Thursday, March 24, 2011

Letting Him Go

Tomorrow, my oldest son who just crossed over into boy scouts will be going off to camp with his troop for the first time. Now, a normal Mother would be a little teary eyed and stressed at the idea of her little boy going off out into the woods and leaving the umbrella of parental supervision. A normal Mom may feel anxiety at the thought of sending her son alone into the wild blue yonder with just a change of clothes, a water bottle and a mess kit. Some Moms may even try to meet their child for a meal during the camping event just to make sure he is okay. But no, not this Mom. Nope, this Mom has been waiting for this glorious day. Because this Mom HATES camping. And if he can go alone, then ALLELUIA! This Mom has something to celebrate! No more camping! Ever! Again! Well, at least for another three years. Then I get to start all over with son #2. Sigh.

But for now, I am excited. At least I was excited. Then, about an hour ago, I realized that my son has to be at the church tomorrow at 6:00 and we have not packed anything. In fact, I do not even know the details of the trip. You see, I handed over all scouting duties to my husband once the child crossed over from cub to boy. I figured it was time for Mom to step down and Dad to step in- unless they wanted to do a scrapbooking or cake decorating merit badge. But something tells me they would rather look at bugs and play with bows and arrows. Anyhow, Dad has taken over. And Dad is about as organized as my son’s sock drawer. So, it should have been no surprise to me at all when he announced (just 55 minutes ago) he had a concert tomorrow night- the night our son needed to be at church for camping. And that our son had no hiking shoes. Or backpack. You can imagine the less than heavenly thoughts I had for my husband at that moment. Sigh.

So, I decided to go over all the stuff I need to help my son get together for tomorrow evening. And, while going over the checklist, anxiety started to creep in. Is he ready for this? Will he be okay? Does he know what to do if he gets a blister? Or if he is attacked by a wild animal in the middle of the night?!?! What am I thinking? Can I really send him out there? Will he make it back to me in one piece?

After my minor heart attack, I went and poured myself a glass of wine and sat down at the computer. I am working on a project for our next youth group gathering. It’s a video about the awesomeness of Mary. As I stared at the screen, I was instantly reminded of what she was asked to do. Not only did God ask her to be the Mother of the Word Incarnate, but he also asked her to let him go. She had to let him go do what he needed to do. And that meant he needed to die. I cannot even imagine what that was like for her. I could not have done what she did- watch her son suffer and die on that day when the earth stood still. I would have interfered at every turn. I would have behaved like a lunatic most of that day. But our Mother Mary did not. She was his rock. She supported him and comforted him in every possible moment of that impossible day. She let him go and conquer the world. Mary’s role in our Lord’s life is incredible. There are no words to describe how great of a Mother she was to him.

So, if Mary can do what she did, then I guess I can let my son go camping without me. He is a good kid with a good head on his shoulders. And although he has inherited his father’s organizational skills, he seems prepared. He is excited for the new adventure. How lame would it be for his “Mommy” to tag along? Okay- you got me. I wasn’t even entertaining that idea! But really, he is going to have to be out there on his own at some point. He is going to have to get his feet wet somehow. Going out into the wild blue yonder with his boy scout troop is probably a good thing. Maybe he will find something to conquer. I think I will go pour another glass of wine. Sigh.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Old Thomas

This is my little son’s favorite toy.

His name is Old Thomas. As you can see, he is well loved by a rambunctious little boy. Old Thomas goes on many adventures in and out of the house, is brought to every meal, and most importantly is tucked in right next to my little son each night. Before Christmas, Old Thomas was just Thomas. Then under our tree, Santa left a new Thomas. So just Thomas became Old Thomas. To nobody’s surprise, the shiny, clean, new Thomas wasn’t the same. When Old Thomas is misplaced, New Thomas doesn’t get the job done. Apparently, Old Thomas’s shoes are just too big to fill. Old Thomas holds a special place in my little son’s heart.

I think we all carry around a bit of Old Thomas. There is a part of us that is well worn, chipped, and even broken. But for some reason, we want to hold onto that part. We want to live in our broken selves because that is where we feel comfortable. That is our familiar world and sometimes the familiar is easier than the unknown. Sometimes the familiar is more appealing than the shiny, new and remade life.

I do carry around my fair share of Old Thomas. I have been worn, scarred and even broken. Perhaps the biggest piece of my Old Thomas is a hurt I carry from many years ago. It was inflicted by those I loved and respected when I was on my way out of the Baptist Church. It wasn’t easy to hear that I no longer fit in. It hurt when those whom I trusted were happy to let me go- even walk me to the door. When I was going through this event, I was too proud to acknowledge that they hurt me. I didn’t realize that I was scarred and that those scars kept me from being involved in a new faith community. It wasn’t until I tried to be involved that I realized just how ugly and deep those scars ran. In that moment, I had a choice. I could keep my scars, stay uninvolved, and live in my comfortable yet broken world. Or, I could bring those scars to the one who could heal them. And once whole, I could live the life He created for me- a life with Him and with a faith community. So, I decided to give up my Old Thomas and let the Lord make it new again. His first order of business was for me to face my fears head on. I had to go talk to a real, living, breathing, flesh and blood Priest. And not just go to confession, but really talk to him. I needed to tell him who I was, where I came from, how I was hurt all those years ago. I had to be vulnerable to the person who epitomized the ministers that inflicted those lasting scars. I had to look the bear straight in the eye and trust he wasn’t going to rip me to shreds, or worse yet, show me the door. So I did it. I went and talked to him. I thought I was going to have a panic attack right before our meeting, but I walked into his office anyway. And after I told him why I was there and what I needed to say, he asked, “What are you most afraid of?”

“I’m afraid that people will think I’m crazy.” I couldn’t look at him when I said it for fear that he would see the fresh tears in my eyes. In that statement, I was trying to say that I wouldn’t fit in- that I would be asked to leave again. And he caught onto what I meant. Then he said the words my heart needed to hear, “I don’t think you are crazy.” He asked about my family and friends and how they reacted to my Catholic conversion. He seemed to understand how alone I really was and why I chose to live that way. And in that understanding, a healing began. I was vulnerable to the person whom I feared the most and instead of calling me crazy, he called me normal. And that is exactly what my heart needed to hear in order for the scar to begin to heal.

I wish I could say that I have completely traded in my Old Thomas, but I can’t. Letting go of this fear seems to be a process. The fear still grabs me. It still stops my heart and gives rise to panic. But the difference between now and then is that I don’t let the fear stop me. I don’t let it make my decisions. It’s there, but it’s not in charge. One thing that helps me set the fear aside is knowing that this fear is not of God. The only thing God wants us to fear is being separated from Him.

Since the day I looked the bear in the eye and survived, I have become involved. I am very much part of a faith community. I’ve set aside my broken world and I live in the world Jesus asks me to live in. I pray, sing, dance, cry, laugh, serve and worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ and I love every moment of it. They help me grow. They help me love. They lead me to His heart. And, yes, the Priest is right there in the mix. He’s right there telling me I’m not crazy. Now, my Old Thomas isn’t quite so worn anymore. Little by little, the Lord works his miraculous healing and my Thomas gets a little shinier and a little newer each day.