Ann meant well but her eyes, filling slowly with tears, belied her. She responded confidently at first to my question as to why she was flying to Portland, OR: housesitting for her daughter Jill, whom she loved much. She pointed out her rainbow bracelet as a sign of solidarity with Jill and her LGBTQ+ community there.
Ann tried hard to convince me that daughter and mother were just fine.
We laughed about how hard it is to raise kids and the folly of guilt in retracing the past—could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, etc. “I barely get it…Jill was a girly girl but her smart and strong personality seemed too much for the guys around her. She went off to grad school near Portland and stayed. She ‘came out’ with a girlfriend, then a few months ago she asked me to call her ‘they’ and ‘them.’ Just last week she brought up trans-stuff, thoughts she had about changing her body…”
Ann trailed off and wiped a tear. I suggested that she as a mother has some investment in her daughter remaining one. ‘You and your husband were fruitful and it’s not wrong to want that for your kids.’
Though she had strayed from her faith, Ann was open to the truth that actions of love and support for our kids should align with truth: who they are. If our bodies point to an optimal direction for our identities and relationships, then ‘gay’ and ‘non-binary’ and ‘trans’ identifications represent stalling, an obstacle to becoming mature expressions of man and womanhood in the world today. Authentic love must line up with the truth.
Ann could accept that. ‘But Jill’s a grown woman! What is the point of disagreeing with her? These are her choices. I don’t want to risk losing relationship with her.’
‘The truest form of love is to stay present to those whose decisions break you,’ I offered, then invited Ann to let Jill break her heart rather than tempt her to twist truth. ‘Maybe you can best love her out of an afflicted heart.’
I urged her to consider Jesus whose affliction released a flood of Mercy still transforming lives today. ‘Maybe your affliction can become a source of Life for Jill.’ Ann asked what church I serve in Portland. ‘See you Sunday,’ she said. I hope so. Only Jesus transforms affliction into authentic love for those we love most.