John and I visited Jo to help her while she gave birth to her third baby. We stayed several weeks taking care of the house, feeding the kids, and one evening Jo, the baby, and I went to a certain movie playing on the military base. The content of the film revolved around an abused wife’s revenge.
Jo made some comments on the way home that bothered me, and I determined to talk with her the next morning. When I woke the next day, I asked the Lord what kind of a day He had made. He said it was to be a day of truth. I had no idea what He meant.
Later in the morning, I took Jo into Bridget’s bedroom and asked about her comments. One thing led to another, and I asked, “Jo, do you hate men?”
For some reason, she turned the question back on me. “Are you asking me that because Dad hates women? You don’t think I’m a lesbian, do you?” Suddenly, like a flood of light, understanding spread across her face. “Is Dad gay?” I didn’t answer her. She gasped. “He is, isn’t he! Oh, my God, my God, help me.” She grasped her stomach and went to the window for air. “My father is a homosexual, isn’t he, Mom?”
Speechless, words would not come. I never imagined this day would arrive. As far as I was concerned, my children were never, ever to know. I didn’t know what to say because I couldn’t bring myself to lie. Trying to stay calm I said casually, “Jo, I can’t speak for your father’s private life. You’ll have to ask him.”
“Don’t do this to me, mother. Just tell me the truth. Is he, or isn’t he?”
Dumbfounded, I didn’t know how to proceed.
“He is.” She said with finality.
Defensively I countered, “Go ask him, Jo. Go find out for yourself.”
She came to within inches of my face, “I’m asking you.”
Tears welled in my eyes, flashes of ice and heat raged through my body, “I . . . I can’t be responsible for this conversation.” I stuttered. “He’s responsible. Please, Jo, talk to your father.” I felt if I didn’t get out of that room, I would suffocate. I couldn’t confront the issue myself. There was no way I could help my daughter confront it. I left the room, horrified at myself for leaving my daughter to wrestle with this information alone. Had I always run away?”
I went outside and played with the kids, somehow got through lunch, but that afternoon Jo took me for a walk down a quiet, shaded, country lane; only the cows could overhear our conversation. She took my arm in her gentle, affectionate manner and said, “I talked to Dad. He said yes, he is a homosexual.”
We walked awhile in silence. Jo quietly said, “I want to apologize to you, Mom, for all those years I made fun of you with Dad, laughing at your cooking, laughing at your clothes, laughing at everything about you. I cannot imagine the love you must have had for JJ and me to put up with it all so that we could have a balanced home. I mean, I see now that it wasn’t balanced at all, but at least we had a Dad there. I’m really grateful to you. That is more love than I know how to receive.”
Too choked to respond I put my hand on her arm entwined through mine, and we strolled down to the river. My daughter’s gratitude meant more to me than the destruction of all the years of deception. She understood. She appreciated what I had done.
We stood on the bridge watching the water underneath, our arms touching as we leaned on our elbows. We stayed that way a long time. It seemed so cleansing, water washing away all the debris. Jo broke our silence. “Please don’t tell my husband.”
Heaviness fell into my heart. What had happened? Did my daughter now share the weight of the secret? Had it shifted from burdening one set of shoulders to two? I did not want her to carry the burden at all! I agreed her husband was not a person with whom this information could be shared, but it alarmed me that she also wanted to hide it from the world. When our time with Jo ended, my heart ripped at leaving her with three precious, but demanding babies, a sullen, snapping husband, and now the weight of her father’s sin sagging on her shoulders.
Later in the summer JJ came home from Europe where he was practicing law, to enjoy a few weeks on Sarasota beaches, mainly playing volleyball. He thought he was there for fun; I knew he was there for a heart transplant. I told John that if Jo knew, then JJ must be told, and he must tell him. One afternoon I came into the living room, and I knew by the looks on their faces that they had just finished that particular discussion.
I waited until John went outside before I asked, “Did your Dad have something to tell you about himself?”
JJ answered, “Yeah.”
I asked how he felt about it.
“It’s something I’d rather not have known, but I’m glad he told me. It explains a lot of things.”
“What things?” I kept my voice subdued. The air hung thick with JJ’s disappointment.
“Like why there was never any romance between you two. A kid likes to see his parents being in love, and I never understood why you weren’t. Now I know.”
I nodded in sympathy. JJ, during his adolescence, had tried to trigger romance between John and me. But he failed. Affection, romance, intimacy could never be fostered for the children’s benefit. Nor for mine.
“It was not my intention that you find out, JJ, but Jo stumbled on the truth, and it wasn’t fair for her to know and not you. The two of you lean on each other and help each other. She can’t bear this alone or just with me. I’m sorry it had to be this way.”
JJ put his fingers together resting his chin on his thumbs. After a long silence he said, “Thank you, Mom. I’m really glad I didn’t know this when I was a teenager. Really glad.”
He and Jo talked for several hours by phone that night and often during his vacation. He and I took long walks on the beach, talking, analyzing, and at one point he asked, “Why don’t you take a look at where you’re at, accept the circumstances and go on with your life?”
“You mean leave him, JJ?”
That surprised me. I thought children, at all costs, wanted their folks to stay together. I told him the truth, as I understood it then. “I don’t have a release to do that. What I have gone through better explains to me the Scriptures that tell wives to stay with their husbands because their behavior will lead the men to the Lord. I don’t think your father would have gotten born-again, or gone to Bible School, if I had not stayed with him. Nothing in life is more important than God and His Word. I’ll leave when I feel the Lord is saying it is time. But I am hoping that by my staying, he will eventually put the homosexuality aside.”
When JJ returned to Europe, I called him every day for about three months. I knew his own masculinity would be in question, and I wanted to assure him it was not genetic, or inherited, but rather a learned behavior, in fact, an act of the will.
He had some bad moments during those three months, but he drew a marvelous conclusion. If it were genetic, the breed would no longer exist or at least in very small numbers. At first, he wanted no one to know, just like Jo. But after ascertaining that, indeed, this affliction did not indicate him, he didn’t care who knew. This was his Dad’s problem, not his, and he recognized that keeping it a secret was an unhealthy thing.
He also saw how wrong he had been in not believing Jo’s story about Phil. He determined sexual sin attracts sexual sin and that their Dad had opened the door for Phil to walk in. Much healing took place between my children, that blessed me, even in my fits of self-pity, moaning inwardly, “Why couldn’t we have had a normal family?”
JJ also realized why he had chosen a homosexual to be his best friend during Rhema. It was a simple matter of comfort. Dad’s presence represented comfort to JJ, and his friend had walked into the comfort zone, making up for the absence of Dad. He confronted his friend, dialoguing by email, which ended badly as his friend defended himself, saying God made him that way, and JJ backed off from the relationship. He knew better, having learned by personal revelation: man makes himself that way, and God lets him follow the path man makes.
Today JJ has developed better discernment. I asked him recently if there were any homosexuals in his immediate grouping of friends. He said, “Mom, I’ve learned that you just never know.” Jo is another story. She still doesn’t want anybody to know, and she doesn’t like talking about it, but she, too, will let go someday.
Now that my children knew, I got so sick of the subject! I wanted to be about my Father’s business, instead of sludging away in the mud of human gunk. If I could have taken dynamite and blown the situation out of sight, I would have done it. Couldn’t there be a substantive change? I didn’t know what else to do than to shout, “Father, help me!”