Tag Archives: children with gay parents

Gay Parents or No Parents. What’s Better?

holding-hands-380x252Like being a hair stylist or a bar tender, when you work in retail cosmetics people tell you their stories. It’s amazing to me sometimes how compelled people seem to be to talk when I have them in my chair. I’ve had people weep, spill their deepest secrets, and talk all kinds of crap about their next door neighbor. You get used to it after a while.

Last week I had an interesting one. I say interesting for several reasons… I was working with a woman who I guessed to be nearing 60. She was a kind, soft-spoken woman who struck me as being a little overwhelmed in her surroundings. It was no surprise to me at all when a conversation about her skincare turned into a conversation about her daughter who was going through a divorce. She felt her daughter was making a bad decision and was concerned for both her child and her soon to be ex-son in-law, whom you could tell she loved very much.

After that she went on to lament how the world was changing. She took a long glance around the store I work in and then quietly asked if I work with many gay men. It’s important to understand that I live and work in a small town. This small town is pretty liberal in its views– to an extent. But at the end of the day it’s still a small town and the majority of the people here are senior citizens. I replied that yes, having been with the company for nearly six years I had worked with quite a few gay men. She commented on how places like my store and salons always had lots of gay employees, and then with a look of plain confusion admitted that the gay men who’ve cut her hair had always done the best job. I was doing my best not to chuckle and agreed that I’ve had many male co-workers who are amazing artists.

I could see in her face that she had more to say and just about the time I thought she’d decided against it she stepped closer to me and her thoughts just started pouring out. She told me that she is a social worker and deals with the placement of foster children. A lot of her job has to do with monitoring how a child is doing in their foster home and sometimes seeing to the details of adoption when the fostering goes really well. She was particularly concerned over a set of parents she would be meeting in a couple of days, gay men, who were fostering a little girl who had been removed from a heartbreaking abusive home. It was clear without her having to say the actual words that her moral compass dictated that she believe there was no way that this gay couple could be good parents for the little girl, the trouble was that all reports were to the contrary. Everyone she spoke to who had visited the couple couldn’t say enough about how much these men love that little girl and how well she was doing in their care. There was nothing but praise for their parenting.

As she spoke I could see the battle going on in her mind. Her face showed how she was weighing her genuine desire to see children safe and happy against her understanding of truth.  Right and wrong as she understood them were colliding in a way she didn’t know what to do with and were causing her to pour her heart out to a sales girl in a makeup store.

As I listened and wrestled with my own questions I felt compassion for this woman and grateful that she was wrestling too and not just making hard and fast decisions. Once she’d finished talking I asked  for myself as much as for her, “You said the little girl came out of an abusive home, can we trust God enough to believe that it’s better for her to be loved by two gay men than to be abused by a straight couple?”

In the moment I had forgotten where we were, that she was a client– we were just two people having a conversation about very real things in our world. As soon as the question was out of my mouth, however, I remembered and I was a little nervous that this was a little more than she’d bargained for out of her trip to buy cosmetics. Fortunately her response was one of gratitude, relief even. Maybe she just needed someone else to ask the question, I don’t know, but we both walked away liking one another better and with something to think about.

I’ve been thinking about it for a week now, actually I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.

It’s interesting to me that the conversation happened at all. If she’d have gotten pretty much anyone else in the store to help her and had that conversation the chances high that she would have offended them. So I just wonder why, knowing nothing about me personally, she felt safe to talk? I can only assume that it was God.

I haven’t been able to get that little girl off of my mind and a couple of nights ago as I was thinking about her and the whole situation God brought a new question to my mind.

“I can use all things for good. Can you consider that maybe I am using the love of two fathers to teach my child who I am?” 

I can’t imagine being a little girl in a world where the mother and father you are born with aren’t the anchors of love and safety they are meant to be, but instead are the cause of pain, fear, and abandonment. It is humbling and powerful for me to realize that maybe for the hurt she has suffered, the love and protection of two fathers is exactly what she needs.

I believe in a God who can use all things for good. Because He is God.

This understanding doesn’t change my ethics when it comes to sexuality, but it does change my heart for the way that we, as followers of Christ, view the bigger picture and how we relate to other people. Whether or not that gay couple adopts that little girl, they have made an impression on her life for love. What will it say to her about God as she grows if His followers are dead set on condemning the people who showed her kindness and protection when she needed it most? The answer to that question bothers me.

This is a challenging place to be in, it’s a challenging way to force myself to think, and yet, I have to. I have to believe that we can do better than we’re doing.  I’m not suggesting that we give in, or that truth doesn’t matter.

We need to be careful to focus on individual people, not categories and labels. There is no universal solution to a problem based on categories or labels, only individual solutions to individual problems based on individual people. It is a lot harder and messier, but it is the only way to be loving. In the thick of things it’s easy to lose sight of the actual lives involved. I see it happen all the time– a lot of Christians seem to want to think that because only families made from married heterosexual couples are “real” families and so all of the pseudo “families” out there can’t possibly have real bonds to one another and we become disconnected to their real human feelings, we don’t empathize with the fact that from where they’re sitting it sounds like we’re determined to tear their families apart. When we make a habit of categorizing people and giving them labels instead of relating and engaging with the people, we dehumanize them and justify treating them as though they have no feelings.

We also need to consider that if we’re going to be opposed to a solution, such as gay couples adopting and fostering when there are SO many children who need safe homes, then we have to have an alternative solution that we personally help make happen. We have no right to kick and scream when gay couples foster and adopt when we aren’t doing anything ourselves to solve the problem of parentless children. Remember, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me.”  The problem it’s easier to fight other people’s solutions than to find them ourselves, and I think in doing that we’re missing the entire point.

Through it all we can’t lose sight of truth, which means actually and actively seeking it. It’s hard work, it means not only investing in our relationship with God, but being invested in relationships with others and it will cost us everything we have, but it’s worth it. The problem with our culture is that people want everything to be not only black and white, but black and white all the way down the column–  If you think same-sex attraction is a sin then you’re anti-gay marriage, anti-gay fostering and you don’t want any gay people (even chaste ones) in your church. Likewise, if you think it is ok for gays to adopt then you can’t possibly believe what the bible says about sexuality and that you must completely condone homosexuality. The thing is nothing, not people, not issues fits into these black and white standards and we miss what God is actually doing when we try to force them.

What it all comes down to is that we can’t allow a desire to affirm the good in a bad situation turn into a willingness to let what is merely good not be better. We have to let what we believe speak through our actions, we have to know what we are for and then give our lives for that, rather than sitting back and raising hell about how other people have sought to meet needs in the world around us. This is where we find the balance in truth and love, when we take responsibility instead of casting blame, when we choose to find reasons to relate instead of reasons to draw a line in the sand and choose sides.

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I Am A Unique And Delicate Snowflake !!

Beautiful Snowflake The thing about really good friends is that sometimes they tell you things that you don’t want to hear and sometimes (a lot of times) they are right.

Jim often responds to my description of my feelings with something along the lines of, “… everyone feels that way.”  This used to infuriate me. It seemed harsh and as though it minimized my astronomical problems into something generic and unimportant. There was a time it just felt unkind to me for him to respond that way, however, I have come to understand it as one of the greatest kindnesses anyone has ever done for me.  What I’ve come to see is that I have this habit of trying to let my problems be the defining source of my individuality. No one understands me, no one can truly help me, because no one in the known universe has been through what I am going through as me. Maybe they have experienced something similar, but they aren’t me so they can’t possibly know what I feel and understand.

 

I AM A UNIQUE AND DELICATE SNOWFLAKE!!

Over time “everyone feels that way” stopped sounding so harsh and started making me think about something other than myself. If everyone felt the same way, even if those feelings manifest in different ways, it meant that we could relate to one another, rather than be isolated in our own snowflakey corners and that according to scripture our differences make us a part of a greater whole, not an island unto ourselves.

1 Corinthians 12: 12-26 says,

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.
And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

I think Christians have formed a bad habit of doing exactly what I was doing with myself… catagorizing people by their problems and concluding that they have nothing to offer to people who’ve had different struggles than there own. I’ve heard church leaders suggest things like no one can minister to, say, the victim of sexual abuse the way that another victim of sexual abuse can, and at this point I have to strongly disagree with that. I don’t mean this to sound like a minimization, but pain is pain. We all have it, and what we need isn’t painkiller, what we need is relationship. What Paul is telling us is that the best relationships aren’t necessarily between things that are identical and that all of our pain boils down to broken relationships. I certainly have known the comfort that comes from relating to someone who’s pain has been similar to my own, however, a lot of the most healing relationships I’ve been in, have been with people who’s pain is completely different. And not just because their response to me is different than it would be if they had “walked a mile in my shoes”, although that certainly gives sight to some of my blind spots, but it’s been in stepping outside of myself and trying to relate to them. I get out of my own head and my own pain, and I see how they hurt and because I know what it feels like to hurt, it doesn’t so much matter that I know exactly what it feels like to be in their circumstances, so much as I know that it matters to walk beside them, to be their friend.

I don’t say this lightly, because as I’ve pointed out, I am guilty of it in my own life, but thinking this way isn’t just selfish, it’s lazy. It gives us permission to stay safely within our area of comfort, never having to really get messy.

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In Case You Were Wondering…

More than once I’ve been faced with the assumption by others that if circumstances were to change in my life and in the life of my family, my beliefs would also drastically change. That myself and my siblings would, as they say, “be singing a different tune” when it comes to our convictions about God and sexuality.

I’ll be honest, if your goal is to see me angry, this assumption has been the fastest way to get there, not because it’s a sensitive area for me, not because it causes me fear or anxiety, and not because it calls into question (which it does) my faith in my dad. No, the reason this assumption can take me from zero to seething in the time it takes to make it is because it calls into question my faith in God and the very nature of my relationship with Him, as well as that of my siblings.

Facing this recently I realized that I’ve never actually taken the time to sit down and address the assumption head-on. Honestly, I’ve been so caught up in being angry that most of the people making it have never voiced it to me or my family personally and given us an opportunity to answer their questions, it never even occurred to me to spell it out myself so it was available to those who wouldn’t ask.

So, in case you were wondering what I would do/feel/think if my dad decided to embrace the identity of a gay man and settled down with a male partner, this blog entry is my attempt to answer those unasked questions and speculations.

I understand that most people have had to do very little thinking about their parent’s sexuality and the effect it has on their life, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for most of mine. I haven’t thought about what  would happen if my dad left us for a relationship with a man once– I’ve thought about it thousands of times in my 32 years of life. When people start to speculate over what we, my dad’s children, would do if he changed his mind about the type of life God called him to, they always ponder it from this mentality that it’s a possibility that we’ve never considered, the reality of which would be completely devastating to us.

Being closely involved in my parent’s ministry for the majority of my life, I have seen up-close the pain and devastation of family’s being ripped apart by same sex attraction. I have witnessed the most steady stumble and the strongest of strong broken into bits. The possibility, no the inevitability, of my parents stumbling, failing, or falling and the pain it would cause our family has never been lost on me. I have never felt sheltered from disaster or lulled into believing that based on my Dad’s choices we have some kind of  immunity from suffering. My parent’s relationship was never a veil of perfection, and I say that with the deepest respect and love for both of them. It was very raw and honest. But these very real possibilities that have always been present in my life, are NOT sources of fear for me because if my parent’s taught me anything it was to trust God more than I trust them.

What I believe isn’t built on the foundation of my Dad’s behavior or even on what he believes. My convictions have been formed through years of knowing just how perilous the road we walk is and how much risk there is in taking it, but learning along the way that through it all God is good. God is love. And God is faithful, so “even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close”.

I can say today, with complete confidence, that my circumstances will always change, but God does not, and in that knowledge I invest my hope and security.

If my dad came home with a partner tonight I would feel angry, upset, and hurt. I would grieve, and I would believe he was wrong, but it wouldn’t change the reality of who I know God is and what my relationship with Him convicts me is true.

My love for my Dad would be the same. He’s my Dad, and I know him to be a man who struggles for righteousness in spite of himself and in spite of his occasional shortfalls and it isn’t the shortfalls that define him or my relationship to him. It’s not as though a change in circumstances would be forcing me to confront my Dad’s sin, as though I never had. At the end of the day people want to act like SSA is somehow an especially rebellious sin and it isn’t. At the end of the day someone’s pride, or their other deeply internal sins are far more deadly because not only can we not see them as clearly to help,  but they may not even see it themselves. At least with something like SSA, the issue is obvious and everyone knows what it is.

I have nothing to fear from what is exposed and out in the open and I relate to my Dad, a person who sins, as a person who is, myself, also a sinner.

Just like we need to stop putting labels on people that categorize them because it objectifies the subject, we need to stop talking about “relationships” and talk about “relating” because its the same problem. A relationship is an abstract object, but you relate to a subject. We talk about “having a relationship” like it is a thing we possess rather than relating to a person. We also tend to use relationships as a way to exercise control over other people, threatening to abandon the relationship if our expectations are not met. The nature of relating, however, is humble, it’s open and vulnerable. Isn’t this the example Jesus gave us? People have this sense that God “had to” become a human and die to fulfill some kind of cosmic blood debt that he owed himself but he could have done anything he wanted to do. He’s God! But God is love and love relates. So He became us to better relate us to Himself.

I wouldn’t believe that my father had fallen from grace, I would trust that he had fallen into it and rest in the understanding that God’s love for him is bigger than sexuality.

On the flip side of that coin, neither would I be tempted to recant my beliefs about what the bible says about sexuality and I wouldn’t change where I stand on speaking truth and love. It wouldn’t alter what I believe about salvation or grace or redemption.

I know there are some who will say that this is all easy to say, easy to convince myself of when it’s not my reality, but please, while you’re assuming and speculating, consider for a moment that my life has involved harder realities than the reality of my dad sleeping with another man would be, and here I am and God is still God.

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*Also, I’m not making an attempt here to speak for my sibling, even though I know how their answers to this question would go, they are entitled to their own way of expressing their feelings and I don’t want to strap them to my own.

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Exodus International closing- an open letter

You can almost not help having heard the news that Exodus International announced last Wednesday that they were shutting down. We’ve been reading a lot of “open letters” to Alan Chambers, and to Exodus, a lot of press accurate and inaccurate, a LOT of comments by people on all sides, and a lot of disclaimers.

Kristin and I felt it was important now (that we’ve had some time to rest after a very busy week last week) to add our own voices, though they may not be heard as loudly as some, to this subject.

Kristin and I are second generation (and now last) generation Exodus– the organization has played a significant role in our lives as our parents have been the directors of a member ministry for most of our lives, and as we became involved ourselves. We are deeply thankful for the ways in which Exodus has blessed our family, it’s leaders have served as role models for us in our youth and have become dear friends as we’ve grown up. In our deepest time of grief the Exodus family was a family to us who knew our parents; their hearts, their heart to minister to those in need, and their desire to love the lost, the lonely, and the broken the way that Jesus does, and stood beside us as we lost our Mom. It has been a great privilege and honor to learn from and serve beside so many fearless men and women of God and we thank each and every one of them for the years of blood, sweat and tears they have put into the ministry of Exodus.

That said, and while we grieve to see the end of an era, we also couldn’t be more excited about the road ahead. We stand beside other leaders and are hopeful for the chance to start a narrative that will build a bridge between the church and not only the gay community, but all those seeking a relationship with Jesus, no matter their walk of life. While holding firmly to biblical sexual ethic, it is our deepest desire to communicate the love of God in a way that heals instead of brings division, and that opens hearts to truth instead of leaves them defensive and alone. In all of this we are confident, in spite of the doubts some people have expressed, that the views being expressed by Alan Chambers and other leaders like him are God-inspired, and we agree with them whole-heartedly.

“Love The Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31

 

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Freedom Conference 2013 Coming Up !

truestory

Hey guys, it’s that time of year again. Time for the Exodus Freedom Conference. Are you gonna be there? This year the theme is True Story! This is going to be a great conference and we really hope you will  join us !

Go to exodusfreedom.org for all the info, you won’t want to miss this years conference in beautiful Irvine Ca. It’s going to be a blast !

If you don’t plan to be there go a head and re think that decision . . .  then  if you still plan to stay home there is an option for you to still experience the wonderful stories from the men and women they have lined up to speak . Go here for streaming info 🙂

If you don’t plan to be there but would still like to help someone else make it there you can donate to the scholarship fund here.

Lastly check out this video greeting from Alan Chambers. Hope to see you there!

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Amen Sister!

alanandleslieIn this awesome post by Leslie Chambers (wife of Alan Chambers President of Exodus International ) she shares about her marriage, grace and true freedom in Christ! Read and enjoy! From the Exodus Blog. . .

Leslie Chambers Tackles Heterosexuality, Hyper-Grace, and Offers Hope.

Have you ever wondered what people think of you? As my husband is Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, I have. At present, he is somewhat of a conundrum for a lot of people. There seems to be some confusion about who he is, what he is saying and what he stands for. Here it is in a nutshell: while he has repeatedly stated his biblically orthodox view of sexuality, he has also stated his belief that one particular sin is not somehow more offensive to God than another. As his wife, I have stayed out of most of the chaos, but there are a few things that I cannot be silent about any longer. So here it goes… click here to read the rest!

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Thoughts on Life: Don’t They Know It’s The End Of The World?

Thinking_44121810I’ve been thinking about some big things. Now, I will be the first to tell you that

  1. I might be way over my head in these ponderings, and

  2. I might also be completely wrong ( or at least a little off base 🙂

But let me go on and you can add your thoughts and ideas and arguments in the comments, I would love that.

In our current social/political climate I think it’s understandable that I would be asking a lot of questions about the fate of our world, from gun laws and mass shootings to same sex marriage and divorce, I think it’s fair to say the moral compass of our land is in question but my big thoughts are more concerned with  the roles of the church and followers of Christ in this present situation.Are we really doing what , based on the Bible, our beliefs command us to do?As a very wise friend of mine said, in a fabulous blog post you should totally read

“ In the Great Commission it says to make disciples of all nations … not disciple the nation.”

If, as the Bible teaches us , we believe that this world will part ways with the way God intended it to be to the point that Jesus returns, what then is our role in this predictable sinking ship, if you will ?

As Galadriel says in The Lord of the Rings ” The time of the elves is over.Do we leave Middle-Earth to this fate? Do we let them stand alone?”

If we look at Jesus in the Gospels we do not see a man concerned with the political arena, a man desperate to change the morals of the people by way of the laws of the land. We see our Saviour in the communities he finds himself, reaching out for connections with the people. We see Him meeting their needs, reaching into their lives through relationship, compassion, kindness.

Right now is a trying and yet wonderful time to be a part of the Body of Christ, Grace is being taught and lived in our churches in a more honest way than it has been in a long time, but at the same time our influence in the world is  decreasing.Truthfully I would have to say that we are in the middle of two extremes, on one side we are overly concerned with “ discipling  the nation” and on the other we are courting the worlds affection and second guessing every sermon to make sure we aren’t offending anyone. I know this is not an easy road to navigate,it’s right for us to proclaim the Gospel and to be fearless in our desire for holiness, and  it’s right for us to challenge ourselves against scripture and check our selves to make sure we are being loving and speaking truth in that love , at the same time Jesus made it very clear that the world would hate us the way they hated Him.  (John 15:18) Can we handle that?

In an open letter to the American Church, author Brennan Manning wrote at length about the state of our church today , the whole letter is worth reading but I will only quote a bit of it here, You can read the rest in his book The Signature of Jesus.

“If the apostle (Paul) were to return to the earth today, I believe he would call the entire American church to return to the discipline of the secret. This ancient practice of the apostolic church was implemented to protect the sacred name of Jesus Christ from mockery and the mysteries of the Christian faith from profanation. The ancient church avoided mention of baptism, Eucharist, and the death and resurrection of Christ in the presence of the unbaptized. Why?  Because the most persuasive witness was the way one lived, not the words one spoke. Soren Kierkegaard once described two types of Christians: The first group comprises those who imitate Jesus Christ; the second are those who are content to speak about him. “ (emphasis mine)

If we are supposed to leave people with no question of our faith and if the best way to demonstrate and share our faith is through showing real tangible love in the ways that Jesus demonstrated then aren’t we called to be set apart by our unfathomable love for others and extreme acts of grace and mercy ?To truly set ourselves apart by our actions in this world? Perhaps living our faith out loud is not about standing on a street corner yelling about the sins of the world but being a people that act so differently that the world is forced to ask “ what is the hope that is in you?”

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Video Tuesday : 4 things I learned about God by Sy Rogers

 

Meeting Sy Rogers in Austin in 2010 is still one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. If you have never heard him teach before you are in for an amazing treat. I know it’s long but just keep listening. Sy is an incredible, fascinating speaker. Trust me, your mind will be blown! Give it a listen and then check out some of Sy’s other teaching and resources , you won’t be sorry.

You can go to syrogers.com to check out his bio, look for speaking dates, watch his youtube channel or buy his resources.

 

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Exodus Week-End Review for Feb.15th

This week’s review topics are. . .

  • Leadership Reunion recap
  • Upcoming Freedom Conference details
  • Question of the week ” Does Exodus Have A Policy on Gay Marriage?”
  • Donating to the Exodus Freedom scholarship fund

To help support Exodus or to donate to the scholarship fund visit exodusinternational.org/support-exodus/give-now/

For more info and to register for the conference  go to exodusfreedom.org  

 

 

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Let It Be.

letitbe2I struggle. I struggle with lots of different things. I think it’s safe to say we ALL struggle. . . with lots of different things. Struggling is hard, it’s good because it means we aren’t giving up , it means we are fighting to overcome whatever it is we are struggling with. Fighting is hard. Sometimes it feels like in the midst of this struggle, this fight to not give in , to not become what I don’t want to become, to not give up and stop trying to better than I am right now, it feels like I only have two choices, two options. One, to keep fighting and hope that I am strong enough or to break.

But I think we are missing an important third option.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all share their account of Jesus going to the garden and praying right before He was arrested and crucified . They say He fell to his knees, wept, sweat drops of blood and was overcome with grief. And He prayed for God to take away the cup that was before him .

How many times have you or I been in the midst of such a struggle that we feel something similar to what Jesus was going through? Have you ever been so tied up in knots over this struggle that you felt like laying on the floor and screaming and begging God to please please take it away ?

In the midst of this anguish , which I think it is safe to say was much greater than any you or I have ever felt , Jesus says to The Father,” Your will, not mine be done. “

Let it be. I trust you. You love me.

And here is our third option, to  come before God with our broken hearts and Just say, Lord, Let it be . That doesn’t mean that we stop fighting or that anything goes away but there in that moment, standing in God’s grace for us that tells us He will show us a way out, we acknowledge that our struggle has a purpose. There is peace in that place. For a moment just rest. Knowing that he loves us as we fight and because we fight and even if we don’t fight. Trust Him, He doesn’t waste anything, no hurt or pain or suffering or struggle.

Romans 5:1-5 says

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 

through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace by which we now stand.

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character; and character , hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out

into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

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