Sunday, December 23, 2007

Choices, Choices

Today is the first full Sunday since we've had Glen. And I realize choices about Church are more complicated than I had originally imagined.

First of all, our foster son comes into a religiously divided household. This is my fault. We used to be a religiously united household until I started going to the LDS Church.

I don't expect anybody else, much less our teenage foster son, to do what I do: attend one church in the morning with my partner, and three more hours of another church in the afternoon with me.

We both do want him to attend Church with us as a family, which means he comes with both of us to the United Church of Christ. He is welcome to attend Church with me at the LDS Church if he wants. I have a feeling he won't want.

In our conversations over the last two weeks, when the discussion has ranged over into things religious, our foster son has gone quiet. I've immediately sensed a desire on his part to change the topic. I understand there are reasons for this. He has had his own history with Church which has been less than positive.

Today is my first full Sunday with our new family. And I must confess, the thought of departing for four hours is unbearable. Deep down inside, the thing I want most right now is to bond with Glen, and to spend time with him and Göran all three of us together as a family. Deep down inside, I also feel a strong pull toward Church, toward the place where I first received spiritual promptings that opened me up to becoming a foster father in the first place. Toward the place where I find the weekly grounding I need to grow into the kind of person I most want to be. If I go to Church, do I send Glen the message that I don't want to spend time with him, and that I don't care about him? If I stay with Glen and Göran, do I send the message that spiritual things are not of ultimate importance?

I prayed about this this morning, and I felt a kind of clarity about this. I realize I do need to communicate to Glen my most deeply felt values. I need to at least explain to him how important my testimony is to me, and how important the community of the Saints is to me. And I need to show him this through my actions as well. At the same time, in order for that communication to be meaningful, he needs to understand how much I value him. I need to communicate this verbally, but also through my actions. So as hard as this choice is for me, I will choose for our starting place to be time spent together as a family.

So much of this journey for me has involved cultivating patience through these kinds of hard choices. Waiting for the growth that needs to take place so I can move from a place of lesser good to greater good. Making choices.

7 comments:

GeckoMan said...

John,
I think you made a very wise decision this morning. It follows the old adage, "They don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." I hope your day today was filled with meaningful time cementing the value of your relationship with Glen. There will be plenty of time for church in the months and years ahead. As Christmas approaches, and you all have such tangible reasons to rejoice, I hope you will have some special time to bear your heartfelt testimony of the Father's greatest gift to us--His Son.

playasinmar said...

That is a tangle, isn't it? Did you make him vegan yet? :)

J G-W said...

Geckoman - Yesterday was an interesting day... Big snowstorm here. At the last minute -- just as we were getting ready to go out on a family outing with some friends, the next door neighbors showed up needing help. Their flight had been canceled three times, and they now finally had a flight. They had been trying to find someone to drive them to the airport without luck, and wanted to know if we could. So we put our plans on hold in order to help out the neighbors -- which we did together as a family. Later that day, Glen said, "I love helping people. That's what I want to do for a living. Help people."

It seems to me, our Christianity -- however we define it -- doesn't rest on much of a foundation if we don't rest it on the notion that people must come first. So I am glad that yesterday was a day in which Glen learned that A) we love him very much and B) we are willing to be inconvenienced in order to help others.

Please pray for us. My admiration for all you fathers out there grows as we come face to face with real life choices!

Playa - :)

At our first meeting with him, we explained to him that we were vegetarians, and that we had no intention of forcing him to be one.

He responded that he'd always wanted to try vegetarianism, so he was glad that we were and he wanted to eat just like we did.

Ya know, it's kinda scary being a role model. It's too easy to teach things without even trying, if you catch my drift.

Ron Schow said...

I belong to a branch where we have many elderly members with special dietary needs. We in the branch presidency made a decision early on to hold our meetings for two hours only. We don't hold Sunday School. These older people do much better if the meetings are not too long.

I believe one can have a very nice period of worship that doesn't have to last three hours.

J G-W said...

Ron - Yes, that's a good point...
If Glen ever expressed interest in going to the LDS Church with me, he would of course be welcome to attend as much or as little as he wished. Next Sunday I do plan to invite him to come along.

playasinmar said...

As an investigator, and as your son, Glen is certain to receive the most amazingly awkward welcome in the history of Sacrament Meetings.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of that chapel that day.

J G-W said...

Last night, we had a little talk about Church, and Glen says he's not so interested in going to a Church that won't accept me as a full member because of my relationship with Göran. I'm still trying to wrap my head around all the layers of irony there.