Thursday, May 29, 2014

One Shall Become Two Reprise

Yesterday was Michael Anthony’s 16th birthday…a milestone,,,and not just for him.

As I began to wrap his presents the day before his birthday, an onslaught of emotions came over me as I was reminded again of the mystery and reality of how “One Shall Become Two”…a topic on which I wrote a couple of months after Michael died. One person, trying to fill the needs that before took two people to do successfully. I think the transition is nothing short of a miracle.  Miraculous that it can be done at all, and done somewhat successfully.

Parenting presents new challenges after losing your mate.  It is incredibly difficult at first to meet the needs of your children because where there once were two people meeting their different needs, there is now only one.   Genesis 2:24 says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  Ironically, this can reverse into “one shall become two”.

One shall become two…. One person doing what once took two.   Where it once took two to run a household now must be done by one.  Picking up the children, attending their events, taking them places.... one shall do the work of two.  Recognizing and meeting the emotional needs of our children took two sets of eyes and hearts before, must now be discerned by one. 

The hardest part is being a female and trying to recognize the needs of a son without any input from a man.   It was an overwhelming responsibility at the beginning but I have learned how to parent more from both sides.  I shared this with my friend Barri yesterday while I was at the gym exercising. She said she saw me as both mother and father, transferring seamlessly between both roles automatically.  She said she could tell that it had become instinctive, like I was now on autopilot. Some days it truly does feel like I am on autopilot, while other days, like the day I began to wrap his presents, I feel like I have nothing to offer this young man.

A few weeks after Michael died, I gathered my children into my bedroom to help them understand that I was one person trying with all of my heart to do what had always taken two…and to be patient with me.  I apologized in advance for failing.  I told them that there would be times that I fail as a parent.  I will not always recognize a need when they have it or I may recognize it but not know how to meet it.   I told them not to always wait for me to come to them to meet a need.  I may miss it sometimes.  I told them to come to me and I will also come to them.  I told them their father parented and met their needs in ways that were slightly different than my ways.  We filled in the gaps for one other.  I was the only one now. I prayed then and continue to pray for God to show me how one shall parent as two did before. 

The truth that one shall become two is also one of enlightening realization that two really did become one flesh.  Because we were one flesh, I learned from Michael how he met the needs of our children in his way, he learned from me, and we were able to parent with a holistic approach of loving our children as a team.  I learned from him to recognize certain needs that I would not have seen without him.  I am parenting now, as one, because we became as one flesh.  Because we spent 24 years watching each other and learning from each other, I am now able to also see as if through his eyes.  I now have character qualities and abilities because two became one.  That union is now allowing me, one, to do, what in the beginning, took two.

Back to wrapping birthday presents…

My husband had attended some Wild at Heart Boot Camps, men’s retreats in the mountains of Colorado sponsored by John Eldredge and Ransomed Heart Ministries. While attending one of these, he purchased a William Wallace replica sword. His intention was to give it to Michael Anthony at the perfect time to signify him crossing over from boyhood to manhood.   He was 10 years old when his father bought the sword.  It had remained in the box until the moment I began to wrap presents for his 16th birthday.  

I knew this birthday would be the perfect time to present the sword.  Anticipating this, I had John Edlredge autograph a copy of his book Wild at Heart for him when I had the opportunity to meet him last fall.  It said, "Happy 16th Birthday!  You are this young man!"  Realizing that he would receive both of these gifts representing his masculine journey and the bridge from boyhood to manhood,  the moment overwhelmed me. I suddenly felt completely unqualified as a parent for him. 

I was overwhelmed that he is and has become a young man without his father.... overwhelmed that I have and am raising a boy to become a mighty man of God.... overwhelmed that I have and am encouraging him to be the man that God created him to be.... overwhelmed that this precious young boy, who was 12 when his dad died and a whole foot shorter than he is now, has shown courage that I did not know was possible…overwhelmed that he is doing it without his father.... overwhelmed that he and I have navigated this together...overwhelmed with sadness that he won't get to share his manhood with his father....overwhelmed with pride at his hope for the future.

With much care, I delicately pulled the sword out of the box and began to remove the bubble wrap that had protected it all these years.  The air in the room began to feel heavy and breathing was difficult.  When all the plastic was cleared, the blade glistened in the afternoon light peering in through the blinds. The moment felt almost magical. That is when I saw the inscription, “Wild at Heart” on the blade.  It was at this moment that the gravity of this gift weighted on my heart.  I stood up and let my eyes gaze over the hilt that was partially encased in leather and then examined the extremely long blade.  I grabbed the hilt with both hands and extended the sword out in front of me.  It was as if that moment was empowering me to empower Michael Anthony to chase after his journey into manhood, his masculine spirit that God placed in him, with every bit of courage and strength that is in him.  

…But then the feeling of inadequacy set it in my thoughts, "What words do I have that I can say to him as he receives the gift?  What can I, as a woman, say that would speak to his manhood and encourage him in the way of God?  To encourage him to keep his heart wild for God and live with all of his glory unleashed?"    I had to fight despair that there was not a man who could speak into his life.  After experiencing all of this, I collapsed on the couch with the sword in my lap and cried like I have not cried since my father passed away a year and a half ago.  Once I cried out all of the tears, I pulled up my bootstraps when I realized that this was a journey for my son and I to do alone.  God's grace has carried me to this day and would continue to carry me…One became two.

I felt commissioned to affirm him with the same words that John Eldredge wrote in the book, “You are this man!”…  This man God created you to be.  You are this man who has a purpose uniquely designed for you alone.  You are this man that we had prayed since birth that you would become.  You are this man…a mighty warrior. You are this man…valiant, strong, and masculine in heart.   You are this man that your father saw in you. You are this man…wild at heart…just as God wants you to be.

Eyes straight ahead, embracing all the roles that God has me performing in this season of the journey.  One became two

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