This week, I’ve been reading “Messy Grace” by Caleb Kaltenbach and wanted to share some really great thoughts from this.
He has a lot of personal experience because he was raised by LGBT parents, marched in gay pride parades growing up, and saw and felt the hatred and bitterness of some Christians toward his family. But God got a hold of him in highschool, and thus began the journey of learning to “love your neighbor” without compromising truth…the tension between grace and truth is messy.
Caleb shares Five Don’ts and a Do for when someone comes out to you. Before getting to that, I know what it’s like to feel the fear of the unknown when being vulnerable with a friend. There are so many questions when you risk rejection and misunderstanding. From my own life, I’ve had both positive and negative experiences when sharing about my same-sex attraction. I’ve both lost and gained friends over this issue. And I’ve experienced both the place that awkward silence prevails in after such a disclosure and the place that shame takes root when the other person has no idea what to say in response. To be fair, it does take time for anyone and everyone to process after hearing something like this. Regardless, your initial reaction carries much weight in setting the course for the future friendship. So as we remember the courage that it takes for one to share, here are some helpful points for those hearing this news:
- Don’t Look Disappointed
Your face can say it all sometimes, so what is it portraying to your friend that’s sharing? If disappointment is what’s interpreted, well, this could devastate them and cause them not to let you into their life.
2. Don’t Get Mad
This is good to note, especially for parents concerning their children. The fact that you were chosen to share this with shows great value. This conversation is very personal and tough, so don’t waste this moment by getting mad.
3. Don’t Throw Out Bible Verses
For most Christians, this will probably be their instant reaction. But they probably already know something that the Bible says on this topic. Instead of “enlightening them,” listen to them.
4. Don’t Compare
This isn’t the time to compare homosexuality to the sin of murder, theft, adultery, etc. For the sake of being right, we may lose the individual by putting them on the defensive; timing is everything. Again, this is a moment to listen.
5. Don’t Try to Get Them Counseling
Though we all could do good to get some counseling, inner healing, deliverance, prayer, etc, this is not the time to bring it up. Don’t try to “fix” anyone, rather focus on being present for them. Be simply a friend.
As we focus on not doing these in the present moment and conversation, DO reaffirm your relationship. Something practical is to thank them for sharing this part of their life with you, for telling more about themselves, and for trusting you and wanting to include you in this. This is a BIG DEAL! You can also tell them that this changes nothing about the relationship and that your love and God’s is based on who they are, not on sexuality. Express your desire for your friendship to be a safe place where anything can be shared. By doing so, this helps keep communication open and relationship progressing. Possibly you may find yourself walking with another in grace, truth, and love…just as Jesus walks with us.