The words struck me harder than if he had thrown my heart into a wood chipper.
“I don’t believe in that kind of stuff,” he stated with such conviction.
“What kind of stuff?” My husband questioned.
“You know, the God stuff.”
The words fell out of my son’s mouth and straight through my heart with the pain of a thousand knives.
I bit my tongue so hard that I could taste the blood seeping into a puddle that formed in the side of my cheek. It took every ounce of control in me to not react. Not change my facial expressions. My tone. Not to show my utter disappointment. Sadness. Fear. Shock. Betrayal.
I swore to myself I would always accept my children. I’d never be THAT parent. That parent who leaves their child struggling through college towards a career that they don’t feel passionate about. Forcing their children into sports that they don’t want to play. Trying to weave their own dreams into the lives of their children. Don’t accept their children for all that they are, no matter who that presents itself to be.
But this was my son. My first born. My pride and joy. My perfect, innocent, little boy. The first person to ever hear my heart beat from the inside. The one that I lay awake at night watching his every breath as though it were the most fascinating thing under the sun… and to me, it was.
My child…. And he doesn’t believe in ‘that God stuff.’
Where had I gone wrong?!
Sure, on the inside I wanted my boy to be the tough and rumble football player. My girl to be the head cheerleader. Both to be smart and successful. Clever and funny. Head of their class and friend to all. I wanted them to be happy and strong. Creative and intelligent.
Mostly though, I wanted them to believe in God. To believe with such undying devotion that nothing would ever alter their faith.
Yet here we are.
I wish I had taken them to church more. I wish I had read the bible to them more. I wish I had dropped down on my knees and showed them how to pray. I wish I had done more, said more, helped them believe more.
I wish I had prevented this moment before it came.
Yet here we are.
Myself sitting here holding back the tears in my eyes. My son running off and playing as though what he had said didn’t stab a knife right through my heart.
I swore I’d never be THAT parent. I’d never force my beliefs on my children. Above all, they would feel safe. Safe coming to me for guidance, advice, love. Safe being themselves, whatever that presented itself as.
Safe, to not believe in God.
I’m not your stereotypical Christian. I focused on the stories where Jesus dined with the broken in order to lead them to becoming whole, and not those whom already professed their love for him. I focused on the way He loved everyone, not only those whom believed as he did. I focused on his heart, and I try to replicate it.
I don’t chose my friends based on their religions, their cars, their homes, their waste sizes, their skin color, their profession, their sexuality. I don’t claim that those whom have falling from God’s path are doomed to an eternity in hell. I don’t claim that they are unworthy of God’s love. In fact, I think those that are broken, those that have lost their way, those people are in the greatest need of God’s love. This belief is the foundation of nearly all of my actions on a daily basis.
My son, he’s such a good boy. He’s the kid that will seek out the new kid at school and be his friend. That will tell the kid that’s sitting alone at lunch to come sit with him. The boy that sits with his little sister every day on the bus, despite the older kids hassling him over it, because he knows she needs him there. He’s filled with a compassion for others that I’ve always taken such pride in. He’s filled with a heart like Jesus.
I remember when we used to take him to church. He was so young. But when it came time to go to the alter and pray, that boy showed more faith in God than any adult in the building. Many times the visual affects of his love for God brought others to tears. I spent eleven years teaching him through my actions that the only true way to show people the glory of God is to love them as He would, exactly as they are.
Yet, here we are.
My heart shattered. Unable to say or do or react as the single act of doing so would contradict everything I’ve ever taught him about the true ways of being a Christian. In that moment, doing nothing suddenly became the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
All that is left is to take the shattered pieces of my heart… and love him exactly how he is.