About a year ago, I worked at a toy store as a part-time sales person. I needed to get my feet wet in the working world because I knew eventually I would need to go full-time which I am doing now.
During that period, I worked side by side with a lot of young people. Yes, I was the oldest employee there – ha! But I admit I loved talking to customers and demonstrating the toys, especially the ball-handled scooters and the E-Z rollers which are so much fun.
Being around young people on a daily basis, conversations of different topics came easily. If the timing is right and a person is open enough to share about their life, stories evolve and you begin to learn a lot about that person. It is even more interesting when that person is Kate at seventeen.
She was a very outgoing girl who wore the latest fashions. You could tell right off the bat she was also independent and had a mind of her own. I appreciated this since I was like-minded in many ways. One of the things that stuck out about her personality was her openness to share about her life. She was quick to tell me that she was gay. I had noticed a ring on her finger and she shared with me that she was engaged.
A few minutes later, another girl came into the store. Putting two and two together, it was easy to assume that this was the girl that Kate was in a relationship with. Her girlfriend’s appearance was vastly different from Kate’s. She was boyish in attire with no effort of presenting herself as a girl. But that is not what stood out the most. There was a deep sadness to her face. She never smiled even when greeted. The employee introduced me to her and I said hello and went on with my work. But her facial expression was one that gave a lasting impression that I did not soon forget.
Later on, after Kate’s girlfriend left, we had another opportunity to talk. Again, she was very candid about her lifestyle even though I did not ask her about it. What was fascinating to learn is that she wasn’t looking to be gay. She had boyfriends in the past. The problem she said was that all of the boys hurt her and were very immature in how they treated her. When she shared with other girls her dilemma, they too, also found the same problem.
By communicating and spending time with those of the same gender, what was lacking in her relationships with the boys she said, she found in the girls. What was lacking you ask? Love, emotional bonding, compassion, tenderness, trust, a listener and more; the things she valued the most in a relationship. She couldn’t find it with any boy. Bitterness and frustration were the results she gained from every guy she was involved with. So, she gave up looking. Because all of those things she desired, she couldn’t find from a boy. She found them instead, with a girl.
If you think that story is rare or not common, think again. She is not the first young person I heard tell that story and she will not be the last. So what if that young lady was your daughter? How would you respond to something like this as a parent? Would you still love her? Would you kick her out of your home? Would you say mean things or rush her to the counselor to un-gay her?
Let’s just stop a minute and think about this young lady that could be anyone’s daughter. She was devastated and emotionally wounded by someone she loved. This left her crushed and heartbroken. Her trust of the opposite sex was no longer there. If she does not have a strong father figure in her life, this doubles the impact of pain she carries. Through the relationship of a young man, her self-esteem as a woman hit bottom. She doesn’t feel worthy or valued by a male figure. These were words that Kate used.
So, how can we help young girls like Kate who have been lied to that she is not valuable, beautiful or worthy? We can preach and try to sway her opinion, but it won’t reach the depths of her heart where the scars are visible and felt to her.
The answer is to love her, to let her know that the young men in her life at that time were not mature enough to understand her needs. Assure her that there are many men who would love to adore her, be her best friend, care and admire her, and want to spend the rest of their lives with her.
Most importantly, is to pray for your teen. When someone is hurt and bitter, they won’t have room to hear what you as a parent have to say. Prayer softens the heart in places you cannot.
The only one that can truly open the eyes of a young girl like Kate, and eventually give her healing, is God himself. He must be the one that mends the broken pieces in her life as well as your own teen.
Counseling can be a place that will allow a teen to slowly take the steps on their own to figure out how they started on a path of confused love that only God can help them understand. Yes, as a parent, it will be hard to cope with a teen who struggles with their sexual identity. But if we pray, and give our teen to God and let Him work in their lives, He will in time, bring them to the realization of who they are in Christ.
In the meantime, your job is to continue to love, cherish and pray for your teen. Do not lose hope and stand firm in your faith. God will answer in His timing and in His way. Remember, He loves your teen more than you and is intimately aware of what they need to heal.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.