Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Mara Phelps - You're Loved
The Westboro Baptist Church is primarily made up of the Phelps family. They're famous for protesting American soldiers funerals and gay events, such as the one Ray and I were attending. Their signs such as, "God hates fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers" has infuriated people all over the world. So much so, there is a pending Supreme Court case, which if it doesn't go in their favor, would limit or even silence their hate speech.
I heard the Phelps family would be in Long Beach the same weekend as Ray and I. When I woke up that Saturday morning, I heard shouting outside my hotel room. I went over to the window and pulled back the curtain. There they were, ten stories below me, with their infamous signs in tow.
I immediately became excited. I've wanted to meet the Phelps family for years now. There were so many things I've thought about saying and doing to them. However, since my transition from a faith based in fear to a faith based in love, I no longer had the desire to do any of those things anymore.
Instead of responding to them out of fear, I could only think of how I could respond out of love. But what would that look like?
I found a corner store nearby and bought five bottles of water. I figured it was warm that day and they might be thirsty.
Estranged son of Fred Phelps, Nate Phelps, has recently started speaking out about his experience of growing up in the Phelps family. In a exclusive interview with The Standard, Nate revealed his father, Fred, would physically beat his mother for hours and also abuse the children the same.
When I saw them outside my hotel window that Saturday morning, I no longer saw people who hate me because I'm gay. I saw victims of Fred Phelps. I saw people who have never experienced unconditional love and are controlled by the fear of going to hell.
As I approached them, I grew nervous, but went up to each one and asked, "Are you thirsty?" All of them said no, as I thought they would, "Well, if you get thirsty, here is some water. It's warm out, you need to stay hydrated." Before I walked away, I attempted to look at each of them in the eyes and tell them, "I want you to know, you're loved." Only one of them responded to that... Mara Phelps.
With her soft spoken voice she told me that we must obey all the laws of God or face his judgment. I asked Mara, "When was the moment you experienced the love of God?" Mara looked down then up again at me and said, "I don't even know if God loves me."
It was then I reassured her that God does love her. I then shared with her the moment I experienced the love of God which has changed my life. Mara listened, I thanked her for listening and one last time looked at her in the eyes and said, "Mara, you're loved."
If it wasn't for God's love transforming me, there would have been no way I could have done anything more than join in with the 50+ counter protesters and yell back at these victims of Fred Phelps. It is only because of the unconditional love of God continuously transforming me that I could respond in love to their extremely hateful message.
That Saturday morning, I made a new friend... her name is Mara Phelps and God loves her.