For the last few months we’ve heard from parents of LGBTQ children and it’s been powerful. Their stories have opened conversations in churches and families that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Because somebody needed to go first.
To the moms and dads who were courageous and went first, thank you for putting yourselves out there – thank you for your vulnerability. Because telling your story will make it possible for someone else to open up.
And there are plenty of parents who need a safe place to talk about their feelings, especially when they first learn that a son or daughter is gay or lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender.
We provide that safe space at our parent retreat, PeacePrints.
This weekend another group of parents will meet for the fifth parent retreat sponsored by CenterPeace. A small, intimate gathering of 20 – 30 parents, along with CenterPeace support staff, will spend the weekend sharing their hearts, learning more, and connecting with other Christian parents who can relate.
Parents come with a wide range of feelings, and varying beliefs about sexuality. Most hold a strong traditional Christian sexual ethic. Like so many of us from Christian backgrounds, many of these parents come to the retreat deeply conflicted about their children spiritually. They need a place to be able to share their convictions, their feelings, their beliefs, whatever they may be, without fear of judgment or alienation. They’ll find that at PeacePrints.
But what these parents need most is each other.
Because for so many parents, this is the first time they’ve been able to share freely with people who understand.
The reason sharing these parents’ stories is so important is that it helps them feel less alone. And while reading a story on the Internet can be a connection, it will never compare to sitting down over a meal with real people going through the same life experience and forming a bond.
We offer some great resources at the retreat. We have sessions with different presenters. We divide up into small groups and spend time processing what we’ve heard. We have a special time just for moms, and one for dads, and we have a Q & A on Saturday night while roasting marshmallows and eating s’mores around a campfire in the courtyard. Throughout the weekend we spend time in praise and worship. On Sunday morning we share communion together.
But the most valuable piece of the entire event is the network of parents that forms over the weekend.
It’s amazing to watch the relationships begin taking shape, even at dinner on Friday night. But after hearing each other’s stories late into the night, these parents begin to connect on a deeper level. From there it builds…
And very soon, what started out as a scary place becomes safe.
The silence that filled the halls on Friday night is replaced by conversation and laughter. Everywhere you turn people are connecting.
The kitchen is full of people grazing on snacks, listening to each other.
The prayer room is filled with parents waiting to have personal time with our prayer team.
Or personal time with one of our CenterPeace support staff who’s a parent, a counselor.
Or personal time with a pastor from an area church.
By the time we gather these moms and dads for a communal blessing on Sunday afternoon before we dismiss, there’s no more isolation. There are plenty of tears – of joy, because they’re leaving lighter.
Less burdened, because they’re not alone.
Feeling heard and understood.
Reassured of God’s unfailing love, for them, and for their children.
It’s a beautiful sight.
I’m so proud of the team that’s come together to work this weekend’s retreat. Would you join me in praying for them? And for the parents who are traveling from all over the country to be at PeacePrints?
Maybe you know some parents who would benefit greatly from attending one of our future retreats?
Maybe your church would be interested in providing meals for the Texas retreat in 2018?
Or maybe your church would like to host a retreat in your area in 2018?
We’ll be posting dates soon for 2018, so follow us on the website or on our Facebook page for the latest updates!