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Weavings Reflection: September 2023

Weavings is a monthly reflection that is the collective effort of the Wheaton Franciscan Covenant Companions and Sisters to provide spiritual nourishment that helps us feel God’s presence in daily living and invite an openness to God.

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When God Changed My Script

By Sharon Niemet, Covenant Companion

When my son Matt graduated from college, he jaunted off to South Korea to teach English to high school students.  He left home with no knowledge of the Korean language or cuisine and even confused street views of Tokyo with Seoul, but he had a fearless appetite for adventure and a culture unknown to him.  

My husband John and I missed him terribly, although we tried our best to stay in touch via FaceTime calls and email. When Matt returned home, he was fashionably thin due to his Korean diet, but clearly unsettled about being back in DuPage County. He found a job and couldn’t wait to move out to his new apartment in Oak Park. Sounds pretty normal for a 24 year-old, right? 

As his mom, I sensed a restlessness and distraction in Matt. I couldn’t tell if he was unhappy about being back in the US, dissatisfied with his not-too-exciting job, or just wanting to break free from the family. I fretted and blamed it on the “early 20s” as a tough time to be a young adult.  

One Saturday I asked Matt to spend a few hours at our home helping with chores. I can’t even remember what tasks were involved, but he grudgingly agreed to be there… and then didn’t show up. I called him, fairly angry with his “no show” behavior and attitude. 

We wrangled a bit over the phone and then he blurted out, “Mom, I’m gay!” After a moment of shocked silence, I said, “What did you say?” And he repeated, “I’m gay and I have a life.” Hmmm… I’m from a no-nonsense South Side Irish family, so I retorted, “Well, you still have to come over and do your chores!” 

When I tell this story, people laugh. And it is funny. But the most important part of the story actually happened when Matt finally appeared at our home on that Saturday afternoon and we talked. And talked. And talked some more.  He wanted us to meet his new boyfriend and we wanted to know how life was actually going for our son. No more secrets! 

I have always had the good fortune to know and work with lots of gay people. And, as Matt was growing up, I wondered if he might be gay too. But whenever I asked him, he just laughed, rolled his eyes, and told me to stop overthinking things. So, I let it go… until he finally came out to John and me. He had known for quite a while that he was gay and had indeed come out to his friends and his sister.

But not to me. So, I asked him why he didn’t feel comfortable sharing that part of his story and he said, “Because, Mom, I knew I would change your script forever.” Script? What script? I guess deep down in my “mom heart” I had a script that my handsome and fun-loving son would fall in love, get married, and have beautiful children. And now I didn’t know what the future might hold. I remember taking a long walk on the Prairie Path and crying my eyes out as I adjusted to this new reality. I wasn’t shocked or unhappy that he was gay, but I was very fearful that he would be physically attacked or jeered by bigoted people. I simply did not want my son to be hurt. Over the years, there have been some verbal slurs but no physical violence. Matt is sure of who he is as a proud gay man.  I had nothing to fear.  And what about my old mom script? Well, Matt did fall in love with an

incredible guy and they were married in 2018. And our family has been enriched by the experience. My son and I have a very special relationship, in part because he is an expressive person who can freely share his thoughts, his doubts, and his ready humor. His sister Claire and her husband are always there for him and we are indeed a fortunate family.   

When Matt first came out to me, I think God winked at me and said, “Stay tuned. You have no idea where this lovely life is going. Don’t be afraid to jump in.” I did jump in and the last decade has been pure joy as I watched my son be himself in every way. And I learned a valuable lesson about scripts. If you follow a script too closely and try to stage manage your life, the script can become rigid and may even strangle joy. Sometimes you just need to tear up the pages and listen to where the Spirit is leading you. 

3 thoughts on “Weavings Reflection: September 2023”

  1. Avatar

    This is beautiful! I so appreciate you sharing this! Thank you for being open to your son! To life with the Wheaton Franciscans! And for sharing yourself (your skills and gifts, you life experiences and your wisdom) with us!

  2. Avatar
    Beatrice M Hernandez, OSF

    Wow! what a powerful sharing! You are truly a gift to us Wheaton Franciscans and I am so glad to be able to share my life journey with you and your family. I hope that we will get to meet Matt and his spouse someday. Blessings!

  3. Avatar

    Sharon thank you so much for sharing your story. My script seems to regularly get “revised”- and the revisions are so much better than my plans. Wishing you and your family much joy as life unfolds.

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