about her crazy, freezing childhood in the interior of Alaska. Niki’s second book, Stretch-mark My Heart, shares her family’s adoption journey through the US foster care system.  When she isn’t writing, doing laundry, loading dishes, or sweeping the floor, Niki can be found reading, practicing yoga, or paddle boarding with her kids. To connect with Niki, follow her on Facebook, Twitter or check out her website, Growing up in Alaska

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

 

Mama Bear Story Project #21 – Sarah Quiara

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.


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Twelve and a half years ago, I became the mama of a sweet, happy, perfect-in-every-way baby with a head full of hair and bright blue eyes. If you know me in real life or through social media, you know Roxy as a smart, talented, bad ass who excels at everything she tries. Art, music, writing … there’s nothing this kid can’t do. Her greatest quality, though, is the confidence she’s always had to be her true self, regardless of what anybody else thinks.

Which is why sharing this is scarier for me than it is for her … ummm, actually, it’s “him” now.

Earlier this summer, Roxy told us she identifies as a boy and wants to be referred to as “him.” A few days later, he told us to start calling him Ray, a variation of his middle name (Rae.) Our family is a huge supporter of the LGBT society, so this change was met with a little bit of surprise, but not even a hint of negativity. Kai and Marley said “okay, cool” and kept right on playing. Henry and I hugged Ray and reassured him we would always love and support him no matter what, which he, in typical tween fashion, rolled his eyes at and said “I knowwwwww.”

Since that day, we’ve slipped up about a thousand times and used the wrong name or pronoun by accident. (Twelve year habits are hard to break!) But within the last few weeks, we’ve gotten so good at saying “he” and “Ray” that every time I post something about the kids, it feels so wrong to type the name Roxy.

So why didn’t I share this sooner?

Why have I been so scared to make it official?

Because while we will absolutely love our kids no matter who they love or how they identify, the rest of the world isn’t so kind to people who don’t fit into society’s narrow definition of “normal.” As parents, our top priority has always been to keep our kids safe. Sharing this change feels scary because the world can be a scary place for the LGBT community. I haven’t shed a single tear over Roxy becoming Ray, but I have cried myself to sleep at night worrying about how much more difficult his life will be now.

But I knew I wanted to say this out loud because not saying it out loud might look like I’m trying to hide something and nothing could be further from the truth. I wanted to say this out loud because I don’t want anyone to think we are ashamed or embarrassed by this because that simply isn’t the case.

For twelve years, I’ve talked about my amazing daughter Roxy and how incredibly proud I am of her. And now I’m here to tell you about my amazing son Ray and how incredibly proud I am of him. He’s a smart, talented, bad ass who excels at everything he tries. Art, music, writing … there’s nothing this kid can’t do. His greatest quality, though, is the confidence he’s always had to be his true self, regardless of what anybody else thinks.

And I couldn’t possibly love him more. ❤️

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #20 – Chris Clements

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.ChrisB&W2

Kisses for Brianna by Chris Clements

I was the last to check in and the first to give birth that early April morning twenty-three years ago. We lived in a rural community, and every birthing room was full, so my husband and I were ushered into a storage room at the end of the hall. (No lie.) Thankfully, it had an old surgical bed.

I didn’t mind the solitude as I prepared to deliver, and the lack of modern amenities didn’t concern me, either. I knew my baby would come out no matter the room’s aesthetics.

Little did I know it wasn’t the only time she’d come out.

Eighteen years later, she sat at our kitchen counter, looked at us with her big, brown eyes, and declared, “I’m gay.”  I say declare because she shared with us her same-sex attraction several times before, but it was always in the realm of  “I think I am, or I might be.” It was never definitive, so we passed it off as normal adolescent development, or the desire to have close girlfriends after being bullied for a lot of her school years. (She has Dyslexia, so school was hard.) She longed to be part of the “in” crowd that made good grades.

This time felt different though, and it came at a time when we saw defiant behavior in her we’d never seen before. It was troubling on many levels.

Not only did we have to work through the conservative Christian theology we’d been taught for years (which took months to unravel), but we also found ourselves worried about where this new declaration would lead because of her actions. Our hearts were torn. We loved her but knew the future could be rough if she kept heading in the current direction.

Little did we know an encounter with a church leader set off that behavior.

Months prior, our daughter shared with one of her youth group friends that she thought she was gay, and the leaders found out. They pulled her aside and informed her that unless she changed, God would never love her and she couldn’t attend the group. We weren’t members of that church anymore, so we had no clue this happened until months after she came out to us. We just knew her usually sunny disposition had changed.

When she finally had the guts to tell us what the church leaders said, I immediately responded, “You need to know it’s a lie! God DOES love you, honey, very, very much!” I may not have worked through my theology yet, but I knew that one truth for sure.

But the damage had been done.

She wasn’t open to God anymore.

That set off the desire for me to do due diligence when it came to studying the verses on homosexuality. I could no longer ignore the tension in my heart that couldn’t reconcile the Evangelical view of those scriptures with God’s love. I enrolled in ministry school and learned how to study root words, historical context, the author’s original intent, and how the people who lived at the time would view those verses. I asked God questions with open curiosity rather than trying to get answers to prove my already ingrained theology.

Where He led me was surprising. He’d been (and is) grossly misrepresented. And I was just as guilty.

My plea became, “Father, what can I do to help heal my daughter’s heart?”

“Every time you see her, hug her neck, kiss her cheek, and tell her you love her.”  That was God’s response and became my practice. It still is.

Slowly, I watched her heart unfold to the possibility that she wasn’t an abomination.

Every time I kiss her cheek, hug her tight and declare my love for her, she smiles and her eyes crinkle. Almost three years have passed since I started that delightful practice, and she’s gained confidence, strength, and is beginning to thrive in her unique identity.

She even calls herself God’s secret weapon. J

When I look back over these past few years, I realize I’ve witnessed the birthing of a heart – not just hers – but our whole family’s as well.

Love is a mighty, mighty thing.

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Be sure and check out Chris’s site Better thought lgbtq where she hopes to help Christian families hope, heal and love through better thoughts and a spiritual focus.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

 

The Fruit Doesn’t Lie – a response to the Nashville Statement

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Jesus said if you aren’t sure about something check out the fruit because “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit”

People were asking Jesus a lot of questions.

They wanted to know what they should believe – who they should follow – who they should emulate and support.

They wanted to know who was right – who knew the true way? What prophets should they trust? What rabbi should they follow?

Instead of answering with a list of shoulds and shouldn’ts or naming names he offered a formula that would be useful to truth seekers throughout all of time.

Jesus advised those who were listening …

When you are not sure about a specific doctrine, or a certain theological point, or some Christian message you can simply check out the fruit that it is producing.

If it is producing good fruit then it is of God and true. Embrace and follow the teaching.

If it is producing bad fruit then it is not of God and not true. Abandon the teaching.

Scripture does not address most things specifically. Instead it gives us some guiding principles to live by. Then people come along and try to figure out how to apply those guiding principles to real life. When we get it right it mostly leads to whole, healthy, vibrant lives. When we get it wrong it mostly leads to broken, unhealthy, hopeless lives.

If a specific doctrine is mostly producing self loathing, despair, hopelessness, depression, isolation, shame, self harm and other such bad fruit then it’s a no brainer … it’s not good doctrine and we should abandon it.

The fruit doesn’t lie.

You can twist scripture.

But, the fruit doesn’t lie.

You can always find a verse to more or less say what you want it to say.

But, the fruit doesn’t lie.

You can always find a Christian leader to teach what you believe.

But, the fruit doesn’t lie.

You can always find a book that supports your point of view.

But, the fruit doesn’t lie.

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This week a group of conservative evangelical leaders laid out their beliefs on human sexuality, including opposition to same-sex marriage and fluid gender identity, in a new doctrinal statement they titled the Nashville Statement

The statement grows out of a shame based doctrine that has proven over and over again to mostly produce bad fruit in the lives of LGBT people who wholeheartedly embrace it.

While it is true that there is an occasional story of an LGBT person who seems to be doing okay embracing anti LGBT Christian theology, it is disingenuous to stand in front of a tree and hold up a few good pieces of fruit while ignoring thousands of pieces of bad fruit laying on the ground surrounding the tree. 

The vast majority of LGBT Christians who embrace the idea that they must either change their orientation, deny their gender identity or face life long celibacy experience depression, hopelessness, shame, despair and self loathing. Many experience suicide ideation and some even end their life.

And the statement doesn’t just say that those who disagree with the anti LGBT doctrine are wrong.

The statement says that those who are affirming are outside of the Christian faith and that it is wrong to think of this as something that falls into the “agree to disagree” column.

They have stated it in such a way to make it clear that they see this as a non-negotiable.


Article 10 states:

WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.

WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

 

That is a deep line in the sand they are drawing.

It seems obvious to me they are saying if you support the statement you should not be in fellowship with someone who does NOT support the statement.

It seems obvious to me they are saying if you are the parent of an LGBT child who is in a same sex relationship you should reject and separate from your child.

It seems obvious to me they are saying if you have family and friends who are affirming you should shun them.

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Personally I don’t give a hoot what they think.

I am long past the point of recognizing evangelicals as those who have credibility or authority when it comes to my own life.

But I am deeply concerned about LGBT people – especially LGBT youth – and families with LGBT children who are a part of faith communities that support the statement.

The message is toxic and damaging and some parents will think they are doing the loving thing by abiding by it, when in reality they will be placing a tremendous and unnecessary burden on their kids that will be extremely harmful and might very well do irreparable damage to their precious children. 

The fruit doesn’t lie.

The message of the statement will surely tear families apart and drive people away from the faith.

The fruit doesn’t lie.

The message will produce depression, despair, shame, hopelessness, self loathing and even suicide.

The fruit doesn’t lie.

The message will not produce life – it will produce death – relational death, emotional death, spiritual death and physical death.

The fruit doesn’t lie.

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ON THE OTHER HAND THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS:

When you listen to LGBTQ Christians who are connecting with faith communities that affirm their relationships and identities you will find that they are experiencing a lot of good fruit in their lives. They are typically healthier in every way – relationally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

The fruit doesn’t lie!

(If you would like to delve deeper into what scripture says and doesn’t say about same sex relationships check out this post which addresses the verses most often used to condemn same sex relationships.)

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And there is more good news … there are a LOT of Christians who don’t support the Nashville Statement.

Here are two statements that affirm LGBTQ Christians, their relationships and their identities that were crafted by Christians in response to the Nashville Statement:

 

Here is the “God is Love” statement from The Liturgists that affirms LGBTQ relationships and identities in the church. Free free to add your signature and share this life producing statement.

and

Here is the Denver Statement from the House for All Sinners & Saints that also affirms  LGBTQ relationships and identities in the church which would be good to share as it will most assuredly produce good fruit in the life of many.

#thefruitdoesnotlie

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And MORE good news:

If you are the mom of an LGBTQ kid there is a great online community you might want to join: 

Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 2,100 members. Each day moms of LGBTQ kids gather virtually to share a journey that is unique and often very difficult. The group is a place where they share a lot of information, ask questions, support one another, learn a lot and brag on their kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids. However, moms do not have to be Christian to be a member of the group. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a short time so members can ask questions in the privacy of the group. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers, medical professionals and public speakers.

Email lizdyer55@gmail.com for more info about the group.

 

 

Stories That Change The World #35 – Dear Pastor – a letter written by Christian parents who have a son who is gay

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

dearpastor

Stories have the power to change the world … they inspire us, teach us, connect us. This is the thirty-fifth installment in the “Stories That Change The World” series.

The following letter was written by Christian parents who have a son who is gay. It was first shared with permission here on the Serendipitydodah blog in November 2013. It is my pleasure to add this letter to the “Stories That Change The World” series.



Dear Pastor,

Last time we talked with you, we said we needed to take a break from attending church over the summer. We want to fill you in on where our journey is taking us. We felt like we could articulate it better in a letter than in a conversation, but we don’t mean to be impersonal. We’re happy to talk with you more in person if you want to.

Here’s the biggest thing in our journey. We know the people at our church are loving folks. We see it in so many ways, and you know exactly what we’re talking about: people taking friends to chemo treatments, or helping clean up fallen trees after a storm or baking gluten-free goodies for our special-diet folks. There are just way too many examples that come to mind. When people put themselves in another person’s place and walk alongside them, it looks like Jesus.

But when it comes to gay people, what we hear at our church and from the broader evangelical culture is downright dehumanizing. You might be tempted to dismiss this and assume we’re overly sensitive and that the folks at our church are not saying anything unloving to gay people. Please don’t dismiss what we’re about to say. (Yes, we’re listening differently because our son is gay. But if that disqualifies us from being heard, it’s a far bigger problem than the current conversation.)

We aren’t going to list specific examples of statements that sound unloving, because we don’t “collect ammunition” to use against our friends. And because it’s really the evangelical rhetoric we take issue with—the way evangelicals frame their response to homosexuality, and the choice of our church’s leadership to go along with the rhetoric.

What we hear from the pulpit and from conservative Christians about homosexuality is there are only two things we need to know: 1) homosexuality is a sin, and 2) same-sex marriage is wrong. That’s it. Never do we hear gay people mentioned in the context of mercy, grace, or even as regular people. It’s ALWAYS in the context of sin. We hear it from the pulpit, and when homosexuality comes up in a conversation, that’s what churchgoers parrot. That’s all we need to know. End of discussion.

It’s hard to put ourselves in the place of a teenager who grows up believing what he’s heard and then begins to realize he is one of “those” people who are inherently sinful in some monstrous wayIt’s hard to put ourselves in his place because: 1) we think immediately about gay sex and get grossed out; 2) we’re afraid if we really get to know a gay person, we might start compromising on the Bible verses that seem quite clear, and who wants to go there?; 3) we are afraid we’ll “endorse his sin” if we treat him like we do other friends; and 4) we’ve been conditioned to think about LGBT people in terms of “us” and “them.”

So we have a huge empathy gap. We have no idea how our words sound to a gay person, or to the brother, sister, mom, or dad of a gay child. We have never even wondered. It’s just not on our radar. The same kind of empathy gap has been a symptom of horrific human rights abuses throughout history. For Christians, the “us” / “them” mentality should be a big fat red flag, not a rallying cry.

Since we know it’s hard to put yourself in a gay teenager’s place, maybe this will help. We’ve been listening to the stories of LGBT kids and adults who have grown up in conservative churches. We hear the same experiences come up again and again, even among those who still attend church and have chosen celibacy:

·         They couldn’t tell their parents or anyone at church for years because they were afraid they’d be rejected.

·         They would give anything to be “normal.”

·         They cried out to God for years to make them straight; for whatever reason, He didn’t.

·         They think God doesn’t love them like He loves other people.

·         Their church led them to believe God doesn’t want anything to do with gay people.

·         They feel like they are a mistake. Christians are not supposed to be gay.

·         They only way God will accept them is if they steel themselves and pretend they aren’t interested in loving someone or being loved in a relationship like their parents’.

·         They pretend they don’t “need” anyone and isolate themselves.

·         They want to please God, but pretending to be something they’re not is dishonest and emotionally exhausting. It’s a crushing weight.

·         They are terrified of living alone their whole lives.

·         They will be judged no matter what they do.

·         They have no one they can talk to.

·         They are angry at God.

·         They leave their faith behind. Or they hold onto their faith, but are afraid to set foot in church or even talk to Christians.

·         They experience deep depression; engage in cutting; fall into addiction; attempt suicide.

 

Two of the Christian families we know have lost their precious gay children to addiction and suicide.

. . . . .

 

“But we love gay people,” evangelicals say. As if not holding Westboro picket signs qualifies as love. As a church, as an evangelical culture, we are not loving gay people. If we are mistaken and you can think of tangible ways the church imitates Christ’s love toward LGBT people, please tell us.

Here’s how the church has taught us, as parents, to love our gay child: It hasn’t. In fact, when a Christian mother who lost her gay son to drug overdose urged us to love and embrace our gay son, we felt immensely relieved—like we finally had “permission” to love our son unconditionally. It was a shock to realize we even needed anyone’s validation to love our son, but we did. Many Christian parents have said the same thing. Based on years of conservative rhetoric, Christian parents aren’t sure it’s okay to love their kids unconditionally. One more time: Christian parents of gay kids aren’t sure it’s okay to love their kids unconditionally. What??

The evangelical rhetoric about homosexuality—the way we frame our response–

·         Genuinely tries to honor the passages that address homosexuality.

·         Ignores the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.

·         Neglects (or refuses) to correct the misinformation that’s still widely believed in Christian circles.[1]

·         Perpetuates stereotypes of gay people as “less-than,” as promiscuous, as rebellious against God, as enemies, but not as real people.

·         Is based on fear of gay people, and fear of what will happen if we love them.

·         Is seen as dehumanizing and unChristlike by the secular world and many young Christians.

·         Is seen as the only biblical option by evangelicals.

 

Please note we’re not even talking about the conservative-vs.-progressive debate about whether homosexual relationships are sinful. We’re talking only about the rhetoric evangelicals use—how they frame the topic—and the unintended consequences of that rhetoric.

. . . . .

 

Our journey has brought us to the point where we’re not sure the conservative response to homosexuality can be reconciled with the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Maybe it can. But as long as evangelicals defend the “us” / “them” mindset, it won’t. The empathy gap makes it impossible to walk alongside a gay person and love them the way Jesus does.

Our journey has brought us to the point where we don’t feel we’re equipped to defend either the traditional interpretation of the New Testament “clobber” verses (which says homosexuality is a sin, period) or the progressive interpretation (which says those passages were really about rape and idolatry and don’t help us with the question of committed same-sex relationships). Those arguments hinge on translation nuances and Greco-Roman culture, and we’re not experts on either of those things. The best we can do is side with the Bible scholars who tell us what we want to hear—and that doesn’t seem very honest.

Instead, we are committed to living out what we know to be true: Jesus hung out with sinners, touched sinners, ate with sinners, died for sinners. We are the sinners, and there is no “them.” To sit quietly through a sermon or conversation in which gay people—or any other group of people—are painted as a vague, shameful enemy is to dishonor the God who made them in His image and to distort the gospel; we can’t endorse that.

Here’s why it’s so important for us to tell you what’s on our hearts. If we disagree on a minor theological issue, that’s small potatoes. Christians disagree over that stuff all the time. But if the rhetoric we support marginalizes or oppresses any group of people, or pushes people away from the gospel—as we believe it does LGBT folks—we need to be on our knees asking forgiveness.

Gay people often know they’re “different” when they are very young—way before they even relate the difference to sexuality. What they hear as they grow sets them up to question whether God even loves them. Are we causing these “little ones” to stumble? It’s a question we need to be asking.

. . . . .

 

We don’t have the answers about a theology of sexuality or about how to love our gay neighbors within a conservative biblical framework. But the world is watching. Our Christian teenagers and college-age kids are watching. There’s a lot of disillusionment that what conservatives are “about” is something other than the love of Christ. The church needs to be approaching this topic with humility and love. So far, that’s not what we’ve seen. We have seen the very human cost of unloving rhetoric, and we are grieving.

We are also seeing an increasing number of church-going Christians who are facing a deep conflict—just as we did long before our son came out to us—and they don’t feel they can talk honestly about it with their pastors. One author describes us as

“good people who are struggling with their belief that their natural love and compassion is at odds with what the Bible is telling them about LGBT people. On the one hand they have Jesus explicitly commanding them to love their neighbors as they love themselves; on the other hand they have Paul, whom they have been . . . taught to believe is telling them that gay people—just because they’re gay—are an offense to God. So they’re stuck between those two opposing forces.”[2]

Is God telling us we must be unloving toward gay people? How do we do that and still believe God IS love? Because more and more, Christians are getting to know gay people who are really nice, and not very different from “us.” When the church answers our struggle with the same old rhetoric—that homosexuality is sin, and same-sex marriage is wrong, and that’s all you need to know—it’s missing the mark in a big way. It’s not respecting gay people, or their families, or the people whose hearts are being torn in two and are looking for real guidance.

. . . . .

 

We’re aware how divisive the gay “issue” has been among Christians, and we do not want to add to that. We do feel compelled to challenge you and our church family to prayerfully consider the impact conservative rhetoric has on the people God loves, and the impact it has on the way we reflect the gospel in our community.

From our earlier conversation with you, we have the distinct impression that remaining at our church with our changed perspective would probably be divisive. Correct us if we’re wrong, but we thought it was pretty clear.

So we’re concluding we need to attend church somewhere that’s farther along in wrestling with these complex issues, somewhere our son and any of his LGBT friends can join us if they wish and hear about God’s grace without having to feel defensive or “less than.” We will leave the rest up to God. This is hard, because we all, including our son, love the people at ________ Church .

 

With love,

 

 

P.S. There is one article we wish all pastors and Christians would read. It tells you, far better than this letter, where our hearts are. It’s “Gay Marriage and the Posture of the Gospel,” by Pastor Thad Norvell. (Don’t worry, it’s not really about gay marriage.) This, to us, is what the whole deal is about.

 

[1]Misinformation many Christians still believe:

·         Same-sex orientation is a choice

·         If gay people pray hard enough, God will make them straight

·         Homosexuality is typically caused by abuse, psychological problems, or dysfunctional relationships with fathers

·         Any other problems a gay person faces in life are a consequence of sin and therefore deserved

·         If someone accepts their orientation, they’re actively rebelling against God

·         Homosexuals are going to hell

·         If a gay person experiences emotional tension, it must be the Holy Spirit convicting them (it’s certainly not because we put them in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t position)

·         A person cannot be gay and be a Christian

·         Choosing a life of celibacy is a no-brainer for Christians with same-sex attraction.

 

[2]John Shore, “My Dog in the Fight for LGBT Equality” 


Mama Bear Story Project #19 – Shirley Carley

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

Shirley Carley MBSP1

People who have known me for many years wonder what happened. They think I am not the same person I was before. In a way, they are correct. I am the same loving, caring person I have always been. I am the same strong Christian I have always been. What has changed is my understanding of what God calls sin.

I was brought up in a strict church. It was not as strict as others I have seen. One church I was in was so strict I would classify it as a cult. I didn’t stay there long. Although I was taught certain things were sins, I always wondered why some sins seemed to be condemned by Christians more than others. In school we were taught to think for ourselves and not just follow the crowd on stuff. Even in church, I learned to “try the spirits” to discern if they were of God or not. For this reason, I always questioned if what someone said from the pulpit was really what the Bible said or not.

Most of the time, I discovered it was indeed what the Bible taught; however, I was still struggling with what the church called sin that seemed to me may not actually be sin. This included divorce, people living together in a committed relationship, homosexuality, and other such sexual questions. One day, about 5 years ago, a friend introduced me to the teachings of Martin Luther. I had known that Luther was the spark for the Protestant movement, but I had never been taught his beliefs on sexuality. The church steers clear of such matters! I read his thoughts on the subject and found it intriguing. So I began to study the Scriptures about human sexuality.

For my study, I consulted Greek or Hebrew dictionaries to see what the original texts said and what the original words meant. During the course of my study, which took three years to complete, I discovered that Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of homosexuality. This captured my attention! I continued to study and eventually came to the conclusion that homosexuality was not a sin.

At this time, I was still in my Southern Baptist Church. My daughter had a group of friends at school who had, at various times, came out as lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. I loved these kids very much. My daughter loved these kids too. She came out in support of them. What I didn’t know at the time is she was pansexual. I tried to get my daughter to not be so vocal about her support, especially at church, because these people would not like it. I too kept my mouth shut about being affirming, though I did start saying things like we needed to show love to the LBGT community if we wanted them to see the Christ we serve. I took a lot of ridicule from people who “loved the sinner but hated the sin.” Since I didn’t think it was a sin, I didn’t agree, and their actions didn’t seem loving to me. So, I continued to remain silent.

Then my daughter came out to me. Again, I encouraged her to remain silent. She did tell a small group of friends she thought she could trust, including one youth leader. She soon found out that the youth leader told a pastor.

She began to get bullied by “friends” in the church and she even got bullied by some of the leadership. While traveling to a mission trip with other kids, one of the girls asked her about what groups she was in at church. She mentioned GSA. The girl asked what it was and she told her Gay Straight Alliance. Well, my daughter, unbeknown to me, had been told she was not allowed to discuss homosexuality on this trip. She attempted to change the subject but the girl kept asking questions. Also unknown to me or my daughter, the woman in the car had been told to report back to the youth pastor if my daughter talked about it.

Next thing you know, she is being disciplined for talking about it. She tried to say she was just responding to a question and tried to change the subject and the adult woman called her a liar! She had to watch everything she said or did the rest of the week.

A year later, she still hasn’t come out, as I wasn’t letting her. Only her family and those few close friends knew she was more than affirming. It came time for the mission trip again and she was told she could not go. When I asked why, I was told she was being disciplined for disrespect. I called for a meeting to find out what was going on, and it was very clear they were disguising punishing her for supporting gay rights, not for being disrespectful. They wanted her to follow a “discipleship plan” that included a book criticizing the “gay agenda” as well as reporting to a staff member about that book, another book, and sexuality! This was all while she was a senior studying for finals at high school.

We left the church that day and never looked back. That week, my daughter came out publicly. I came out as affirming publicly. A week later another daughter also came out publicly as pansexual. A dear friend seeing the attacks we were getting on Facebook from our fellow “Christians” let me know about a support group for moms like me. After joining that group, I began to feel sad for the way I had stifled my daughter and very burdened for the way the LBGT community was being treated.

Thanks to being in a group of loving mama bears, I have been able to openly support the LBGT community. I have joined Equality Virginia so that I might be able to do more than just talk about it. My LBGT friends I have had for years always knew I loved them and did not condemn them, but now they have an ally, which is even better. I have always loved unconditionally, but I never knew that loving unconditionally would help in dealing with some very unloving “fellow Christians.”

I am so thankful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am thankful that He saves from all our sins, including being judgmental. I am thankful that I have learned the phrase “Gay Christian” is not an oxymoron! Looking forward to many more years serving the Lord and loving unconditionally.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 2,000 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

When Your Kid Comes Out

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Here’s a short video I made that has some basic but important advice for moms when their kid comes out.

Feel free to share it.

The video covers the two most important things that we need to do when our kids come out.

What I share here is common sense but in the midst of the moment everything can seem chaotic and confusing.

So … in this video I just go over the basics with the hope of helping moms be able to pause, take a breath and do these two simple things which can help them as they start this new journey.

The basics I include in the video are:

1. TAKE CARE OF YOUR KID

a. Let them know you love them unconditionally

b. Show support by asking about their journey and assuring them you are going to support them going forward.

2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

a. Find supportive community in order to help you deal with your own feelings, have access to support and encouragement for yourself and be in community with people you can open up to and ask questions.

b. Get educated and informed. Part of taking care of yourself includes getting educated and informed as it will relieve a lot of negative feelings for both you and your kid.

_______________________________________________________________________

 

Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The group was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,900 members. Each day moms of LGBTQ kids gather virtually to share a journey that is unique and often very difficult. The group is a place where they share a lot of information, ask questions, support one another, learn a lot and brag on their kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. The space was specifically created for open minded Christian moms who have LGBTQ kids and want to develop and maintain healthy, loving, authentic relationships with their LGBTQ kids. However, moms do not have to be Christian to be a member of the group. In addition to providing a space for members to share info and support one another, a special guest is added each month for a short time so members can ask questions in the privacy of the group. The guests include authors, pastors, LGBTQ people, bloggers, medical professionals and public speakers.
Email lizdyer55@gmail.com for more info about the group.

Mama Bear Story Project #18 – Tammie Jarnagan

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

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It’s been almost 23 years since I had my last child. He came two weeks early, ready to make his mark on the world, and on me. When the Doctor handed him to me, I had this crazy, fleeting thought come out of nowhere; he’s gay. I had given birth to three other children before him, and that thought had never entered my mind. I had no idea where it came from or why, so I buried it just as quickly as I’d had it. I remember our first Sunday back to Church, after he was born our Preacher took him from my arms, stood in front of our small congregation, and dedicated him to God. I was a proud Mother. I still am.

I was born and raised in Church, and had studied the Bible quite a bit. In fact, I had become a little stubborn and arrogant about it. I sadly remember one time when my children were very small, I pulled into my local bank and they had a big banner hanging out front that read, “We support the United Way.” I had just recently read an article in Time magizine about the United Way pulling their support from The Boy Scouts because the Boy Scouts would not allow gays. So I, in my self righteous Christian arrogance, let the poor little Teller know just how wrong it was that they would support Untied Way. I am now mortified when I think back about that. Nonetheless, by the time Matt was four, there was not a doubt in my mind that my sweet boy was gay. He wasn’t feminine, didn’t play with dolls, or do any of the things one might associate with being gay, but somehow I knew and I was scared to death. It wasn’t something I could say out loud, or talk to anyone about, so I did everything I could think of to “ungay” him to make him normal. I prayed day and night begging God to not let any of my children grow up to be gay. I couldn’t specifically say Matt’s name in my prayers, because that would be like admitting it. Even though I knew I still couldn’t say it out loud, not even in prayer. We went to church on Sundays, and like my other children, he was baptized. I did everything and anything I could think of to make him straight, and I certainly never missed a chance to tell him that being gay was a choice, a very bad, sinful, choice.

When Matt was 15 I found some notes in his room written between he and his friends that confirmed my worst fear, he’s gay. I lost my mind. When he came home from school that day I showed him what I’d found, it’s a blur, but I remember crying and screaming at him. The worst part was telling him he was going to hell. At one point I asked him if he had ever been sexually molested. I was grasping at straws, I figured there had to be a reason he wanted to be gay and if he had been molested, a good therapist could fix that, fix what I couldn’t. He was never molested, so there went that theory. My heart was shattered in a million pieces. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I had to stay off Facebook during all of this, because it was the same time that the Chick Fil A fiasco was going on. Then shortly after that, It was the Duck Dynasty posts. I couldn’t handle it. All I saw when people were posting these things on Facebook were signs that said, Hey Tammie, I hate your son, he’s a faggot. So I would start crying and just go to bed. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t function. With my religious background, this was a one-way ticket to hell. How does a Mother live with that? So I would just lay in bed and sob. I was so angry at God. My life had never been a picnic, but this?! This was a deal breaker. This was God hitting below the belt, if there even was a God. I wasn’t sure anymore. This was faith shattering. One day while lying in bed sobbing, I jumped up like a crazy woman and started screaming at Satan to leave my babies the hell alone, to pick on me. I could handle it, they couldn’t!

Then I started screaming at God. All of these years I’ve been doing everything in my power to make him straight, where have you been?! Why haven’t you helped me?! How did those thousands of prayers escape you?! Where have you been all these years when we needed you most?! Then I asked, why did you even give me this information when Matt was a baby if you weren’t going to help me change him? God spoke to me in that moment saying, I didn’t give you that information to change Matt, I gave you that information to change you!  I dropped to my knees. I didn’t know where to go from there. I walked around like a zombie for a few weeks, and then I picked my Bible back up. I of course knew the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and had read the few other scriptures about homosexuality, but that was it. So I took it a bit further, I studied the original Greek/Hebrew texts of the Bible, and WOW. I learned not only what those scriptures actually meant, what the stories were actually about, but also that so many of the words used actually have a different meaning then how we know them to mean today. God opened my eyes and my very narrow-minded heart.

I look back now, and wish so much I would have started studying about this when Matt was little, when God first gave me those first few glimpses. There’s so many things I would do differently, but everything happens for a reason, and this has turned out to be a wonderful, albeit very difficult part of my journey. Being gay isn’t the one-way ticket to hell as I had been taught and as I had believed. My children, ALL of my children are exactly who God lovingly made them to be, and I couldn’t be prouder.  In the words of my friend Susan Cottrell (and I paraphrase), I do not not support my gay child and his rights in spite of my faith, I support my gay child and his rights BECAUSE of my faith.

________________________________________________

Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,900 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

Mama Bear Story Project #17 – Gerry Phifer

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The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.

Gerry Phifer

Maybe once, before he came out, we wondered why he had never had a girlfriend but that was his senior year in high school and he was acting in two plays, working on his Eagle Scout, and he was Valedictorian. Four years at Austin College, in Sherman and still no girlfriend. (He had a bazillion friend girls but no girlfriends.) He and his best friend, Katie, applied for internships at Theater Three in Dallas, Texas and moved in together…..not “together” but together.

After about 9 months in Dallas, he came home one weekend and he, Dwight and I were watching something on T.V. and he just muted the T.V. and said, “I have something to tell you. Please don’t interrupt and it won’t take long. I am gay. At a very early age I knew I was different but not until the 7th grade did I have a name for my difference, I am happy and this is something I needed to do to finish my coming out.”

Dwight and I just sat there in stunned silence. I couldn’t move or think or breathe or talk.

Dwight made the first move and got up – I followed suit – and we hugged him and then my wonderful husband said to Andrew, “I cannot imagine the courage it must have taken for you to come home to tell us this. You are the bravest man I know. What was your Plan B, if this had not gone well?”

Andrew said, “Daddy, I didn’t have a Plan B. I just know the people who reared me would love me, warts and all.”

Andrew says the first thing I said was, “You must practice safe sex!” 🙂

He left to go back to Dallas and I completely fell apart. We knew we wanted to be a part of his life, no matter what, so I found a PFLAG chapter in a town near us and found out when they met. Dwight got on the computer and bought several books because he said, “we need to be educated!!!!”

And life goes on …

We didn’t tell many folks, at first. My Dad was diagnosed with ALS a month later and that was a sad distraction. He passed to his peacefulness, at home, with just Mama and the three kids, three months later.

Andrew went back to Graduate School at The University of Texas, after Tyler Clementi committed suicide and because he said, “if I could have just talked with him, I know he would still be here. “

My husband, the only Democratic judge left in Cherokee County, Texas, retired from the bench, after 16 years, on December 31, 2016. He married 3 gay couples and granted 1 same sex adoption.

Carl “Andrew” Loys Phifer moved to Washington, D.C. and is now the Public Affairs Specialist for the Attorney General’s office in D.C. He is happy, has a great group of friends, and a Dart specialist/champion at Cobalt’s and Nellie’s night club where his team won the championship recently and raised $3000 for Planned Parenthood.

And these days the little girls who walk with their Mother in our neighborhood, call me Mrs. Rainbow because I live in the Rainbow House – the only house in town with a rainbow flag flying proudly!

Along the way I have learned:

this was not a choice!

it takes guts to come out! (for your child and you)

Andrew’s sexual orientation is only a piece of who he is!

people, who love you, will accept this!

if you don’t stand up for your child, who will?

as a rule, your church will let you down!

until/unless you have skin in the game, shut up!

do not judge ANYONE!

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WE LOVE CARL “ANDREW” LOYS PHIFER!!!! HE IS OUR PRIDE & JOY!!!!

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During the month of June the private Facebook group, Serendipitydodah for Moms, celebrates Pride Month by inviting members of the group to share pictures of their kids and tell us a little about their kids and the journey they have been on. We call it Pride & Joy! This essay was what Gerry Phifer wrote to go along with the picture she shared of her son, Andrew.

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Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. Our official motto is “We Are Better Together” and our nickname is “Mama Bears” The group is secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 1,900 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com