Tag Archives: Gays

One Word Can Make All The Difference!

Rich and his son Cole

Have you ever said something that didn’t quite come out right?  Boy I have, more than once!

The other day a friend, who was not afraid to be blunt and honest, sent me the following message:

“You mentioned in your video (A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction) that ‘LIFE IS TO BE ENJOYED, NOT ENDURED’. While I like the concept and wish it were true all the time, I disagree with that, at least in part.”

FINALLY someone called me out on the one line that had bothered me from the very first time I viewed the video of my son Sean and me.  We started filming at 10:30pm without a script – we spoke from our heart.  It was late, we were tired, and it was our last night to get it done. My daughter Kelsey, who filmed the 35-minute interview, was visiting for Christmas and heading back to her home the following morning.  After hours of editing to condense the message, Kelsey sent us the now 6-minute video.   As I watched it, I felt good about the message; the only line that I was hesitant with was;

“Life is to be enjoyed, not endured”

What I thought I had said and what had actually come out, were two different things.  The option for a “do-over” was gone. I KNOW everyone has challenges both big and small and YES we are often asked to endure HARD things.  It’s what builds our character and makes us who we are.  Our option was to take the whole line out or leave it in. Obviously we opted to leave it in.  The blog article which accompanied the video got it right:

“Life is to be enJOYed, not JUST endured!”  

One word makes all the difference!

The friend who called me out on the line in the video, is my friend Rich, he’s someone who KNOWS the meaning of enduring hard things, he also know the sweet JOYS of life.

I replied to Rich’s email thanking him for his honesty and asked him to read my blog where I had adding the word “just” to my plea.  He immediately replied:

“OK, I definitely can get behind the “Life should be enjoyed not JUST endured.  That makes sense to me.  In fact, it’s been my experience that the traumas and challenges in life, are what give the enjoy part of life a much sweeter taste!  Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced personal growth sitting on a white sandy beach, sipping on a drink.  Instead, it’s been life’s traumas that have been the catalyst to growth and what has molded my character.  There are parts of life that we all must endure.”

You see, Rich survived a solo plane crash; this is the account in his own words:

“On September 14, 1987, I was piloting a Piper Supercub (a bush plane), looking for stray cows for my brother Pete.  Pete is a cattle rancher and had cows turned out in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area in Eastern Oregon.  Shortly after take off during my last flight of the day, the airplane developed engine problems and I crashed at the base of the mountain.  When the plane hit, the wing tanks burst (I had just fueled the airplane) and aviation fuel flooded the cockpit, soaking me and then exploded.  I was trapped in the airplane.  My father and brother were on horseback, saw the airplane go down, rode to the crash site and saw how bad it was.  To this day I do not know how I got out of the airplane, but I honestly suspect some kind of divine intervention.  My dad rode down the hill to a road, was able to flag down a car who took him to a house, and the people happened to be home.  He called the emergency number and an ambulance happened to be a few minutes away from me servicing a logging accident.  They got to me in record time, and took me to the a little hospital about 45 minutes away.  The last thing I remember is one of the doctors cutting off my wedding ring with a little saw of some kind. I remained in a coma for 10 days.  I was 30 years old.  My son was 9 months old.”

The results of the accident were as follows:

  • 3rd degree burns to 75% of my body

  • 47 days in critical condition

  • Major infection – cheated death twice

  • 90 days in intensive care

  • 18 months in a pressure suit

  • 2 years at the hospital

  • 33 major surgeries over 6 1/2 years

  • My wife left after 3 months (leaving my son with me)

The blessings of the accident have been many, and I almost do not have room to write about all of them.  Some of the highlights are:

  • I got to experience what it’s like to totally depend on God.

  • My priorities were instantly correct, I care deeply about people and not so much about things anymore.

  • I got to experience the deepest love, sacrifice and dedication of my family.

  • I got to spend 24/7/365 with my son for many years.  What father get’s to do that?  And because of this, my son and I are closer than any other father and son I know.  We have a tight bond between us.

  • I tend to enjoy life, including the simplest of things much more than people who have not endured a life threatening trauma.

  • I got to experience more pain than most people have.

  • I enjoyed additional depth of typical life challenges, including financial, physical, spiritual social (like how to get a date).

  • My faith in God increased, as did my confidence that even life’s biggest obstacles can be overcome.

  • I know I can get through almost anything.

  • I became very passionate about health.

  • I now have the opportunity to help others going through similar trauma’s.

Rich goes on to say:

“Today, 27 years later, my life is not without problems.  They continue to come, and I have even more great stories about the difficulties in life. However, My son, is healthy, my family is healthy, I am healthy, and I’m still very confident God is in control.  I don’t know if I would want to go through another life experience like my airplane crash again, but having already been through it, I know the benefits that came from it, it made the whole ordeal beyond worthwhile and I feel very fortunate I got to experience it.”

THANK YOU Rich for being real! Being you! And for being a living testament that “Life is to be enJOYed, not JUST endured.”

Cole_and_dadRich and his son Cole

A Follow Up to A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

It’s only been two weeks since I held my breath as my finger hovered over that publish button to “A Very REAL Matter: Same-Sex Attraction”.  My stomach ached as I dug even deeper, to muster additional courage to share to Facebook and Twitter.  Fear of how the public would react to my son’s vulnerability and to my motherly plea to the world to reinvest in kindness.

The response has been over-whelming. Our inboxes inundated with positive emails, messages and phone calls, along with a long stream of comments beneath the many social media shares.  We thank you from the bottom of our heart for your kind and supportive messages, your openness, AND for sharing the video and post with others.

(If you have no idea what I am talking about, STOP and take a few minutes

to watch the video and original article.)

The message we had hoped would shine through was validated with comments such as…

“Thank you so much for sharing this video. It touched our hearts, and we cried all the way through it. This is exactly our son’s story as well. We are learning everyday as a family. Thanks for your words and lessons. It has helped so much!!!”

“I agree that whether we agree or disagree with same-sex attractions, we can ALL be kinder and more compassionate about it.”

“Wow. I was deeply touched AND educated. Thank you to you and Sean for taking the time to open up about this subject. I needed the lesson on being less judgmental and more loving.”

A great number of the responses mirrored my son’s story having received an outpouring of  love, empathy and compassion. Others experienced  rejection, and still others live in fear of telling their parents, or sharing their secret with anyone.

Hundreds thanked us for helping them see things in a different perspective.

One father confessed,  “I haven’t spoken to my gay son in four years.”  He humbly added,  “I can see I have been doing it wrong.”  He committed to send his son a text that simply said, “I love you”.

Bullseye! That was our intention!

It’s rewarding to hear that hearts are healing, families reuniting and lives being saved.  It’s a start.

Some people questioned the need to even have this discussion asking, “Why would anyone not accept a person just because of their sexual orientation?”

Another person confessed, “I was brought up to believe you only accept gays if they do not act upon their desires.”

I must confess…

I cried as I read the many heart-wrenching emails that claimed they had often gone to bed crying and pleading with God to please not let THIS be their challenge. Praying “Please take my eye sight, my hearing, my legs, ANYTHING in place of being gay.”

Heart wrenching.

The most common patterns I noticed within the mass of emails were… 

1) The internal conflict between their natural feelings they did not choose, and their religious beliefs.  Leaving them wondering, “Does God love me?” 

2) The most difficult step seemed to be admitting to him or her self that number one, this was not going away, and number two, this was a real part of who they were.

Then REAL fear steps in…

 “Who do I tell?  Do I tell my parents? HOW do I tell my parents? How will they react?”

And the biggest fear of all – “What if they reject me?”

This leads to the next big dilemma…

Is it okay to date someone I am attracted to, or do I continue to date someone of the opposite sex to appear normal?  Do I live a life of celibacy? Is it possible to meet someone of the opposite sex who will marry me?

Many emails (too many) contained confessions that ending their life seemed like the best and only option. And many shared they had already attempted to take their life.  No one should feel ending their life is their only or best option. Never. Ever.

It was heartbreaking to read the many emails from parents and gay young men and women who expressed they had become disillusioned and angry with God and many claiming to be atheist.

                 I wish I had a magic wand to calm the hearts of those who live in fear of telling their parents or sharing their secret with anyone, fear of  disappointment and of being rejected. 

The happiest and most positive emails were from gay young men and women who believed in God and had loving family support. 

The happiest expressed gratitude in having parents who loved them unconditionally. Just knowing their parents loved them seemed to make a huge difference.

My heart is full and I fight back the tears. I never imagined this is what I would learn and experience when I pushed that “publish”. But I am grateful. Grateful to know that hundreds and perhaps thousands now know they are not alone and they have a friend in me and my son.  My inbox is filled with people who just want to fit in, to be understood and feel loved.

My plea to the world is to reinvest in kindness, compassion and charity. We all could do a little better don’t you think? I know I could.