After a moment’s pause she says “First… you die.“
And then from there, the resurrection story comes into our lives from the realization that we can either sit there in that lonely pit where it’s dark and cold and the walls are steep and slick, or we can rise up, move on to our next day and our next, and so on, to live the lives that all the Uncle Vics in our lives would expect us to have.
I’ve heard some few parents tell me the same
response: What did you do when you first found out your kid was gay?
First, you die.
It’s as if what has just been told to me – most often from a place of sharing and trust – I have allowed to become my problem… my shortcoming. No child of mine is as bad as this badness (sic) that they have just told me, and so now I take the blame, the bad feeling, all the fault, and I sit here in my dark room with it, and oh! aren’t I a stronger person for suffering mightily on behalf of my child?
And then you wake up the next day.
Skies didn’t fall. Planets did not careen out of their orbits. Statues to that parent’s martyrdom did not spring up on the front lawn overnight. The badness, the crushing defeat, the loss – yes that is all still there. As is the daylight of that second day. We wake up, we look down and there scattered all around on the rug are pieces of a now-broken life (our own) that seemed so perfect – so untouched – just one day before. What happened in that day? And what to do now with that jigsaw puzzle of spilled pieces all around?
Consider reading the chapter 1 Corinthians 13 , it’s very short, only 13 of the most quoted and re-written verses in the Christian canon. The author (attributed to Paul) describes all that which love is. (In this case, agape, or charitable, Christian love.) Love, that active word that we don’t want to consider today because our life, broken and hurt, shattered in pieces on the floor by this bit of news from that one we… oh, wait a minute … from the one we love. The very last thing all that darkness calls from you is an active, pull yourself up by your bootstraps word like love.
Love never fails.
That’s not an original thought, or pie in the sky, that’s the first verse of the chapter. As strong an acclamation as you need to get you through this day, next week, a year from now. However long it’s going to take you to come to your senses and see how busted apart your life really is not.
Love is Eternal.
Evidence here is another super-quote from the Bible, John 3:16 described as “the gospel in one sentence:”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
They won’t perish: they won’t be removed forever from the one who loves them more than all others. No matter what awful things the world does, no matter how bratty we are, always demanding and never thanking…. always breaking stuff … God. So. Loved.
Are you the one who loves your child above all others? Everlasting, honest-to-God love?
Not everyone will have positive, wonderful or even funny coming out stories to tell. Some will break families, some will end relationships. And some will break old relationships into many jagged pieces that will then re-join more strong than before. Some will move along better because that child has spoken honestly of something that everyone already knew, and by speaking, they welcome us to know them – and love them – even more.
Families must grow to be strong.
God. So. Loved.
“At first,” Debbie said, “you die.” But you cannot stay there. Tomorrow will come whether or not you want it, and many days after. On that next day, when you are sitting in that dark, tall well with the slick sides, remember three simple words: God. So. Loved. Decide then if you should do the same.
- Love suffers long and it is kind.
- Love does not envy and is not puffed up with false decoration
- Love doesn’t behave unseemly or think evil thoughts
- Love never fails, and endures all things
If you are that person who hears this news and your reaction is happiness, then God bless you, you got it right on the first try!
If you are that person who hears it and is afraid, just keep listening, keep asking all the questions you can bear to hear, understand the facts and not your inner fears, beginning with the fact that you have a happy person in front of you, asking you to join them in their happiness!
If you are that person feeling shattered and broken and ill-used, afraid, embarrassed, then everybody back to their own corners, reconnoiter and try again, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. This is a family and not a sparring match. It’s no time for emotional blackmail, and no time for threats that you will certainly regret later.
Speak your mind about how you feel and always remember as the words come out of your mouth to this person who just seconds before you loved so deeply: God. So. Loved. Remember God’s love (and yours!), and fight to the core of your soul to keep it.
And now abides faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.
A Prayer for Families Coming Out
(the final phrase, “and so continue…” may be omitted or revised as needed.)
Lord, creator, you made each and every one of us in your likeness, embracing us in our moments of weakness and cheering us in our moments of triumph. We thank you for giving us families – both given by you and chosen by us – and we thank you for showing your diversity of the many shades of love, a great palette that shows your compassion for us. Be with us within our families as we face all challenges, both inside and outside, that together, putting aside our own divisions, fears, and expectations, we may continue to grow in your never-ending love for us, and so continue the work of Jesus.- Amen
Keep the faith!