Thursday, April 26, 2012


I was tired. Joe looked determined as he made his way through the auditorium towards where I sat at the podium. We had a drive ahead of us and wanted to get going. I saw him coming. Just before he arrived, I felt, more than heard, a gentle voice calling my attention. I turned to look into worried eyes. "I wonder if I could ask you a question about a very personal matter." I felt time pull with the force of gravity. I wanted to be on my way. I'm not good with questions at the end of a lecture day, I'm tired from expending energy all day, my mind has trouble focusing on anything but getting out the door and on the road.

But there was worry at the back of her eyes.

When she realized we were about to rush off, she apologized and stepped away. I felt the moment grab me by my shoulders and hold me in place. I arranged for Joe to take the stuff off the podium, briefcase, notes, Thermos and cup out to the car. I asked her what was on her mind.

She told me that all day she had thought about something that she had done very recently. One of her children has a friend who she is close to. "He calls me 'Mom'," she said with real warmth and pride. Then she told me that this fellow came to her, confused about his sexuality, needing to talk to someone, thinking he was probably gay. She knew that what had happened was an act of trust and a testament to the relationship he had with her.

Since speaking to him, her reaction has weighed on her. She had been taken by surprise and spoke to him about his sexuality in the context of sinfulness. She knew she hurt him deeply. But she didn't know what else to say, she didn't know how better to react. She was confused herself.

That moment sent her on a personal journey. She read about how gay kids kill themselves when they find rejection in the world. She read about how one person showing love and support and acceptance can make the difference between life and death. She began to dig deep into her faith asking herself what she really believed. In her own heart, in her own mind, in her own relationship with God - she knew what she had been told to believe, but what did she believe? Her faith, she found, could withstand questioning. Her faith, she discovered, was mature enough to embrace, fully embrace, the idea of love.

She didn't want him to die.

She wanted him to feel her love, a deep love, that accepted him as made.

"What can I do now?" she asked.

"I don't know what to say to him," her voice was filled with worry, her eyes with pain.

I suggested she start with two words, "I'm sorry ..."

And that the rest would follow.

I laid my hand on her arm before she left and told her that I was so glad that we had spoken. That she had given me such hope. I love speaking to people who have the desire to be self-reflective, who have the desire to question themselves, who believe in a belief that wants to be and needs to be questioned. I told her that I was proud to have met her.

What I didn't tell her, is how much I needed, deeply needed, to meet her when I was a boy.

But that meeting her now, oddly, ministered to the part of me, that still needed to hear the love in her voice.


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a special person. We are to love - first and only. If there is any judgement for anything - leave that to God. We are to love - as He loves. No condemnation, no judgement, no preaching, no way. Love and leave the rest to God. Open heart and open ears and open arms are a welcome to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dave,

most of your posts I read with my head. this one I read with my heart! And it felt warm and uplifting and right!!!


Bubbles said...

What a brave lady....

Andrea S. said...

Some years ago, I watched a Spanish talk show (imported from somewhere in Latin America to be shown on one of the Spanish cable channels in the US, fortunately with closed captioning in Spanish so even as a deaf person I could follow and practice my Spanish reading skills). There were three teens in this show who each came out to their mother as gay while on the air. I missed the third teen and mother, but I saw the first two. One mother responded harshly (angrily) to her daughter's revelation and would have broken your heart; the daughter acted tough like she didn't care, but I'm sure what she felt was probably something quite different even if it also probably didn't surprise her.

But the other mother responded with tears--she wasn't upset that her son was gay, she was only broken hearted that he had found it so hard to tell her and she felt so badly that he had sat and sat on something so big and important to him for so long before revealing this information to her. She just loved her son and wanted him to be okay and happy. You could feel her love radiating from the TV screen in a way that transcended language and national boundaries.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

The young man went to the right person. I am glad that you found some healing in her openness to loving him just the way he is. Oh how we all long for that kind of love!

It always amazes me when religious people hate, especially if they are Christians. The message is pretty clear - love, don't judge.


Kim said...

Thought you might like this blog post, if you haven't already seen it:

ivanova said...

Love this. I was thinking of the same article that Kim mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Kim (and Ivanova) for recommending that article.

The original article that the teen responds to is also good. The blogger now has an entire category of posts at his blog that all relate to the original post (original post entitled "I'm Christian Unless You're Gay").

Andrea S.

AkMom said...

I too am "mom" to a young man, I too was the one he turned to. I didn't find myself second guessing my reaction, I was able to welcome him, reassure him, give him the love and courage to talk to his parents.
He is now a well respected young man, very happy in a relationship, loved by many.

Thank you to "Mom" for thinking, feeling, and being able to tell your HeartSon "I'm sorry" and continuing to love him.

Kristin said...

I have such admiration for people who own their words and own their mistakes. I have faith that she will do right by that young man.

PS...that's also part of the reason I have such a deep admiration for you.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to what Kristin said, including her "PS".

Andrea S.

wendy said...

You brought tears to my eyes with this one. How I could have used such a person in my life when I was a young woman trying to find my way between God and the truth of my life.