Since my son, Samuel, came out as gay nearly three years ago, my understanding of Christ’s ministry on earth has been greatly expanded and it has affected me deeply. In studying the New Testament, I have come to see that the majority of Christ’s time during his earthly ministry was not spent rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty or the popular people of society. He, instead, spent his time seeking out and ministering to the out-casts, the unwanted, the marginalized people of his day. He ate with sinners and spent time with those considered unclean by the religious people of his day. Some of his closest companions were people society looked down upon as less-than.
This realization, combined with the reality of having a gay son has moved me to spend much of my time and energy ministering to some of the most marginalized of OUR day, my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I’d like to share with you a few experiences I have had where I have felt joy as I’ve ministered to these precious children of God.
Last summer, Mark and I missed church in order to go to Salt Lake to attend Pride with Samuel. After the parade, we went to the festival where I stood in the booth of an organization called Mama Dragons and gave out hugs to hundreds of God’s LGBTQ children. I worked the booth for two hours, hugging complete strangers of every shape and size. Some were covered in tattoos and piercings. Some were pretty rough around the edges. Some were very scantily dressed. Some wore strange costumes. Others looked like they could be my own children or brothers or sisters or neighbors. They were all different ages and genders of LGBTQ people who just needed a hug, needed to feel that someone in the world loved them.
With each embrace I would tell them they are loved. Some would laugh. Some would cry. Some would hug quickly and some would hold on for a very long time. One girl broke down in sobs and held on for several minutes, crying into my chest as I held her close. I heard stories of un-accepting parents. I hugged people who hadn’t gotten a hug from their own mother in many years. It was heartbreaking but also deeply spiritual. With each hug I felt God’s love for these precious children and I knew there was no better place I could be in that moment. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life and brought me true joy to be able to connect with these precious children of God.
A few months later I had the opportunity to visit San Francisco with my husband for a getaway. As we walked around the city, my heart was filled with compassion for God’s children all around me. If you’ve been to San Francisco recently you know there are many homeless people as well as a lot of people around who clearly have hard lives. In the past I wouldn’t have given most of these people much thought and probably would have tried to avoid them as much as possible.
But because of my experiences with the LGBTQ community, I was filled with God’s love for all of these people and had a deep desire to see each of them as a child of God, to look them in the eye, to smile at them, to speak to them, and to help them feel some of God‘s love for them through me. A scripture kept coming to mind. “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto me”. These people were certainly some of “the least of these”. Not only was I more keenly aware that they were children of God, but I began to view them as though they could be Christ himself and I felt a deep desire to show them the love I would want to show my Savior. I’m so grateful for the things I have learned through having a gay son that have opened my heart more fully to all of God’s children. It has brought me alot of joy to take more of an interest in lifting those around me through small and simple acts of kindness.
The last experience I will share happened just last Sunday as we invited a young gay couple into our home for dinner. One of the young men is actually the brother of one of my friends and we have gotten acquainted through Facebook. As we have chatted online he has told me the heartbreaking reality that his boyfriend’s mother is unaccepting of her son’s sexual orientation and won’t listen to anything he tries to explain about his sexuality.
In talking to this young man about the couple’s experiences, I felt a great desire to have them both in my home so they could feel my love and God’s love through me. I wanted them to know they have a safe space to come to where they are both welcome. They came over last Sunday and Mark and I greeted them with a big hug. We had the best time having them in our home and we ministered to them by listening to their stories and offering compassion and empathy for their difficult experiences.
They were the sweetest boys and had beautiful Spirits and I could feel God‘s great love for them as they sat around my kitchen table pouring their hearts out. Having them over and feeding them and listening to them brought me great joy and was the highlight of my week and I can’t wait to have them in my home again.
The greatest joy I have felt over these past few years has come from seeing God’s children through His eyes as I have attempted to minister to them and to help them feel the love of their Heavenly Parents and their Savior. As I have tried to follow the Savior’s example and reach out to the marginalized, my heart has been greatly expanded and my love for God’s children has multiplied.
I’m so grateful that Heavenly Father sent me a gay son to help me learn to love as he does and minister as Christ does more effectively. I bear my witness that as we seek to minister as Christ does, as we seek to open our hearts and minds to those who are different than us, as we seek to keep our baptismal covenant by bearing each other’s burdens and mourning with those that mourn and comforting those who need comfort, we will be blessed with a greater capacity to love as Christ loves and will experience the joy that God wants us to feel in this life.
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This In My Own Words story is a contribution from Let’s Love Better, a Facebook group dedicated to helping people learn to better share love, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.