Over the past decade, I have encountered nearly one thousand high school and college-aged students who wrestle with same-sex attraction (SSA). One of the most difficult circumstances is when the young person is also the son or daughter of a pastor. The weight of holding to theological conviction and upholding the family reputation can prove too much to bear. Fear of rejection often runs high, and risk factors for suicide climb.
This week, I want to share some advice for PKs (Pastors’ Kids) struggling with SSA:
Many of you desperately fear embarrassing your “well-respected” and “highly credentialed” parents. Some of you fear that your (pastor or missionary or theologian) parent will lose his or her job if anyone finds out. You persist in silence hoping these attractions will prayerfully disappear. Day by day, the weight gets heavier. My first affirmation is this: God did not design any human to carry this much weight alone.
Throughout your life, you have been taught to serve others. Your parents are proud of your servant heart. Yet many of you – in an effort to follow Jesus – cross a line and diminish your self-worth. You deny yourself by holding inside your greatest struggle. As the emotional weight continues to grow, you must deny yourself all the more. My second affirmation is this: You are worth being fully known – your strengths and struggles alike – by those who love you.
The worst case scenarios that you imagine are often based in exaggerated fear. If your parents have no idea that you experience SSA, your revelation will bring sadness (even grief). However, many such parents respond with surprising grace. Often their hearts break not so much because of your struggle, but because of the pain you have carried alone. They are anxious to hug you; and to walk with you. My third affirmation is this: Face your fears with courage and tell your parents; if not them, share with a trusted relative, pastor, counselor or mentor.
I am happy to help you build a network of safe support within your church or campus ministry; and ultimately, one that includes your parents (as you are ready). Join me all this week for more ideas and affirmations. God bless you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: While most parents will respond with grace, some of you may come from families with a history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, addiction, verbal harassment, shaming attitudes or homophobia. If this defines your family, I invite you to contact me for a free assessment of the risks of sharing this struggle with your parents. My primary objective is always to build support via parents. While this is possible in the vast majority of cases, it is not possible in every case. If that is your situation, you still need support and there is always a way to build a network of support. Reach out for help today.
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