Interviews: A Mother’s Story

For the next two weeks I, Kevin Harris Director of Community Relations at The Marin Foundation, will be posting interviews with individuals that have been gracious enough to share part of their journey for those of you that read this blog. In interviewing individuals that are coming from very different places regarding their beliefs, experiences, and sexuality, my intention is simply to shed some light on unfolding stories from diverse backgrounds that you may not hear on a regular basis. As the individuals that I have spoken with have differing views on faith and sexuality, I can assure you that you will disagree with some of them so I ask that your questions and comments try to honor the vulnerability entailed in sharing personal matters. Since I will be conducting more interviews later this year, this first round will not cover the entire spectrum of LGBT and conservative/liberal heterosexual individuals but will start to share stories and beliefs from that spectrum that hopefully you will be able to glean something from.

The first interview is with Robbin Hill, a mother whose son recently came out to her as gay. If you are a parent coming from a similar place and would like to connect with Robbin (not for professional counseling services but just to talk) send me an email at kevin@themarinfoundation.org as she has agreed to share more about her experience with other parents that are looking for someone to relate to.

What was your initial reaction when you found out your son was gay?

It was certainly one of shock. After the initial reaction of shock, a flood of emotions bombarded me like anger and then embarrassment. Then I said, “Okay, so you think you are gay? Look, I’m not sure about all this. All I know is what the Bible says.  Just keep it away from me.  Don’t expose me or your brother to any of it.  Don’t bring it here to my house.” It was harsh, but that’s exactly what I said.

How did you treat him in the weeks following your discovery?

This is where the mother in me came out. It’s hard for a mother not to love her children. I work in a felony court and if any parent is present, it is almost always the mother sitting in the audience with a son or a daughter facing felony charges and I mean tough stuff like robbery, murder, rape, and molestation. So at first I treated my son like he had an illness and I didn’t accept it as true. I wanted to say, “This is just a phase and he will grow out of it.” Then, I felt sorry for him because this lifestyle seemed so hard and he was going full speed ahead into the gay lifestyle.

I went to him, after a few weeks, and shared with him in the Bible where it talked about homosexuality. Sharing the Word of God at that point in his life didn’t give him any more insight…it only made him feel confused. As I shared the Word with him, I said, “I don’t know where this leaves you.” In the back of my mind I felt that maybe all that was needed there was knowledge of the Word of God. I told him that it was a choice, which I NOW know was not very intelligent or insightful of me.

Also at this time I was trying to help my younger son with his reaction and feelings about his brother. I had to set boundaries, not only for his sake but for my sanity.

What aspects about yourself and your attitude towards your son do you feel God started to change following your discovery about his sexuality?

God started with my heart. I actually went through a circumcision of the heart…a tearing away of “stuff.” Even though I thought this was all about my son, God had ME doing a self-evaluation. I had to look in the mirror and that was extremely hard. My walk with God was challenged because this was something I could not change, make better, or fix. I was completely inadequate. And since most people I knew had a rather negative look upon gay inidividuals, I certainly couldn’t share this with just anybody. I kept looking back at what I could have done, should have done and believe me, Honey, I saw a lot of areas that could have been done differently. I thought I could handle a lot, but this one took the cake, icing, and ice cream.

This self-examination was great because God brought to memory a whole lot of situations and circumstances that God had walked with me through. God is something else because He wouldn’t promise me that my son would be delivered. All God promised me was to be with me and never forsake me. So I took God at his Word and figured, “Okay, here we go again, God.”   I was all alone in this, though. People would say that gay people are born that way, but in my heart I couldn’t believe that and I told God that.  So I held on to the truth of God’s Word that we are born in His image.  I asked God to help me see my son in His image.

My relationship with God is rather unique. I just talk to him, sometimes rather frank, like if we were playing cards together or something. So I was very honest and open with God about how I felt and He was very open with me.

When you are in a place like this, you realize all you have is God because no one else knows about it and no one has an answer.

If you wouldn’t mind sharing, how has this whole process influenced your relationship with your son?

From my initial reaction to now, both sons and I have grown very close and we are able to talk about anything. That’s the most fulfilling part. My son knows that I’m writing booklets for parents dealing with homosexual children and his first reaction was “Go for it, mom.  This will help people.”

What are a couple of recommendations that you would like to pass on to other parents coming from a more conservative interpretation of scripture as it relates to homosexuality whose child just came out to them?

The first thing that comes to mind is this:  it’s not all about sex.  Separate the behavior from the person. I totally know what you are thinking, feeling and imagining.  If you believe the Word of God, then you have to believe that your son or daughter was born in the image of God.  Genesis 1:27 tells us that.

So now what?

My first recommendation is to ask God to help you see your son or daughter the way He sees your son or daughter. Your image of your son or daughter needs to be filtered through the blood of Jesus, not your own human image.

God will change your perception of your child. What you can do right now is start blessing your child. Stop cursing him or her and everything they do. Adam was given the task of naming most of God’s creation. You, dad, gave your child your name at birth and that means something. Throughout the Bible, the heads of families would bless their children and generations to follow. Just because there’s a situation that is out of our control does not mean they are not our children. Listen, whether you are conservative, liberal or somewhere in between, God knows the iniquities of his children and he provided his son Jesus to die for it. So speak life into your child whenever you get a chance. Hold him or her and share with them your concerns and let them know you love them no matter what. Isn’t that what we want from our own Heavenly Father…No matter what, God said I will not leave you nor forsake you. Don’t forsake them, but bless them every day.

How do you do that? Be intentional and every day pray, “May the Lord bless and keep my child/children (call out their names). Father, make your face to shine upon them and be gracious unto them. Turn your face toward them and give them peace.” This kind of love will break down strongholds and light can enter in.

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

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About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Thanks for sharing Robbin’s story, Kevin. :)

    • Robbin Hill

      Jon, thanks for reading and replying. Much love, Robbin

  • Dena

    Robbin,
    Thank you for your openness and honesty. I too have been on a similar journey. I have three sons, 24, 20 and 14. My middle son who is now 20 came out to us his junior year of High School. It has been a process of learning to understand and accept a situation I had never really considered. My job as a mom is to love my kids, and to be the kind of mom that God wants me to be. I love my son very much, and enjoy him for who he is. It’s not my job to judge him or try to change him. I do believe that he was born to be who he is, and God has created him to be exactly who he is. I agree that it is hard to find people to connect with and share with. The Christian community as a whole has treated the LGBT community in a negative way, and that makes it hard for me as a Christian to find supportive people to surround myself with, which is really disheartening. Jesus treated people in the opposite way as many Christians treat people who are different than they are, especially the gay community. I am blessed to have several friends who are supportive and open minded. I was also so blessed to find The Marin Foundation. Andrew’s perspective helped me so much in telling my 14 year old son about his brother, and in helping him process it in a healthy and productive way. God bless you in your journey, and may you be a light to your family, and to those around you who need to hear a positive voice on a touchy issue. I hope to be and do the same!
    Much love,
    Dena

    • Robbin Hill

      Dena, God bless you in this journey. You have a supportive friend in me. Let’s keep in touch…Much love, Robbin

  • Jack Harris

    I really appreciated this story. Thanks for sharing.

    • Robbin Hill

      Thanks, Jack, for listening. It blesses me immensely that you read it and it somehow spoke to you. Blessings, Robbin

  • Nancy Johnson

    Thank you for sharing! I can’t agree more! When our son came out to me in 2000, God told me two things: 1)How does this knowledge change who your son is? I had to admit that it didn’t change my view of him. 2) God also told me that my only job was to love my son & his friends–and not to wonder how close of friends they were!

  • Robbin Hill

    Nancy, kudos to you, girl! Blessings!

  • kimberlee

    Robbin, I have not gone down this journey as a mother, but I commend you in showing us how you love on your son & encouraging parents how to handle this situation WITH God. Your heart shines through this, so beautiful, I got teary-eyed reading this. So much wisdom in asking God to see our children He’s blessed us with the way He sees them…covered by His blood.

    • Robbin Hill

      Kimberlee, God bless you! Much love to you and yours!!