My daughter walked into my house and said that she needed to talk. She then asked me to sit and proceeded to say that she has an attraction for women. I kept a cool, calm look on my face or at least I thought I did. I then asked her, “Does your husband know this?” She replied, “Yes, we’ve been trying to work through this. Don’t worry about it dad, everything will be okay.” I was very frustrated for the remainder of the day. In my mind, my first response was to make it all about me. See, I was the pastor of a church and this would be humiliating for me. How will this affect my ministry? How will this affect my church? What will my family say? How could she do this to me? I never said any of these words out loud, but I thought them loud and clear. She didn’t live near me so I put it out of my mind. I never really prayed for her because I was hoping this "phase" would pass. A couple years went by and I didn't hear much about it. I came to the conclusion in my mind that she had moved on from the thoughts and the attractions.
July 22, 2017
My daughter calls me while driving down the road. She informs me that she has left her husband and is with the woman she has left him for. She is headed to Kansas City and let me know that she doesn't want me to try and talk her out of it. I hung up the phone and told my wife I was going to Kansas City, MO. Needless to say I was pretty fired up. It was a 4 hour drive and I spent the first two hours going over in my head what I would say to her. It wasn’t going to be pleasant. I had all the church talking points down... hell, burn, sin, burn, abomination and burn!
Then, God began to speak to me. He told me I wasn’t going to preach to my daughter, especially the method that I had come to know. In fact, God told me that I wasn’t going to be a minister at all towards my daughter. He told me that she didn’t need my preaching because she already knew everything I was wanting to say in regards to homosexuality being a sin. God said to me, "she just needs you to be a daddy to her." I needed to show my daughter the love of the Father from her father. So when I got there, I sensed she was ready for a fight. (Ciara is very strong willed) However, there was no fight and I told her that I loved her. I offered her a place to stay and we talked for a couple of hours before I left for home. My goal wasn't to shout His Truth with my words, but rather allow God to use me to show my daughter His Truth through my actions of love.
One week later she moved in with me and this is where the real battle began. My daughter has 3 younger siblings and I didn’t want them involved. I wanted to love her, but also protect my other children from being exposed to her active lifestyle and other choices. This went on for several months and she had one rule while living with me: She had to go to church on Sunday mornings. The same rule applied to all my children living with me. It was known to not be an option, but an opportunity to be together as a family praising the Lord in His House. So she followed the rule and absolutely hated it. We continued to dance around the issue with no end in sight. Packages began showing up at the house from an unknown address (they were from the girl she was interested in) and my daughter informed me that she was taking a trip to New York so she could see this same girl. I went through the house one afternoon gathering her stuff up because I was kicking her out. I never told her about this but I eventually put her stuff back and got angry with God because He wouldn't allow me to go through with my plan. When my daughter came back from New York, she told me that she was going to move there in order to live with the girl she met. A part of me was angry but the other part was glad, angry over where she was spiritually and glad because I wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore. I walked by her room one night and heard her on the phone. I opened the door and she was Face Timing the girl she was going to live with. I closed the door and anger came all over me, but God spoke to me and told me to join the conversation. I went back into the room and joined the Face Time conversation with my daughter. While keeping a light conversation, I tried very hard to be a loving father. On the inside I was raging with anger, but I was obedient to what the Lord told me to do and loved my daughter through it.
My daughter moved to New York City. I didn’t fight the move one bit. I had several individuals tell me that I should not let her go, but God told me to simply trust Him. It was August 2018 when my daughter returned home and came back a transformed person. She returned as a child who had reconciled with the one true God. I learned so much in the process and one of the lessons I learned was the importance of having your children in church. The time will come when your children will have no where to turn and they will turn to what they know. Make sure your children know where to turn in those difficult times. I also learned that having faith in God wasn’t enough. At some point I had to trust Him as well.
"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:17
James 2:17 says, that “faith without works is dead.” I believe that our trust is tied to our works. I only need faith the size of a mustard seed and although that’s pretty small, it's my trust in God that believes He can turn that tiny mustard seed into something miraculous. Essentially, my trust in God is what puts my faith into operation. I had faith in God when it came to my daughter, allowing and loving her through the move to New York put my trust into His hands. The last thing I learned is how to love as a father. It's learning how to push back my emotions and love unconditionally. As parents we become selfish for our children. I had to love my daughter even though everything she was doing was a slap in the face to what I had known to be true. The months that she stayed in our house, before and after, were some of the most cherished memories I will ever have of us. Yes, those times were extremely difficult, but we also bonded as a father and daughter because I allowed myself to love her unconditionally while still holding firm to my convictions. I feel our relationship is stronger now then it has ever been.
Please know that there is hope and freedom out there for everyone.
I don’t condone sin. I don’t set the standard for what sin is because I myself am a sinner. In His word God tells us what sin is. God forgives, He is merciful, and He is full of grace with no strings attached. The church today has to come to a point of understanding that God didn’t precondition forgiveness. Jesus never told anyone "you are forgiven, but you also have to go through this 8 week course on deliverance and you will truly be set free from all your sin." Jesus simply said “Go and sin no more."
"... Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." John 8:11
We were all once sinners and at one point in our lives we were forgiven when we came to Him with a truly repentant heart. We embraced that forgiveness when it was afforded to us and it’s time the church stripped away the labels, prerequisites, and just welcome the prodigals home. We as the church need to go outside the walls of security that we have built and reach people where they are. I am proud of what Ciara and Jeremy have done and how they have overcame. In the process, God has taught me some valuable lessons that I'll never forget.
God Bless, James Cowan