The following post was guest written by Cindy Pierce.
November 2009, just after Thanksgiving, my son, Austin, confided to me and his father that he was struggling with attraction to men. Austin was 1,400 miles away at college and my first inclination was to buy a one-way ticket for him back home so we could "fix" this issue in person. So began a journey that I never imagined we'd face. "Not our son," I thought, he was a Christian, serving in ministry since junior high. He even had girls he was interested in and we were good—not perfect—parents.
Immediately my husband began searching for Christian counselors who had knowledge on "same-sex attraction" in Austin's area. Not "gay," but "same-sex attraction," because "gay" meant giving in to the attraction and we certainly weren't going to even think about that. Never once did it occur to me that, in November 2009, we were in our own closet. We were surrounded by Christian friends and family and we attended a small group designed to walk through life together with all the ups and downs that it brings. But… Not this. This is the one thing I was certain would divide us from our community. So we kept silent in our despair and grief.
My son is a verbal processor, so I would get phone calls with the latest update on his counseling and how he felt about it. It was an update on the latest emotional temperature of the whole process. These calls had more ups and downs than any roller coaster you could build. Don't misunderstand me, I love my son beyond belief and I was trying to help walk this road with him, so I wanted to hear is heart. However, I was swayed emotionally by the ever-changing up-and-down world that Austin was experiencing. Some days we had this figured out and God was working in it, and then other days or even in the same day this was a downhill slide and we thought, "Where in the world is God."
The load was greater than I thought our family could survive and it was too risky to share with our friends. So I was alone.
Six years passed and my resolve that God was going to "fix" this was growing harder to believe. But, as Austin's mom, I was not giving up on him. Then came 2014—what would be the biggest year of it all. I found out that Austin's best friend was getting married.
There were so many conflicting emotions that I went through. I was so happy for my son's friend, but that didn't matter. I felt selfish; What about my son? What about me? I'm never going to get to go to my son's wedding, and if I do, it would be against the grain of society and everything I believe. I felt alone because no one knew what was going on. I felt cheated out of my dreams for my kid. This was the turning point.
I started to reason with myself. Is my son being gay really the worst news ever? No! My son is not dead or has not walked away from God and his faith. Simple, yes; but that's all I had. I was over it! But, it was a starting point. I told my husband, "That's it, I'm done worrying and trying to control and manipulate. This is God's and Austin belongs to Him. God can have the control and I'm going to let go! " It took a while but the sense of relief was overwhelming. I just imagined God saying: "Wow! Finally! I got this, Cindy. I love Austin more than you ever could and I'm in control here." I guess it's a good thing God is so patient.
When things were Getting "Better"
Then the phone call came a few months later: "Mom. Dad. I'm officially dating that guy I've been talking about." My heart still breaks when I think how hard a call that was for him to make. I'd love to say that the six years prior had prepared me for that, but not so much.
Remember the closet we dove into in 2009? Well, we were just outed. I knew Austin meant it when he said he wanted people to know the real Austin and soon, we were going to be "out." Panic, not only for us, but for Austin. He's a Christian, has served in ministry, and now he's going to date another Christian, man.
I felt as though this had to be the worst news of my life. My mother has passed away, one of my family members has been incarcerated, I've been through a divorce, and still this was at the top of my list. After all, as long as Austin maintained a mindset of getting through this and moving on with a traditional relationship, I could stay hopeful. But now he had squashed the whole cupcake! Now what?
I was grieving. I was grieving for the loss of all the ideas and dreams that parents have when they have a child. I thought, "God, this was not the plan and it's certainly not how I thought this was going to go." Just months prior, I had given this over to God and now my life was certainly stressed, to say the least! My heart ached for all Austin was facing and I felt God was taking a mini-vacation. I got pretty low. Some days I literally wanted to pull the covers up over my head and just not function. I was constantly dwelling on how we were going to get through this. What will this mean for Austin and his life? Will he have friends who will stick with him or will they all alienate him?
So many fears and questions, yet again.
As I write this, I'm spending the weekend out of town to help my son and his partner plan their wedding. We've come to love Austin's partner and embrace him into our family. Have my circumstances changed? No. But God has changed my heart.
I now realize that I can be at complete peace and not have all the answers. Wow! I can show love and compassion and be interested in someone who sees life differently than I do. More importantly, I can be in a loving, healthy relationship with my son no matter what. Austin is not a topic of pain, he's not a scandal, he's not an issue, he's not a disappointment; he's my son. I love my son like Jesus loves my son—no strings attached.
Our friends and family are more than supportive now that the news about Austin is out. Know this, if your community is truly worth having, they will walk through the tough times with you no matter what it looks like. They pray for us all, that we hear God's voice above all else. Austin is not invisible to them. We don't all have the same theology on this topic, but they just love us. It's worth the risk of letting people into the darkest times.
I want you to see that God made the difference. When I gave up control, He replaced it with a peace that I still don't quite understand. When you think it's the worst it can get, God is still there.