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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.

Jeannie1

I’m especially happy to share this Mama Bear Story with you. Jeannie was one of the original Mama Bears and she was dearly loved by all of us who knew her. She was always a great encouragement to us – always offering a loving and kind word – always seeing the best in everyone and cheering them on to pursue their dreams – always reminding people how much God loved them. Our hearts were broken when Jeannie’s life was cut short a few years ago. But the legacy of love and light that she created lives on in the communities she helped create and in the hearts and lives of those she touched with her radical love and inclusion. I am filled with gratitude that Jeannie’s son, Matt Moran, has given me permission to share her story here and for the beautiful closing message he wrote. Jeannie was an amazing person and a passionate mama bear. Matt is also an amazing person and his mother’s fingerprints are all over his life. 

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Jeannie’s story:

Had anyone told me twenty years ago that I would be sharing my story as the mom of a gay son, my response “… And you are crazy” would have been an understatement.  My son would not, could not, be gay.  You see, I raised him as a Christian.  We attended church every Sunday morning, and on a good week, we were there on Wednesday and Sunday nights as well.  Matt attended a Christian school.  He accepted Christ at the tender age of six, and still remembers the moment that he looked out the window of his bedroom one day, “knowing that Jesus was real” and asking Him into his heart.  I was a single mom, and while I wasn’t perfect, I was a good mom, living a Christ-honoring life to the best of my ability, and teaching my son to do the same.  But more importantly, I prayed for Matt consistently from the day he was born.  My favorite verse to “claim” was that God was a Father to the fatherless.  He had answered many prayers and had shown Himself faithful to us in hundreds of ways throughout the years – so could my son be gay?  Absolutely not!

I will never forget the night Matt told me “Mom, I’m gay.” He was 24 years old at the time, had been out of college for two years, and was home from Nashville for a visit.  I recall the shock and disbelief as I heard the words, yet almost simultaneously, my mind rebounded with the thought that “this is just a bump in the road and we will get through it.”  I immediately attributed his struggle to the fact that he had been raised without his dad, and I figured “God has brought us through everything else; He’ll bring us through this.”  I assured Matt of my love for him, and that I knew we’d get through this like we had everything else – together.

After Matt went to bed that night, I went into the bathroom, crawled into the fetal position on the floor, and laid there for hours, as I cried out to God from a place so deep in my soul that I seriously wondered if one could die from emotional pain.   “THIS could not be happening.  God, I did my best.  I raised my son to know and honor You, I instructed him ‘in the way he should go.’  I gave my all to be the best mom I knew how to be and Matt was a good kid.  But more importantly, I trusted in YOU, God, and Your promises. NO, NO, NO!!!”

The months following Matt’s revelation to me were difficult for us.  We had always been close, sharing our faith, our joys and struggles, and simply being good friends who laughed together as we enjoyed what was for both of us a great mom/son relationship.  Matt had moved to Nashville after college and I quickly grew to love the city and his friends when I visited there, but now, for the first time, I felt unwelcome.

Matt eventually shared with me that he had realized at the age of 22 that he was gay (two years prior to telling me.) He said that he sought counseling as soon as he arrived in Nashville, and he told me that one of the first things he said to his counselor was “My mom will never know about this.”  He knew how I felt about the issue of homosexuality, that it was a sinful lifestyle choice and one that no good Christian would make.  As I struggled to accept the fact that my son was gay, praying earnestly for God to change him, the divide between us grew.  What had previously been a comfortable relationship was now strained and awkward.  It broke my heart to call and get his voicemail, rather than hear the friendly “Hey, Mom.”  I knew he didn’t want to talk with me.  As I made attempts to talk with him and try to understand his “struggle”

Matt eventually told me “Mom, you need to find your own support system.  I can’t help you with this and I need my space.”  I know now that my very presence induced shame as he felt my disappointment in what I thought were his “choices.”

Suffice it to say, I did the work.  I sought counseling. I went to conferences.  I read every book I could find, and most of all, I prayed, and I prayed, …and I prayed some more.

I cried nearly every day for eight years, pleading with God to change my son.

God answered my prayer… just not in the way that I expected.  Instead of changing my son, he changed me.

Years later I’m at a much different place than I was that first night. While much of my journey has been lonely and challenging, I’d go through it all again to arrive where I’m at today and to know the amazing people that I have met along the way.

C.S. Lewis said “I have no answers anymore.  Only the life I’ve lived.”

I hope by sharing a bit of the life I’ve lived I can encourage other parents like me.

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A message from Matt:

A week before my mom passed away from cancer, she underwent a series of strokes that left her rather confused and incoherent.  But as my family stood around her hospital bed watching her sleep, she awakened suddenly, her eyes wide and sparkling, and she said, “You guys!!  You guys!  Every heart…is a masterpiece!”

Even today, I can’t help but believe that, in that moment, Mom was somehow standing between this world and the next, and seeing with eyes that were clearer than most of us could ever hope to have.

I have been overwhelmed by the number of emails, cards and letters I have received from other “mama bears” (my mom used to say, in reference to me, “Hon…you are my heart walking around outside of my body.”) sharing with me the impact that she made on their lives.  And I know that I know that nothing…absolutely nothing…would make her happier than to know that her story and message of unbridled love and acceptance are being passed along to those who need to hear it most.

You all are making a difference in the lives of gay folks and their families that is changing the course of history, and I am so incredibly thankful for the work you are doing.  In the words of my mom, you are truly “melting hearts and changing minds,” and, in my heart of hearts, I am confident that she is cheering you on (and even pulling a few strings.) to the finish line.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

Yours truly,

Matt Moran

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In addition to being an amazing Corporate Coach/Trainer/Consultant, Matt is also a very talented musician. He released a CD last year called Awakening. I love it and highly recommend it. I recommend buying the actual CD as it includes a booklet with some special words from Matt. There are some especially meaningful songs on the CD including”The Story of Us” which is a song that Matt sang for his mother in her final days and “Hallalujah Chorus” which he dedicated to the Mama Bears last year on the day that would have been Jeannie’s 66th birthday. You can go here to see and listen to the music video of Hallalujah Chorus.

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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 1,600 members. For more info email lizdyer55@gmail.com

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