>Will you still love me if…

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Through the spirit of a child-
Will you still love me if I’m gay?
Will you still love me if I’m over weight?
Will you still love me if I’m not like you?
Will you still love me if I’m not a college graduate?
Will you still love me if I fall down and can’t get up?
Will you still love me if my life long partner is an atheist?
Will you still love me if I love someone of a different faith?
Will you still love me if I don’t achieve your definition of success?
Will you still love me if I chose to love someone outside of my race?

If you’ll still love me in spite of the characteristics that make me different from you, than you appreciate the significance of unconditional love.  I love you mom.  I love you dad.
A recent conversation with a young woman prompted me to think about the idea of unconditional love.  Unconditional love is often talked about by parents like it’s some automatic device that comes with parenting. 
When our children are young, innocent, impressionable, cute, and still hang onto our every word, it’s so easy to love them… unconditionally. 
However, with the passage of time, our impressionable babies become independent, outspoken, confident, rebellious, courageous, and begin to make their own choices-  And that’s when the true test of unconditional love presents itself.
The young lady told me that she was gay.  This was her official “coming out” to me, but I was not surprised.  I told her that her sexuality had no bearing on our relationship and that she should live her life being true to herself. 
I was curious and questioned her about her peers, her family, and her friend’s knowledge and acceptance of her homosexuality.  All was well until she spoke of her parents.  Neither parent approved of her lifestyle; consequently, life at home was a struggle.  She quietly spoke of betrayal and other events that took place within her family circle that continue to weigh her down.  She revealed that for a short moment, she contemplated suicide, but quickly realized that suicide wasn’t the answer.  
She referenced biblical scriptures that she’d been shrouded with by family and a few others.  She also expressed her love and commitment to her faith.

I couldn’t tell her that I knew how she  felt, because I didn’t know for sure.  However, I vividly remember my own struggles at age 17 that left ball patches in the front of my hair and ulcers in the pit of my stomach.  So I could certainly empathize with her and hope and pray that she would soon find peace in her heart and within her family.

As the mother of a soon-to-be 22 year old, I’ve discovered that as our children blossom into young adults, we have to let go.  Letting go doesn’t mean disappearing from their lives.  To me, it simply means that we have to find a balance between trying to help them avoid severe life altering mistakes to allowing and encouraging them to make responsible choices and to become the adults that we hope and pray that we’ve raised them to become.
Nearly 20 years ago, I remember working with this lovely and hard working woman.   Members of her family stopped speaking to her because she was Jewish and was dating an Italian guy.  A patriarch of the family forbade her to continue dating the guy and, when she refused to end the relationship, stopped speaking to her.  I was amazed. This was a closely knit family.
I just don’t get it!  I’ve always told my daughter, “I don’t care who you date or marry- Black, White, Asian, Latino, Hispanic, man, woman- that’s right!  As long as the person has a good head on his or her shoulder and treats her with dignity and respect… that’s the criteria for me.”  She understood and has always been open with us.  She dates a nice Irishman, who is smart, career minded, witty, and treats her with dignity and respect.  Of course, my mom has issues with the bi-racial relationship, but that’s her problem for her to keep all to herself. 
My final thoughts are to love your kids— regardless.

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