‘Just the Way You Are’

My favorite Christmas present didn’t have to be unwrapped.  It wasn’t left under the tree and I’m pretty sure the giver didn’t even realize what a gift it was. 

But it’s a gift I won’t ever forget. 

After we opened presents Christmas morning, and ate a late lunch, we started watching old home videos of past Christmases.  Videos with loved ones who’ve passed.  Videos that were really sweet to see. 

My cousin got up in the middle of watching and went to the kitchen to make some coffee for all of us and I followed him, to thank him for showing those videos.  I reached up and hugged him and as he always does, he said ‘I love you.’  

And then he added something that I’d never heard before. 

Not from him. 

Not from anybody, ever. 

He said, ‘just the way you are.’

In that moment I knew that he knew. 

I knew that he knew what I’d wanted to tell him – to tell all my family – for so long, but had been too afraid to tell.  That I was attracted to women.

 Knowing how we’d all been raised, knowing the jokes that had been made, the names called in times past, I feared their reaction to me.  I knew how my friends’ families had responded to them years ago – and the things some families still say in 2012.  I couldn’t bear the thought of not being wanted – of not being treated the same – by these people who are a part of me. 

 

But here stood the little boy I’ve loved all my life – inside the body of this man who’s like a brother to me – now telling me that he loved me just as I am.

 The way God loves me. 

No matter what I think or feel or say or do. 

Very few people have ever loved me like that. 

But that kind of unconditional love changes everything.

I talk to a lot of people who experience same-sex attraction, some who have embraced a gay identity, some who believe that acting on those feelings would be against God’s will for their lives.  The one thing we all have in common is a lot of pain and confusion in coming to terms with those feelings – and fearing the people we love would walk away.

I wonder what would happen if everybody had a place to experience that kind of unconditional love? 

Family needs to be that kind of place. 

Church needs to be that kind of place. 

But unfortunately we haven’t talked enough about this to understand the real need. 

To have a place to belong and feel safe to express thoughts and feelings without being judged.  Without being alienated.

 The purpose of this blog is to create such a place for conversation. For asking all the questions we’ve wanted to ask about homosexuality but haven’t felt free to, for whatever reason.  For those of us who seek to live as followers of Christ.  And for those who don’t. 

Sometimes we’ll agree and sometimes we won’t.  Sometimes you’ll read thinking, ‘I can’t believe she thinks that!’  I’ll try to keep the posts brief so that it doesn’t take all day to read, but because of that, you may leave with more questions than answers, feeling confused as to where I may stand on an issue.  But the thing is, it really doesn’t matter what I think.  All that matters is that we create a safe place for conversation together.    

Being respectful of where people are in their own journey.  

Listening, not judging. 

 And always loving.  Unconditionally.

 Just the way we are.

29 Thoughts

  1. I’d like to jump in on this conversation. I’ve been coming to terms with my sexuality for the past 4 years….however, it has been a life time of denying and justifying, in efforts to be the ideal Christian woman that would marry the ideal Christian man and have the ideal Christian family. I thought it was so easy to be sexually pure. I never had any problem of temptations around guys. I thought it was because I was so focused on my relationship with God and that God would provide “the right guy at the right time.” Part of me has to laugh at myself because it was so easy to be pure when there was no sexual drive or motivation to be with a guy. And, I thought I was having “Spirit-led” feelings at different times, toward women, and finally could deny and justify no longer….they were actually sexual feelings and attractions. That is my story in a nutshell. I am becoming more and more at peace with my same-sex attraction. It has been I long difficult road as many of you understand, but a wonderful road all the same as I have felt the presents of the Lord along the way.

    I do believe I was born this way. I do believe I can live a pure and holy life with the power of Jesus. I do believe those who have a same-sex attraction can indeed live a holy and pure life in a life long relationship. I DO NOT believe that we are just trying to seek a sinful “life style” in order to fill a void that should be filled with God. I believe that God gave us our sexuality and that God intends for our sexuality to be fulfilled in a life long, loving and committed relationship.

    One of the things I love about God is that he meets us all where we are at and works with us. It is obvious that not all of us are on the same page in regards to this topic, but the beauty is that we all seem to be seeking God and truth in all this.

    Ultimately I want to serve and honor the Lord with my life. That is where my heart is and I am excited about where God is guiding my heart.

    My hope, as this “dark topic” is brought into the light, is that we don’t begin a battle of who is right or who is wrong, but with the power of Jesus, may we see truth and mercy.

  2. I’m excited to read your thoughts here! I think so many people want to loving and supportive, but because no one talks about it, they just don’t know how. When you start talking about it, the way to unconditional love seems easier. Thank you for being a safe place for so many!

  3. Sally:
    I am speechless.

    You know what I’ve been through … I never knew how you really thought until now … how I wonder how my life would’ve been different if this thought processing had been ongoing when I was coming up. But, then, maybe this organization is partly because of my coming up! Some of the comments about “the lifestyle”” and “what the Bible says” really gripes at me … Oh for true understanding!!
    I love you, Sally.

  4. Sally, this is such a wonderful story! Something about the fear you mentioned (of being abandoned, of being rejected, of being hurt) makes it all the more marvelous when we experience love that is completely unconditional.

  5. Sally,
    I too am glad of this here blog. I look forward to the open discussion that God through you is once again providing. Thank you so much Sally for the safe place you are for so many

  6. Thanks for starting this blog and creating a place for discussion. Have you ever read Tim Timmerman’s book called A Bigger World Yet? Of all the books I have read on the issue of homosexuality from a Christian perspective, it is the one I believe to have good holistic grasp on the issue. Your comments regarding the need for a place for us to feel unconditional from family and church really mirror the perspective Timmerman has in this book.

  7. I’m with everyone else on this page. Thank you for creating this blog. I have recently confessed to my family and some friends that I have battled SSA for years. I’ve had nothing but support from my friends, and most of them already knew, even some of my family knew. I’ve been “hiding” behind the facade of having it all together for years, and I just can’t take it anymore. The hardest people to tell were my parents as they can be pretty negative at times, and my dad has made some pretty rude comments about people being “sick” that are like this. Even though I felt relief after telling them, they have been blaming themselves ever since wondering what “they did wrong.” Thankfully, we have all talked with our preacher and he has helped us immensely. I become frustrated and depressed some days because even I don’t fully understand why I struggle with this, but I do. It’s there, it’s always been there, and probably will always be there. My sister-in-law said it best when she told me we all long for relationships and it’s like someone telling me, “nope, sorry. You can’t have one because it’s wrong.” I’m not gonna lie, it’s tough when I know what the Bible says, but I long to have a relationship and someone to love me, too. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair. I’m sure I’m not the only one on this page who feels extremely lonely at times, and wants the same thing. So thank you, Sally, for creating this blog and safe haven. It just really helps knowing you’re not alone, and having a place to come to talk about it.

    1. You definitely are not the only one! It is hard to hold onto much hope when you are trying to balance your beliefs with an unwanted attraction. And yes, it totally seems unfair when God himself writes about the need for relationships when He himself recognized that it was not good for the Adam to be alone. It is a hard struggle!

  8. Sally,
    It’s funny as I sit here at 4:00 am in an IHOP reading this Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” is playing and I have tears streaming down my face. This song in recent months has become a message of God speaking those words directly over me. I can’t help but feel God put me here at just this time to read this. As you well know I struggle with same-sex attraction and hunger to be loved just the as I am. I am slowly finding places / people who are providing just that. Often they don’t get “it”, but they see the person behind it and love me anyways. I wish I could say that my biological family was a part of that, but alas we don’t always get that. Thank you for creating a safe place and for being bold enough to stand out front with this issue!

    Much Love

    – Dusty

    1. Sally,

      Thank you for creating this blog where people can safely discuss their issues. My issue is that my son is homosexual. I was raised in the church and know that God does not like the behavior. When my son was baptized he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I know that God doesn’t love me because I’m homosexual.” I tried to explain that God does in fact love him. I’m not sure I succeeded. I hope that I was successful in at least letting him know that I love him just the way he is.

      I would love it if there was a group here in San Diego that I can participate in, where I can learn how to show him that God does love him and wants what is best for him.

      1. Thanks, Tracey, for getting in touch and we’ll pray that your son will feel God’s love for him in a powerful way. We don’t have any contacts yet in the San Diego area, but it would be wonderful to begin a group there. It just takes one person to be a champion for that, you know – maybe God’s calling you to start a group for other parents?! We’d be glad to help whenever you want to get started!

  9. yeah. I don’t know if nationality is as personal or as ingrained as identity and acceptance issues related to sexuality, but I can definitely understand feeling “accepted, but…” rather than “loved just the way you are…” I’m living in Argentina but am from the US. My friends in Argentina always try to help me be “less North American” in appearance, mannerisms, etc. I was really offended and put-off by this for a long time (several months), but then I started to internalize the peer pressure. I would look in the mirror and scrutinize my appearance making sure nothing was standing out or looking like I was from the states. But long story short I feel like there must be a Christ-centered approach worth seeking that balances being over concerned on fitting in vs ignoring cultural norms entirely… As an aside, here is my insight. I am a foreigner, and it’s no surprise that the natives don’t get me. For Christians experiencing ssa who feel out of place, maybe it’s because they are (out of place). Because the native land is heaven, and we hide treasure there that many people here won’t understand… even our own brothers and sisters UNTIL we are all fully there and redeemed. In the meantime, I join with you, us, and Jesus in asking “Thy Kingdom come Lord! Thy will be done! on earth as it is in heaven.” Thank you Sally for making an effort to help be a peace of the gentle and personal answer to this prayer for many people.

    1. Great comparison, Ashley – thanks for sharing this perspective, because I think there are some similarities. And yet our sexuality runs so much deeper. Some great future conversations here, don’t you think?! Sure missed seeing you when you were home!!

  10. Sally, thank you for opening the doors to be a resource on this subject. I am struggling as a mom of young adults to navigate this – ok, I am completely at a loss. Both of my girls have close friends who are homosexual – I do my best to be loving and welcoming. At the same time I have strong reservations about homosexuality as a lifestyle. The pendulum has swung the other way – if I don’t agree about that lifestyle, then I’m a closed-minded bigot. Really I’m just a struggling Christian tring to find what is God-honoring in my words and thoughts. I’d appreciate your prayers! Thanks, Sally. *hugs*

    1. Thanks for sharing this concern, Rendi – that’s a question a lot of parents I talk to have and it’s one I hope to address here in some future posts. I love your heart for wanting what is ‘God-honoring’ in our communication. Stay with the conversation – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  11. I’m glad I found this! I’m also struggling in my faith about this subject.. it’s a tough subject and I have also asked the church and my school ( I go to a Christian college) about it but the answers they give always seem to fall flat. Funny that I also wrote about this earlier today and found your blog to connect with!

    hope you continue this!

      1. Thank you Sally!! You are a gifted writer. I will read as often as I can. As a mom, I still have many questions, but I am sure of one thing…… I love my son just as he is too!!

      2. So good to hear from you, Debbie – hopefully this will be a place you’ll feel safe to pose those questions and we’ll grapple with them together.

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