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My Legacy

Often times, the things I know, the things of which I am certain, are outnumbered by all the things in my world which make no sense.

I am in one of those seasons now.

I have literally poured my life into my children, yet today, this family seems to show no evidence of that. And while there is no tangible comfort for me right now, I stand before God, in all my weakness and weariness, holding the only thing I have . . . . His strength.

Realizing that acknowledging is not the same as approving and that I must walk the painful road of maintaining God’s standards while I continue to love (ALL) my children.

Following God’s example, loving my wayward ones, always making room for the way back, without changing the standards of my own convictions.

Remembering that I am the right parent for my child because I know first hand the restoration of sexual brokenness through a relationship with Jesus.

Knowing that my child is not a mystery – that God has their instruction manual . . . And that God knows my heart, my motives and my dreams for these children. My children . . . my legacy.

Hebrews 12:12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.

I Need A Savior

My favorite song right now:

– Five children
– Four sons
– Two questioning their sexual orientation

How does this happen? . . . Can someone please explain this to me? . . .

How. Does. This. Happen?

***

My husband didn’t believe me. He compared our son to himself. Our son had mostly female friends, which my husband found completely normal. Especially since he often said he couldn’t relate to men himself and used that to justify his own many female friendships. I then sent my husband a copy of the e-mail.

I had to.

There was no denying the facts when he read our son’s own words saying he considered himself a gay atheist.

My husband agreed that we had to confront. We sat down with our son and told him “we knew”.
Our son began to cry.
I did too.
The phone rang.
My husband answered it.
He took the phone to the bedroom and stayed there for the rest of the evening.

So much damage. My son could barely speak through his tears as he sobbed of how hurt my husband’s actions were to him. How he wanted to be nothing like his father when he was grown.

My son and I spoke of the faith he had been raised to believe, but now discarded, because “God wasn’t real. For if He was, He wouldn’t create a boy who liked other boys, and then call it sin.” He confessed that he now calls himself an atheist, but feels like a sinner everyday.

We spoke of the fear that fueled the lies. He knew that he was loved, but was sure I “loved God more” and that my faith would force me to choose my God over my son.

So much heartbreak.

So much need for healing.

The phone began ringing. We all looked to see if he would answer it.

“Please, no . . “ I silently pleaded.

“Please don’t get up . . . this is so much more important . . . just let the phone ring . . . pleeaasse.”

***

Several Days Earlier – My daughter was sitting at the family computer and called me over.

“Mom, I think you should see this,” she said.

I walked towards her and began reading over her shoulder. It was an e-mail correspondence between my second son and his classmate.

“How did you get access to this?” I asked.

“He left his Facebook open . . . ” she responded.

After reading the first few paragraphs, I knew I needed to be alone to read the rest of it, so I asked my daughter to copy and mail it to me. “Click, click.” Done.

There was dread in my whole being. How much more could our family take?

Later that evening, after everyone had gone to bed, I opened the e-mail and this is what I read:

Classmate: “Hey J! This might seem really random, but I just wanted to message you and tell you what a cool person I think you are. As my graduation deadline looms, I keep thinking about all the people I wish I had gotten to know but I didn’t have time to. You’re one of those people. I know I don’t have very long before I go off to college, but nonetheless, I’d love to get to know you better! You remind me a lot of myself at your age, and idk, I just thought I’d say hi. Sorry if this is odd for you! I’m kind of an odd one, haha

My Son: “No, it isn’t weird for me at all! You’re totally one of the only senior girls I have any shred of respect for. You’re really cool, and I totally wish we’d gotten to know each other better the past two years, but hey, better late than never, huh? Do I really remind you of yourself? That’s really amazing, because I hope one day I’m even half as awesome as you. I especially loved how you asked your girlfriend to prom over the announcements, you’ve really got guts! I’m sort of a chicken when it comes to that sort of stuff.”

Classmate: “Yeah, you do remind me of myself. And thank you, yeah, my girlfriend and I had been dating for 8 months when I asked her to prom in front of the whole school and I was a nervous wreck. As for you, well, some people are a little more shy, but there’s nothing wrong with that!”

My Son:I really need some advice from someone who’s gone through some of the stuff I’m going through. Sorry if this is awkward and choppy, but today’s been kinda frustrating for me. So I had been planning for a couple weeks to go to the pride parade today with my friends. We’d come up with this whole alibi for my parents, saying we were planning to go visit my friend’s church and then we would hang out in the city and then right back home. My parents were fine with the plan until this very morning when they discovered that the pride parade was today, and then they said that I couldn’t go to the city at all today. Did you ever have to deal with stuff like this?”

Classmate: “I didn’t know you were gay! Welcome to the club! It’s so much fun once you get to fully enjoy it. I am so glad you came to me for advice.”

“To answer your question, I do not have homophobic parents, but I do know what it’s like to be discriminated against, and I do know what it is to hide your sexuality from everyone you know for fear of that rejection. Honestly, it wasn’t that hard to lie to my parents, but you basically have to make yourself seem as innocuous as possible. The lie you came up with was a really good one, but you’re gonna have to think of even better ones, especially if you have/get a boyfriend.”

My Son:Thanks! I hope one day I do get to fully enjoy it. I just really can’t wait to move out. I’m so glad I came to you for advice too. You seem like a very wise person.”

“Yeah, I’m really afraid about being open about my sexuality at school; you’re exactly right, I’m afraid of people rejecting me and judging me before they even know me. Fortunately my parents aren’t very clued in to stuff like this, as they’re both conservative Christians. It makes it easier to pull stuff off. So what are some good ideas for líes? I’ve been with my boyfriend for three months and whenever we go out by ourselves I just tell them that I’m going in a group. Are they gonna get suspicious after a while?”

Classmate: “Yes, they will eventually become suspicious. I would start lying. Throw in other names of people you’re ‘hanging out with’. Only do this, though, when they become suspicious. No need to lie when you don’t have to, in my humble opinion. If they’re the type of homophobic parents that would kick you out of the house if they found out then you might need to take some even crazier measures to hide it until you can move to college.”

My Son: “I think I’m more suspicious of them becoming suspicious than they are actually suspicious. I already throw in names of people and name fake places we’re going and fake stuff we’re doing. But that’s not a good idea? I suppose you’re right, I should keep the lying to a minimum. I don’t think my parents would kick me out, but they might try to send me to pastors and stuff, so these righteous men could tell me about how I’m gonna go to hell after I die. But it’s fine. That wouldn’t scare me. I’m an atheist.

Classmate: “It’s not bad to lie like that: you’re watching your back. I think it’s good you’re hyper-aware. Just don’t over-do it. Don’t give them reason to suspect anything, ya dig? HAHAHA the atheist comment made me laugh. I don’t know how close you were to the big JC before you came to terms with the fact that you were gay, but I liked being close to God. Coming out, realizing that the Church hated me for what I am was too much. I haven’t been since, save holidays. It was heartbreaking.”

“I’m sorry you couldn’t go to Pride Parade this year. If you want, I can totally take you to the LBGT center when they have a cool thing going on there so that you can have a taste of what it is to be gay and proud. I know it’s hard right now. I know it is. I remember that part of my life, and it’s so easy to get lost in it. But you have taken the first few important steps: you have come out to people around you (I assume), and you are reaching out for some advice. I promise it will all get easier from here.”

My Son:I like that way of putting it. My boyfriend just calls me super paranoid, but with super conservative parents, it’s better safe than sorry. I’m so glad I’ve found someone I can relate to! I was such a little Jesus freak when I was little. I read the Bible, said my prayers, did all that jazz, and I seriously loved every second of it. People told me I was gonna be a pastor when I grew up. But now I have absolutely no belief in any such divine being. I agree, it was extraordinarily difficult, but at this point there’s no way I could ever go back to being a Christian. Are you still religious at all?”

“I would absolutely love to go to the LGBT center with you! Until now, I honestly had no idea there were centers for gay people. I would love that so much. And yes, it is really hard, but it’s so good to hear that it’s gonna get easier. Yeah, I have told my closest friends, but I am in desperate need of advice. I’m so glad it’ll get easier.”

Classmate: “I have a ton of gay/bi/lesbian friends and I know a bunch at school, too. If it would be helpful, you’re more than willing to come hang out with us and talk. I hope this helps. I am always free to talk.”

My Son:I would seriously love hanging out with you guys. Believe it not, but other than you and my boyfriend, I’ve only ever talked to two other gay teens. So I feel like I need to talk about this kind of stuff with people who understand what we’re going through. I try sharing this kind of stuff with my straight friends, but other than our mutual attraction to males, they just can’t really relate that well.”

Classmate: “There are lots of websites and meetings and such that help out people, especially teens, with being gay. It really will help to be around some people that are the same as you. I wish I’d had someone to show me the ropes when I was coming out.”

My Son:It’s so hard to see the big picture sometimes. I only have two more years at home, and then I have the whole rest of my life ahead of me. I feel like life will be happier when I can do what I want, be in an open relationship with the person I like, and be able to believe in whatever I actually believe in. It sounds too good to be true. Moving out is going to be like finally being released from prison. It can’t come soon enough. I definitely do need to talk to some more people like me.”

Classmate: “In 2 years, you’re gonna be a free bird. And it will go so fast, I promise. It can be scary for some people, but you don’t necessarily need to be scared; just aware. Does that make sense? Like, it’s all about making sure you’re living your life while still being safe and hidden. (if you need or want to be hidden)”

My Son: “Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I really enjoy my life right now. I’m open about it with my friends, but I just don’t want everyone in the whole wide world to know. Especially with my younger brother coming to my school as a freshmen next year…

“You are so awesome. I hope by the time I’m your age I can help and give other people advice too. I’m not sure I’d be as great as you though; I can really tell you like helping people.”

***

. . . He answered the phone.

Despite the fact that we were in the middle of a crucial parenting moment as we confronted and discussed our awareness of this e-mail with our son, and all that it implied, my husband answered the phone – walked away from the conversation – and didn’t return.

(to be continued)

Good morning, had a crazy dream about you last night, so I’m checking in, making sure you’re alive and well . . “

I received this text the other day, from a long time friend whom I treasured, but who had no idea of my struggles.

Me: “I’m alive and well. What was your dream?

Friend: “That you and your husband were splitting up and you were walking away from it all – Crazy.”

***

I had recently been feeling that God wanted me to expand my accountability group, and that my family was going to need an even larger covering of prayer. My prayer partners, at this point, were a group of three women from my church, but I knew God had been leading me to believe I now needed to have a group of seven. (including myself) I was hesitant, but not because I didn’t believe it was necessary. As a matter of fact, God had been consistent and insistent that I prepare myself for what was to come by surrounding myself with more prayer warriors.

The reason I was hesitant being that the whole process of telling my story was so draining. Opening myself up and becoming vulnerable by telling of the pain I had endured by the one everyone knew as my dear husband, was no easy task.

. . . But the time had come. (again)

***

Me: “Your dream is pretty accurate . . .”

Friend: “No! . . . My husband and I had a feeling something wasn’t right the last time we saw you. Ever since then, we’ve been praying and my husband actually wanted to call D last week, but he didn’t want to over-step . . .”

Me: “I’m sure D wouldn’t mind having your husband call. He mentioned that your husband asked him about our marriage the last time we saw you, but he never told me how he responded. Especially since his point being to accuse me of disrespecting him by talking to you about our marital problems, which he concluded HAD to be the reason your husband asked.

Friend: Funny how God works. My husband said that it was D who actually made a few comments that led them down that path. He told me later that he wanted to pray for you both before leaving . . . That began a conversation between my husband and I, about how we should never leave something undone that the Lord is prompting us to do.”

Me: “So glad you texted me this morning. God definitely uses people who listen to and obey His voice.”

Friend: “I will keep you in prayer – hang in there. Some bumps in the road are bigger and take longer to get thru. Trust God. I know what I’m talking about.

Me: “Even though my difficulties have been going on for many years, it was only some months ago that I realized I had reached a place in my journey where I couldn’t go any further without the help and prayers of others. I have been blessed to have 3 women in my life who have been my prayer/accountability partners, but I am now at a point where I feel the challenges my family will be facing are going to intensify, and I feel led to expand my group of prayer warrior women.”

“I am hoping you will consider being a part of this group.”

Friend: I am so glad you have reached out for support. Too often we find people going the journey alone, and it’s not necessary. Many of us have been through the valleys and can lend a ear, a shoulder, and most importantly, pray with you.”

I am humbled that you would include me in this very important group of women that you hold dear to your heart. I’m always amazed at how God works. You can count on me.”

***

I then did something that I never thought I’d do. I sent my sweet friend the link to my blog. While I thought it would be the best way for her to “catch up” on my life, by no means was it the easiest. Up until now, no one knew of this private place I call my gossamer life. But again, I felt it was time.

Within a few days, I received this message:

I couldn’t sleep tonight. I’ve been up since 3:30am reading your blog.”

“Saying we had much to catch up on doesn’t even begin to describe all the things floating in my head right now.”

“I wish you would have shared. I wish I had known.”

You have listened to me without judgement, as I shared the things my own marriage has endured. You listened, and never said a word, even though you were enduring your own struggles. Forgive me for being so selfish.”

I want to be someone who gives as much as I receive. You have been my constant friend and I will stand with you in thought and prayer.”

***

Proverbs 27:9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

I recently spent 4 days alone. In virtual silence. Amidst the beauty of the mountains, I walked the trails, in awe as nature lived and breathed all around me, but mostly, I listened for answers.

And I received none.

God spoke, but not in the way I expected. I was both drained and refreshed. I cherished the isolation, yet yearned for company. I grieved, and I was comforted.

But I came home still having no idea what to do about my marriage.

While I was gone, my husband sent me this e-mail:

“You deserve a vacation. You are a devoted mother of five, who works extremely hard. I recognize it and so do the kids.”

“I know that when we communicate, I feel constantly accused, which is very difficult on me since I am not someone who has any desire to be close to anyone on any level – (emotionally or physically) other than you, my wife.”

“As I’ve said before, I take my marriage vows very seriously and feel that is not something that will ever change. Our marriage is not going to end because of me walking away.”

“I understand that it is disrespect you feel by my behavior. I am aware of your feelings, however, I am not seeking anyone’s friendship, nor have I ever been in a compromising situation seeking companionship.”

***

I had to read and re-read the e-mail in order to process all the emotions that his message incited.

The first read brought feelings of guilt. My husband’s words sounded sincere and, for a moment, the memory of all that had transpired between us was forgotten history. The weight of responsibility slowly began to creep upon me as I questioned why I couldn’t be a better wife. A wife deserving of my husband’s kindness.

With the second read, I couldn’t help but notice the presence of denying any unfaithful intentions or behavior, and the absence of acknowledging my issues with his trip to Arizona. Why was that? My feelings had been hurt by his lack of communication and from excluding me in his vacation plans. Yet, he chose to address an issue that had nothing to do with either one of those.

By the third time thru, I was angry. I began reading what was not written and raged over the fact that my feelings regarding the present issue were ignored and invalidated. Was it really that unreasonable for a wife to want to know that her husband is planning to take their children on vacation and have her feelings hurt when she finds out about it after its been planned? – Only to realize she has not been included in those plans.

And as I sat with the peace of God’s nature surrounding me, so opposite of the resentment churning within me, I had to question the spiritual aspect of my situation. Was the devil trying to destroy my marriage . . . Or was God allowing me to view it from a different perspective?

I read about the goal of a Christian is to be more “Christ-like”, but what does that look like in real life? When are we to “turn the other cheek”? . . . When is “righteous anger” appropriate? – “Do we continue in sin because grace abounds? – Certainly not!”

My husband may never change. Am I willing to continue living the way things are?

No.

But how do I stay married and find a way to live with his behavior? And how do I know the difference between God’s will and my own?

***

With my husband and 3 youngest sons gone on a vacation that was planned without me, I have been struggling with these and many other questions. I have had several e-mail conversations with my husband since they left – which is better than face to face conversations, since my anger is in a full blown rage right now.

***

Me: “I can’t believe that even after our last conversation about communication, I was still getting information about your trip from the kids, instead of from you. I can’t help but think that nothing I said got through to you.”

Him: “It seems everything I do or say makes you upset and I find it very sad. In light of that, as well as the fact that you weren’t going on the trip, I saw no reason to communicate the details to you.”

“I would have been more than happy to have you accompany us to Arizona, but I knew you were scheduled to work.”

Me: “You SAY you wanted me to come on this trip, but your actions said something completely different. I am so discouraged over the lack of change during the course of our marriage, and the bleak future ahead if the path we are on doesn’t change.”

Him: “It is just so unfortunate that this entire incident could have been prevented if you would just communicate with me in a more loving and understanding way. I am trying to not let it affect my health, but it is. I understand that you feel I don’t communicate well, but my behavior is usually a response to your behavior towards me.”

Me: I have reached a crossroad in our marriage where I no longer take responsibility for your behavior. I have done nothing to provoke or deserve your disregard for my feelings.”

Him: “It is MY feelings that are constantly being disregarded. You do not understand the daily struggles I face from financial difficulties and dealing with your children, not to mention the years I have been forced to interact with their father over his (lack of) financial responsibility. I am glad to say, that even with all of my imperfections, at least  I am not like the men from your past.”

Me: “You are out of line.”

Him: “I feel blessed and at peace to have a clear conscience in knowing that I am not ‘out of line.’ “

***
So that’s the state of things. I ended the conversation by telling my husband that I was going away for a few days to think about the future of our marriage. I need some serious quiet time to listen to what God wants from me right now.

Psalms 55:1-2, 6-8, 16, 20-22

Listen to my prayer, O God.
Do not ignore my cry for help!
Please listen and answer me,
for I am overwhelmed by my troubles . . .

Oh that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.
How quickly I would escape – far from this wild storm of hatred . . .

But I will call on God and the Lord will rescue me . . .

And as for my companion, he betrayed his friends;
he broke his promises.
His words are as smooth as butter,
But in his heart is war.
His words are as soothing as lotion,
but underneath are daggers!

Give your burdens to the Lord,
and He will take care of you.