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In my 13 years of doing ministry to those impacted by same-sex attraction, I have received the most contacts from parents of gay or struggling kids. In fact, this reality is what prompted us to start a weekend conference for parents. There are many struggling parents anxious for answers, support and encouragement.
In many ways, the parents I have met and/or to whom I have ministered have been the source of my greatest inspiration. I have seen worlds shattered and, in some cases, sad circumstances that never change. I have seen some parents whose kids beautifully surrender their sexuality and their lives back to the Lord and some parents whose kids only move deeper and deeper into a life defined by their sexuality. But what has inspired me the most are the parents who, no matter the change in their circumstances, submit their OWN lives to the Lord for change. And the joy and transformation that I have witnessed has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement for both Stephanie and me.
I will not profess to understand how God works or how He thinks or why things sometimes happen like they do. I trust the prophet Isaiah who reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Yet while I may not understand everything, I do understand what I have seen in the lives of these parents. The sad and sometimes tragic life courses taken by their children are often the catalyst for great, and needed, redirection in the course of their own lives.
Stephanie and I have to acknowledge that I was wrong when I left her to pursue homosexuality, that I sinfully broke my wedding vows to her, that my homosexual behavior was outside of God’s design for sexuality, and that my decisions caused much pain and heartache. Yet we also cannot deny that all the trauma was used by God to deeply transform both of us into more than religious Christians. It opened the door to true, deep relationship with Christ and it opened the door to a true and deep relationship with each other. We would not trade all that we went through because of the redeemed life we experience today.
Stephanie made a decision early in our separation that I often challenge parents to make, as well. She decided to stop trying to figure out how to get me home, and realized that whether I came home or not, God needed to prepare her heart and do a work in her. Her focus moved from her circumstances to God and the state of her own heart. When parents realize this, something changes. Control and manipulation and fear no longer dominate thoughts and decisions. Instead, faith, hope and love dominate thoughts and decisions. They often realize that they thought everything was about their child, but maybe, in actuality, everything was really about them and what God wanted to do in their own brokenness and sin.
As parents of young children, we know that nothing we do can guarantee that our kids will or will not turn out to be or do what we hope. We do not control their lives. We know that we can only do what God calls us to do, and that He holds their lives in His hands. We rest in the truth that He loves them more than we do. Our job, as we see it, is two-fold. It is to point them to Jesus and to daily surrender our own lives to Jesus as we seek to parent rightly. Our hope, as we minister to parents, is to help them find hope in the only place that hope is found – in Jesus. As they decide to point their kids (even their adult, wayward kids) to Jesus and to daily surrender their own lives to Jesus, hope will rise. And they may well discover that the change that God desired was in THEM.