I have a close friend who is gay. I’ve seen him go through some pretty tough seasons but still he has decided to live fully for Jesus and he feels called to care for the gay community like he thinks Jesus would.
I was talking to him the other day and he told me how a friend of his responded when my friend came out to him. My friend said this guy responded in the perfect way. That’s when he concluded there were specific things that made it the perfect way. And he shared them with me.
So I thought this would be valuable to share with you. I think a lot of us will be part of conversations like his and I want to know how to manage this new territory like I think Jesus would. Or just how a good friend would. So the following are the ingredients my friend says to remember to include in your response when someone comes out of the closet to you.
(I’m afraid that when I find myself in one of these conversations I’ll be wringing my brain trying to remember this list instead of listening, so I’ll also create absurd mental images so it’s easier to remember.)
#1. Thank them:
Even if they are still explaining the details of their story say,”I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just want to tell you I’m really grateful you chose to share this with me. It’s important, and I assume it’s really hard to do.” Image: Imagine punching a cartoon hole in someone’s chest, growing small and jumping into their lonely chest cavity like it’s a little room where their heart is hanging, all vulnerable and stuff. Then humbly offering it a thank you card.
#2. Confirm your friendship:
Tell them, “This doesn’t make me any less your friend. In fact I feel closer to you now because of your vulnerability, and after knowing the hard stuff you’ve gone through.” Image: Imagine yourself stepping beside the heart, like stepping onto their team when no one in the school yard picked them for their team.
#3. Reflect their vulnerability:
Tell them something that is difficult for you to share with people. Image: Reach into your own rib cage and pull something out to humbly show to their heart.
#4. Ask questions:
Humbly ask them questions about it, showing them that you want to understand them better. And just to debunk any of the taboo things you’ve heard. Tell them they don’t have to answer anything they don’t feel comfortable answering. It’s okay to admit that you don’t agree with them if they ask, or to say your experience has been different, but strive to understand and love them. Image: Look all around the room of their chest cavity, carefully examining each interesting thing, with their permission.
#5. Physical touch:
As you say goodbye, put your hand on their shoulder or hug them longer than you normally would, just to communicate to them you are not disgusted by them, and in fact you may very well love them more now. Image: Stand up on your toes and wrap your arms around their warm and soft, tender beating heart.
And if you are struggling with feeling you might be gay, Christian or not, I could put you in contact with my friend. He would love to talk to you, hear your story and share his with you.
And, of course, so would I.
Call any time: (303) 359-4232
Ross Boone/Raw Spoon 8-13-15