Sunday I walked into church late and my 6 foot tall, 15 year old son (who was already there) stepped out of the aisle and gave me a huge H.I.P. (Hug In Public) right in front of everyone, right in the middle of worship. Before you think I’m bragging and feel the need to pull out a barf bag, let me tell you the rest of the story.
My son was gone last week on a missions’ trip. I missed him like crazy and I couldn’t wait to see him. Friday when he finally came home he was more about a shower, his headphones and his bed than his doting mom. The next day he spent at a water park with the same kids he had been on the mission’s trip with (had he not had enough of these people?). He was home for about two hours when he asked to sleep over at the home of (you guessed it), one of the boys from the mission trip. Sure, you can go. But first stick this knife in my heart and turn it counter clockwise 7 times.
I realize this is normal behavior for a teenage boy, but this is not the relationship I have had with my son… until now. Casey used to tell me 100 times a day that he loved me. He has always loved to sit on my lap (all 140 pounds of him).  My “boy” isn’t embarrassed by my presence (even in front of his friends) and he loves to have an arm around me almost always… until now.
“My boy” is morphing.  Morphing into an independent, sometimes sassy, rarely-ever-home young man.  Have I prayed for a son who likes and is liked by friends, who is involved at church and is confident and godly?  Of course, but as I laid in bed this weekend thinking about what used to be and our relationship that will never be the same, I ached. I know my kids aren’t mine to begin with, that we raise them to the best of our ability and that God has a plan for them, but that doesn’t change the fact that it hurts and I am mourning the loss of my kids who are no longer really kids.
What am I learning through all of this?  Many things but one big lesson is that seeing a H.I.P. in church isn’t all it’s cracked up to be sometimes.  Smiles on people’s faces don’t always mean they are happy.  Perfect family Facebook pictures don’t always tell the whole story. I am notorious for casting judgment when I see H.I.P.s, couples holding hands and lots of other things people do or fail to do. But I was reminded when getting a HIP Sunday (after a night of tears Saturday), that I will never know the depth of any situation, relationship or broken heart that may be masked behind a smile, hug or laughter.  

“Dear Lord, thank you for the HIP on Sunday. Yes, it came with some heartache, but thank you for a much needed reminder that people have a lot of stuff going on and I need to judge less and love more. Everyone has things they are dealing with that I cannot see and have no clue about so help me to extend grace and love beyond what I see and think is going on. In Your Name, Amen.”