A note from Alongside –
This is one of the most difficult issues that families are dealing with right now. Whether you are in ministry and have a child choosing this path or a lay person, we realize that the holidays can bring a whole new list of challenges. Sometimes we can understand the theology but figuring out how to love our kid in the midst of it is a whole different matter. Crystal is walking through this journey well and we wanted to share some of her words of encouragement with you. Whether this is happening in your family or not, consider passing it on to families that I’m sure you are ministering to in your communities.
Dear Ones, I know the holidays can feel like unknown territory as you navigate what that might mean for your family and how they relate to you and your LGBTQ+ child. As with any family gathering, there can be tension, misunderstandings and grief, along with invitations for new ways to love and celebrate the people and journey to which God is inviting you.
Here are some ideas I invite you to consider along with me as you courageously enter into the holidays in new ways.
1. PREPARE FOR HARD HITTING MOMENTS
Understand that emotions will come, and when they do permit yourself to face them and let them come. Find Bible verses you can pray through that give you strength and draw you to rest in God in the swirl and turmoil of conflicting emotions.
Psalm 73:23,26 says: “Lord, you are always with me; You hold me by my right hand…my flesh and my heart may fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
2. HAVE A PLAN
Winging it is a poor choice when relating with your child and the holidays.
Talk to your child to see what is important for them to communicate to family (who may or may not know about their status) and what they don’t want to talk about with family. Honor their wishes and find ways you can talk about or curtail conversations during time with family.
You might even want to have “practice” conversations that you anticipate happening so you don’t have to wait in anxiety hoping they don’t come up. Or worse, regretting how you handled a situation and brought more hurt to your child.
At social events people often don’t know what to say to you and might say hurtful things. I have had friends say to me, “I will pray for this trial for you, you must be so disappointed in your child.”
Other times people ask prying or inappropriate questions.
H. Norman Wright says, “The best thing is to take charge of the moment.” You could practice saying something like, “I would prefer not talking about this right now,” or “These comments are hurtful to us and our child, I would appreciate it if we moved on to another topic.”
People might say hurtful things, but you can answer in a way that is kind but firm. For me, this takes practicing my answers beforehand so I don’t get caught up and knocked off kilter in the surge of emotions.
3. REFLECT ON WHO ARE SAFE/UNSAFE PEOPLE and make sure you have some safe people in your life for support and encouragement.
CLICK HERE for a safety checklist put out by our friends at NorthPoint. You might even go over it with your child to see if you feel safe to them. Remember that safe doesn’t equal endorsement.
4. KEEP AS MANY DOORS OPEN AS POSSIBLE to your relationship with your child.
It might be tempting to back away from engagement with your child during this potentially stressful season. Remember to stay focused on the most important things: loving God and loving your child.
5. SEEK HELP FOR YOURSELF How is the toll on you? Are you sleeping, getting exercise, eating well? We are not meant to carry burdens alone.
- Be on the lookout for safe people in your life who will encourage you without judgement.
- Find a support group (Embracing the Journey ministries has online support groups for parents), or a counselor you can talk to. This will also help act as a release valve so your struggles don’t come out sideways with your kids.
- Mark Yarhouse (Psychologist and professor at Wheaton College) has just written When Children Come Out: A Guide for Christian Parents. I have loved listening to his podcasts. He has decades of research under his belt, and has a kind and informed, conservative approach.
- Embracing the Journey by Greg and Lynn Macdonald (book and workbook). They are a bit left of conservative but their insistence on learning how to “love God AND love your child” is powerful.
- Embracing the Journey also has a great variety of podcast, books, conferences and article resources available on their website.
Dear ones, peace comes from finding strength in God and knowing that He is in control of everything, even when life’s circumstances become difficult.
Philippians 4:5-7 says,
“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
May His peace surround you on this journey.
I’m available for you with love, support or resources you might need.
Crystal Boecker | Alongside Coach/Global Partner