Number Two Son has just graduated from highschool and will be heading to the University of Tennessee at Martin next fall to begin college. UTM provides a service for incoming freshmen called SOAR: Student Orientation and Registration. New students and their parents spend a weekend on campus taking care of all the details involved in preparing for fall term. Housing, cafeteria meal plans, registration for fall classes, etc. I guess this helps make move-in and the transition to college life easier come August.
Anyway, Son 2 and I attended SOAR this spring. Standing in line for lunch, we talked to another student and her parents. When the other mother learned that my son already had a brother on campus, and that the two of them would be rooming together, she acted shocked. "Is that going to be okay?"
Son 2 looked confused. "Excuse me?"
"Aren't ya'll going to be getting on each other's nerves, and calling home and telling on each other all the time?"
"Um, we've been room-mates all our lives. I don't think it'll be a problem." Son 2 pulled me aside and whispered in my ear, "Mom, this lady is really weird."
The other mother was surprised at his answer, and she would've been even more perplexed if she actually knew these two young men. Son 1 is a poet, a beekeeper, an artist, and (after this week) a world traveler. Thin and wiry, he is built like one of the elves from The Lord of the Rings. Son 2 - short, stocky, and brown - lifts weights, talks with a drawl, herds cows from horseback, and doesn't particularly desire to travel any further than an elk hunting reserve in Montana. One is majoring in Botany/Art/Japanese. The other, Civil Engineering. One prefers J. S. Bach; the other, Easton Corbin and Josh Turner. One loves sushi; the other, a thick slab of grilled meat that's still cool and red on the inside. They'll make great room-mates, right?
Yes, they will. These two fellas have been rooming together since the second one arrived in the world nearly 18 years ago. They genuinely love and respect each other, despite their very different personalities and preferences, and are excited about sharing a room on campus next fall.
Son 2 asked on the drive home, "Why would a mom think two brothers would not want to room together?" Why, indeed. Is it because, as parents, we have encouraged and facilitated individuality to the exclusion of affection between family members? Does each child have his own room, own TV, own sport, own circle of friends - but no time or desire to truly know and enjoy the brother living under the same roof? And, if we aren't able to know and appreciate the individuals inside our homes, how are we going to learn to genuinely love and value folks outside the home?
A teenage girl was telling me a couple of weeks ago about one of her teachers at school, a man who, unbeknownst to her, is a friend of mine. "Mr. G--- is so strange!" she complained. "I mean, he always looks like he's in a daze, and he doesn't joke around like the other teachers..." She went on to essentially dismiss this person based on the fact that he didn't talk or act like a typical highschool teacher or coach.
"Yes, Mr. G--- is kinda different," I thoutght, "but he is also your brother in Christ. Have you taken the time to discover that?"
Christ commands me to love my neighbor, and my closest "neighbors" are the people living under the same roof with me. To not love these people is sin. I need to remember that truth, and to remind my children of it, also. As a parent, I must point out to my children that simply tolerating their siblings is not obedience to Christ. But, loving and sincerely delighting in their siblings is a glorious proclamation of the Gospel in a dark and deceived world.
If my sons can not enjoy life together at home or in college, how will they possibly enjoy eternity together in Glory?
2 days ago