Recently I read a list of the top 5 life events that cause stress, and my very first thought was, “Crap. I have 4 of them going on all at once.”
This is Rob Cottrell, Susan’s husband. The past few years, and especially the past couple of months, have been an incredible journey. So I want to share what is on my heart today.
When my kids were little, they would jump off a wall and I promised to always catch them and be there for them. I wonder if they still believe that I will always be there and catch them if they jump?
It has been an insane, peaceful, horrible, wonderful time in my life. Over the past couple months everything has changed for me. I have had to make the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life. Decisions to let go of things in the past that held my heart captive, and trust God to bring a better new life and a peace that passes understanding. Decisions that led me physically from the brink of death to feeling better and healthier than I have ever felt in my life. And decisions to understand and even reimagine my children – fresh and new and unconditionally for exactly who they are.
Being around parents in the LGBTQ community, I see a lot of Moms, but not so many Dads. Still, they are out there, and my heart leaps when I see them. One thing I have observed is that there is a tenderness and hope in the Moms I have met, but the Dads often seem different. They seem overwhelmed and often depressed, confused and beaten down.
I think they feel that having an LGBTQ child means they have failed as a Dad. In some ways they are still trying to hold together the image of a stereotypical successful family, and it feels like it is falling apart.
Dads, I want to encourage you to try to step out of the box in which you have put your children’s lives and see the bigger picture. See the amazing truth about the individuals your children are. Let God take what you see as broken pieces and create a masterpiece.
Dads, what do you really want for your kids? I want my children to be strong and courageous, standing for the truth. I want my children to have a tender heart, especially towards the hurting and oppressed. I want my children to understand the fullness of God’s grace and who they are in Christ. I want my children to love others as God has loved them, and I want them to be loved for who they are.
Your daughters need to know that they are still daddy’s little girl. They need to know that they are beautiful and that they deserve to be loved and treasured and treated with respect. They need to know they are ready for whatever life brings. And they need to know that their Daddy is proud of them.
Your sons need to know that they are still your buddy. They need to know that they are strong and that they have what it takes in this world. They need to know that in your eyes, they are real men. They need to know that their Dad is proud of them.
My Dad died many years ago, but I still long for his approval, for the hugs he never gave me, to hear him say he loved me. He never did.
I have done a lot well as a Dad, and I have also done a lot of things poorly. Things I wish I had never done or said, and so many things I should have done and said. But it’s never too late to love.
We as Dads have the opportunity to impact our children like no one else. To change generations. And we do that first and foremost with our love and our approval.
Over the past few months, I have decided that I don’t want to miss that opportunity anymore. All I have is this moment and my kids are waiting and listening. Yours are too.
They need to know that we are here. That we are not leaving. That we are proud of them and that we love them for exactly who they are, no matter what.
Dad, your child needs you. Be there to catch them and hold them in your arms and tell them you love them – just as they are.
p.s. I will soon begin to do podcasts that will be radio style interviews with members of the Christian LGBTQ and allies community. They will be a new feature of the FreedHearts website. Stay tuned!