Does God Make Mistakes? What Happened After Israel Folau’s Homophobic Post

“Encourage yourself, believe in yourself, and love yourself. Never doubt who you are.”
~ Stephanie Lahart

*Note – names and details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. I have been given permission to post this story on the condition that this family remain anonymous. It’s a long read and an important one. Maybe make yourself a cuppa before you start.

One Saturday afternoon in Brisbane a few months ago, I heard a knock at my door. There stood a sweaty eager-faced young boy with grazed knees, clutching a bicycle helmet and a grubby envelope. His bike, wheels still spinning, was laying on the lawn in my front yard.

‘You’re Nicole Cody, right?’ he said. ‘I’m Matt. My parents have seen you. You know, Julie and David Smith. I’d like to see you too please.’ He handed me the envelope which was stuffed with five and ten dollar notes. ‘That’s my mowing money. Is it enough?’

I handed back his money, got him to stow his bike in our garage and invited him upstairs into my office. ‘No charge,’ I said. ‘Let’s just have a chat instead’

And then Matt told me his problem, cracking my heart open with his honesty and self-awareness.

‘I’ve got a big problem,’ he said. ‘You see, I’m gay. You know, a homosexual. I’m sure about that. I was born this way and I’ve known since I was little. I’m only twelve, so I’m not sexually active yet, but I’m attracted to men, not women. I’ve already had crushes. Not with my friends or anything. Just with people on TV and stuff. You know, all kids get crushes. When I was little I wanted to marry Justin Bieber. I thought you could marry anyone when I was little, but now I’m old enough to know better.’

‘So this gay thing is a problem for me right now,’ Matt continued. ‘You know Dad was a footballer, and my older brothers are all good at football, and I love playing football and maybe if people know I am gay or if my school knows they will ask me not to play any more, or my friends won’t want to be around me in case I fall in love with them, but I don’t think it works like that anyway. And it gets even worse than that. It’s a lot of problems.’ He sighed heavily.

I asked him to tell me more.

‘The biggest problems are all mixed up together and they are that I haven’t told my parents yet, and I’m worried about what they will say or maybe they will be ashamed of me or they won’t love me the same way any more. Right now they love me and they don’t know, and we don’t have any gay people as our friends so homosexuality is not a thing they know much about.

‘I don’t think they’ll be happy about my news. Dad was against the Gay Marriage Bill. Then when we were at Church last weekend the Minister was really negative about gay people and their lifestyles. I’m not sure what he meant but he is God’s representative and I really like him. So that upset me because if he knows I am gay he won’t approve of me and he won’t like me anymore, or maybe he will need me to leave that church, or maybe he will ask me to change but I prayed and prayed to God to change me already and nothing ever happened.’

Matt started to cry. Tears trickled down his cheeks and I slid a box of tissues over to him.

‘Keep going,’ I said. ‘I’m listening.’

‘Well, there is this footballer. His name is Israel Folau, and he is one of my favourite athletes because he is so good and talented and he wrote this thing about gay people and how we are going to Hell and so that’s two people who are important to me and both of them are telling me that I am a bad person and a faulty person because I am gay. I follow Mr Folau on Instagram and that’s where I saw this.’

He’d saved a copy of the post on his phone, and he showed it to me.

I noticed that Israel Folau would probably include me and most of my community under the label of ‘witchcraft’. I’ve been up against this kind of ignorance before.

‘That must have been difficult for you to read,’ I said, ‘especially coming from someone you respect and admire.’

‘It was. Really difficult.’

Matt looked suddenly smaller in the chair. He was just a boy, after all. A boy who should have been out playing footie with his friends.

He started again. ‘I know you are not a minister but my mum says you are really wise and a kind of Earth Angel and so I thought you would know the answer to this big question I have that is all I can think about.’

I nodded encouragingly. I couldn’t speak for the lump in my throat.

‘My question is…’

He paused and then his voice got so quiet that I had to lean in to hear him.

‘My question is does God make mistakes, and am I just a mistake?’

It took all I had not to cry with him.

He kept going. ‘Israel Folau says that I am going to hell with the drunks and liars and thieves and other bad people. I am only twelve and I am trying my best. I thought God loved me but now I don’t know anymore. I just feel bad and ashamed. I don’t know what to do.’

Then he said the thing that made my heart stop.

‘It makes me feel so bad that I wish I was dead. I think everyone might be better off without me if I can’t fix this problem.’

The boy was crying so much now that he was a tear and snot-soaked mess. We talked some more about how God is Love, and that if God is Love then God can only have love for Matt and that he wasn’t a mistake at all. He was simply part of the beautiful diversity that is humanity. When he was calm I made him a cup of tea and then I rang his mum, Julie. She came straight over and I supported Matt while he had a very hard conversation with his mum about his sexuality. Both of them cried and we all hugged and Julie promised her son that she still loved him and that everything would be okay.

Then Julie sent Matt downstairs to put his bike on the racks on the back of her car. ‘I’ve thought that he might be gay ever since he was two or three,’ she said. ‘And of course his Dad will be okay with it. It’s 2019. We’re a modern family. All we want for our boys is that they are healthy and happy.’

‘Did you know he’s been thinking about harming himself?’ I asked.

Julie went pale. ‘No,’ she said, her eyes filling with tears. ‘Okay, thanks for letting me know. I’ll take him home now and we’ll get this sorted.’ We hugged again and she drove away.

I was deeply affected by my visit from Matt. Matt’s homosexuality is not a ‘lifestyle choice’. He is a child of only twelve. He was born this way and has felt this way since his earliest memories. As Israel Folau might see it, Matt was made that way by God. If God is all-powerful and all-loving, then this is no mistake but an act of pure love. Matt is a clever, kind, funny and sensitive boy who is popular at school, a good sportsman, an active member of his church and a good citizen. It devastated me to see him feeling so judged and condemned that he was contemplating self-harm.

Like Matt, I struggled as a child, being different to others and feeling like I was ‘a mistake’. I was born the way I am too. I am psychic. I’ve been this way all my life. I can’t change it. It’s hard-wired into who I am. It took a long time for me to be open about my abilities as an adult for fear of being judged. Many Christians have ridiculed, humiliated, judged and bullied me. I’ve had people refuse to sit beside me at conferences after finding out who I am, quoting Leviticus (the Bible) to me: “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” and “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” I don’t believe that. I believe that we come from Love and return to Love, and that love and kindness are more Godly than judgement and cruelty.

Julie rang me late yesterday. Matt is in hospital after a suicide attempt. He’s twelve. He’s a great kid who has been terribly distressed by everything that is happening right now about Israel Folau’s fight with Rugby Australia over Folau’s right to freedom of speech, and about Matt’s idol’s continued stance on homosexuality as a sin against God.

Israel Folau, I support your right to your own opinion and to practice the religious beliefs of your choice. But you are also a role model and a public figure representing your country, a club brand and a sporting code. As part of that code, and your acceptance of your role within that code and the pay packets you received as an employee of that code, you had a duty of care to uphold the values of that code and to not do harm to your fans and supporters. You have failed that duty of care.

I am struggling to find the words right now for the fallout your post and subsequent actions have created. If any good is to come of it, then I hope that is this – we start having the conversations we need to have around these issues, and that we can find a way forward as a community that is inclusive, compassionate and kind.

With much love, Nicole xx

PS – Need help? In Australia you can contact Kids Helpline or  Lifeline, and for people outside Australia you can find help here.

Day 24 – Gratitude Challenge

Buzz Aldrin in the Lunar Module during the Apollo 11 lunar landing, man’s first moon walk, July 20, 1969. Image from NASA.

All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.
~ T.E. Lawrence

Throughout history, there have been souls who have dared to dream big, and who have acted with great courage to follow their dreams, even when the outcome was not assured, even when they themselves feared failure but still were compelled to try.

When men and women have acted this way, on faith and passion alone, driven by a commitment to that dream, they have often changed history.

Once upon a time, it was considered clinically and physically impossible for humans to run a mile in under four minutes.  Roger Bannister broke through that barrier on May 6, 1954 with a run time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Within weeks others had broken the four-minute-mile too. All it had taken was one man who believed it was possible…

Roger Bannister Image from tumblr.com

Oscar Pistorius was born without fibulas, and had both legs amputated between the knees and ankles at eleven months of age.  A few days ago he made history as the first double amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes at the London Olympics, reaching the Quarter Finals in the 400m.

Oscar Pistorius. Image from guardian.co.uk

Whenever someone has gone before us, their actions create space for us to join them at that leading edge of life.

An important question to ask yourself right now is Who is already doing what I want to be doing with my life?

Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists, inventors and mathematicians in history, stated that ‘if he could see further, it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants’.  What he meant by that was that he built his success on the efforts and ideas of those who had preceded him.

Look inside your heart. What is that dream of yours? A soul mate? Financial security? Your own business? A career vastly different to what you’re doing now? Success as a healer, artist, musician, writer?

Having gratitude for those who have already done or who are doing the thing you would like to do brings you into stronger alignment with that energy, making you magnetic to opportunities, ideas, resources and teachers.

Here are a few of the people I am grateful for:

JK Rowling – Image from digitopoly.org

The gorgeous Dr Kim Wilkins

Louise Hay – Image from nolimitsforme.com

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Image from asianews.it

Rollo the Viking  – Image from larsbrownworth.com

When we focus on appreciation and gratitude, we move ourselves out of resistance and back into flow. And in flow, all things are possible…

So let’s start with our daily practice:

Counting Our Blessings and Using our Gratitude Rock

If you need a detailed reminder of our daily process, you can review it here in Day 1 of the Gratitude Challenge.

  1. List five Blessings in your journal, explaining why you are grateful for each one.
  2. Count your Blessings off on your fingers, summoning positive emotion and saying Thank You from your heart for each one.
  3. Find a picture of someone you admire, who already has the energy of something in their lives that you would like for yourself.  If you can’t find their picture, write their name on a piece of paper. Now write on that image or piece of paper Thank You, insert their name here, for your success with list that thing. I’m so happy and excited for you.  I believe that you are paving the way for me too. With your great example I am moving closer and closer to my own dreams every day. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
  4. Tonight before you go to sleep, hold your Gratitude Rock and affirm I am richly Blessed. I have an Abundance of Good in my life. Visualise one thing you have been grateful for today. Swell that positive energy up in your heart like a beautiful golden light, and give a heart-felt Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to the Universe, then imagine a tiny shower of golden light travelling from your heart into your Gratitude Rock.
  5. Still holding your Gratitude Rock, bless your fellow travellers on this Gratitude Journey by sending them golden light, and saying Thank you.  I Bless You.  I intend for you Love, Miracles and Abundance. Know that as you are saying this for them, they are also saying this for you. Feel that connection and gratitude and know that there is real love and support for you here. Place your rock back beside your bed, and go to sleep, cocooned in this good energy.

If all you do today is these five steps, know that is enough.

Want to join me for today’s Gratitude Challenge?  If so, here it is:

Thank You for being You, because that makes it easier for Me to be Me!

Think of something you would like to have in your life – big or small – all that matters is that you have a genuine desire for this thing.

Now think of someone who provides a great example of already having that energy in their lives.  For example, if you want to be an athlete, choose an athlete (from now or any time in history) who displays the talents and success you admire and would like to experience.

Children meeting a sporting hero. Image from suite101.com

Take a moment and really focus on their life, and on the qualities and experiences you would like to see more of in your own daily world. Build an energy of appreciation and gratitude for their choices and their success. When you’re ready say Thank You for showing me my dream is possible! I value you, and I appreciate you.  Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Then spend a pleasant few minutes daydreaming, and imagining that you already have this thing in your life.  What are you doing?  How do you feel? How does your life look?

Savour this energy as though your dream has been achieved. Feel it in your heart, your mind, your body.  Let yourself overflow with positive energy and gratitude.  Know that as you are thinking about this thing, you are becoming more and more aligned with it.  When you’re ready, say Thank You, Universe, for this gift of _____________.  I am so very grateful for ______________. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.  Swell that energy up in your heart, and mean the words with every fibre of your BEing.

Your positive thoughts and energy are creating huge change in your life. Trust! Believe!

All is well. ♥ xx

Image from deepestwisdom.blogspot.com

Journal for Spiritual Clarity and Connection 3 – All about my Emotions

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.
~ Carl Jung

Week 3:  All About My Emotions

This week we are focussing on our emotions, our feelings and all that entails for us, with a special emphasis on feeling good.  Our plan is to understand and connect with our emotions; our relationships, triggers, dreams and hopes and how our surroundings influence us.

Journal Exercise:

Journal relationships this week.  Identify areas where you need to forgive or move on.

Work out who/what supports you and makes you feel good, and who/what brings you down.

Identify triggers for positive feelings, and triggers for negative feelings/low self worth.  Limit the negative triggers!

Use any of these starters to help you:

  • How I feel right now is…
  • What I need to do to improve how I feel now is…
  • One person who always makes me feel good is…
  • The thing in my life I need to let go of is…
  • The person in my life I need to let go of is…
  • I still can’t stop thinking about…
  • The stuff that always brings me down includes…
  • One of the happiest times of my life was…
  • I’m still proud of the fact that…
  • I shed far too many tears over…
  • The most powerful teacher of how NOT to do things in my life has been…
  • The most powerful example of how I’d like to be is…
  • When I think of my pet, I feel…
  • A place that evokes positive memories for me is…
  • A time in my life when I felt unstoppable was…
  • The person I am still mad at the most is…
  • The person I need to forgive most is…
  • When I think about people who suck me dry, or leave me feeling drained and bad about myself, these people come to mind…
  • If I could name the cheerleaders in my life, the people who have supported and encouraged me over the years, they would include…
  • Food that always makes me feel good about myself is…
  • Food that might feel good in the short term but that triggers guilt, low self-worth or uncomfortable physical symptoms is…
  • Music that uplifts me includes…
  • Movies that always make me feel good are…

Activity:

Overhaul your bedroom and lounge areas so that they reflect your style and are uplifting and nurturing.

Play music that inspires you. 

Introduce colour into your clothing and your life.  Get some sunshine, and spend time in nature.

Clean up your house, your car and your energy!

Contact an old friend, or do something to make new friends.  Spend time with people you love, and who love you!

(This image by vichie81)