I’m Cheri, and I had a rare opportunity for a brief bird’s-eye-view into a special group I’ve been hearing about for the past few years from my son, Alex. Alex flew in a day early before the start of the retreat to spend some time at home and visit with family. I then had the pleasure of driving him up to meet with a group of YOB leadership and other community members for a pre-retreat lunch…
I really didn’t know what to expect or if it would be weird for a “Mom” to show up for lunch with the guys. As Alex and I arrived and walked to the park where everyone first met up, I saw a lovely group of men hanging out and enjoying conversation with each other. We approached the group and Alex began introducing me, and any previous apprehension disappeared immediately.
Everyone was so incredibly nice and welcoming and seemed genuinely pleased to see Alex, as well as meet me.
From the park, they all decided on a lunch location and we walked downtown to the restaurant. I ended up sitting with Alex and three of his friends. Everyone was wonderful, and I enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions and get to know them just a bit. Throughout our lunch many other YOBBERS arrived, and Alex introduced me to them as well.
What I began to see and understand was the vast diversity among these YOBBERS, both geographically and culturally. When I dropped off Alex at the retreat center later in the afternoon, we were greeted by two of the guys I’d met at lunch.
As I left, one of these guys thanked me for showing the group what a mother-son relationship should look like. That was definitely food for thought on my long drive home! So many thoughts ran through my head and heart.
I suppose I allow myself to live in a bit of a protected bubble and don’t see all the areas of problems in families. Alex and I have always been part of a close family. My husband and I raised our children to love God, love family, and love others. Alex has no doubt been the best at this for his entire life!
I suspected my son’s struggle in life would be sexual orientation from an age too young for the thought even to make sense to me. Yet God kept putting it there for me to work through as I parented him and homeschooled him with his brothers. When he officially told us about himself, the question wasn’t, “Will we keep loving him?”
The question was: “Okay, God, now what do we do, and how do we help him?” I really didn’t know the extent to which other young men experience heartbreaking rejection from their parents due to their sexuality!
On Sunday, Alex’s dad joined me in picking up Alex from the retreat center to drive him back to the airport. We walked into the center with Alex to meet more of his friends. It was strange being the only female in a room of fifty men and then seeing so many of them come over to meet us both.
What I felt in the room was love, peace, joy, and true brotherhood of likeminded, God-loving men. They’d come together to seek God’s will for their lives in a community who knows their struggles and pain as they journey through this life. What I wanted to do was throw my arms around each and every one of them and then sit down for a long talk to hear their stories!
Tom, for you specifically, I can’t say THANK YOU enough! I would love to hear your story and how God led you to lead this YOB community.
YOB provides a safe haven for so many men, and I can’t begin to express what a lifeline it is for Alex every day. What peace I have knowing that he is part of such an incredible community!
I pray for this community often and have hope that God is raising up an army of bridge-builders who will impact the world for generations to come!
What does your mother-son relationship look like? Is it difficult or life-giving, or perhaps a combination of both?