[originally written Aug 2008]
i’ve just been impacted by something i’m pretty certain i’ve always known but am hit by it as if for the first time….
grace—which can be learned or practiced—can also, by all accounts, be inherited. what follows is the basis of my hypothesis.
grace’s older son (“#1”) still spends quite a bit of time with our “branch” of the family. this is mostly because of the relationship he has with my older son (“#2”) and also out of convenience: he occasionally needs a place to crash when he’s in town.
this was the child who, at age 12, not long after grace and i married, screamed in defiance, “i hate you. you’re not my dad! quit telling me what to do!”
yeah, we had some rocky times during those years; but oddly, that’s not really what i remember about that relationship. like most blended families, we had our ups and downs. but by in large we got along about as well as most steps do. at the time, he may not have bought into the family 100% but by all accounts he did bond with not only his step-brothers but also me as well.
a few weeks after my request that Grace let me go (and all that implied), #1 was still occasionally using our family home (which Grace had left) as his “home base.” i remember the night i told him my motivation for what i was doing, he looked at me, tears in his eyes, and said,
“i really did want you and mom to make it. but you have to be happy. i want you to be happy.”
that, said in a moment of raw emotion, told me more about his character than i’d ever witnessed before. (and i’d had ample opportunity; he was—is—a good kid.)
fast forward almost 2 years…we’re sitting amid the chaos of #3’s 15th birthday party. #1 is there to “chaperone” along with #2 and his girlfriend. #1 and i are talking about things that had transpired over the past 2 years and our relationship. he tells me how he’s glad that we’ve been able to stay close. that he feels comfortable being in our home. that for him, nothing has changed.
…and that he thinks we have a closer, stronger relationship now than we ever did.
hearing him say that was absolutely amazing; but looking back, it wasn’t all that surprising, for his actions had already spoken those sentiments. you see, this person lived around some graceful people (mpd, jb, et al) oh and a graceful mother in particular.
as the conversation continued, he talked about defending his relationship with me to various members of his family, people from our former church, and anyone else who would question it. he talked about how ridiculous he thinks it is that some people don’t understand how he can still want to have a relationship with me, much less the husband, out of a sense of morality and allegiance to his mother and to “what’s right.”
for my part, i mostly just listened. i did tell him something along the lines of “who knows…maybe we would have this same great relationship even if things had worked out…” but that it “is remarkable to me that we were able to have this relationship now and how blessed i consider myself.”
and i mean it.
to his great credit, he treats #2 very gracefully. trying to get him to be more cooperative with us, think about his future, heck think at all–but all in a way that won’t alienate #2.
he also calls me from time-to-time. to check in with me and see how i am. check on the boys (the ones he used to call “the little boys”) and laugh about how #2 has apparently lost his brain. to hear details about the thanksgiving dinner i’ll be cooking (starving college students are so excited about and appreciative of food!) and ask if he could come if he’s in town. (like he has to ask!)
anyway, there’s the case for my theory.
maybe some people are just born with it.
It sounds like the two of you have an incredible relationship. That’s always a blessing.
i DO feel blessed to be able to have a relationship with him after all we’ve been through. of course, look at his mother! 🙂
PS: just today i replied to your comment on my previous post. thanks for commenting!
I’ve been really missing “the family” lately….guess it’s the fall season or something. But this comforts me…..affirming that our family lives on….such as it is…but still. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this and for honoring me so much with the things you say.
Not surprised at all…”what’s so amazing about grace” this right here is the answer for anyone who asks that question. love you all so much (pam and everyone)
I love you too sweet ally….and so do the boys….and todd, of course. those stars you guys put on his ceiling back in his other dark days are one of the very first personal stories he ever shared with me. The bottom line is this; we have history, and we are forever connected with that history…all of us. And I believe there will come a time when all things come to fruition and God’s perfect purpose (not judgement on our part, but purpose on His part) in every bit of it will be revealed. And for me….that’s what faith really means.
I feel like I have been reading for hours. I probably have. Todd we knew each other many moons ago. You have always been such a sweet kind soul. I feel the need to say a few things, not sure why. Even though, sometimes when I feel this need, I really should shut the computer off, I am going to proceed.
I am getting old and I don’t know if you ever knew how much I looked up to you. I was always encouraged by your faith and that beautiful smile. Your smile somehow set the world straight.
I am deeply sadden by all the heartache you have had to endure. I hope you haven’t lost your religion. I don’t mean the type of religion the world thinks you need, but that deep relationship with God, type religion. The truth is we are all sinners, we are human. We all need God’s grace and forgiveness. We are far from “perfect”. I pray that your relationships that have been distant or strainedcan be revealed to you to be a blessing in your life again.
Never quit being the great kind soul that you are. Continue to show love and compassion as you always have. Your burden will be lifted Todd, if it hasn’t already.
PS I can’t believe your boys are so big. It really makes me feel old!! You are still older though 🙂
wow…this comment was so sweet. you know, i remember how much we all used to laugh back in the day and how much fun we all had…and in all honesty it’s so striking and surprising to hear someone say they were paying attention to me back then…haha….i guess i did have this “joy of life” thing (maybe it’s better to just call it “oblivious”???) and i have no clue why! but your words really do mean a lot–considering the blast from the past that they are!
as far as religion and my relationship with God–they are now two wholly separate things as i am still resolving my issues with organized religion (and yeah, you’ve spurred on another draft post! i’m so behind on here!) … but i know God is with me–that much i know–and that this “burden” of being (gasp) GAY (like it was a huge surprise) is no longer the burden it was bcz i know that God’s love for me is not determined by that facet of my being. this “gay thing” no longer robs me of the joy i felt i always had when i consider myself “totally clueless.”
i’m so glad you didn’t shut your computer off or censor your thoughts. it means a lot to me and i have gained much encouragement from it.
except for the “OLDER” comment hahha
keep in touch.
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