My journey as a parent to a child with SSA (Same-Sex Attraction) did not begin with a “Come-Out-Of-The-Closet” moment. It happened so gradually, spanning over years.
It started with a few disturbing questions from my child. As parents, we stumbled in the dark to make sense of our faith, values, beliefs and what our child was telling us. We turned to church pastors, who were sometimes genuine and kind, but nevertheless, clueless or ill-equipped to help. Their attempts fizzled out when they could not make sense of it, thinking that time would sort everything out in the hope that this SSA was just a passing phase. Perhaps the pastors needed more time to come up with a more appropriate response or were relieved that we did not ask anymore. As a parent, I hoped the same.
But time did not change things. Instead, the situation, prayers, and anxiety grew more urgent and desperate. So we struggled on our own and sought help, support and answers from others.
When it became clearer that we were dealing with SSA, among other things, my emotions ran the gamut. From denial, anger, bargaining, and depression to acceptance, mixed in a cauldron of intense anguish, guilt, blame, shame and confusion. There was blaming and guilting of others and myself. Whose fault was this? Was it something we did or did not do? What did we do too little, or too much? Perhaps I did not fast and pray enough? What demonic chains, devils and strongholds did I not rebuke and cast out? Like the disciples in the Bible, I wondered, “Was it because of the sin of the parents or my child’s sin?” Those were the natural thought patterns in our minds: Whose fault is it? We wanted someone to blame, to take responsibility, as though by pinpointing the cause, we could somehow undo the effects.
I have come to see that causes and effects are seldom linear. Neither is my grief. My grief comes in waves. It ebbs and flows. To this day, there are still times I lament and mourn the loss of certain dreams, expectations and simple things that other families may take for granted about their child. I grieve over how I thought things should be, could be or must be. But in that thick wall of grief came God’s steadying arms and faithful love. I poured out all my questions, doubts and pain to God and surrendered to Him who knows what needs to be buried, surrendered and/or resurrected – myself, the idea of what I imagined my family would be, and what I wanted.
I do not have answers as to why this happened, or why my prayers have not been answered the way I expected them to be. In many ways, God’s presence in this journey is part of His answer. God’s answer IS this journey on which my child and I are on, whether in our separate paths or walking together. This journey has been precious, even though it is one ploughed by tears, prayers and anguish. The pain does not diminish though God is still here at work, still in control and still loves us very much. He sees my tears and collects them because they are precious to Him. None of these are wasted or in vain. I know God is always at work, whether I see it, feel it or sense it or not.
Fast forward twelve years or more, I have learned to respond to what is, not what should be or what should have been. It is far more helpful to start my work with what is, and where we are at. Sometimes, I still have to re-learn how to surrender myself and my child to His purpose. I return to the story of the prodigal. But it is not my child who is the prodigal in the story. It is me who is the prodigal. (Aren’t we all?) I imagine what I would want to see, hear, feel, think and receive from God while I am in that far off country. I recall the ways God has shown His persistent and constant love for me while I was far away, and what turned my heart and moved me to return home. In this way, I try to reflect back to my child a small bit of that love which I have been freely given, and hope that likewise, my child’s heart will hear the call of God and come home.
In this unique path, my child and I have shared many happy moments, too. My child is one whom I am very proud of. There is so much about this child to love celebrate and be thankful for. We laugh together, play together, eat together, share together and celebrate together. In this “togetherness”, I hope to deepen our relationship, because this relationship will be part of my child’s light and path homeward. I cherish the mundane ordinary moments as much as the big moments. In essence, I ask God daily to show and teach me how to love my child the way He loves us. I need God’s heart and strength to love my child when it is difficult, when we disagree, when we believe differently, or when my child tells me something that is difficult to bear.
Isn’t that how we all are with God? We sometimes walk, talk, think and live contrary to His heart. Yet He still loves us and doesn’t give up on us. God finds ways to show us His love, without compromising on His standards, nor slamming them down on us. I need to watch how my Father does this and do likewise. It is easy to lose focus in the midst of this “big” SSA factor on my child. And for a while it did. But God is re-orientating me to His True North.
My call as a parent has not changed because of SSA. It remains the same. It is the call to love my child, and to show Christ to him. The more I know and experience as God’s beloved, the better I can embody that truth and attempt to reflect God’s love to my child.