Sunday, November 22, 2009

most people think my children
are perfect. straight a students.
deeply devoted to Jesus. soul
winners. life changers. you know.
walking perfection.

but somehow, under will's and my
watch, we didn't get all the pieces
just right. missed things. even when
we thought we were doing our very
best because, next to Jesus, we
loved our four sons more than the
roar of the ocean or all the wonders
of the world. in an instant, we would
have given our lives for them.

one of my sons has come home a few
days early for thanksgiving. now under-
stand, my sons tell me things i'd NEVER
have told my parents. we are tight. the
five of us have fought wars together.
but tonight, in the car, my child started
crying. feeling so alone. no girl. the
guys he shares an apartment with have
both lost their jobs, so my son is left to
carry it all.

he's started smoking and doing weed.
it's so hard, mom, and no one respects
me and i do all the work. i'm so unappre-
ciated. feel so isolated. i go to the food bank
every day. they throw food from the truck,
and whatever you catch, you get to keep.
no one says 'thanks'...or offers to take
turns at my apartment.

despair began to roar in my head. my heart.
stark pain that made my bones feel
weak. my joy sheared by fear and dark-
ness. he is 21, and he feels the world
doesn't care, and he gravitates to anyone
who will embrace him. most of them lost
like he feels. most Christian parents
don't know, but i do. my sons simply
cannot keep secrets from me.

i know they have slept with girls.
Christian girls. having fun today is
to go to a bar, and have a few beers.

my children look perfect.
handsome. strong handshakes.
look you straight in the eyes.
are kind. give money to the poor.
they KNOW how i long for them
to go to church. but the church is
losing the fight for our children.
dreams aren't stirred and brushed
across their hearts, judgement
teases in every corner. not love.
but judgement.

my son came home with a mohawk.
oh, i'd told millions that we are to love
others. it is NOT about how anyone
looks. who they are, we can only change
the world with love. sweet, untarnished.
beautiful love. the strong arm of kindness.
of reminding others that God ONLY looks
at our hearts. period.

and my son walks in,
and he's needing me so much.
needing tenderness and embracement.

i was so scared.
what did this mean?
had he aligned himself with
a subculture so
desperate...that he's lost himself?

he got his mohawk shaved off.
today, for me. and i failed.
i made his outward appearance
matter too much. oh, my son and i are
still tight. but if i had only thrown my
arms around him. kissed him, and told
him i noticed he had a new haircut.
joked about it.

i learned to REALLY pray
when i became a mother of
adolescents. flat on my face.
praying more for me than for

love. tip-toeing across the clouds.
not noticing externals. and even, knowing
things are maybe screwed up, we are
singing our love songs. knowing that
under all the appearances...are yearning,
lonely people. and we LOVE then.
running through a stream, a melody.
a choir. salvation's Song. the process
of redemption.


Unknown said...

As a mother of boys that sing Christian rock I understand, they have long hair, I understand. They love Jesus, embrace friends that I think are different, but they love the ones noone else does, the ones other churches snear and judge. I've seen the ones the churches judge raise frightened hands in our small crowd unashamed to finally raise their hand in awe of God and it makes me proud to know that in Heaven I will be with these, the few, the unshaken, the ones who have fought the fight and won. Our God is faithful and we miss so much by judging others even in our midst. Let's stop OK.....Just love no matter what !

babsinwa said...

Oh Ann, I cannot say that I fully understand what you feel--my two are only 14 and 15---but theres my daughter who is artistic and smart and funny--dresses in black --i've seen people in church STARE at her and make quiet comments under their breath..... She feels unwanted there--and like you I fail so often to look past the black clothes and LOUD music to the daughter that i love so much.

Sally said...

Ann, thank you so very much for sharing. I thought I was the only one going through this. I come from a strong Plymouth Brethren background and have a son who turned 20 last week. He made a profession of faith at a young age, went to church until he was 18, did some things he probably shouldn't have, similar to your son, and has decided he is agnostic. I understand how your heart aches in this matter. Sometimes, all we can do is pray....

Mary said...

Ann, I love your authenticity. You are real. You remind me that Jesus is enough and He understands it's hard to be us. Bless you. And bless your sons.

I know what I'm doing. I've got it all planned out. Plans to take care of you, not abandon you. Plans to give you the life you always hoped for.
Jer 29:11 The Message

Sheila said...

Ann - you've given me SO MUCH good to hold on to tight through my Christian walk (I accepted Jesus in my heart at a Church of God in Dayton, OH hearing you speak when I WAS supposed to be going to a high school basketball game and sock hop after Valentine's Day 1976). Reading this I blessed to have something to pass on to YOU! You haven't failed at all. Your/our job as parents is, as said in Proverbs, to train up our child(ren) in THE WAY they should go AND when they are old they will not depart from it. I KNOW you did the training up part and God WILL take care of the rest. That is all that has gotten me through sometimes as a parent. He will be on all the roads and detours our children may travel and will direct their paths to Himself at the end of the road - no matter what sightseeing they may do along the way. THAT's all that matters - the end of the road. Keep on trusting Him to do what only He CAN do in your sons' lives.

Debra said...

Hi Ann, I'm a mom of a 29 year old daughter who we took to church every week till she was 19 and well now, she has tons of tattoes and she's a drummer for various rock bands and she's a waitress and she lived with her boyfriend for 4 years till they recently broke up.

But you know? She's the sweetest girl on Earth and her co-workers love her and she's always bringing organic foods and holistic thingamagigs to her dad and me so we'll stay healthy. She's still friends with her ex-boyfriend and we still love him and were thrilled when our daughter brought him to Thanksgiving again this year as she always did before.

The main thing? God uses our children to stretch our hearts so that we will not judge and be unkind to all the other wayward mother's children out there. Love will always be the most important thing and it's often through our own children that we learn to walk in that type of non-judgemental love--and become more like Jesus in the process.

Thanks for being real with us! Blessings, Debra

marci said...

Ann, I just recently found you on FB and today read your blog. I met you over 30 years ago at a youth festival in San Antonio and have followed your books ever since. I read this blog today and am so overwhelmed. I thought I would have the perfect Christian family, but 2 divorces later I have watched in agony as my 21 year old daughter has walked a path of self destruction for the last 8 years. She has been in rehab, in jail, in pain. I have felt like such a failure, if I had been a better Christian, been a better mother, prayed harder, done more, if if if. I so understand your pain. I have been on my face many times before God and will be many times more. I share your burden and it touches me that I know you share mine.

barb said...

"my sons tell me things i'd NEVER
have told my parents. we are tight."

That's HUGE Ann! Don't be to hard on yourself. <3