You came to me so perfect. All of you. You cleared cobwebs in the spaces of my heart that forgot how gorgeous we are, how Good we can be. Because you are All Good.
Things from my tradition made sense when you got here. God as a tender father, doting mother. Restoration as the only response to whatever could break between us – I would crack the world wide open if you ever dropped my love for you. I would trudge past Hades and dig it out from wherever you left it. I’d sweat blood and be made a fool if you needed me to do it so you’d believe me over whatever lie you fell for, whatever slick oil let my love slip from your imagination. When you got here all that imagery got colored in; your little hands moving the crayons. You are everything, little monkeys.
There are things you imagine as a parent, in probably a primal attempt to outrun the surprises of raising humans from birth to adulthood, we come up with hypotheticals – at least I do. I have seen you graduate, I’ve danced in your weddings, I’ve clapped hard at your recitals. I’ve also stood with you in court, I’ve held your hands in a hospital, I’ve attended your funerals.
Some of these things are exciting – I cannot wait to see what you do with your time and I don’t really care what it is as long as you’re in it, as long as you are doing what brings you life, what fills you and drains you and keeps you going. I have some preferences, but I’ll do my best not to put them on you. It would kill all the joy of it if I thought you didn’t get to find your own fire to dance around.
Some of them are the Hope-Nots. I don’t ever want to see you suffer, but I swear to everything sacred I’ll be with you when you do. No matter why. The things I want the least are the things you might bring upon yourself. Some of the worst things that can happen to a person are the consequences of their own actions. I trust your wisdom so much, but I’m also aware that I have the high calling of helping you learn how to wield it and that’s what gets me praying you’ll be okay.
But there are a few things in another category. Some things that wouldn’t change the Us in this, but that might mean harder things for you and only because you’re doing your best to do what I hope I teach you to do: be You.
Like if you’re gay.
Or if you get pregnant unexpectedly.
Or if you convert to some religion.
Or if you decide you can’t believe in any God at all.
Listen, I grew up in a culture that wouldn’t tolerate any of that – a culture, but not a people. You come from long roots of Love, kids. And my religion taught me plenty, but my Momma taught me Love Covers All. Your Grandad says there’s nothing nowhere never that could make him love us less. I had a babysitter who filled my head with all kinds of Good Stuff about God being a friend and never leaving us and the songs I sang in Sunday School were about how precious everybody is to Jesus.
So I’m trying to put those people in your life, too. Because I can’t really help what you’ll pick up from the culture we are raising you in. We try to be intentional in our discussions, we try to be critical of our own assumptions, we try to drop the religion for the relationships, but I’ll never be sure we’re offering anything close to pure. It’ll be muddled with, maybe, some of the same stuff that muddled my upbringing. I just take comfort that the Truth wins out as we expose you to what we believe has net value, crap and all.
So if you’re gay it won’t change my hope that you find a Home with someone. That you are valued and lifted up by whomever you are with and that they see you as someone worth sickness and health, rich or poor, sharing good times and bad. That however you navigate intimate relationships you see God in them, which is to say, you see Love. Real love – not what fills a physical need, but doesn’t reach the places in your heart that need reminding – what gives you a space to be totally you. My deepest hope is that the space you make with them would help you both become the fullest versions of yourselves, too.
If you find yourself staring at a positive test before you’re ready it will not change my hope that you indulge in that experience some day – through kids of your own or friends you mentor or a dog (I’ll love you even if it’s a cat). That you are a person who stands for Life, not on street corners with picket signs, but with every interaction convened to you. That even if we don’t agree on when life begins, you make all your choices with a clear conscience and a heart postured toward humanity.
If you convert to Buddhism or Islam or Hinduism or some -ism I don’t even know of it won’t change my hope that you are accepted and encouraged. That you feel a part of something bigger, that you find answers to things you need answers for and ultimately learn how to live without the ones you really want. That whatever and wherever you worship, it is Love with a mask on and not something that would hurt you. This, by the way, is my hope if you decide you are a Christian, too. I just don’t want you to miss anything because someone else told you it wasn’t there.
If you decide you don’t believe in God at all it won’t change my hope that you believe in Love. In fact, I’ll hope that dropping titles might bring you closer to it. That you will find it easier to live out of the freedom you already have and that you will be empowered to be a force of Good in the world without a filter. That it will not be a cynical turn toward nihilism, but a hopeful one. That you find beauty worth it’s presence and human kindness worth your limited time. That whatever you believe about the afterlife, the nowlife excites you and you engage fully with it.
Here’s the thing, kiddos, like, The Thing: you are worth the space you take up. You are valuable and important because you are here. And my job is to make sure you don’t forget that, make sure you feel safe enough to figure out what you want to do with your time and then do it. My job is to make sure you know you’re good, you’re cared for, you’re seen, you’re unique, you’re wise, you’re safe, your needs are met, you’re in control of your life to some degree, and that you’re not alone (and yes, that would be the Enneagram).
So you do life, babes. You go out and get it – create your world, join your tribe, make your mistakes, find your way. I’ll be here replacing my hypotheticals with the fullness of you and reminding you that you came to me perfect.
*This post was partly inspired by this piece featured on Mamalode. Happy reading! 🙂