Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Son, Whom I Love

I have a confession to make and it's going to be hard for me, so bear with me for a few minutes.  Being a mother has been very rewarding and my most incredible blessing from God, but it has also sometimes been a very heart wrenching time for me, as I've learned to grow in ways I never realized I needed "growing".

My son, Tommy, is an extremely talented photographer. He has been into photography for a very long time, since I can remember.  He started taking photographs when he was heavy into skateboarding as a young boy and was very successful throughout his teen years.  His work was just recently on display at a gallery in Atlanta, GA and they made a video about him to introduce him to folks.  It was very well done! And it brought tears to my eyes. Gosh, I love that kid.

The issue came when I saw it and I wanted to share it on my Facebook page.  I had this internal struggle because as a mother, I am so proud of my son and how he expresses himself, how he's not afraid to be who he is and how he is so authentic as a person. He is really an amazing human being and people who know him would all agree with me that he is probably one of the most likable people on the planet.

But Tommy doesn't fit the "mold" that some in the Christian community would expect from a "son of a Christian speaker, writer and radio host".  Unfortunately, this expectation is something he has always resented and I don't blame him. I hesitated in sharing the video because I did not want to expose him to any judgment that might come from people who would see his tattoos, observe him smoking a cigarette, talking about his photograph he took of a woman "levitating" and hopping trains across the country and completely miss the point that he is a beautiful human being with so much to offer.  Are those things I would have chosen for my son? Probably not. But I trust God with him and I still love him and accept him for who he is, right where he is, without question. The problem is, some people do not. 

I decided to post the video on my page (and I am posting in this blog, as well).  I am at that point in my life where I'm just not afraid anymore.  I'm not afraid of what people think like I used to be. I'm not afraid of exposing my son to the judgment now because I know that in that, he will also be exposed to those who understand grace and will see him for who he is (by the way, my facebook friends have been extremely accepting and loving - I am so overwhelmed by their love).  I am not afraid to tell the world that I have a son who is not going to be the person you desire for him to be in order for you to like him. He's the real deal.  He's on a journey and he's one of the most authentic people I've ever known in my life. God has really used my son to teach me about grace, unconditional love and about my own judgmental and fearful heart.

My confession today is that it took until recently for me to get to this place.  I have hidden my boy away from my world like a protective mama bear and I have tried to separate my life from his.  Initially, I do believe (sadly) it was because I was afraid people would question my mothering and my own faith. But as God worked on me, over time, I realized it became more about protecting him from people who would judge him. He already looks at many Christians as judgmental and I can honestly say he has every right to feel that way.  He has been judged, criticized and told he must change by many people in his life.  I don't see that in the Bible though.  God accepts us just as we are, and as He gets a hold of our heart, He will make the changes He wants to make in His time.  Our job is to love people like Jesus did, not to point them to a behavior modification program that never works in the long run, but only produces a short-lived outward change.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I love my son and I'm proud of him for being an individual who loves deeply, creates from the depths of his soul and is not afraid to be himself in a world where that is increasingly fading away.  I'd like to introduce you to my son, Tommy....and whether you appreciate who he is or not is not of my concern.  I love him with all of my heart. And it is a privilege to be his Mom! 

If you have a grown child who is taking a "unique" path or is not going in the direction you planned, please don't try to change them.  Pray for them, trust God with them, love them right where they are, and watch how God will change you, instead.  Could it be that was what He was trying to do all along?


Jenna Kay said...

I love this, Leslie. I watched the video when you posted it on facebook, and I worried that people might make ugly comments. It's my hope that those who might judge, would choose to pray for Tommy instead.

My oldest son is also named Thomas. He is a strong-willed and angry little boy who will probably never be what I "want" him to be, but keeps me on my knees. God made him who he is, and God doesn't make mistakes.

Anonymous said...

I smiled the whole time watching this, Leslie! Beautiful! God is at work! Love you, friend! Jessica W.

yahoo mail said...

I to smiled the entire time watching this video. My son Christophere that I had while you and I attended Kubasaki in 1986 has also taken a very unique path in life and does not fit the mold but I have learned to love and accept him for the beautiful loving talented man that he has turned out to be. Thank you so much for always being there for me and always, I mean always know what I need to hear. Your friend Amy Davis

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