our stories

our stories

CHANGED BY GRACE by Terry Vratny

Every parent has a different way of finding out about their child’s involvement in homosexuality. Maybe you found out by accident. Or maybe your son or daughter sat you down and said “Mom and Dad, there is something I need to tell you.” However you found out, it caused you pain and it changed your world. I know this because I have been there.

have just one child – a beautiful, intelligent, fun, and gifted daughter. Shana was born to two 20-year-old college students who both came from emotionally unhealthy families. Neither I, nor my husband had knowledge or understanding of how to be in a healthy relationship, nor did we know how to be parents. Before and during marriage, most of our lives were simply about survival and getting our own needs met. Because of these things, it was inevitable that Shana’s daddy and I divorced when she was only five years old.

Over the next seven or so years, I indulged in the party scene, buying into the “if it feels good, do it” mentality of the time. I looked good on the outside, but there was an emptiness inside that could not be satisfied. I was in many relationships with men, abused drugs and alcohol, and was briefly married and divorced again. Certainly, all of this negatively affected Shana, and her way of coping was to become the best at everything. She got straight A’s, was a superstar athlete, and had many good friends. She, too, looked good on the outside, while internally struggling with unmet needs.

The Lord knew all of this, and finally got my attention. After being in a frightening motorcycle accident when I was 31 years old, I discovered that the vacuum inside me was God-shaped. In early 1982 some acquaintances introduced me to the gospel, and I made the life-changing decision to give my heart to Jesus. A few months later Shana followed me in her own personal decision to follow Him as well.

Because of God’s mercy and grace, life definitely began looking better! We found a church, began growing in our faith and living in a healthier way. A few years later the Lord brought a man into our lives who loved Jesus and also loved both Shana and me. Jim and I were married in 1985 when Shana was 14 years old. And we lived happily ever after – mostly.

I first learned of Shana’s homosexual struggle when she was 18 and just two weeks away from leaving home to attend college in another state. She arrived home late one night. Sensing in my heart that something was wrong, I got up from bed to find her crying. We sat down at the kitchen table and she said “Mom, haven’t you noticed anything different about me?” In that moment I had the horrifying thought that she was pregnant or in some other kind of trouble, because I thought she meant she was different than she was yesterday or last week. What she really meant was that she was different from other people. She was a lesbian! She was not happy about her discovery that she was attracted to women, and had searched the Bible trying to make it okay. Eventually, though, the feelings were so real and so strong that she had finally given in to them.

Over the next days and months, I experienced a range of emotions. I knew deep in my heart that this was not God’s plan for her life. I also knew that I loved her. But because of that love, I experienced a huge loss – a loss of dreams I had for my child, and a loss of my assumptions of what I thought my life and family were. Any big loss causes grieving – in a variety of phases and reactions. So it is no surprise that I felt heartbroken, numb, shocked, disoriented, angry, ashamed, guilty, depressed, and desperate. I cried – a lot.

Jim and I needed information and support. We learned a little about homosexuality through the few books we could find at the time, but our best help came when the Lord led us to the ministry of Where Grace Abounds. Like many parents, our greatest hope was that WGA would help us “fix” our daughter. But God had something else in mind.

When we first attended WGA meetings, I confess to having an attitude that I was somehow superior to the homosexual strugglers in the group, because I didn’t have “that” problem personally. The group leaders seemed not to notice my pride and arrogance, and they embraced us and taught us. We learned about root issues underlying same-sex attractions, and we learned of our own contributions to our daughter’s struggle. Most importantly, we were humbled as we learned that we were equally, if not more, broken than everyone else in the group – much in need of healing and redemption and growth.

So it seems that what God had in mind was to “fix” me. As he continues to change my heart, I have learned that I must look at myself, my life and my past, and pursue God for healing of those areas where I am wounded. I am powerless, but God continually shows me that I can depend on Him in all things. According to Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

As for Shana, God has assured me that he has his hand on her, that he loves her more than I possibly can, and that she will be fine. I am free to love her with no strings attached. My prayers for her are much the same as the ones I offer for all those I love, that she,“being rooted and established in love, may grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, that she may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19