We've Gotta Listen, People!
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
When Marcos came out as gay, his family told him he was no longer welcome, not to family gatherings or even over for dinner. They shut him out of their lives for ten years.
In fact, 25% of homeless LGBTQ youth become homeless they day they come out to their parents.
That’s a LOT of knee-jerk reacting. I’ve heard it recommended to wait 24 hours before answering a difficult email—but in less than that time these parents are throwing their children out of the home and onto the street.
For heaven’s sake.
This call in immanently reasonable, to be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry. So many parents… (so many Christians… so many people…) shoot from the hip in their anger, pain, fear. They cut off their beloved child, lashing out a death knell with no thought of the deadly harm they’re inflicting.
To get to know this aspect of your child’s story that you didn’t know before takes time. It takes listening. It takes more than shooting off some words you can’t take back. It takes laying down your weapons and pulling up a chair.
Eventually, Marcos’ parents came around. Eventually they laid aside their pride and their fear and they found out more about this son of theirs they always knew and loved and this aspect of him they simply didn’t understand. But how beautiful it would have been if they had embraced him while they were sorting through it all, instead of rejecting him. They could have saved everyone ten years of anguish. “You can always reject them later,” I tell parents, tongue in cheek, “but you cannot restore the time spent in agony after you cut them off.”
May we ALL be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Cottrell is the prominent voice for faith parents of LGBTQI children. She is an international speaker, author and spiritual director. Through her nonprofit organization—FreedHearts—Susan champions the LGBTQI community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that love—of God and others—is the foundation of faith. She spent 25 years in the non-affirming Evangelical church, is the Founder and President of FreedHearts, has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, served as the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin (Texas), and was featured on ABC's 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America. Her books “Mom, I’m Gay”—Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith (published by Westminster John Knox Press), and True Colors - Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You, have been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, The Gay Christian Network and many others. She and her husband Rob have been married for 30 years, have five children, two of whom are in the LGBTQI community, and live in Austin, Texas.