Monthly Archives: June 2009

A Mother’s Love

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When I went to clean off an old desktop pc so that it could be reformatted I only really cared about finding one thing before we erased the hard drive…this email that I sent my son, Nick, when he went off to college.

From: Liz Dyer

Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2005

To: Nick Dyer

Subject: I wrote this about you and for you on August 14, 2005

Everyone is too young to have their first child.

I was 32, had been married for four years, was fairly successful in my career, lived a responsible life.  I was grown-up “enough.”  At least I thought I was – right up until the moment I found out I was expecting.  That’s when the doubts began.  By the time I came home from the hospital with Nick there was no doubt about it,  I felt like a little girl again.  A little girl who had no idea what she had gotten herself into.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I was happy.  I was elated.  In fact, I was ecstatic.  I loved Nick from the moment I laid eyes on him.  I loved him like I had never loved anyone in my life.  I am not even sure I really knew what love was before I had Nick.  At least not unconditional, unselfish love.

I amazed myself with what I was willing to do, to give up, to go through to care for him, to love him, to just be with him.

But still, I felt completely inadequate for the task at hand.  To compensate, I read everything about raising a child that I could get my hands on.  I asked my mom questions, sought advise from other moms and picked my husband’s brain.

Just when I would think I had it down, he would change and enter another stage.  Infant, toddler, preschool, boy, adolescence, teenager.  The transitions were there and gone before I could catch my breath.  I couldn’t change gears fast enough.

I left him at college today.  That’s what got me to thinking about all of this.  Mostly, I’ve been wondering how in the world he turned out so wonderful.

I did a million things wrong.  I was too permissive when I should have been stricter, too strict when I should have been more lenient.  I remember that time he was just entering adolescence and I didn’t know what to do – I yelled a lot.  Then when he started to drive I was over protective.  And when I wanted him to do well in school I was too pushy.

But, there was one thing I always did well. I always loved him well.  And it was real love.  Pure love.  Good love.  The kind of love that makes up for a lot of mistakes.  The kind of love that says “even when I am doing the wrong thing, I am trying with every fiber of my being to figure out what I need to do different and better.” The kind of love that humbles a person enough to want to change and to admit when they are wrong.  The kind of love that strengthens a person so that they never, never, never give up and they are always willing to try again.

Scripture says that love covers a multitude of sins.  That brings me so much peace.  Because even though I know I was inadequate to shape a life, I discovered I had the ability to love enough to make up for my inadequacies.

I love you Nick.  I have since before you were born and I always will.

Thank you for waking up the love in my heart.  Thank you for teaching me what it means to love unconditionally.  Thank you for being a testimony to the power of love.

I love you,

Mom

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With A Little Help From My Homosexual Friends

My post today is part of the Bridging the Gap Synchroblog.  The purpose of this synchroblog is to share positive stories, ideas, suggestions on how we can bridge the gaps between people on the topic of faith and sexuality. Another way to put it is, “How can we embody mutual honour and respect in our conversations and relationships with those with whom we may disagree on the topic of homosexuality?” 

(After this post had been published for a few weeks I learned that the term homosexual is offensive to many in the LGBTQ community.  I was unaware of this and will know better in the future.  Please accept my sincere apologies for this faux pas.)

It may surprise you to find out that a straight, fifty something, evangelical (that label doesn’t fit so well in the last couple of years), Christian woman can be taught some valuable lessons about faith, hope and love from homosexuals – but it’s true.

I have learned a lot about love from friends of mine who are homosexual.  I have seen some of the most Christ like love and grace demonstrated by some of my friends who are homosexual.  I have seen them love their families even when they were rejected, I have seen them love their neighbors even when they were treated like they were a criminal in the neighborhood and I have seen them love their church community even when they were not allowed to serve and participate in the church after they were honest about their sexual orientation.  I have seen them show concern for those who are uncomfortable with their sexual orientation, in fact I have even seen them broken hearted for the ones that seem to be hurt by their sexual orientation and I have seen them be forgiving to those who come to their senses and sincerely express sorrow for the way they have treated homosexuals.  My love is often less Christ like.  I tend to love those who agree with me and like me; or those who look to me for help and make me feel special; or those who treat me like a first class citizen and notice that I have something valuable to contribute – but through the help of my friends who are homosexual I am learning to love better.

I think it is sad but I often see my friends who are homosexuals have very low expectations of Christians in general.  Most of the time they just hope that Christians won’t be mean to them.  You would think that Christians would be a little more in touch with the concept that everyone is valuable and should be loved and cared for and respected, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.  I personally think that Christians should be expected to demonstrate an extravagant and beautiful love that shocks the world – instead it seems that we can shock the world with a little tolerance these days.  However, even though my homosexual friends seem to have low expectations of Christians, they haven’t lost hope.  They are some of the most hopeful, resilient and persevering people I know.  They hope for a day when they won’t be judged because of their sexual orientation, a time when they can marry the person they love and don’t have to worry that they won’t be allowed to participate or be hired because they are homosexual.  They hope for a day when their character and their actions and their talents will be as important to others as the fact that they are attracted to the same sex – for a day they aren’t made to feel ashamed or guilty for the way they are naturally.  I have a tendency to stop hoping if things don’t go my way after a while, I don’t want to deal with the disappointment, I don’t want to hope for something I might not see come to fruition in my lifetime…but through the help of my friends who are homosexual I am learning to not give up so quickly, to be more resilient, to persevere when things don’t seem to be getting better – I am learning to hope more.

My friends who are homosexual have also taught me a lot about what it means to keep the faith.  I often wonder what I would have done if I was gay.  Would I be faithful to Christ or would I have just given up on the whole thing because of the way I was treated by Christians?  Would I have continued to attend church, to read the bible, to sing worship songs? knowing that so many hurtful things had been said about homosexuals and done to homosexuals in the name of Christ.  I am in awe of the way my Christian friends who are homosexuals remain faithful to following Christ and trying to live a Christ like life.  They haven’t seen that much Christ like behavior committed by Christ followers and yet they are still faithful to believe that Christ is loving and good and worthy of following.  I don’t know if my faith would have been so enduring but with a little help from my Christian friends who are homosexuals I am learning what it means to keep the faith.

With a little help from my homosexual friends I am learning to love better, to hope more and to keep the faith.

Of course I could tell you some stories of homosexuals who aren’t good examples of faith, hope and love – but I am afraid that in between the lines of those stories we would have to point out that they had some pretty good reasons for their lack of faith, hope and love – reasons like being made fun of and ridiculed, being rejected and treated like second class citizens, reasons like shame induced bible studies and people telling them that they have “chosen” wrong and should change that which they are powerless to change, reasons like not being loved or respected or cared for, reasons that would cause most of us to give up on faith, hope and love….but I think that it serves all of us much better – that it has the greatest potential to bridge the gap – if we look for the good – if we gain some humility and become people who can learn from each other – if we take a long hard look at ourselves through the eyes of others.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13

You can find the other synchroblog participants here.

I Love Stories

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I love stories, real and imaginary.  I collect them.  I find them in books, coffee shops, blogs, libraries, work, newspapers, grocery stores, schools, neighborhoods, magazines, social gatherings etc – the sources are endless.  Some are typed up and stored on my pc, some are on pieces of paper tucked in a box that sits on a shelf in my closet, some are in books that stand side by side in my bookshelf and others are just memories stored in my head.  I’ve noticed that the stories that I am most compelled to hang on to one way or the other are stories that not only move me but also teach me.  Sometimes what I learn are things I already knew but somehow the story makes them come alive for me.    So – it is in that spirit that I want to share a story I ran across the other day.

If you have young children you may already be aware of the story.  It is a children’s book that I think was published in 2003 by a man named Douglas Wood.  The name of the book is “The Old Turtle and The Broken Truth.”  This is one of those stories that is loved by all ages.  I encourage you to try to get your hands on a copy of the book as it is beautifully illustrated by Jon J. Muth.  Here’s a summary of the story.  (The lesson is obvious.)

The story is a parable that takes place in a “far away land, somehow not so very far” in “a land where every stone was a teacher and every breeze a language.”

One day a “truth” falls from the sky and breaks.  A piece of the truth falls to the ground and is found by Crow. The stone appeals to him because it is so shiny. But after a while, Crow begins to think that there is something not quite right with the truth he found; he feels it is “broken” and he wants to try to find one that is “whole.”  Fox, Coyote, Raccoon, Butterfly and Bear, are also attracted to the broken truth by its shininess and sweetness. But, one by one, they reject it, for the same reason Crow rejected it – they sense it is “broken”.

Later a human finds the broken truth, and reads the words that are written on it. “You Are Loved,” says the stone, and the person feels good just holding it. He takes it back to his people and they all treasure it. In time, they begin to fear other groups of people who are different from them and who do not share their truth, which they have proclaimed is “The Truth.” They also lose interest in the land and are no longer able to learn from the stones or hear the languages of the breezes.

Over time other groups of people learn about “The Truth” and wish to possess it for themselves. Wars break out, causing the land and all the people to suffer. The animals ask Old Turtle, their wise and ancient leader, to reason with the people and tell them the truth they’re fighting over is broken. But she refuses, saying the people are not ready for this message and that they will not listen to her.

Finally, a young girl, who is distraught because of all the wars and suffering, decides that something must be done, so she travels all alone to the “great hill in the very center of the world” where she meets Old Turtle, and asks her if things could ever change. Old Turtle, realizing this is a human ready to listen, tells the girl that things were not always like this and that there are many beautiful truths all around us and within us—the “small and lovely truths of life” which humans have lost the ability to recognize. And so with the Old Turtle’s help and guidance, the girl learns to hear the language of the breezes. Old Turtle tells the girl that the broken truth will only be mended when one person meets another person different from his or herself, and in that person sees and hears his or herself. Every person is important, according to Old Turtle, and “the world was made for each of us.”

Before she departs, Old Turtle gives the girl a gift, which she has been saving for the right person. The girl accepts it, but isn’t sure what to do with it. When she returns to her people, the girl tries to share the lessons she has learned with them and to show them the language of the breezes, but they don’t believe her and they refuse to listen. The girl is frustrated until she sees Crow flying around the high tower where the cherished broken truth is kept. As she looks up at the tower she realizes the significance of Old Turtle’s gift and climbs up to the broken truth to discover that the broken bit of stone received from Old Turtle fits against the broken truth and forms a heart shaped rock which reads, “You Are Loved—And So Are They.”