Here’s a little warm and fuzzy blog about my parents:
My parents, in some ways, are typical Midwestern, middle age people. They are conservative, the live in a tiny little town, they have been married for over 45 years, raised three kids on a single income so my mom could stay at home. They got married young and are still together. They are Christians, go to church every Sunday without fail. When we were little they went to church twice on Sundays. But they are the real kind of Christians. They pray before meals, they are involved in the church, they pray for their families, their friends their lives, people they don’t know. They put God first in their lives.
They also happen to have 2 gay children, out of 3. This is pretty unusual. My brother came out over a decade ago. I came out over a year ago. It was a big deal both times. What I want to tell you about them is how they act is what I can only believe is what TRUE spiritual people should be acting. They pray, they study the scriptures, but they also still treat people with love.
They have true moral compasses. I have to laugh sometimes because while they consistently vote pure republican, their actions and love can be described as liberal, tolerant, loving, and charitable.
When my brother came out after college to them, there were a few years for both my brother and my parents to work through that issue. They love my brother, and at the time considered homosexuality perhaps deviant thought or behavior and worked with him on assessing it from that viewpoint. My brother was fine with that because originally felt the same way and hoped to change. Both my brother and my parents have morphed, grown, learned, and evolved, and today embrace my brother and who he is wholeheartedly. But even during that time of learning, they never stopped showing love. Their actions were always kind, loving, sincere and non-judgemental. They never tried to show their own believes by judging or controlling his actions. We both have those people in our lives that do that. The “love the sinner hate the sin” attitude. In theory it sounds great because you should be able to still love the person without necessarily embracing the behavior. But how it is practiced is often that one still shows actions to let that person know they don’t approve of their behavior and feel the need to practice that. I have people in my life that say they are doing this with me, but so far haven’t felt or received any love from them period.
It hasn’t been an easy journey for them with my brother, but in the recent years have grown more and more comfortable, confident, and brave. They’ve “come out” about their children. They’ve had heart-to-hearts with pastors who preach against the issue, cautioning them that there are real people involved and it’s not an easy cut and dried issue.
When I came out to them a year and a half ago, in a way my brother had done all the work. At this point, I think they kind of threw up their hands in surrender. We give up! They had questions but at the same time the same sex issue wasn’t a big issue.
My dad summed it all up, not only after he saw me with my wife for the first time, but at our wedding, “I just see how happy you are. Nothing else really matters.”
They came to our wedding no questions asked. Well, actually, they insisted on being at our wedding. They celebrated with us, prayed for us, embrace us as a family. They treat my wife like a daughter. They treat our #5 like a grandson. Everything is equal in their eyes. They didn’t feel the need to make a judgment call on what it would mean to come to a same-sex wedding (I believe their first), but chose love, relationships, and happiness.
It’s not really a surprise, even though homosexuality was a pretty big issue at one time. And sometimes it takes a personal experience to move it from an “issue” to a “life is not black and white most of the time, and we’d rather chose love”. Growing up, even though they saved wisely, “pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps”, vote republican, their actions speak louder than their words. They give away at LEAST 10% of their income. They contribute to friends and family when it’s needed. They routinely give loans, realizing they may never get it back. They’ll stop and help someone on the side of the road. They’ll go back into a store if they realize the cashier overpaid them. They’ll alert a waiter if they weren’t charged for something they should have been. (But that goes both ways! My dad will definitely notice an overcharge! He is still dutch at the end of the day!)
I know that they may still struggle at times with homosexuality. At one point I was with them in this (another blog for another day). They may not always understand it, but I think they know it’s not for them to decide. They know it’s so much more. But they’ve done their work, they continue to seek answers. It’s kind of funny but when it was hard for me merging my faith with who I am, it was my mom I could call and be reassured. “I’ll send you this great book!” I never thought that would be the case! I know they perhaps struggle with the perception of other’s. What kind of parents have 2 kids that are gay? The hardest thing for me is having my parents judged by others because of us. I hope that’s not the case with their real friends. The movie, Jenny’s Wedding, captures this situation perfectly. (Highly recommend watching!) While they may never attend a Gay Pride Parade, they are doing their advocacy by the way they live, talk and show their love to us. This makes a far greater impact in our world, I believe. Because it truly is, at the end of the day, how these issues are affecting us on a personal level, whether it’s your own children or friends, is how we as a society reframe our thinking. They have been true examples of the Faith. We love you mom and dad!