Back in 2016 Jen Hatmaker came out as a Christian who had become affirming of same sex marriage. She said she and her husband had taken a lot of time to think, study and pray about the issue and, over time, she and her husband had become convinced that scripture did not condemn same sex marriage and non affirming theology was producing bad fruit, so, they changed their view.
Jen was attacked and rejected almost immediately by the Evangelical Conservative Christian camp. Lifeway stopped selling her books and she received a lot of bad press and horrible messages from conservative Christians.
Many of us had suspected Jen might become affirming because she had expressed concern about the way lgbt people were being treated by conservative Christians. We thought she might be discovering what we had discovered and we were watching and waiting to see where she landed.
Many of the moms in Serendipitydodah for Moms (my private Facebook group for moms of lgbt kids) wanted to offer Jen some support so I wrote a letter and more than 400 moms signed the letter and it was sent off to Jen.
Jen was quiet for a while and then, in 2017, she rose up out of her pain and wrote a little bit about the hurt she had experienced and once again she was attacked.
The moms in Serendipitydodah once again wanted to reach out to Jen and so, we gathered short notes of encouragement and sent them off to Jen.
I don’t know if she ever received the letter or the notes. I hope she did. We wanted her to know we had her back and were standing with her. We knew what it felt like to be treated the way she was being treated. We could relate to what she was feeling and we wanted to encourage her.
Recently I’ve been watching Jen and I’m really excited for her and about her. She obviously was fortunate enough to have a lot of good people in her life who stuck by her, and in the process of changing, like so many of us, she was fortunate enough to find some new friends too.
A lot of the people who stood with Jen were women. I’m not surprised by that because Jen has a knack for bringing women together. It is one of her superpowers. And it is an amazing thing to watch … because when women come together with a collective intention something magical happens. They empower each other. They make each other stronger, wiser, braver, better. They are better together. They make magic happen. Even people like Jen, who serve as a catalyst to bring the women together, become a stronger, wiser, braver, better version of themselves. The magic happens for everyone involved.
Recently I saw that Jen was bravely and confidently involved in the March For Our Lives. She got some push back but she didn’t back down. She stood for what she believed in with no shame or apology. Maybe she would have always been able to do that but I sensed something more was going on. I sensed something magical had happened or was happening in her and through her. I thought she seemed stronger, wiser, braver, better than ever. And that’s no small thing, because Jen was already amazing before any of this stuff happened in 2016 and 2017.
It seems to me that once you are knocked down and get back up you are better … especially if you have the good fortune of being surrounded by women who are on the same journey as you are – especially if you have women who will show up and stand with you – who will offer you a shoulder when you need one and cheer you on when you are standing up and moving again.
I see that happen in Serendipitydodah for Moms all the time.
It’s like magic – watching women go from hardly being able to stand to being strong, empowered and confident. Watching them rise up together and live confidently into their own authenticity. Watching them support one another, laugh and cry together, cheer each other on. Watching them use their strength, newly gained wisdom and confidence, their creativity and passions to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all people to live. It’s amazing! It’s magical!
I love seeing that magic happen and I am grateful that I get to be a part of it.
And I am grateful for women like Jen who keep showing up and pouring their life into making that kind of magic happen among women because that magic is the kind of magic that changes the world into a better place for everyone.
Below are the notes of encouragement that we sent to Jen back in 2017. I don’t know if she ever saw them. If not, I hope she sees them here now, because we, the members of Serendipitydodah, want her to know that we are grateful for her and the magic she continues to help us make … and we want to give some of that magic back to her … because that is the way the magic works – it circles back around again and again – lifting, encouraging, supporting, breathing life into each others’ spirits over and over again – giving it away and spreading it around doesn’t diminish it – instead, the more you give it away, the more it grows – that’s how it works – this magic that women make when they join together.
NOTES OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO JEN HATMAKER FROM MEMBERS OF SERENDIPITYDODAH FOR MOMS
Jen, I just wanted you to know you have an army of sisters who love you and are walking with you down this path. Not all of us have chosen this journey, but it is the one God has willed for us. And so we walk together, on His path, loving each other and our children. You are not alone and you are not wrong. You have a beautiful spirit and will light the way for others. Hallelujah! – Susan
Jen, keep living into your true self, following the Holy Spirit. It is not easy to hear or follow the One Voice in the midst of chaos. May there be time to listen. Peace and blessings. – Debra in Tennessee
Hi Jen, please know that you are LOVED and respected over here on the other side in Christianity. Be brave and know you have a great heart. – Adele
Hi Jen, I just posted on your wall! You hang in there girlfriend! I’m one of 1800 mama bears that have your back! Love your decision to love. – Deb in Virginia
Jen, As a lifelong conservative Christian and a devotee of your books, teaching, WOF and Belong, I can’t tell you how much your loving stance has helped me through finding out (really just confirming) that my daughter is gay. She is now married and we were able to be completely accepting and loving to them, in part because you and BH helped us know that God is good with us doing this. Handy really since it is exactly where my heart leads. I love you and appreciate you. – Carole from California.
All of us cannot be wrong!!! We will stand with you, when you tell God how much you loved Him and tell Him who and why you loved rather than who and why you didn’t!!!! – Gerry from the Big State of Texas
Jen, thank you for caring enough about my family to tell other Christians how to really follow Jesus. The mama bears have your back. – Renay
Hi Jen. This mama bear from NYC is so encouraged by your stand for the LGBTQ community. Thanks for being Jesus. – Rose
Jen, I just recently learned about you. As soon as I did, I went to look at your Facebook page and immediately “liked” it. You are doing a fantastic thing and will continue to touch lives and encourage so many. All I can think of right now is “blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.” God has your back, my sister in Christ. – Shirley
Jen, I want to love on you and encourage you just the way I do my gay son. Know who you are, and how perfectly you are made. Be true to yourself and hold your head high. There is no shame in love. – Michelle from Texas
Thank you, my sister in Christ, for being courageous and standing firm in Jesus’ footsteps. You may have been exiled from your former community but you are loved here. Being a true follower of Christ may be hard at times and you have been harshly persecuted but do not waiver, he will not forsake you! I love you for your beautiful soul and kind heart!! Thank you for your courage!! – Julie in Ohio
Jen – I’m so sorry that the church is causing you pain. I know for certain that YOU are not wrong! I am so grateful that you are loving the way that Jesus wanted us to love others. Those that say you are wrong and condemn this community have forgotten that the first and greatest commandment is to love one another! Please know that I am thankful for you – Vicki in Michigan.
Dear Jen, the pain of rejection, betrayal and judgement is all too familiar for many in the lgbtq community and their allies. Nothing I say can take away that pain and hurt, but maybe knowing that there are many of us moms that understand that journey will help you to know that you’re not alone and that your bravery has touched us deeply. Thank you! We love you! – Sandy in Southern CA.
Jen, This mama bear is grateful for you and your unconditional love ❤ Thank you for loving others as Jesus has commanded us to do. Keep up the good fight and know you have so many standing with you! In His name, – Karla from NC
Dear Jen, I’m so sorry that you’ve been the recipient of so much vitriol and condescension from some people who profess to be Christians. Please know that there are many people who stand with you and appreciate you. I recently read “For the Love” and grew to like and respect you even more. You are the real deal, Jen. Anyone who tries can easily see your heart, mind, and soul are in the right place. Thank you for the comfort and healing you’ve given by affirming those of us who have dearly beloved family members and friends who are gay. It means more than you even know. – Jammie in NC
Hi Jen! I really have an awesome God story of how your interview with Religion News back in October was the same exact day that my 16 year old son came out to us as gay. He was raised in conservative Christianville as both my husband and I became Christians in our young 20s, (as singles and then met later). Your interview gave me the courage to love my son anyway, pursue God on this subject and not die of despair. I knew you loved Jesus, I had read your books and followed you on fb since 2010. I knew you were the real deal and I am so thankful that the timing of my precious son’s revelation to us worked out the way it did. We are not out completely yet, and have a journey ahead of us. But our faith has been challenged on a good way. Thank you thank you thank you! – Lisa in New Mexico
Dear Jen, I can’t say thank you enough for everything you have done for our family. Because of you my daughter knows God loves her exactly as she is. It means the world to all of us. We stand with you! We love you! – Katie in Arlington TX
Thank you, Jen, for being brave enough to do and say the right thing, even though it is so very hard. It would have been easier to carry your belief in your heart and keep doing what you were doing. Some people have been damaged by the church, but you, your husband, and your beautiful family are being examples of what love should look like, what Christ would look like if he were here. – Michele from central Texas
Thank you Jen from Elk Grove, CA! You have been such an inspiration and a source of courage and strength. Your beautifully written words that reflect the immense love that our God has for us is exactly what my family has needed to hear. Please stay strong and know that your words of love do sink in and strengthen us. – Sherilyn
Hi Jen, I’m so sorry you are on this hard path. It probably feels lonely and unending. Keep running the race – don’t give up! Fix your eyes on Jesus and let those running with you help hold you up. Pay no attention to the people on the sidelines – don’t let them distract you or trip you up. They are too frightened to commit to the race themselves. Your Father is proud! Praying for you! – Chris
Jen, I can’t thank you enough for your bravery. Your courage has given me so much more courage….courage must be contagious! A woman once told me not to let someone’s bad manners ruin my day. I know what you are enduring is way more than bad manners but you have a lot of mama bears praying for you. Focus on us and the faces of so many hurt children everywhere. I live in Comanche and still hope to see you in Rockin J someday, even more so now to hug your neck. Thank you again. – Jodi
Jen, Just when I was feeling like “the rest of the world” didn’t get it, you came into the picture. You showed up, stood up, and spoke up. For this I am forever grateful. You have taken a beating for your courage, but those of us who needed you were able to catch our breath in the shadow of your wings. From a tired mama bear, thank you, thank you, thank you. – Julie
Jen, your wit and sarcasm (my spiritual gift as well) are so appreciated in a world that can be so unfunny! I have cried tears of laughter through reading some of your posts and that is a rare gift. It hurt my heart when I read of your hurts and hope that you can find encouragement here. – Chris
Jen, it breaks my heart that a beautiful person who loves words, was hurt by the words of others. That someone so loving and safe has not been given the same love and safety from those who should be the most loving and the safest. Thank you for the sacrifice you have made, for the love you continue to give and for not letting anyone take away the essence of who you. Thank you for sharing yourself with us – we are blessed! – Cindy in Washington
From one Jenn to another–thank you for being brave enough to fight the Evangelical position on LGBTQ issues. I have at least one child who falls into this category, and showing her things like your writing is essential to encouraging her. – Jenn from Pennsylvania
Hi Jen! Thank you for your support and for loving like Jesus!! Mama bear hugs & love to you! – Lee Ann
Dear Jen, you publicly carry the pain we mums understand so well. We have tasted rejection by long time friends and family members because we love our LGBTQ children. You had a choice to stand back or to speak up, and you chose to put love in action. Thank you for your courage. You are being the hands and feet of Jesus, and we send our love to you. Hugs from NC – Morven
Hang in there Jen! Thank you for loving our LGBTQ children like Christ and for taking a stand! One person and one story at a time is how we do it and it is very tiring and can be worrisome for us mama bears! God is good! – Vicki
Jen, during the dark lonely days of my child first coming out to me, the only thing this lifelong evangelical Christian could do was ask, “Who am I now?” Every single thing I thought I knew in that moment shifted. I can say now the only thing that didn’t survive that catastrophic shift was my position among my “church”. Through it all, love remained. Through it all faith remained. Hope remain, Mercy remained. Christ remained. As the realization that my relationship with God is mine alone and the threatening hoards could not penetrate the power of that bond, peace returned, joy returned, grace returned. In the two years since, I have been so encourage by the changing of hearts I have witnessed. Though I have been content to walk out my Christian faith without the benefit of the support of those voices who were so important to me in my former faith, I can truly say I am so thankful each time a person who professes Christ walks across the divide from feared adversary to beloved friend. Stay strong, friend. This journey on the other side is not for the faint of heart. – Anita in Missouri
Dear Jen – You already know that you don’t NEED those who are inflicting these hurts on you, but, of course, that doesn’t lessen the sting. We Mama Bears are so fortunate and blessed to have you join our ‘team’ – and we will have your back. I wish you continued strength, courage and boldness. – Tenley in Canada
Jen – thank you for your contagious love and faith. You are truly an inspiration. Please continue to share your heart, your wit, and your wisdom. – June in Michigan
Jen- Long before I became a foster (and then adoptive) mom to two LGBT kids, your books and blog posts had an impact on my life and my walk with Christ. So for you, someone I already admired and respected, to have the courage to be affirming of your LGBT brothers and sisters right when I was questioning and wrestling with my own theology on the topic was beyond helpful to me. The way you have handled yourself in the face of cruelty and rejection from fellow “Christians” is just another way you show the world what true, authentic faith looks like. I love your heart, your words and all that you stand for. Keep shining bright for Jesus! – Love, Melissa in south Florida
Jen, We love you! Thanks for standing up for the human race! – Colleen
Dear Jen, thank you so much for struggling along with us as you wrestle with how to stand strong in your faith and love the way Jesus called you to. My plan was to thank you in person at Women of Faith in Hartford but wasn’t able to go so my sweet sister delivered my message to you…thanks for having my back, know that I have yours. – Laurie
Dear Jen, I am praying for you as you practice the unconditional love of Jesus. You are not alone and an inspiration to many. Stay strong in Him and He will deliver you from your adversaries. You are a light in this dark divided world and an angel God has sent to His church at this time and season. You are loved. – Judy in Texas
Dearest Jen just know that I have no words to describe how grateful I am. You give me light when all seems dark. You are my hero. – Brenda from South Africa
Jen, please know that you are brave and you are strong! So very many of us who dare to do our best to love EVERYONE have felt tremendous rejection from our church communities for just that. Us Mama Bears have your back!!!! – Carrie
In college my heroes were Sandi Patti and Amy Grant. Both banned by the good Baptists and Lifeway. You are in good company. People ask why I “changed my theology” when my son came out last year. Sadly I just had not given the gay issue enough time and prayer and research. It was easier to just go along with everyone else. When it hits your home you go to your knees. I know my son is loved and accepted by Jesus just as he is. And I think he is darned amazing. Hold your head up. And thank you for your inspiration to all Mama Bears! – Kathy
You have touched me deeply with your love and encouragement for the LGBT community. You are a blessing to so many and truly reflect the heart of Jesus. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. – Joyce in Vancouver BC
Jen, Thank you for your courage to do the right thing in the name of Jesus. I know it took a lot of courage, understanding that sacrifice would come with it. But God has given you a platform to reach so many with His love, and you are faithfully doing that and changing hearts and minds as you do. We love you! – Kim
Dear, Jenn: You are doing Jesus’ work. The Holy Spirit has begun a work. The floodgates are opening and you are at the forefront. It will not be stopped. – Cheryel
Jen, hang in there and let your love continue to shine in the dark places! – Leslie
My priest (totally affirming Episcopalian) told me once: The more your life centers on God, the more you will be attacked. Jen, hang in there and keep being a witness for the love of Jesus – the broad, wide, all-encompassing love of Jesus. You are being persecuted in his name, actually. Not because they are right but because you are being faithful to his teachings and that will cause conflict. Jesus was a rebel and a radical. You go girl. – Molly
Dear Jen, the church condemned Galileo for believing the earth was not the center of the universe. –Toni in MN
Carolyn Cage Johnston Jen, I grew up conservative evangelical, and I know first hand how difficult it is to disagree with the received wisdom within conservative churches. I know how much strength, courage and love it takes to be able and willing to voice a dissenting viewpoint – especially a viewpoint that embraces LGBT individuals as image-bearers of God, just like their straight brothers and sisters. As the mother of an LGBT daughter, I thank you for that love, strength and courage from the bottom of my heart. I know what it cost you. You are following Jesus, whose love and courage cost him everything, in affirming the worth of everyone. It is difficult to express just how much that means to those of us on the front lines, facing the ‘judgement in the name of Jesus’ crowd, as we protect our children from the damage they cause. Again – thank you so very very much. – Carolyn
Thank you Jen! You have eyes to see and ears to hear. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian chooses this narrow path that Jesus offers us. We Mama Bears are so thankful you have chosen it and have taken on the mind of Christ to be loving and inclusive as you welcome all to God’s table. The pain “Christians” who act like Pharisees cause is great, but please know you are loved and supported by others who see God’s image in everyone just as you do. – Felicia in TX
It’s hard to put into words how encouraging it is to have you & your husband as allies for our gay sons and the LGBTQ community, of which my husband & I now count ourselves a part, Jen. Thank-you for your bravery and transparency on this journey with us. You have our prayers! Late last year my husband left a 25 year ministry in a small, conservative congregation, due to ‘irreconcilable differences’, after our 2 sons came out almost 6 and 3 years ago. We’ve moved and changed our lives completely, by God’s grace and goodness. It has been hard. It has been good. Any loss we’ve experienced has been more than restored in miraculous ways. We pray God’s blessing on you, your family & your ministry. – Patty
It breaks my heart what the church is capable of when we disagree. We’ve got your back, here! – Cathy
Jen, much love coming your way from Cleveland TN. You don’t know how much your willingness to walk the walk on this has encouraged me. It gives me hope that Christianity can be saved from the Pharisees and that it can be done right. Hang tough, don’t listen to the haters, know that there are many more people out there who are seeing what is happening to you, seeing the unfairness of it all, and looking at the establishment church with new eyes. Even in your pain you are doing good. We love you and embrace you with big ol’ mama bear hugs! Keep up the good work! – Jennifer
Dear Jen, Thank you for boldly sharing your heart. We rarely see Christians take the stand that they know is right, because there will be consequences. I’m sorry for the hurt that you and your family have endured. To overcome the fear of God and claim His love for all, is wonderful. I recently read that MLK daughter said that her Father’s death wasn’t due to hate, but to the absences of the church standing up. This is frightening true for our kids, too. Thank you for standing with us. – Debby
God loves you just the way you are! He created you in His image. Continue to live for Him honestly and openly. You have the support of many Christians! Love from Angel in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
You can never know how much your courage means to me- you are a blessing to all faithful souls who strive to support love in all its infinite beauty. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. – Jessica
Thank you, Jen! We Mama Bears and our families are working for justice and praying for the wisdom to effectively do God’s work on earth – that of changing hearts and minds towards loving affirmation of our dear ones and others who happen to be born LGBTQI. You are an influential and articulate advocate and we are grateful to have you as one of our leaders! Thank you so very much! – Carla
You’ve been in our hearts since you were a toddler and our entire family sends you love and blessings. Welcome to the road that is no longer less traveled. New York City stands graciously and joyfully with you. Time for another visit!! – Laura
Jen, You embody the spirit of God by choosing love over system. You choose the hearts of people over conformity. You’re going through a lot in order to be deconstructed and then re-constructed which produces real faith in God. I am proud of you. – Monica
Jen, I am so thankful for your courage to stand up for the side of all that is right and good and definitely Jesus. Stay strong and may God bless you and hold you up during this time. – Laurie
“Sometimes following God is the worst. I can say with some confidence: if you go wherever God says and when, expect to be misunderstood. And go anyway.” – Jen, your words have been a lifeline since my 13-yr-old came out this year, pointing me to the tenderness of God’s heart. I pray that the people closest to you — the ones whose rejection, or silence, has wounded you most deeply — will see things clearly soon. But if they do not, may it point to what God is doing…because when He is at work, it will cost something. A favorite section of mine from Interrupted is your writing on The Last Supper, and Communion. Paraphrasing here… Someone must be broken for someone else to be fed. That’s the gospel right there. ❤ Do not grow weary, my friend! – Adrienne
Hi Jen, I don’t know that much of your writing, but if “they” are attacking you so viciously, you must be doing something right. You are standing up for those who do not have a voice in “their” presence. You are taking heat for people who may not be able to survive the heat. I stand with these moms to encourage you, to pray for you, to believe in you. Thank you so much for all you do. – Elizabeth
I keep typing a post and deleting. I can’t even put into words what your fight on behalf of the lgbtq community has meant to me….to my gay son who loves Jesus. You are a hero to us. Your husband is a hero to us. How lucky are your kids. Please know how much you are loved and appreciated and needed. We need your voice. – Kimberly
Jen, please know that the work you are laboring in is not in vain. Your voice is so deeply needed. When the church let’s go of its own like it has the LGBT community I believe God sends us his angels and administering spirits .You are an encouragement. We look into the eyes of our children and we will never let them go. I don’t believe God will ever let them go and we moms want to thank you for standing with the principles we ourselves believe. We realize the incredible power of what has come against you, the shunning, retaliation and hurtful words. We pray for you and your family. Remember, something new is being birthed in your life. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains alone but if it dies it bears much fruit. Thank you for allowing your life to be used to help birth something new. All of us moms and kids are in your fruit basket now – Pauline
Jen, thank you for all you have been doing in this crazy, mixed-up world. May Christ’s love and light continue to be a beacon in your life. God Bless! – LuAnn
Jen, thank you for taking a stand and affirming those we love who are LGBTQ. I’m sorry you have endured such awfulness from the “mainstream”, but hope you can feel and receive the support and thankfulness for your voice and courage from all of us in this community. – Frances
Jen, Reading through all of these notes brings tears to my eyes because the words of these Mama Bears reminds me how badly we need more brave and beautiful people like you who “get it” and are willing to talk about it out loud! As moms with LGBTQ kids we are on a mission to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ people to live and we are always ready to embrace those who show up to stand with us. Thank you for showing up and for standing with us. Thank you for taking the time to study and listen and pray and learn. Thank you for being brave enough to be open and authentic about what you discovered. I don’t know if you are aware of it but you are leaving a little sparkle wherever you go these days – don’t let anyone dull that sparkle – the world needs more sparkle! – In fact, my advice is “when in doubt, add more sparkle!” We love you, Jen, and as far as we are concerned you are a member of our tribe now and that means that we are showing up for you and standing with you! Love & Light – Liz Dyer, founder and owner of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids
Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group created in June 2014 as an extension of the Serendipitydodah blog. The group presently has more than 2,500 members and was especially created for Christian moms of LGBTQ kids who want to develop and maintain healthy, authentic, loving relationships with their 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. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org