In lieu of a seeker, a maternal voice of Brahm provides some unsolicited advice.
My oldest son, 17, approached me warily with something he wanted to talk about. Something big. With visible reservation and only darting eye contact, he opened up to me.
It was one of those revelatory moments where your world is a little shaken and you wonder how well you really know a person. Your mind rolls back to past events… instantly retelling memories with a blinding new perspective.
I realize it took a lot of courage on his part – he probably wasn’t sure how I would react. I’m a vocal and opinionated person. I believe we are here to assert our best selves. In keeping with my own ethos, I strongly encourage my children to have their own opinions and challenge the norm when it conflicts with their own belief systems.
Like many parents with the best of intentions, I presumed my reasoned and firmly held beliefs would be at least reflected, if not paralleled in my offspring. I’ve spent a lot of time cultivating our perspective. Well, when your child challenges that (and you know they will. That, and everything else) – it will give you pause, or in some cases jettison you into an alternate dimension.
I thought I took the news in stride, but it was apparent that he read the flux of emotions on my face as barely contained disgust, or that I was biting back words of shameful disappointment. Reading more into my quiet inaction than I would have preferred, he got frustrated and harrumphed out of the room as only a teenager can.
In truth, I was shocked into a momentary daze; it was a surprise. I’m sure I had some judgment rippling behind my eyes, because this was so out of character, bordering on hypocrisy, for the boy I knew. However, I am compassionate, and also pragmatic – I can easily temper rash judgment because I am aware of my personal prejudices.
Truly, I felt disappointed with myself the most – that I’d been utterly clueless he had this yearning in his soul. He just never seemed like the type, you know?
So I retrieved him from his room, shut off my instinct to combat this foreign idea, and listened to him with an open mind and open heart.
I quelled my prejudgment of his newfound identity. I put aside my dismissive attitude about those queer folk. I know there is a whole spectrum out there – so I never really judged one kind of person based on their identification. But certain ones do kinda get on my nerves. Mostly the folks who feel compelled to flaunt it, put it all up in other people’s faces. Those trying to ramrod their lifestyle choices upon others. I sometimes find myself nodding along with the narrative of people who think their kind shouldn’t be allowed their special rights. I may even have wondered if the future of humanity would benefit when their kind are pushed out of relevance.
So when he came to me declaring to be exactly the thing I would never think he’d be, well, it made me understand just how close-minded
he might have assumed I am. Despite any respect and admiration I have for people of faith, I’d probably vocalized plenty of criticism. I’d not really talked much about all the wonderful, caring and compassionate people of faith in my life. I know my son had to recall spirited conversations we’d had debunking the mythos of the bible. We’d had lively discussions about he apparent ignorance of hardcore zealots. He’s seen Bill Maher’s Religilous, willingly, of his own volition, easily half a dozen times. I’m sure any judgments he’d heard me pass, he took to heart as me judging him.
I hugged him and assured him, I love, care and respect him, no matter what spirituality he aligns himself with.
Yes, my son came out to me as a Baptist Christian. And recently, one exceptionally brisk Sunday morning, I donned my only non-blue jeans, a conservative top, and went to witness my first born’s rebirth as he asserted his new faith. The pastor’s sermon after the brief baptismal ceremony made me a little uncomfortable. The story of Abraham, a father commanded by God to offer his son for slaughter, was ill-timed for the day upon which I just offered my son to a religious faith I do not share. That aside, I could see my son was not blindly following; he was walking forward with new eyes. Eyes that gave me a new perspective.
Where I was once blind in my cavalier opinion about people of faith. Now I see. It took my son’s new venture into faith to shine a light on my own hypocrisy. And possibly yours.