Another beautiful account of the power of a mother’s love, from my friend, Darla. As you read, which thoughts or feelings expressed by this mom stand out to you?
Junior year of high school has proven to be the most challenging for each of our three older children. (Our youngest will begin her junior year this fall, so prayers welcomed!) There were a few signs beforehand, but my son’s junior year was the most tumultuous for him, and for me as his mama. He was always such a delight as a child, never a trouble maker, always kind and loving and thoughtful. From early on until around 14 years old, he would come lay at the end of my bed before he went to his own room and we’d catch up on our day.
In high school, he made a few new friends, which I was happy for because he always seemed sort of lonesome. He had places to go, guys to hang with as well as girls (there had always been girls). He loved singing, choir was his world. He made show choir 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. He was also in drama and before graduating had been the lead in Grease and also in The Outsiders.
The fall of his junior year he called sobbing and even though I couldn’t make out all he was saying, I knew.
My heart dropped.
I’m not sure how I drove across town to his school, to him, to my crying-scared-sobbing son. I found him, and hugged him, and held him for an eternity, and told him I loved him and we’d figure this out. My thoughts –
What will his life be like?
What about his soul?
What will the people who have watched him grow-up say and think and how will they treat him?
Will my step-son’s mother make this an issue for us seeing my step-son?
What about our worship family who adores him – will they continue to embrace this child?
Will he be allowed at church camp?
What about me?
How do I respond to my son?
What do I say?
What do I think?
What do I feel?
What about his little sister?
Will his big sister encourage him?
How does this work?
What about his physical body/his health?
—All these racing thoughts, but all I wanted to do was wrap him up in love and protect him. Take him somewhere where he would be okay.
He was open to meeting with me once or twice a week and having Bible studies. (Yea, I did that). It’s incredibly awkward to talk to your son about his sexuality —-at all—- especially if it’s with the same gender, or at least for me it is. But we talked and we both survived. A few months later he said he wanted a counselor, and we set that up, but after six months he was ready to end that and we did.
During this time period, at our worship on Sunday mornings there was a time to come forward for individual prayer given for you by different couples of our congregation. I went up there for those prayers every single Sunday for a year. I didn’t tell everyone what my son was struggling with, except for some whom I felt were safe. Some whom I trusted with my son’s heart (and my own) I shared with, but mostly I kept all my deepest concerns inside and asked for generic well-being type prayers. Walking back to my seat afterward was all out humbling week after week.
One of our ministers led me to Sally at CenterPeace and I called her desperately. She took my call and calmed me one night on her way home. She was an angel in my deep moment of need. She let me know her story and that having a village of support and love is critical. I was also concerned my son wasn’t eating enough and could be suicidal.
The end of his junior year he went to camp. It’s a camp he’d been going to every year for the last eight years. It’s not a church camp, but it is a faith based, encouraging, uplifting, wonderful sort of place. He was gone for two weeks. He came home and seemed happy, light, at peace. The day he came home, before he went to bed, he came in and almost as an afterthought said, “oh, by the way mom, I’ve decided to fight this.” And again I cried. Tears of surprise, tears of joy, tears of confusion, tears of wondering if this would be temporary. But I held him as long as he let me because he was the boy he had been before all the uncertainty.
And then I came to PeacePrints, CenterPeace’s retreat for parents, two weeks later. I didn’t want other people to go through this, but what a tremendous comfort those families were. What a treasure to know I could choose to love my son no matter which way he went with his sexuality, AND I could continue to serve the Lord without being ashamed. I could learn myself and then show others how to also love their son or daughter that was dealing with this in their own lives. I could love people. I could love gay people. I could love gay people like I loved divorced people. I could love gay people like I loved obese people. I could love gay people like I loved greedy people. (I could love myself….. but that’s a whole other blog.)
I could love people of all sorts, all kinds, because that’s what God does.
He loves us.
It’s been two years and lots of growth and healing. My son is thriving and has completed his freshman year of college as a musical theater major. When he comes home, I am proud to have him here. When he visits me at my workplace and twirls, (honestly) I struggle on the inside a little, and then smile. When he helped a small church at the end of his senior year, to give them some encouragement in song leading and worship, I beamed. As he takes part on the worship team (and gets paid for it as a side job!) next fall at his chosen church, I will be joyful in his praise to our Lord. When he is happy in himself and is good with God, I am at peace.
My daily mama prayer for him is
“dear Lord, I pray this burden is taken away from my son. I pray he no longer feels that pull or that struggle. I pray that struggle is not replaced by another one that is equally as difficult. But, if it stays in his life, and if that is what he is to contend with, then I pray that he chooses to serve You and honor You with his life. And I pray that his world is surrounded by those who also love You and are understanding, kind, supportive, and encouraging of good. I pray his life be fulfilled and abundant. Amen.”
I don’t know what the future will bring. I still want a particular sort of life I envisioned for him (and for each of my children), but I know now that if that doesn’t come to be, we will all be okay. Maybe he will stay single. Maybe he will marry. Maybe he will have a family. Maybe not. I will continue to love him and support him.
—It’s an odd thought that I would have no reservations loving a total stranger without knowing what his or her life has been like, but it would be difficult to choose to show love to my precious child whom I adore because his life doesn’t fit into the mold I imagined for him.—
What if everyone knew my stuff, even before they knew me?
Instead, what if we all strove to see each others’ hearts?
My son’s heart is alive and exuberant and beautiful.
I love being his mama.