Conversations I never wanted to have (but it might be good I did)


porch swing conversations

Front porch in swinging bench.  Early Spring in Oregon where the weather and seasons change all the time in front of your eyes.  Adventist church gardens across the street and the (unfriendly) private school family on the other side of the street, all under the watchful eye of fir covered summits.

A furtive break from the busyness stolen, the most delicious kind.

Tears, from she who seldom does.

“Baby, what is going on?  What’s wrong?”

“I can’t go to camp because no one will want to be with me in the cabin because they think I am affirming.”

“What?  What what?  Who?”

“My friend’s parents don’t like me because they say I am affirming.”

“What?  Wait a minute.  Stop the bus.”

“But what if they ask me what I am?  What do I say?  Do I go for affirming?”

“Whoa.  No.  This is not like whether you are rooting for the Ducks or the Beavers, it’s a much more complex situation,”

“But they won’t like me because they think I am affirming,”

“Are you?”

“I don’t know, are we?  Maybe?”

“Look, the whole question is broken.  Broken questions…  It isn’t our jurisdiction to decide this.”

“Well then what do I say?”

“Do you follow the teachings of Christ?”

“Yes, I mean I think so, probably not very well…  I mean I don’t know, what does Christ say about this?”

“Christ told us to love our neighbor. So…these are my marching orders.  I never saw where it said that I was supposed to decide whose sins were bigger or more unpardonable.”

“So are we affirming?”

“Broken question.  Are we commanded to love people?  Yes.”

“So… we are affirming.”

“The answer to that depends on the individual.  We love people.  We do not identify them by specific characteristics of who they are,”…  “See, gay folk here in the U.S. have had to identify themselves by this one little thing because they have had to hide it for so long.  But fact is, they are just people.  Can you imagine how awful it would be to define every person by what we thought their mistakes were? Man, I don’t want to think about that world,”

“But mom. What do I say?”

“If anyone asks you, which good grief– there is enough wrong in that question, you say ‘I don’t know how to answer that question,’ because that is honest.  If you follow Christ, tell them.”

“So I don’t say whether I am affirming or not, I just tell them I follow Christ.”

“If that is the truth, that is what you tell them.”

“But will I be able to sleep in the cabin with my friends?”

Then, tears, and a call to the camp director.

This is a conversation that happened with my daughter several weeks back.

It makes my heart groan with grief.

That she is dealing with this would make my blood boil if I opted to think about it much.  But since it is not helpful, I choose not to linger on this.  Here I hope to remember and then forget.  Perhaps not forget, but resolve;  that my faith would be great enough to remain after conversations like this.

Faith community should lift our conversations.  Faith community should support us in exploring the heavens & our relationship with God, not parsing sins.

Because truthfully, I really, really don’t care about that, it’s not my job.

our slice of Oregon


This series is in response to a Quaker meeting split in 2017 along the lines of  whether gay marriage would be affirmed or not.  The aftermath of this event has caused grief, anger and an abundance of thoughts and feelings on the parts of many in this community.
This series evaluates, frames and processes this event and its slow fallout.  It feels courageous to speak openly about this, but I believe that these are conversations worth sharing.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Veronica says:

    Oh my, heavy stuff for kids to have to maneuver. Even at my age, standing up for certain things among strangers can be easier. Sometimes with friends and loved ones it is tricky maybe because people are willing to put entire relationships on the line. You are such a strong and confident role model for them (and me too)!

  2. Heather says:

    aww vero, i wish you were more in my life. Yes, I wonder if it is good this came up (because then I could frame it for her in a way that hopefully healthier than what the culture does) or just so many different kinds of wrong. Thank you for your encouragement, I feel like a tightrope walker here in more ways than one.

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