The past few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. I survived, with flying colors, my first semester of seminary. At least academically. I handled the holidays with my family, which this year, included F. And now, here I am, on a longer break than I expected, having chosen to move my Interim class to spring semester. M. initially stated, a while back, that if F. was going to be at my grandma's for Christmas with me, then they would not be present. Yet within a couple of weeks of that declaration, she changed her mind. Apparently, her mind has not been the only thing experiencing change...
F. and I got to N.'s on a Wednesday, a whole day before my parents arrived. It was nice to sit down at the dinner table with the two of them interacting as if there were no tension or awkwardness. Sleeping in separate beds was awkward, but doable.
The next morning, we went to go visit one of my great aunts, one who just turned 90. One who has always been encouraging of me, despite all of my career aspiration changes. And one who has never seemed to have any problem with my identity. Yet it was still weird to be able to sit down with her and F. and not have any weirdness, only polite, catching-up conversation.
After going back to N.'s, her "friend," G., arrived shortly thereafter. We've had some tension before since he is from the generation of men who prefer to have control and the last word, and in my mind, I'm still the "man of the house." Yet, with F. there, he seemed to treat me as more of a man, with more respect. He seemed to be engaging with F. even if there was some discomfort.
M. and D. got to N.'s about an hour later. M. had been sick, and since we are often one in the same person, she was just in a mood to be comforted and not cause conflict. Once settled, I ended up sitting on the couch with F. to my left, holding my hand, and M. on my right leaning her head on my shoulder. Wanna talk about weird? I'd never in my wildest dreams imagined this scene taking place.
Dinnertime came. M. and N. sat on one side, D. and G. on the ends, and F. and I on the other side. Holding hands while G. said grace. My mind was reeling, especially since there had been no tension whatsoever. M. and I ended up laughing over some very silly things while F. looked on and just smiled, amused by the unexpected bonding. D., N., and G. had no idea what was going on.
Some friends of the family who lived down the street came by and visited. Keep in mind, this is a woman who comes from a strong Pentecostal background, so the fact that she said nothing remotely demeaning or contradictory shocked me to say the least. Instead, she and her husband were their usual jovial selves, kind, loving, laughing.
They left, and it was time to sit down for presents. M. and D. gave F. and I matching luggage, new skillets for the apartment, as well as other necessities. I was expecting minor, if any, monetary gifts from the family to F. But I was shocked when I saw that they'd given him almost the same as they gave me. Seeing our names on a card together from G., I was fighting back tears. N.'s card for F. was signed "N." and not "M.H." When I shared my thanks with M. later alone, she said, "We might not approve, but we've got no reason to treat him badly." All I could do was hug her.
After sitting down and watching a couple of movies, with the entire family, bedtime came. I could tell that F. had been as floored by their reception of him as I had been. All we could do was hug and kiss goodnight, and leave ourselves to our thoughts.
Friday morning, and it was time to leave. Quick breakfast. Load up the car. Hugs and kisses and a few tears. It wasn't until we were in the car that F. told me M. had said "Love you" to him. All I had heard a few moments before was my mom telling him that crying wasn't allowed because if he did it, then she would as well. She always cries when I leave.
Needless to say, Christmas was not at all what I expected. More recently, while I was away at a conference in Denver, F. texted me saying I would never believe who just called him. Having no idea, he let me know that my mom had called "just to check up on him." They'd had a short conversation, and she again said "love you" in ending their chat. Floored again. I honestly had no idea what change was taking place, but I now find myself thankful for all the thoughts and prayers lifted up on our behalf.
So now what... well, as mentioned before, I opted to move my interim class to my spring semester, mostly because I wanted time to rest and think and feel, things I'd not had much time to do last semester. I'm left to think about my calling, my relationship, my family, and my depression. Some might say this is bad, but I've learned that it's only when I am able to directly address my negative self talk and suicidal ideations that I become stronger. I'm not the kind to run from risk, or so I've been told. For now, I just sit with it all, head on, resting with it and feeling it fully, knowing that in all things, God does work for the good of those who love God and are called according to God's good purpose.