Monthly Archives: July 2011

Resignation vs Submission

One of the side effects of having parent’s in ministry is that you hear your parent’s “testimony” so many times that it’s likely you could quote it yourself word for word. The trouble with this is that in it’s familiarity it often loses it’s affect… until you see it again with new eyes.Hearing my parent’s story as I grew up, one thing stood out to me the absolute most, God put my parents together. This is a good thing, right? I mean, if there’s one thing that parents want their children to believe about their relationship it’s that it was God ordained, don’t you think? The trouble for me in “God put them together” was everything I thought was missing in their relationship. I was carried away by the idea of romance, as most young girls are, and when they said  “God put us together”, my ears heard, “God forced us together”.  Yes, I believed they loved each other, but it wasn’t the type of love I wanted. I wanted the fairytale, the night in shining armor, and to be the princess.  The world was feeding me an image of what romance looked like and my parent’s relationship was coming up short and it not only had me looking for the wrong things, it began to affect the way that I saw and responded to God.I remember once a leader in my youth group said during a bible study that God’s will was often the opposite of our desires. I believe that this youth leader meant well, but my young heart took this news into  grave consideration. This in addition to what I thought I knew about my parent’s relationship left me in no doubt that if I wanted to do God’s will I was going to have to be prepared to let go of all of my hopes and dreams, because God didn’t take hopes and dreams into consideration when making plans for my life.

This is when I  resigned myself to God’s will. That’s right, resign. I think this may be what a lot of people do when they think they are submitting to God’s will. It’s an easy mistake to make because the differences between resignation and submission are so subtle, but the result of mistaking one for the other will lead to a lifetime of dissatisfaction. I find that the best way to articulate the difference between resignation and submission is by looking at the synonyms for both words…

resign 1.  withdraw, abdicate, renounce; quit, leave, give up, surrender, cede, forgo.

submit 1.  comply, bow, obey, agree

Now we start to see a clearer distinction. Imagine going through life applying that first group of words to how you respond to God! And this is exactly what I was doing. I was renouncing my hopes a dreams and resigning myself to “God’s will” as I understood it through the filter of “God put them together” and, pardon the expression, it sucked.

I believed this lie so deeply that I had the audacity to feel resentment towards God in the midst of situations where He had protected me. God intervened when I was about to make choices that would have been devastating, and instead of being thankful, all I could do was feel angry that I didn’t get my way, even though I knew my way might have been deadly.

As time moved on the anger would subside but the nagging feeling that something was missing never did. I resigned myself to being resigned because now I owed God for protecting me from danger and was baffled by the fact that I was unhappy and dissatisfied. If you are committed to your relationship with God, aren’t  you supposed to feel happy about it? This is how I lived until last September.

My mom died last September and the days leading up to her death changed everything about the way I saw God. I had only imagined that I had known anger until my family went through my mom’s sickness at the end of her life on earth. It seemed like there would be no end to her suffering, one thing after another went wrong. When talking about that time I’ve told friends that I felt as though if God had been standing near me I would have punched him in the face because I just couldn’t understand where His mercy and his love was for my mom or for our family. Especially when she had done what he wanted, she’d married a man who struggled with homosexuality, she’d lived without romance, according to my understanding, in an attempt to do His will, she was devoted to ministering to others even though she was handicapped, even though she was often in a great deal of pain! What more could he want from her?

I screamed, I yelled, and I cried, and in my anguish, slowly, I began to see with new eyes… because God is a good God.

In the week that my family spent together in my mom’s hospital room as her life here was slipping away, God began to speak to my heart about what it meant to submit and offer my life to Him. I began to see how my mom didn’t abandon her hopes and dreams, she offered them to her Father and trusted them to Him. By submitting to God my mom wasn’t limiting her vision, she was expanding it! The world told her that she’d never marry and that she’d never have children, but she believed that with God all things are possible and by submitting to His will she was opening herself up to those possibilities and He moved mountains to give her the desires of her heart.

At the very end my dad was the only person that my mom would respond to, she made noises for him, she cried when he left her side, he was the only person in her world at that point, the only person that she needed with her to the very end. You’d think that that would be difficult for a child as they lose their parent, but instead it was comforting and amazingly humbling to get to see their bond in such a raw way.  I took this picture one evening as my dad was softly speaking to my mom assuring her he was there with her. My young  heart had thought my mom had given up hope of romance, but now I know that she knew a love that puts our common understanding of romance to shame. She called my dad her hero, and I believe that the love they had for one another is what fairytales are written about.  For the rest of my life whenever I feel like God is far away, or I don’t understand His plan, this is the image that will fill my mind and I’ll remember that He brought them together and that this is what love looks like and this is how He loves me.

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The truth came out, what now? Your feelings are never wrong.

Before we dive right in, it’s important to know that this is one branch on a very big tree… so bear with us as we write about them one branch at a time. As a younger person I attended a girls bible study, the leader was one of my friends mom’s and during one of our study nights she said to us, “Your feelings are never wrong, and God cares about them. The reason you may feel hurt isn’t important, He only cares that you are in pain.” She explained that feelings aren’t something that we can control or change, but that when we know that God cares about them, we can learn how to process our feelings through His filter, and respond out of love. This is possibly the most freeing thing an adult ever said to me and it has stuck with me and seen me through a lot of difficult situations in my life. In this first post (in a series of posts) Kristin’s going to be talking about the onslaught of feelings facing a child who’s just found out about their parent’s struggle. There are many voices in our culture who would say that the majority of the feelings many children face are wrong and unfair to their parent, however, it’s important to know that this perspective doesn’t take into account the lives that are effected beyond the one who struggles. This is a very difficult topic to discuss for a lot of people, and we hope that by talking about it here, others will find freedom to process their feelings and  can approach their relationship with their parent in love.
– Katie
“Loss of relationship. Perhaps this is the core loss. The deeper the bond between you and this other person, the deeper your hurt on discovering their homosexuality. You know that the relationship has changed forever. Whatever the exact losses you have experienced, the net result is the same: you are thrown into the initial stages of the grief cycle .“

Anita Worthen in Someone I Love Is Gay

You just found out that your parent struggles with SSA, how do you react? You may have known for a long time, and just never wanted to deal with it. Your parents didn’t talk about it, so why should you? Or maybe you found some evidence and it hit you like a bolt of lightning. Or maybe  one of your parents just came out and told you. Whatever way the truth came out, it’s out and you are probably feeling some very intense emotions. Abandonment, betrayal , sadness, anger, fear… grief.

First of all, let me say that this is not wrong. You are not alone in feeling all those emotions. Right now your world has changed drastically. You have suffered a loss, a significant one. You may not have lost the relationship entirely, but the way you see your parent has changed  and things you believed are suddenly not true, trust has been broken. Does that mean it cannot be mended? No, it can and possibly the bond of trust between you and you parent/parents can become even stronger, but it will take time.

You may also feel guilty about your feelings. Some people will tell you that you should feel guilty, that your parent has been suffering and living outside of their “nature” for the sake of your family for years now they deserve to be free and you should just feel happy for them. And I will tell you that you have every right to feel the way you are ; the weight of your struggling  parent’s sexuality is not yours to carry. But what can you do?

You may feel like it is your duty to your parent to bottle up your emotions and just project an attitude of acceptance. Or you may feel repulsed and angry and wish to have nothing to do with them. Whatever you feel, I urge you to speak honestly and as lovingly as possible to your parent. If you need some space to figure out how you truly feel, let them know that. But trust me, there is a way to salvage the relationship. Through this blog we will be discussing different ways God can heal this relationship but right now I wanna mention somethings you can do to help pick up the pieces of what might feel like a world that has shattered..

  • Your relationship with God is the most important part of this process. Finding and accepting  your identity in Christ will allow you (in time) to release your parent of blame for the feelings of abandonment and betrayal so that you can forgive and re-establish trust with them. There are a lot of really wonderful books out there that will help you understand who God created you to be and how He sees you. I would suggest Think Differently Live Differently by Bob Hamp or Jon and Stasi Eldredge’s books Captivating (for women) and Wild at Heart (for men). You need to know that God loves you and He knows you are hurting. He knows that in our lives we will be wounded even by our parents. Psalms 27:10 says “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.”
  • It would also be a good idea to start educating yourself on the root issues of homosexuality. Knowing what your parent is dealing with can really bring healing and help you understand how to relate to them. A great book to read would be 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality by Mike Haley, or God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door by Alan Chambers.
  • Find support. You need people you can trust and who will give you support and pray for you and your family. This may not be the easiest step, as this is a very personal thing to discuss, and it’s difficult to gauge what a person’s reaction might be. If for no other reason this is the reason we created this blog, you can always email us if you feel you have no one else to talk to.

Nothing can make this time in your life pain-free, but this is where your relationship with God becomes key. Parents will fail us in many different ways, but our Heavenly Father never fails. Trust Him with your feelings, be honest with Him about your fears and your wounds, and be open to his plan for your life and the life or your parent.

Post Author: Kristin Graham 

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Fathers, daughters, and expectations

In North Carolina...

Bob Hamp recently posted a link to an article on destinyinbloom.com called “Expecting Superman” which I read and thought was particularly relevant for woman whose fathers struggle with SSA. It got me thinking about my  relationship with my dad and some things I wanted to talk a little bit about here.

One of the great points made by the author of the post above is that we shouldn’t allow our expectations of what a father “should be” keep us from seeing how we are loved.

I agree with that whole-heartedly… I think the world is constantly sending us messages, surrounding us with images and dictating to us what love is supposed to look like. Not too surprisingly, most of the time the picture of love the world is painting for us is more than a little distorted. Conveniently for the Enemy, this leads our expectations away from what it is that we really need, causing us to miss the truth about love in the relationships we’re in and ultimately making it more difficult for us to understand God’s love in the process.  Oh the tangled web…

Bringing this back specifically to women whose fathers struggle with SSA,I feel like part of the distortion that can happen and is little discussed is the idea of, ” My dad is my hero and he accepts me as a woman.”

My dad and I are very close, but our relationship isn’t perfect, and one of the areas I’ve had to really work through is in this idea and expectation. Because my parents were honest with my siblings and I about my dad’s struggle and their ministry, I was fully aware of what that really meant. I knew my dad was attracted to men, I knew that he had been in relationships with men, I also saw my parents relationship through the lens of “God forced them together” (which I’ll discuss in another post). This meant that as I grew up and as my dad became naturally concerned with things like my being modest, instead of understanding it as him being protective of me because I had value, I understood it to mean that my body was unacceptable, and I found myself confused about how the opposite sex was supposed to respond to me.

I will forever encourage parents to be honest with their children about their struggle, I believe far more damage is done in keeping things secret than it is in being honest, but I will caution you that honesty comes with its own set of hazards. =)

My expectations coupled with what I knew about my dad worked together to distort my dad’s love for me and cause me to feel ashamed of who I was.  This is where I feel like it’s really important for us, as daughters, to look first to our Heavenly Father, to tell us who we are and to define love for us. None of us are going to have perfect parents, whatever they may struggle with, and at some point we will have to fight the lie, in whatever way it manifests itself in our lives. We must seek to know God and let him filter our understanding of love if we hope to overcome the lie and be the women he created us to be.

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Belong to Me by Kristin Graham

Post Author: Kristin Graham

I wanted to talk about some of the wounds that I’ve faced as a child of someone who struggles with SSA and that others may also have felt or are feeling.

As a child I suffered from sexual abuse  and had a father who struggled with same-sex attractions. Unsurprisingly, I grew up with some intense self-worth issues. My parents were good parents, but I don’t think I will shatter any illusions by telling you that they weren’t perfect and after all, God had His plans for me and having imperfect parents was part of it. When my siblings and I were small my parents had a lot going on. Like all humans both of my parents had their own issues that they were dealing with, however, it seems that having a parent who struggles with homosexuality meant that their issues were out in the open and something that we, their children, were very much aware of. At the time they were also still in the beginning stages of directing their ministry, which as I’m sure you can appreciate, is time-consuming. Ministry was a full-time job, people called at all hours, my parents had to be gone to maintain a support group, and given the controversial nature of the ministry there were always questions. The churches we were a part of had questions, our friends had questions, their parent’s had a lot of questions… and the questions weren’t always kind. The issue of homosexuality was something that completely surrounded my family and at times it felt like there wasn’t room for my own “stuff”.

Growing up I fought relentlessly with an unquenchable  thirst for love, notice and protection, while at the same time believing that I didn’t deserve any of it. The sexual abuse had left me with the impression that love and protection was something that belonged to good children, and I was not good. In that broken state my heart heard the lie ” you are not worthy of those things” and I believed it. As my dad struggled with his own childhood wounds and my mom tried to raise five children, all the while fighting her own battle with deeply rooted issues of self-worth and trust, I was, unfortunately, left with a lot of what I perceived as proof that the lie I had been taught by the Father of Lies in my brokeness was true and justified. I wasn’t worth it. If I was valuable why would this person think it was okay to do to me what they did? Why was I left unprotected by my parents, my father specifically, and even God?

I never doubted my parents love for me and my brother and sisters and I know now that the way they handled the abuse was something that broke my mom’s heart for the rest of her life. And as an adult I learned that my dad didn’t really know what had happened. Like I said he had his struggle to deal with and was working on supporting others that struggled and my mom, not being the kind of woman who liked to ask for help and knowing that my dad had so much going on, felt it was best to handle it herself. She was a strong woman and taught me more important and wonderful things than probably any other person I have met. I know that she acted out of love, love for me and love for my dad. And as I have learned so far in my walk as a parent we all do the best we can. Eventually I was able to sit down with my dad and talk it out, both of us sharing, and I believe that conversation helped pave the way for the major healing I would receive later on.

However, at the time a pattern began in my life of trying very hard to be deserving of the love of the people in my life. I found myself longing to speak up,but being too afraid of being laughed at to actually do it . I also found my self working very hard at the jobs no one else wanted and making sure to offer up everything I had to the people around me, my dad, my youth leaders, even my friends. But at the same time I was burdened by the fear of being rejected and worked to keep out of real notice, never accepting people’s complements or praise. And then resenting and feeling hurt by people when they stopped offering that praise or when others were given what I considered to be the “important” jobs.

As an adult those feelings of fear and hurt turned into an assumed identity of rejection. I learned to expect people to reject me and I projected that onto my friends, family, my pastor and even my husband. I let that be my filter for everything I experienced. I would work behind the scenes at church, but always pull myself back before anyone noticed me and then I would tell myself, “See no one cares about your efforts. No one sees you.” But that was a pain I had been feeling for so long I was comfortable with it. It was better than actually putting myself out there and risking a real rejection.

It wasn’t until I attended the Exodus Freedom Conference in June of this year that I was able to finally let that go. I heard speakers that told me about the lie I had been told as a child and about how people who have been hurt can take on rejection as an identity. I also heard something I had been told all my life but never really believed. And that was that God loved me and that He sees me and that He likes and values what He sees. And for once I let that sink in . And you know what I heard in my heart from Father God? I heard Him say ” Kristin, you are not nothing, you are everything to Me. You are precious to me.”

It seems simple right?  In that moment I was finally able to accept and believe that all I had been told about the Father heart of God was true and that He did love me, and want me and valued me and that changed my life. I was able to step into the identity that God wanted for me all along, as His child. A child of the King. I started going to Him whenever I felt myself pull back or shrink from notice and asking Him to help me remember who I am to Him .

It’s still hard and some days I fail but it’s so much easier now to believe the words to a song I loved when I was younger, but didn’t feel applied to me. It amazes me how much I loved this song, it said everything I wanted so badly to believe about God and myself. And yet the lie was so much stronger. It was planted in such a deep wound that it would take over 20 years to rip it out. I leave you with the words to that song fulling knowing they are true for me…

 “You can belong to me
I’ll cherish you, treasure you, love you completely
Someday you’ll finally see
How precious you are in my eyes
You’ve never been out of my sight
I love you for all of your life
You can belong to me”
– Belong To Me by Joanna Carlson

 

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Born This Way: My personal take on some popular lyrics

“I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way.”

God makes no mistakes…. He didn’t make a mistake 34 years ago when He led my mom and dad into marriage and a life long journey against all odds. My dad had lived in the gay community and to make a very long story (his story) short, God called him to live free of his identity as a gay man and he married my mom. God called my mom too… she knew long before they ever married about my dad’s struggle, but she trusted God and the promise that what he brings together, nothing can tear apart.

As a result of my parent’s choice to take this journey with God, I was born, and then one by one, four others.  My siblings and I were raised in the middle of just about the most controversial ministry you can come by. My parent’s co/founded and directed LifeGuard Austin… they ministered to and supported those who also wanted to live free of their homosexual identities. Talk about not fitting in… having a gay parent is rough, having an “ex-gay” parent is a whole different kind of rough. Ministry wasn’t something that my parents did on the side, it was our families lifestyle and that lifestyle comes with a lot of responsiblity.

My siblings and I have faced a whole range of reaction to our lives and the lives of our parents and our family’s ministry. Our culture would have us believe that our existence is insignificant, that our lives are worthless because we cost my dad his “freedom” to follow his “nature”. It shouts at us that we don’t belong, that our views about our Creator and the freedom He gives are wrong, that our family is living a lie and that we should never have been born in the first place.

Try as they might to make us feel as though our lives were a mistake, we reject that identity because God says we are:


Accepted  (
Romans 15:7)
Children of God  (
Romans 8:17)
Righteous  (
2 Corinthians 5:21)
Free  (
Galatians 5:1)
Chosen  (
Ephesians 1:4)
Forgiven  (
Ephesians 1:7)
Alive  (
Ephesians 2:4-5)
Works of art  (
Ephesians 2:10)
Near to God  (
Ephesians 2:13)
Children of the Light  (
Ephesians 5:8)
Complete   (
Colossians 2:10)
Loved  (
Jeremiah 31:3)
Precious  (
Isaiah 43:4)


…And we were born this way.  (Ephesians 1:11)

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