Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Greg and Lynn McDonald are co-founders of Embracing the Journey Inc., one of the nation’s first Christian ministries dedicated to building bridges between LGBTQ individuals, their families, and the church even when they seem at odds. They are also authors of the book by the same name Embracing the Journey–A Christian Parents’ Blueprint to Loving your LGBTQ Child, published by CBS sister company Howard Books.

Based on the McDonalds’ own 18-year journey of having a gay son, coupled with their experience of coaching and counseling many hundreds of struggling Christian parents, they offer time-tested spiritual principals and lessons to bring about healing and hope.

In this original essay, which coincides with the release of their book Embracing the Journey, Greg and Lynn share 5 helpful tips to move parents from a place of fear and anxiety to a life where they once again thrive.

Embrace Your Journey 

Most parents wouldn’t sign up for having their child be LGBTQ, any more than their child signed up for it. Leaning into your situation is the first step toward healing. Refusing to embrace your journey simply prolongs your pain, slows your healing, and creates further harm. It also creates disunity and too often pushes your child away from God. Rest assured that your child being LGBTQ is not a surprise to God and there is hope.

Respond With Love

When your child tells you he is gay, recognize it is one of the most difficult things he will ever do. Your mind is probably swirling with all kinds of anxious thoughts. At this moment, stop and look into your child’s eyes, reassure him that you love him, and that you are here for him. You may not understand why he is gay but ask him to give you some time to process what he just shared with you. By responding with love, it will reinforce to your child that you are safe to talk with and encourage further conversations. Remember your response will never be forgotten by your child.

Come Out Of The Closet

It is an interesting phoneme that when most young adults come out of the closet and tell their parents’ they are LGBTQ, most parents respond by retreating to the safety of their closet. But is it really safe? It is natural to go there, but don’t stay there long. Parents worry about how their Christians friends, families, and co-workers will respond to the news that their child is gay. They fear they and their child may not be able to attend their church any longer. They wonder if they had something to do with their child being gay. Remember Satan loves to isolate us and make us feel hopeless. He desires to destroy our relationships and especially our relationship with God. Know that God is crazy in love with you and your child, just as you are, and he will lead you on your journey. God has trusted you with this, so trust him.

Look At Jesus

We believe great caution should be exercised when select passages from the Bible are used to harm people when they cancel out some of the most beautiful and important themes in the Bible like love, mercy, compassion, justice, and hospitality. We encourage you to dig deep into the gospels and look at Jesus, who he hung out with, how he treated people, and what he had to say. This will have a profound impact on how you view your child and his friends.

Better Together

We can assure you that one of the very best ways to bring about healing for you and your child is to join a support group for Christian parents who have LGBTQ children. There is something incredibly powerful about meeting with other parents who are on a similar journey. The ability to hear from people, just like yourself, will help you realize you and your child are not some anomaly. Learning what worked and didn’t work with other families can be nothing short of life-giving.

So how do you select the right group for you?

  • Start by praying, asking God to lead you to the group that is right for you and your family.
  • Do a Google search in your area for “support groups for Christian parents who have an LGBTQ child.”
  • Selecting the right group is largely based on your belief system. Groups range from being non-affirming to affirming and points in-between. Some groups focus on praying the gay away. Some are more grace filled while others are more truth/law oriented. Some groups emphasize providing a safe environment where parents can experience community. Others are more interested in celebrating their child’s uniqueness and affirmation. Still other groups focus on moms, dads or couples.
  • If you are unable to locate a group or are uncomfortable with those that meet near you there are some great virtual private parent support groups including these.

Embracing is here to help you select the local or virtual group that is right for you. Call or write Greg and Lynn at (770) 710-5567 or mail@embracingthejourney.org. To learn more about how to thrive in your new normal, and to help your child on his journey be sure to pick up a copy of Embracing the Journey available now wherever books are sold from CBS sister company Howard Books.

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