Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to witness beauty unfolding.
Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a CASA and watch it happen from the sidelines.
Today, I am grateful for a reminder of what happened almost exactly 30 years ago.
Today, I am grateful for the gift of my parents.
Last week, I read an article posted by my friend Jeanine, about the parents of a young man who had died of a drug overdose, the result of so much pain and anguish in his life. The parents raised their son in the church, to love God and follow Christ. And he did. But, he confessed to them one day, at the young age of 12, that he was gay. And the years that followed were devastating, culminating in his death. They did everything “right.” They had all the “right answers.” Heartbreaking story – I’ll send it to you if you’d like. The thing that stuck with me was this: The mom said that she would just about do anything to have her son back. Her GAY son back. Because at this point, having her GAY son was better than having no son at all. Or something like that.
And since then, I have been reminded time and again how very fortunate I am to have the parents God gave to me…
I sat down on the bed, after Mom and I had just put clean sheets on it. The weight on my shoulders too much, I could no longer stand.
It was a fall weekend my freshman year, and I had driven home from college – not because I wanted, but because I had to talk to my parents and confess what had been hidden.
In my mind, I had envisioned the worst. I had faced Mom’s wrath many times before, and it wasn’t pleasant. It was an experience to be avoided at almost all costs. But not this time. This wasn’t a time that could be avoided. I was at my lowest point in my young life of 18 years. And I feared that by the end of the hour, I would be kicked out, forever abandoned, on my own to face the future alone.
“Mom, I’m pregnant.”
Words that were meant to be followed by rejoicing and squeals of delight from a Mom, but not on this day. These words, on the contrary, were followed with silence, followed by quiet sobs as I sat hunched over on the bed that Saturday morning. It was more than I could bear alone. And my Mom knew. She just knew…how to be a parent. Her instincts kicked in, and she walked around the bed and sat beside me, her arms holding on to me all tight. There was no yelling. There was no slamming of doors. There was no abandonment. When I was at my lowest, when I was hurting and afraid and desperate for acceptance and redemption, my Mom was there. She didn’t rail against my sin. She didn’t put conditions on her love for me. She didn’t begin a tirade of all that I had done wrong and how I needed to repent.
She loved me more fiercely than ever before.
The crying continued as she called my Dad to come home from work. And he did. He dropped everything and was there in minutes.
I wasn’t excused from the tough, but I was held responsible to tell my news. Dad is a man of few words. His quiet strength had always been intimidating as a child. But now, as I shared again this uninvited sentence that fell heavy like iron in the bedroom, I saw no condemnation in his eyes. I saw no contempt or disgrace. I saw my Dad’s eyes filled with tears, sorrow and pain…and love all gentle. And he wrapped his arms around me and as he hugged me, he patted my back, over and over and over again.
I will never ever forget that day. That day when I felt, for the first time in my life, that there was nothing I could ever do to make them love me less. That day, when I discovered in true life form, what unconditional love really meant. That day, when I saw God’s example of undeserved, unrestricted love, lived out in my parents’ reactions.
And they have shown it to me over and over again, because my life has been a mess of sorts through the years. Because of wasted potential. Because of poor decisions. Because of human nature. Because I am who I am.
I am witnessing another example of this kind of unconditional love in this season of life, and it is a beautiful thing to watch it happen. A young girl who was left alone in this world found two parents who have opened their hearts, their home, their lives, and they love her with an intense, powerful love and prove it to her every minute of the day. To hear this amazing young girl say last night that her dream is to become permanent in this home, because she found a family who loves her no matter what, broke my heart but at the same time, made it swell with so much hope for her future and faith in the way God is at work in the lives of these parents and their foster daughter.
My daughter was born a few short months later, and from the moment she entered the world, she had two grandparents who could not be more proud of her. She and her little sister were surrounded with unconditional love and her Mama has been living in her grandparents’ forgiveness and acceptance, remembering that pat on the back from Dad all of these years later, while Grandma and Grandpa proudly displayed pictures and told stories and encouraged those little girls to sing loud and be proud of who God made them.
We all have an opportunity to love, to accept without exception. We all have an opportunity to be “that kind of parent.”
Today, do love. Today, show grace.