Stepping Forward

I received an unexpected email this week from a wonderful friend that has inspired me. She is standing up for what she believes is right by speaking out for those whose voices have been silenced. With her permission, I am sharing that email with you. Aside from being a means to convey some remarkable news with you about my partner’s cancer, it’s a touching example of how our suffering has the potential to help others. It’s further evidence that we can never know how lives may be touched by our own experiences. It’s further evidence of the power of love.

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/22, Nikkor 35 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 500, 1/125 sec at f/22, Nikkor 35 mm

Each month we attend a meeting for our local Scouting District. Tonight, at this months meeting you can only guess what was the topic that has all the Bible-beaters in a tizzy – that Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering changing the membership standards to remove restrictions on sexual orientation. One of the speakers was our District Executive, Guy – an employee of the Atlanta Area Council. Guy spoke briefly on the topic basically telling us that nothing would change until BSA’s final decision is made in a few months. But, the Atlanta Area Council wanted feedback from the local Scout leaders. Guy also told us that he would be glad to listen to any input from us leaders…no matter which side of the issue that we we on. I did take him up on that offer.

I said “Guy, I would like to tell you a story about one of my oldest and dearest friends – a man that I have known for more than 30 years. A man of sterling character and high standards. A man with a very strong faith in God. A man that can be described with the words from the Scout Law – Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent….all the values that I want my son to have. A truly GOOD man. Last year I got some devastating news – that he had cancer of the throat. I was absolutely heartbroken that we were going to lose such a good person to such a horrible disease. Then last month, I got a phone call and when I saw the name on the Caller ID my heart stopped, my throat tightened up and my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t want to take the call because I didn’t want to hear the news that I had been fearing and dreading. The expressions on my face had to have been hysterically comical when I was told that an entire team of doctors was flabbergasted, they had NEVER seen a tumor of this type respond to chemotherapy, but his tumor was GONE! Yes, GONE! It can only be described as a MIRACLE! No other explanation – an outright miracle! He was healed by the mercy of God because God deemed him worthy of life….but he can’t be a member of BSA because he’s gay. It’s an archaic and stupid rule that HAS to change and the sooner the better. Please feel free to use my name and tell your Council Executive that both me and my husband are most emphatically in favor of a change in the membership standards.”

Poor Guy – he just stood there all wide-eyed and could only say “Wow! Thanks for sharing that with me….and I’m glad that your friend is going to be OK.” I said “I’m thrilled that he’s going to live longer, but he has always been “OK” and it’s high time that BSA thinks so, too!”

I love you both and am proud to call you my friends.

– Sarena

Isn’t that just awesome? Sometimes you’ve just got to be willing to step forward.


  1. Wow. That was very well said by James’ friend. Good for her for providing such a moving and well-articulated story. Glad she let you share it.


  2. I love this post about “stepping forward” because I have occasionally gone off on people – I don’t always express myself in a loving way, but someday I will – by saying: there have been people around you from the time you were a baby, family and friends, people you loved and who loved you, people who nurtured you and taught you and played with you and hung out with you, but who suffered the torment of not being able to be open about who they were because of attitudes like yours that are informed by Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Noth. Ing. (In my case, of course, it was my father.) When everyone “steps forward”, it will no longer be a risk, it will no longer be unusual. I don’t know much for sure, but I know that God is love, and love does not discriminate.

    Judie and I really miss you and James; you were the most grounded friends we had in Salt Lake. We’re pretty desperate for good influences now. 🙂


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