A place to tell our story – When a family member first comes to our Encourage group, he or she is given as much time as needed to tell their story. In my case, I probably spent an hour or more on the phone with one of the facilitators before the first meeting, and I’m sure I monopolized that meeting once I got there. Since then, I’ve been honored to witness other first-timers tell their stories.

Many of our kids seem to experience a weight lifted from them when they “come out”. In the same way, family members also have a weight lifted by having a place to tell their story, and even a place to rant, rage and cry. The catechism says that we don’t know why people are attracted to the same sex. In our meetings, we explore some of the factors in our particular families that may have contributed to our loved ones’ situations. We often find points of commonality – and also much variety.

Resources – Often a group member will share a recommendation for a book, a website, video or podcast that speaks to a specific aspect of our situation. In my own case, a fellow member recommended a book to me early on. This book gave me some ideas on what my loved one may be experiencing but was not yet willing or able to express to me.

A class in loving my child better – In Encourage, I’ve met people who love their children dearly, yet don’t affirm every choice their children make, or everything they believe about themselves. I’ve learned to lovingly ask for respect of my beliefs, opinions, house rules, etc. I’ve learned how to express myself to my child without harshness or sarcasm.

Wonderful prayer partners – This group has given me wonderful prayer partners and intentions to bring to my own prayer. Outsiders might think that in a group like this our first priority would be to “pray away the gay”, but I haven’t found this to be the case. Would everyone in the group be thrilled and eternally grateful if our loved ones were touched by a healing grace that took away their SSA? Absolutely! But I would say that we have many other (admittedly related) issues that are often higher on the priority list:

  • Family relationships
  • Mental health issues
  • Relationships with Jesus and His Bride

Certainly, I can ask any of my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for my kids, and I don’t necessarily have to tell them why I’m asking. But, it is a great thing to be able to say “____ is moving to a new city, will you pray that she finds a good community there?” or “_______ is going through _____, please pray” and know that the askee has some context for the request. I’ve gained encouragement to persevere in prayer and in developing my relationship with my child.

Serenity – I’ve gotten to know people whose family situations are similar, but who are a few years further down the road. I’ve also gotten to know people who are dealing with situations much more challenging than ours (there but for the grace of God, and all that…). In all, I’ve learned that we will survive and even thrive as a family through this experience. The world will not end if my child goes public in a way that I’m not ready for, or makes a choice that I don’t accept as valid.

Perspective – I’ve also been reminded that all this is not my responsibility. God has a relationship with my child, separate from my intervention and mediation. He is calling her to Himself, through inspirations, other people, and experiences. I need to get out of the way. I guess every parent needs to learn this lesson at some point and it’s probably never an easy lesson to learn. But this is the context of my schoolroom.

Written by an EnCourage Mom from the Midwest, USA