I remember the first time I decided to really listen.
Seven years ago.
It started with some podcasts I had been hearing.
Then I read a couple of books.
And one day, I got brave.
I reached out to my second cousin and asked if we could chat sometime.
He is about my age but we hadn’t talked since we were kids.
We were living in two different worlds.
I was a sold out for Jesus kind of Christian.
He was a confident, strong, gay man.
It took some courage for me to reach out.
What would I even say to him?
Does he know I don’t have a clue about him and his life?
Does he know I have erred on the side of homophobia?
You know, “love the sinner, hate the sin” type stuff?
I was never blatant about it.
It kinda just, well… wasn’t my problem.
But I thought I knew what the Bible said and I was sure glad to not have anything to do with it all.
I was learning some of the history and my eyes were opening to a whole lot of it.
But a conversation with a gay person seemed like what I was supposed to do.
I called Chad.
I honestly don’t know what I was expecting.
He was so very gracious to me.
Patient with my silly questions.
But one thing he said still haunts me to this day.
What he said went something like this:
“You Christians think you are so scared of us. What you don’t know is, we are the ones who are terrified of you.”
Why would you be scared of us?
We love Jesus.
We would never hurt anyone.
And the blinders began to fall off.
The hardness of my heart began to melt.
I decided that very day that I would be a learner.
I would open my heart, my mind, my eyes, my ears.
Tell me about your life.
Your worst fears and biggest dreams.
And God began to make a way for me to see.
A path to walk down.
One step at a time.
Following the light in front of me.
For the past several years I have been growing.
Some precious people walked straight into my life and heart.
My fellow cheer coach is like a daughter to me.
We have been through ups and downs and all the drama that cheer can manufacture.
We’ve walked a whole lot of life together.
I love her.
She is not at all defined by “who she loves”.
We can talk for hours about all kinds of life.
And she is just like me in so many ways.
As cheer coaches, we just kind of complete each other.
Last weekend she got married to a young lady from my hometown.
Kevin and I went to our first lesbian wedding in the mountains of Kentucky.
I pretty much wept the entire ceremony.
The whole day was beautiful.
And I’m so thankful we are invited to be a part of their lives.
Oh, and then there is our new friend Hammy.
This guy loves Jesus so much.
He can talk circles around us when it comes to the Bible.
We are starting to meet once a week.
He challenges us in our walk.
He honestly points us to Jesus.
He is hilarious and wise.
And we are getting our worlds rocked by him and his faith.
I told him the other night that I wanted to be one of those ladies who gives out “free mom hugs” at the parade next year.
He said he knows so many queer people who he could bring to our house for me to hug.
He sounded like they just might need one.
And I am realizing now more than ever?
It would be way more for me than it would be for them.
This momma needs some hugs.
Kev and me are in the for the journey.
Wherever it may lead.
Karen R Shock resides in Fort Wayne, IN with her husband and their youngest son. She had three more children who are married and four beautiful grandchildren. Oh, and a dog name JT Barrett (Go Bucks). She is a retired homeschool mom and is now a high school teacher and cheer coach. Life is hard, but fun.