Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Productive Conversation

I had a very healthy and productive conversation with my 16 year old daughter this afternoon. I came out to her just 2-3 short months ago and she hasn't always taken it the best. But she's trying. Her response has been to cling even tighter to her scripture study, prayer, calling and the church in general. That's okay, it's her right.

She was reading her scriptures this afternoon, something she always does before starting her homework (a seminary challenge that she's loved), and stopped to ask me what I thought of the Big Bang Theory. We chatted about our opinions and the what-ifs and at one point she said, "You know, I think it's important to gather information from all sides." I took advantage and said, "Even though you didn't intend for the conversation to go this way, I want to point something out. I grew up listening to people tell me what to believe. I simply believed it. The Church told me what to believe and that it was 'the only way.' My parents told me to what to believe. My teachers in school and in church told me what to believe. Part of it is my personality, to just agree with what I'm being told, but that's not the only reason I believed a certain way. Not until I realized that I'm gay and began questioning everything I've always been taught did I see another way. I think it's healthy to gather information from all sides and not just one entity. Once you've gathered all the information, then form an opinion and belief. But don't just listen to what the one side tells you and simply believe because you've never been introduced to another way."

She asked if I hated the general authorities. "What?! No. Of course not. I have much respect and admiration for them, although I'm a little pissed off at Pres. Packer. But my main issues are not with the brethren. My main issues are with the way they've always dealt with homosexuality. They are good men, doing great things, and I find comfort in much of what they've taught. I don't agree with their stance on homosexuality and that's something I have to live with. A part of me wants to pull you kids out of the church and tell you how damaging it is what they're teaching you about me. But at the same time I strongly believe you need to have your own experiences, so I will continue to teach you my views at home. I just ask that you keep an open mind and listen to how it effects me and learn from the experiences I have had. I hope that you'll still love and support me even though you don't agree with me."

This is when a part of my heart sunk. My daughter asked what I meant by "support." "Well, I know that you still believe that being gay is a bad thing. The church has taught you that. I would hope that you would recognize the years that I've spent learning and growing and experiencing what I needed to in order to come to the decisions I've made. You may disagree with me, but you can still love and appreciate me and my journey. You can invite me into your home and have dinner with your husband and children, even if I had a girlfriend with me, and still be a member in good standing. There's a fine line in the church and I'm not sure what it is exactly. I know that if you were to take a petition door to door asking for people to support same sex marriage, you would be in trouble with the church. I just don't know where the line is drawn, but I know that love and acceptance of your mother is something that the church wants you to do. It's Christ-like."

I could tell that her gears were spinning. I wanted her to know that she can love and support me and still hold strong to her beliefs. I'm not sure, but I think she may have worried that she couldn't. I explained it as simple respect. I don't agree with some of the teachings she's holding onto, but I would never kick her out of my house because of it. She may disagree with the path I'm following currently, but she can still abide by my motherly rules. We each need to respect the experiences we've each had and know that we have our own minds, capable of making hard but important decisions for ourselves.

A part of me wants to pull my kids from the church so badly, but a part of me is hoping they continue to find solace when they attend their meetings. I'm not sure what I want for my family at this point, in regards to the church. I know I'm scared to death that they're going to stop going, but why? It doesn't make sense. I think I'm still hanging onto some residual fear. It's been a part of me for so long and that's all they've ever known. So for now I'll try to "undo" at home what the leaders of the church continue to teach them about homosexuality. I feel that if they have an example right in front of them of a God fearing woman who strives to do good continually, that they'll start to understand in a different light. At least that's my hope.

I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with my daughter on a more mature level, when she wasn't angry and confused. She is a bright young woman and has always had an old spirit. She contributed wisely to our conversation and neither one of us even cried! I hope that our mutual respect will continue into the future. I also hope I'm doing an acceptable job in teaching them that being gay is okay. I'm not living as a gay woman, so they're getting mixed messages at best. I have a long way to go, for sure, but the open dialog will definitely help. I have great kids!! I'm so grateful.

1 comment:

Hub said...

I think we're doing the best we can with her. I think if we pulled her completely out of the environment that she has grown up in, it would cause more problems down the road with how she feels about you.

By letting her make her own decisions, and by encouraging and urging her to have an open mind, and to listen to, and gather information from both sides, we are helping her more.