Looking back, I realize that I felt a slight distancing even before our daughter made her announcement that she was going to pursue a same-sex relationship. I attributed the distance to it being the beginning of her senior year, which was going to be a busy one, as she was still taking a full load–with several advanced placement classes. She had a lot on her mind with homework, a friendship that had gone awry, etc. But there was more to it, of course.
We still talked, all throughout that year, but some topics were avoided. Her girlfriend came to our house periodically–and we were kind. But we were also uncomfortable. This was not a course we had mapped out, and we weren’t exactly sure how to navigate.
Our 2014 graduate had had two girlfriends by the time she left home for college. My husband and I hoped that would be the end of it. But the pulling-away increased. She called and texted less and less–and we got a sense that she didn’t want to share a lot of what was going on in her life. It felt a bit like a limb being severed–but on an emotional scale rather than a physical one.
When we were together, I learned that I had to choose my words carefully. A couple times I didn’t–and things were shaken. It was like feeling the vibration of a massive tidal wave coming–and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The wave hit, and my daughter was being swept away from me. She was holding onto ideals and philosophies she believed would keep her afloat. But I could see a spiritual darkness settling over her.
It was not long after starting at the university that our precious, intelligent, once-passionate-for-Jesus girl told us we had forced her to be a Christian–and she now wanted nothing to do with God. When she said things like that, I tried to reassure myself with the truth. To myself I would say, “I know she loves me.” And to God, “I know you love her.”
We went through some rough times–even her cutting us off for a while–but things eventually got patched up. It was like she couldn’t ignore the fact that we loved her and supported her, in spite of not agreeing with all of her choices.
We hadn’t lost our daughter, but we could no longer connect with her in the same way. It was like a puzzle piece that had once fit perfectly had been stepped on (with spiked shoes) or chewed on (by an aggressive canine). It was still the same piece, but there was damage that prevented it from fitting smoothly as it did before. There would always be a rough spot in our family dynamic that couldn’t be easily overlooked–and we would need to be careful with that piece, protecting it and reminding it that it still belonged.
As parents, we could only hope that we would end up proving again and again that we would love her just as we did before. And this love would have to transcend belief systems, comfort zones, and mistakes of the past. No matter how mad she might get. No matter how hard she pulled back. No matter how scary it may be. No matter how much it hurt.
As God fills our hearts, we continue to pour it out–with hope, yet no expectation–just a commitment to love her, as He does, and to keep on loving.