Tag Archives: Lgbt

Healing Hearts Saving Lives

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Healing Hearts Saving Lives

In 2012, our 24 year-old son told his father and I that he was gay.  After keeping it secret for two years, we chose to go public in hope of letting others know they are not alone. Within days of posting our video and article, we were inundated with messages and emails from people across the nation with a son, daughter, brother, sister, or who themselves are same-gender attracted – sharing their stories, their hurt and their desire for a better tomorrow.

This experience opened my eyes to the masses that are hurting and contemplating suicide, families that feel broken, and hearts that need to heal.

The nagging thought “What can I do?” lead to creating a website dedicated to “Enlighten Minds, Strengthen Families and Heal the Wounded Heart”.  The things that you will find on the Healing Hearts Saving Lives website stem from the many questions people have asked seeking guidance, love and support.

www.HealingHeartsSavingLives.com 

 

Update: Today was the funeral of Mikey Funk, a young man from Logan, Utah who took his life on Sunday who battled same-gender attraction.  And when I say “battled” I’m referring to the judgement, the isolation and hatred that so many deal with on a daily basis. It was hearing too many stories like Mikey’s that lead me to try to make a difference. If something I share can enlighten one mind, strengthen one family, heal one heart, then I’ve made a difference in one. And that ONE is important to God.

 

Christ on a Bench

 

 

How A Father Went from Homophobic to Loving His Gay Son.

HOW A FATHER WENT FROM HOMOPHOBIC TO LOVING HIS GAY SON

By Scott Mackintosh, the Father

In June of 2011, I attended an annual company sales meeting eager to learn how to better my sales skills. In a classroom setting my mind usually wanders, but this day I was all ears listening to a story; a true story, of a sportscaster named Charlie Jones. Charlie was assigned to announce the 1996 Olympic rowing, canoeing and kayaking events – an assignment that left him less than thrilled, because he thought, “Who watches the rowing, canoeing and kayaking events? Only the rowers, canoers and kayakers …and their families!”

8+ rowing team

What he discovered, however, was that it ended up being one the most memorable interviews of his career. AND what I didn’t know is that two and a half years later, this story would significantly change my life. Preparing for the broadcast, Charlie Jones interviewed the rowing team starting with the basic questions such as “What if it’s raining?” “What if the wind blows you off course?” “What if you break an oar?” The answer to every question was the same,

“That’s outside my boat.”

Finally Charlie asked the rowing team what they meant by their repeated answer “That’s outside my boat?” They explained that they focused only on what they could control, and that was what was going on INSIDE their boat. They refused to waste energy focusing on things OUTSIDE their control.

When the sales meeting concluded it was obvious by the chatter in the room that everyone was impacted by the story. I seriously thought; “Great story, but it doesn’t really apply to me.” I dismissed it and that was that.

Seven months later my entire family was home for the Christmas holidays. I have seven children; three sons, four daughters, and four are married. I was happy to have them all home for the holidays. My son Sean is number three in the family and the middle son – his three
week holiday dedicated to the family, was quickly coming to an end and he would soon be heading back to college in Hawaii.

On the night before he was to leave, precisely at 11:11 pm, my wife and I received a personal message via Facebook from my son Sean. I opened it and began to read. He cut to the chase pretty quickly after telling me and my wife how much he loved us, he dropped a bomb, he told us that there was no sense in beating around the bush and might as well come right out and let us know that he is gay.

I went FREAKAZOID!

I blurted out some things that in retrospect I am very glad that he was not around to hear. (The damage may have taken many years to repair) I didn’t care about his feelings; he obviously didn’t care about mine! He most certainly didn’t care about anyone in our family and obviously the ONLY person that he cared about was himself! In my uneducated way of thinking on this topic, selfishness had to be the single cause and I was sure that this sort of thing was brought on from delving into pornography or other ill meant materials. Why else would he “choose” such a vial and disgusting way of life? (I’m now embarrassed of my ignorant thinking.)

I messaged him back ordering him to come home immediately so we could talk. I was furious and again told him to get home NOW! He said he would gladly talk to me, but that it would still be a little while before he’d be home. He was out visiting friends and saying his goodbyes for another year.

I anxiously paced the floor waiting his return. By midnight he was not home and I angrily went to bed.

I woke up at 4:00 am as my wife crawled into bed next to me. She had been talking to my son for the past few hours. She briefed me a bit on their conversation and then I got up to go see him. She begged me as I left the room to be kind and considerate. I assured her that I would.

I knocked on my son’s door and he opened it to find my outstretched arms offering a heartfelt hug. I spoke only for a moment and made a slight joke about something to ease the tension and then said, “We can talk another time, it’s late.” I went back to bed and tossed and turned for a while trying to figure out what I was going to do to “fix my son”.

Hours later, I was at work and he was on a flight for Hawaii. Every-so- often over the next year, I would send him an email suggesting that he give God equal time and to study “good things” instead of filling his head with the gay articles that he was reading. I had it all figured out that he should get rid of these silly notions that he had conjured up in his head and get married and raise a family. We weren’t getting any closer in our relationship and I was spending my time on deaf ears. They seemed deaf anyway because every scenario that I could come up with, he would answer with a comment like; “Dad, don’t you think that I know about that? Don’t you think that I have read and studied about this? I have known that I was like this for nearly my entire life and you think that these emails that you keep sending me are going to fix me?”

I had not taken into consideration that this was new to me, but that he had been dealing with it for many years.

The following Christmas we didn’t get around to talking about I didn’t want to bring it up and maybe if I didn’t – it would go away.

Two years from receiving this shocking news, Sean was home once again for Christmas. I’m a big outdoorsman and an avid hunter so like any good father would do, I took Sean and my younger son Skye coyote hunting across the state line. (No hate mail please, we didn’t shoot anything, they out smarted us) On our four-hour drive back home we talked about hunting, school and life in general, but I could tell that he wanted to talk about “it”. Finally Sean said “Dad I thought we were going to talk – really talk.” I don’t remember who started what, but all of a sudden we were delving into everything we had both held in for the past two years.

I wanted so badly to fix the situation. That’s what I did as a father. I fixed everything, that was my job, and this was just another “fix-it” project. At one point in our conversation, I asked; “Why would you choose this lifestyle?” I was met with a look of shock as he replied,

“Are you serious? Why on earth would I CHOOSE to be associated with one of the most misunderstood and hated groups on the planet?”

His answer resonated deeper than anything said in our prior two years of sending messages back and forth. This made sense! Although I had read many articles stating that same-gender attraction is NOT chosen but is something they are born with, I couldn’t get it through my thick skull until that moment. FINALLY we were actually able to have a really good conversation where we really talked and listened.

That is when it hit me….

A light came on in my head and the story of Charlie Jones that I had heard several years prior came flooding back and NOW it made perfect sense to me. It applied to this situation. It was a game changer.

For the next few days, I began to take an inventory of what was actually IN my boat. I had focused my energy on fixing my son only to discover that I had done a great job of raising a wonderful young man and the things that he was going through were outside my boat. Nothing that I could say to him would “fix” him and would most likely do father-son- relationship damage. Therefore, I took my fears and worry out of my boat and placed them in my son’s boat.

Next, I pondered on my ability to judge. I was his father and felt that I had that right. My mind reflected back on my Christian upbringing that taught Jesus Christ is the judge.

I realized that I needed to STOP judging him – it wasn’t my job to judge, Jesus Christ had taken that role upon himself, so I took that out of my boat and placed it in my Savior’s boat.

As I focused on what was in my boat, I realized that I had only ONE item left and that was my ability to ACT instead of REACT. I then split it into two categories: to act harshly or to act with love, and because I had placed “judgment” into Christ’s boat, I realized that the ONLY thing left in my boat was to ACT with LOVE! I thought to myself, “I CAN do that!”

I have a wonderful son whom I love dearly and our relationship has drastically changed for the better. It is now stronger than ever, because I no longer focus on what’s outside my boat, instead I focus on what’s INSIDE my boat…. LOVE!

P.S. To read my wife Becky’s journey along with a video of my son Sean telling his own story, click here.

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 Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

Watch this short video… it’s a great intro to the blog post.

A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

Life was meant to be enJOYed, not just endured.  

What happens when someone in your family announces they have same-sex attraction?

Do you kick them out?

Do you love them unconditionally?  

This is a very difficult subject, one that brings much controversy no matter your background. 

The purpose of this video and post is to invite families, and society in general, to reinvest in kindness.  When we look around at the amount of judgment and hatred in the world, the honest response is that we all could do better. It is my belief that we, the human race, are to LOVE one another, SERVE one another and do our very best to HELP one another with the challenges and trials that come our way.  

It doesn’t matter where you live or what your religious beliefs are; if you are rich, poor, brown, black, white, pink or green – we all have the same basic needs. We all want to feel we belong, are loved and valued.  God said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  He wasn’t just talking to your neighbor.  He was talking to you and me and even those in our families that may make different choices than we would. Intolerance is why there is so much hate, war and bullying in this world. It needs to stop.  Things need to change.

Gandhi said it best; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It was January 9, 2012, when my 24-year-old son Sean, told his father Scott and I that he was gay, in the best way he knew how.  Precisely at 11:11 pm, he sent us a private message saying;

“Hey so I’m not gonna beat around the bush too much, I’m just going to tell you something that I’m sure you already know or it has at least crossed your mind plenty of times.  I’m gay. I’m sure this isn’t the best news a parent could hear, but I feel like it’s not right for me to Not talk to you about something very real to me. I want you to know I’m very much the same weird Sean. Ha! I love you and dad so much and you’re the best parents a kid could ask for. This is why it’s taken me so long to tell you, I’m fine with the pain it can bring me at times but, I just didn’t want to hurt you cause you don’t deserve it. Once again I love you very much, but I want to keep this brief cause I am sure you’d rather talk in person and I am 100 percent fine with that. I haven’t told anyone ever, I wanted you and dad to be the first to know.”

The sting of reading the words “I’m gay,” was masked by the last sentence: “I haven’t told anyone ever, I wanted you and dad to be the first to know” – to me that validated how awesome, amazing and considerate my son is!  It also shed light on the fact that my son had closeted his most conflicted and torn feelings with lock and key – alone. That, I was not proud of.

Sean was correct in his assumption that this had “at least crossed my mind”.  I had often wondered about my strikingly, good-looking son that only dated when the girls took the initiative and asked him out.  It was a thought I kept very quiet, and secret, hardly daring to think it to myself.  It was something I “hoped” was not true!  But here it was in black and white – my son announcing that he was gay.  His father, on the other-hand, had no clue. Scott was honestly completely blind-sided by the news. It shook him to his core.  Not that he didn’t love Sean.  He simply had not seen this coming and it wasn’t something he’d even slightly acknowledged.

Immediately upon reading Sean’s message, I called him asking to hurry home so we could talk, face-to-face.  This was Sean’s final night before heading back to school in Hawaii. He was out visiting friends and saying his good-byes for another year. When he got home, he and I stayed up until 4am talking, crying and hugging before calling it a night and heading to the airport those few hours later. It was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done under the circumstances; giving him one last hug that would have to suffice for an entire year.

Going Through My Own Refiner’s Fire

As I look back on that very first conversation, I have to admit that I am not proud of everything I said. I said some things completely out of ignorance. I had never researched the subject – naively thinking that was a subject “other families” had to deal with — NOT me and my family.

First, I told Sean I loved him – and that my love would NEVER change.  I felt very strongly that he needed to know of my unconditional love for him.  But then I said some ignorant stuff, like “What are you going to do about it?” and “You are a fighter Sean – you can fight this.”  “Hang in there, this is your test, your challenge, and in the next life your feelings will match your body and all will be well.”  As these phrases spilled off my lips, I honestly thought I was giving words of comfort, not knowing each phrase was a dagger in my son’s heart.  The phrases weren’t new. He had grown up hearing them everywhere – and he had spent a lifetime trying to digest and understand why he felt the way he felt and what kind of life that meant for him.

What literally broke my heart that evening was looking at my 24-year-old son, and thinking my adorable little boy with the big smile had grown up dealing with this secret all alone – NO one to trust and talk to about it.  I cried then, and I cry still now.  Tears also come at the thought of thousands of kids and teens with same-sex attraction dealing with it ALONE, afraid to talk about their true feelings and contemplating suicide as the answer.  Death is NOT the answer.

As I have listened to my son tell of what it was like growing up “fighting an inward battle” trying to “fit in” in a world that frowns upon gays; belonging to a religion that is family-centered and strongly believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and in a family that teaches the same.  My heart breaks at the thought of my own flesh and blood growing up feeling like a misfit right in our home, in school, in society, and within the walls of our church.  Growing up he never let on to the sadness and confusion going on inside. He was a happy, active, fun-loving little boy and teenager. We just didn’t know. Even his friends didn’t know.  If an Oscar could be awarded, Sean would have won. He hid his feelings well.

The dagger in my heart are the piercing words of Sean telling of the years he contemplated ending his life so no one would ever know he was gay. It is my prayer and quest that NO ONE feels that way – Ever!

I am so thankful Sean never acted upon those dark feelings and is happy with the person he is, trying to live the best life he can,  just like everyone else.

I have Googled, read, fasted and prayed to become more educated. One startling fact that I learned in my quest to gain knowledge and understanding is that teens and young adults with same-sex attraction have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts…..THAT is unacceptable!  No one should go to bed at night thinking they are better off dead.  Never. Ever.   We need to be the change we wish to see in the world – LOVE one another, SERVE one another and HELP one another.

I have learned through the years that everyone is fighting some kind of battle. The gift this has given me is not to judge, to be more compassionate, kind and tolerant – and to treat all others the way I would want to be treated.

No matter where you stand on this sensitive subject, I pray that we may all respond with much more sensitivity and thoughtfulness in our families and in society when encountering same-sex attraction.

P.S. To my readers who are wondering about Sean’s father Scott’s reaction.  Scott had deep-rooted feelings of Homophobia, so Sean had grown up hearing his father’s unkind perception of gays, making the “coming out” all that more difficult. Once that table had been turned and Scott knew it, he blew me away with his quick quest to learn all he could about the elephant in the room. What I will tell you is that in his own due time, Scott will share his personal refiner’s fire to accepting and loving his son.  And it will be powerful and heartfelt.

P.P.S.  In April of 2013, Sean graduated with honors from BYU-Hawaii with a degree in Social Work.  He recently completed an internship at an Orphanage in Thailand and has been accepted into the Masters Program at the University of Hawaii.  Sean is a happy, easy-going guy with a great sense of humor.  He’s an Eagle Scout and has always been a leader amongst his peers.  For example, Sean paid for his college education all by himself, without student loans!  He graduated with honors, wisely debt-free, and teaching others how to do the same. Coming out has not changed Sean — it’s Scott and I that have changed. And for that, I thank my Heavenly Father. He blessed us with the gift of learning about something we thought only others needed to worry about.  I love Sean today as much, if not more, than ever.

May God bless you in all of your experiences, discoveries and life lessons.

Yours,

Becky Mack:)

Sean

UPDATE June 2014:  My husband Scott FINALLY took the time to sit down and write about his journey;  How A Father Went From Homophobic to Loving His Gay Son. 

A follow-up to this blog post: “A Follow-up to a Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

 

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