“I don’t like girls. I like boys instead because I am gay.”
I stopped transferring groceries from my cart to the checkout counter and just looked at him. I had asked James, “So, do you have a girlfriend back in Hamburg?” I was not expecting such a personal revelation from this just-met German exchange student at cashier number 6. We had brought him to stay with us after seeing the crack-house style accommodations that had been arranged for him before he arrived in country. The past few days had been spent at the bank and T-Mobil and Rite Aid getting everything James needed to settle in to life in America. But I hardly knew the kid.
I put down my coupons and cupped his face in my hands. “Honey, you have come to the right place.”
By some miracle all four of my children played contentedly together in the basement after we returned. James helped me unload the groceries and chop veggies for the soup. I asked questions and just let him talk. He shared about his non-existent relationship with his father, how he longed for his dad to come to his awards ceremonies, include him in his weekend outings, and just to hug him every now and then. He shared that he was sometimes startled at the strength of his attractions. That they would rise with tidal-wave force when there was a possible romantic interest in his life. He talked about how he avoids other boys, because he learned from a young age that they will use him as a tool to bolster their own masculinity by disparaging his.
“I am sorry that your dad didn’t delight in you. You are a great kid, James. And he should have been cheering the loudest at your ever achievement.”
“I am sorry that the other boys in your school chose to hurt you rather than include you. You were made to be accepted by and have relationships with other guys.”
“You have been denied something that you desperately needed- strong, close relationship with other men, especially your dad. I am so sorry for the pain that you have suffered because of it.”
He stared blankly at the wall. After what felt like an eternity he said, “I have never talked to anyone about all of this.” I told him that he if he ever needed anything, to come to us first.
James is still a regular guest at our dinner table. Though he is now staying with another family of Christ-followers, he goes with us on outings, to church events, and even an out-of-town weekend getaway.
I share this story with you, dear readers, because on this site we talk about holding tightly to truth and love. This blog is a great forum for the “truth” side of things. But the “love” part is something that has to be lived out off the page. I know that many of you are already doing this kind of real-life-love-in-action. I’ve seen it. But I’ve had a couple recent conversations with believers who want to love radically, but don’t know what it looks like. They fear that their involvement will translate as implied approval. My advice: don’t worry about that. Just be the most generous, supportive, inviting person that they come in contact with. By no means do I live this out perfectly, but I learn best by example. So I thought I’d give you one up-close-and-personal example of my own.
Also, I gave Frau M the day off. You may have noticed that I haven’t dropped my mic or referenced any US presidents in this post. Because I am not the polished, pithy, perfect-word-picture blogger that I appear to be. This blog is a team effort, but only one of us gets the attention.