Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Honor or Insult?

By Faith St. Clair

At 22 years old, my son has not lived at home for more than a month or two since he was fresh out of high school at 17. He left two weeks after graduation to play soccer in London. Although he was traveling with a team to attend a tournament for a few weeks, he announced before he left that he did not plan on returning. He dreamed of playing in the Premiership League in Europe and intended on staying there to make his way toward that end.

I did not have a problem with this. In the corners of my heart, I found a bit of envy. Oh, to be young and stupid and free and full of dreams, ready to tackle the world…

We gave him a couple of hundred dollars as a graduation gift towards his airline ticket, he sold his drum set and we drove him to the airport. When his team left to come back to America, they left him at the airport, alone, $20 in his pocket, knowing nobody, having no job, no international working papers, or a place to stay.

Five years later, he can claim: having played soccer in London, Spain, Budapest and Romania – although never in the Premiership, only semi professionally – having slept in airports, tiny European closets, on couches and floors, having a diagnosed schizophrenic roommate, arriving in three countries with an incognito agent, not knowing the language or anybody there and trying to negotiate a contract, living in villages without running water or electricity, literally fleeing Romania in the middle of the night for his life, two knee injuries, a trip back to the states, a girlfriend, and a telemarketing job.

The view of his exciting, youthful adventures waned as his quest forged him past the opportunity to serve a mission for the church. Although he looked up the church and the missionaries wherever he went and oft times did splits with the missionaries, his choice not to serve his Heavenly Father has weighed heavy on his mother’s heart. Alas, as his mother, I try not to dwell on it because it makes for long nights and wet pillows.

Fast forward to the present wherein I refrain from asking where he is living because I’m certain it is with his girlfriend. His poor choices give me anxiety and although I try to be cordial, I’m told that I need to be friendlier to his girlfriend. He often says that she and I should get to know each other better. He asks me to bring her gifts when she is ill, tells me to spend some time with her, etc. My personal thought is that it is his job to get to know her, not mine. I’ll save the emotional expense until it is time to prepare a wedding.

His birthday came around and I asked if I could take him to lunch. We were both going to leave work and meet at a designated time and place. I began driving when he called on my cell phone and by the number I could tell he hadn’t left work yet. He said he would be right there and instructed me to just ask the hostess for our table he had reserved by our last name. I got to the restaurant and was asked to wait just a minute. I turned and saw…her. I knew immediately that I had been stood up. I fumed for one second then tried to be cordial. At the same time, both our cell phones rang and it was my son telling us that he would not be joining us, to have a nice lunch and the tab was on him. Midway through the corrugated conversation and lunch, he sent her a text message and she excused herself to get a card he had put in her backseat that he wanted her to read. It was a birthday card to him from himself and said, “Sometimes you just have to make your own birthday wish come true.”

I was insulted and angry that he put me in that awkward position and I was truly disappointed that I didn’t get time to spend with him. Yet… I am honored that he cares enough to care what I think. He was gracious in his comments and care of both she and I and I could tell he loved us both.

When my birthday comes around, I think I’ll ask him to take me to lunch this time. Except, I think I’ll send the Bishop in my stead…after all, sometimes you have to make your own birthday wish come true.

4 comments:

  1. May I share an experience I've had with a transgender? It's not quite the same but in many ways the same. I knew nothing of his/her condition and found it repugnant at best when finally told. His/her parents were devastated. It was their only child. I fought the good fight as Paul says, trying my best to stop him/her from making such a life-changing experience. But I failed. The really odd and wonderful thing is our friendship deepened and grew. I am very good friends with this person. I learned a valuable lesson from this. How to love the sinner but not the sin. And he/she learned that loving doesn't mean accepting. I have such sorrow knowing how messed up this person's life is and I do know there is no peace. Please hang in there and keep loving him. Use the Spirit to guide you in what to accept and what not too. And take great comfort in knowing you are so not alone.

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  2. Dear Faith,
    May I tell you my story? My son made a disastrous choice in his first wife. They were married in the temple, and he stuck it out for thirteen unhappy years (and three children). It was a very dark time for all involved. After his wife finally divorced him, he met someone on line and moved to Florida to be near her. Talk about soggy pillows!

    But, eight or ten years later, this lady has been baptized, endowed, they've been sealed in the temple, they moved west so he could be near his children, who came to live with him and their step mom, and he has 2.2 children with his second wife, born in the covenant His first wife has met a good match and has just remarried as well.

    My son's second wife loves the Church, and though her approach to things sometimes makes me blink, I never doubt her testimony. She was just called into the Primary Presidency. I would NEVER have predicted that when my heart was breaking.

    At the time this lady was baptized, my son's standing in the church wasn't so he could do it. He bowed his head and gritted his teeth and went through the process to get himself in shape to go back to the temple. If he talks about that period in his life at all, he talks about how hard it is for a Latter-day Saint to live outside the boundaries the Lord has set. You have a hard time feeling good about yourself.

    Your son must see good in this lady, and he may even be wanting her to see a family lit from within with the light of the gospel. I urge you to embrace her, to take a voluntary step toward getting to know her. I promise you, if you'll do this, that only good can come from it.

    By the way, his trick was wuuuunderful. Great fodder for a romance.

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  3. I agree with Liz...I think your son was very creative in getting you to spend time with his girlfriend. I, too, have experienced learning to love the "sinner" but no the sin. I refused to believe that the nonmemeber our daughter was dating would ever join the church. but he did. And he treats our daughter like a queen now that they are married. He still has a lot of growing up to do...but I love him. It took fasting and prayer to change my heart, but that is what is so wonderful about the Atonement. I love knowing I can take my weaknesses to the Lord and ask for help! Faith, you are a wonderful woman. Let this young lady get to know you and the light that shines form your heart.

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  4. You are well named, Faith. That's what it takes, and I believe that's what you have. Having faith is not always easy, but it's much easier in the long run than NOT having it.

    Two of our four sons decided the way of the world was more enticing than the way of the Lord. It's been hard on them and us. Each has a lovely daughter out of college, has an ex-wife, but has been single for years. I understand heartache and soulful wishing. But with faith, hope, and charity (continual, unconditional love) I am assured all will work out. It sure helps when family members are friendly, and I'm grateful for this blessing.

    Even if in this life our kids do not 'come around', and even though (was it Alma?) said this life is the time to repent and do right, mortality must not be the ONLY time, else why do we baptize for the unrepentant dead? Why did Christ teach them?

    Just hang in there, and keep loving. I've also had to be kind to 'live-ins'. I like the ideas that (1) I can hate the sin and love the sinner, (2) nobody can change my attitude unless I let them, and (3) 'inasmuch as ye do it unto one of the least of these . . . .'

    Hang in there. Things, through the love of those who watch over us, always work out.

    Anna

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