The next contribution to our parent series this summer comes from one of my church leaders at the Highland Oaks Church of Christ in Dallas, or as we call them, elders. Better yet, shepherds, who provide guidance and pastoral care in our lives. I’m so thankful for James Teague and his wife, Juanell, and their influence in my life. I’ve spent time in their home, and they’ve been to mine – usually bringing me a meal! Their lives of service are a blessing to us all. Their love for their children and grandchildren is boundless. And I’m happy to call James and Juanell, and their son, Tim, dear friends.
To my CenterPeace friends…“Had I known then, what I know now” –
I can’t say the revelation that our son was experiencing same sex attraction, the day that it came from him verbally, was a shock. His lifestyle through childhood and early adolescence provided suspicion to our immediate family, but we were not totally in tune to realize the gravity of his sexual needs, nor did we want to admit it. I didn’t have knowledge or words to address the issue with him, nor did I want to address our suspicions with immediate family, extended family, friends or pastorate.
By the time we were totally aware of his sexual desires, there were other elements of his behavior which created a lot of conflict within our family. These elements created a wider cavity in the family relationship and constructive communication was almost null and void.
Absolute revelation came to me on a day following his return from a church camp, where he met a young man that he expressed feelings for. We decided to try counseling, and while he attended some sessions, our realization that he would not be “cured” became very real.
He dropped out of high school as a senior, and moved to Dallas, roughly ten years before my wife and I moved to Dallas. Those were very tough years for all of us, but for him it was particularly painful, with his main focus being on survival. Soon after we moved to Dallas, he informed us he was tested HIV positive.
For basically fifteen years, our immediate family experienced only casual relationship with him because of prior wounds gone unhealed. Neither he, nor immediate family members, felt a desire to be in a loving relationship.
Twenty years and a few months ago, he went through the twelve step program and God provided a miracle. His relationship with God was restored. He was healed from addictions, and for the first time we could intelligently talk about life issues. Bonding began to happen among family members, for he reached out to fulfill healing steps within the twelve step program and communication avenues were reestablished. Family gatherings took on deeper meaning. Paradigms were changed concerning life styles, his sexual desires are better understood and all family members have an increased awareness of acceptance and love.
The crowning event for my wife and me in our relationship with our son, came after we began ministering with a couple at church in a process we called Healing Prayers. Following a few visits with those in our church in need of prayer, it dawned on us that this is our avenue to reach out to Tim. Our friends agreed to help us with the process and we made a visit with our son with them, and two of his cousins (twin girls) who he has always been close to. A spirit led message was read by our friend. We then all prayed, including our son, for healing intervention upon all. The love and acceptance I expressed from my heart toward him was “supernatural,” and was the pinnacle of healing between us.
Had I known then what I know now?
I would have not only talked to him about his “odd” behavior as a child (because he was so much different than his brothers), but I would have told him I was trying to understand.
I would have made it very plain to him that he could be open with me.
I would not have been critical of him for playing in his mother’s closet and dressing in her clothes and hats, his lack of interest in sports and scouting, his lack of desire to participate in activities which I thought he should.
I would express love to him no matter how his desires differ from mine.
Love encompasses all.
Grace extended at middle age, that I wish I had grasped as a young father.