We’re back from Midland and the Marriage & Mentors Conference … what a wild weekend!  It was such a relief to be in a place where it was ‘safe’ to be ourselves and know that we were all there to support each other and learn.  I had been thinking about and praying for some people who got stuck in my heart at last year’s conference and they were there, continuing to fight the good fight and looking marvelous.  :)

We met some new friends who possess more years of healing than we have and are incredibly wiseHopephoto © 2008 Christina | more info (via: Wylio)

words/counsel.  We met some amazing mentors as well – and gleaned from their years of experience and wisdom.

As we pondered our time away (and celebrated our 16th anniversary while we were away), I realized what bubbled up the most:  hope.  The movie “Hope Floats” from several years ago and the line about hope always floating to the top lines up with my experience and what’s in my heart.

As participants in the conference, we were part of 154 people who were ministered to by the people of Stonegate Fellowship out of love.  No obligation, just humble servant hearts.  The wounds that we all carry are being healed with small kindnesses.  I dropped Mike a note today and told him that SGF has figured out what it means to Do Justice, to Love Mercy, and to Walk Humbly.

As couples who deal with SGA, we rarely experience justice.  Most Christians don’t know what to do with us, so they sideline us, making it safe to only stay in the closet.  Most churches lump us in with people who are looking for LGBT “justice” or who are twisting the Gospel message to meet a political agenda.  SGF has figured out that standing for what is right and representing Jesus to hurting people is indeed justice – and they do it time and again when others attack them for their stance.

And as far as mercy?  Most of the compassion and mercy we experience comes from our closest, safest friends.  Not from strangers we’ve never met who offer to put on a conference for free, who will pick us up at the airport, shuttle us to the hotel and the church, pick up random things at the store when we need them (thank you, Terri!), and who will hug us freely.  They feed us amazing food, decorate the tables, and provide goodie bags and snacks – more than any of us would normally eat at any given time.  All in an effort to make us feel “normal” and loved.  That’s mercy at its finest.

The people who serve us at this conference say that they are more blessed than we are by what they do – that could be an all-day argument, honestly.  But to hear them say it, they’ve learned to deal with their junk because of the naked honesty with which we deal with ours.  And God has used our struggles to change hearts and minds and remove bigotry… all of which requires a humble walk with Jesus and a moldable heart.

So how does all of that bring me back to hope?

I looked around the “afterglow table” late Saturday night and in to Sunday morning and saw people who came in with their defenses up after years of struggle, hurt, and pain and within 48 hours, had left their pain by the side of the road.  They were smiling, holding hands, and looking relaxed.  There was hope there.  And I reflected that the hope was tangible – I could sense it for them, for us, and for our children.  Our futures are bright and hope is present in the person of Jesus.

That is not to say that our futures are easy or will be without a hard fight.  We’ve learned enough through the years to know that what God plants, the Enemy will try to come in and steal.  But the legacy we’re creating of health and honesty beats the history we’ve been given of hiding and deceit.  I’m telling you, the hope is so tangible, I feel as though I could reach out and touch it.

I’ve got much rolling around in my noggin after this weekend that needs to come out, so I’ll be back soon.  If you’re reading and were at the M&M conference, know that we’re praying for you.  Email me (myhearthisheart AT gmail DOT com) if you need something specific and we’ll be here for you.

His and his,

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