Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy

"What are some things that make you happy?"

This question is a routine part of my self advocate workshops - it's part a discussion about feelings. I'd asked the question two days before Valentines Day and I should have been prepared for the answer.

"Valentine's Day"

"Having a boyfriend."

"Having a girlfriend."

"Chocolate hearts."

"Getting married."

One after another they called out answers. One woman explained, slowly and clearly that she had a boyfriend and that he hadn't come that day but she loved him. He made her happy. Even when he wasn't there - she could think about him and he made her happy.

I joked with them a bit about how Rhode Islanders are obsessed with love and sex and relationships - they laughed but didn't contradict me.

I remember back only a few years ago a man with a disability sitting in my office. He had been brought to me because he wanted to ask a question about sex and he refused to ask his staff. They finally called and said that he just wanted to ask a question.

"Sure."

He came in and sat waiting to see me.

When he came in it took him a lot of courage to work up to ask me his question. I expected something serious, something deep. Because he'd started to cry even before the words came out.
Cry.

Really Cry.

Then came the question spoken through tears. Asked by eyes that couldn't look at mine.

"Do you think it's OK for me to love?"

He only then looked at me, fearful of my answer. I knew without him telling me that he'd been told 'no' by many, for a long time, and that his heart had started to believe that he was not worth love, worthy of love, capable of love.

I was careful.

"Yes." I said. I started crying myself.

"But others will tell you that it's not ok. Others might try to stop you from loving. But, of course, it's Ok to love."

He held his face in his hands and cried. Wept with relief.

Then he looked at me and asked quietly, "Will you tell him?"

"Tell who?"

"Him, God."

"What!?!" I asked - shocked.

"Mom told me that God didn't want me to have a girlfriend. To have sex. Will you tell God that you think it's OK?"

I was shaken. I had to think. Too many emotions. I'd been told the same. For different reasons - but I'd been told the same. What to do? What to do? What to do?

There was only one thing to do.

I said, "We'll tell him together."

I took his hand and we bowed our heads. We sat in silence and then he whispered, "You go first."

So I prayed asking God to bless this man, to give him the opportunity to fall in love and be loved. And I asked God to continue to bless me and the relationship that I had. To bless love. The lovers. The loving.

Then he prayed, "God, I love You. I love my mom. So I know my heart works. Can you let it love someone else too?"

We sat quiet. Then he said, "Thank you."

I'm not sure who he thanked. I'm not sure it mattered.

I thought of him as I listened to these youngsters talk about boyfriends and chocolate hearts.

I thought of him.

And.

I thought of his wife.

Happy Valentine's you two.

And if it ain't out of keeping with the situation.

Happy Valentine's God.

6 comments:

Belinda said...

Happy Valentines Day to all who read this blog. May we never put barriers in front of any heart and most of all our own.

lina said...

The first absolutely beautiful Valentine's Day story that I have read in a long time. Thank you for hearing this man and then for sharing his story. What courage and beauty in these words.
Happy Valentines Day to all!

Frances said...

Dear Dave- No, it ain't outta keeping. Thank-you, Dave, for that heart-stirring story. It made me cry but on this, of all days, I think a good heart-stir was perfectly in order. Thank-you,God,for making us, like you, with the need to love and be loved. Without Him, there is no love. Sniff. Frances

Julie said...

What an amazing story. If there's one thing we need more of in this world, it's love! Thanks for reminding me how important love and those we love are - sometimes it's far too easy to take such things for granted.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave, for this beautiful story.

I have spent the day with my two girls cutting out love hearts and decorating the house ready for when my husband came home from work. The day had been full of the joy of love. It has caused us to really think about the person we love and appreciate what that means to us and how belssed we are that there is so much love in our home.

AS I read your Blog out to my husband this evening we both wept, wept at the thought of not having the freedom to love in the way that we do, and the concept of that being something that God would not permit. God, God of love who loves unconditionally. We decorated each of those love hearts with the words faith and hope and love on the back. A passage from Corinthians 13. And these three remain, Faith, Hope and Love ... but the greatest of these is love.

I thank you for giving us this story, for prompting us to be ever more thankful for Gods love.

God Bless you and all the people who have enabled you to learn and so that you can share.

Rachel said...

Oh my God. You've done it again. And I love you for it. Thank you.