Dinner with the Robertsons (Your Participation Requested!)
I think there is an art form to making word pictures of people and as I’ve discovered this week (okay, many weeks, yeah, month) , I don’t seem to have that particular skill. Portraits are subjective critters anyway; a brush stroke here and not there and the next thing you know, you’ve sort of captured the essence of your subject, but only from where you’re sitting. Others may not see the same things you have captured. I think sometimes in trying to write these things, you flirt with the danger of doing your subjects an incredible disservice.
Knowing then that these are my brush strokes and maybe not yours, I think I’m most comfortable with this:
There is a particular kind of holy love that transcends, a kind of love that requires the prerequisite course of suffering. Not merely the sufferings of a lost love or a minor financial setback that is easily overcome with rest, prayer and a pint of butter pecan crunch, but the kind of suffering that knocks you to your knees and leaves you gasping for air, your life falling around your ankles, forcing you to consider just how blind and helpless you truly are in this world and how much you truly, desperately need the grace of a Savior. Jesus responds so quickly and so completely to that kind of suffering. (I Peter 5:10 (ESV): And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.) I think those who have had to rely on that love, that life-sustaining grace during the most inhuman, pushining suffering recognize it in each other; it commonly displays a need to get past the superficial as quickly as possible and get down to the most important life matters: the ones where the hand of God is the most readily identifiable.
Between mouthfulls of teriyaki chicken and rice and veggies for fuel, it was almost immediate that this sort of love calls after its own. There was a connection that there was warm, deep and immediate. The first thing you notice about Rob and Linda is that they are engaged a thousand percent in a conversation. None of this watching someone waiting for a break in the conversation so they can talk. They are engaged and curious about you to a level that you don’t ordinarily encounter in relationships. Their hearts sadden over your hurts, cheer your joys, and are genuinely happy and surprised to hear the details of how God has shown up in your life.
They are perfectly matched as a couple. Where one speaks, the other fills in important details as they’re necessary and forgets about the details that never really matter. (Linda’s job in these conversations is as a “bookmark”: since the conversation topics were fast, furious, intense and interwove multiple threads at a time, it was common to hear “Where were we?” Linda most always knew.)
I must confess, there is a situation that worries me, and it keeps them on my prayer list big time.
They are round the corner of their first year of Ryan’s passing and while their hearts are healing as time passes, they are still deeply engaged in the process of grief. There is such social pressure to not act unseemly about your losses, your wounds. A year? Shouldn’t you be through all of it by now? These are the questions that the Friends of Job would ask; attempting to insert the will of God into your life, claiming he wants you whole and healed right this second when you are far from that condition. Well, if you can hurry up and “find closure” or “get over it already” then how much did you love that person in the first place? It may be that they will never get over Ryan’s passing until they hold him again on that side of Heaven. That’s okay. The Robertsons will teach Heaven how to celebrate on that day, I am certain.
I want to get this done and posted and there are so many details not in here: the light on their faces when they talk about the remaining adult children attending Biola University; their plans for the future and how Ryan’s life (and death) changed them toward helping the local HIV/AIDS community with their needs — there’s so much more. And I haven’t scratched the surface.
So…you do it.
By now, if you’ve gone through the blog and read Ryan’s story, you know of the miracles that have taken place and why the Robertsons’ story is so special to me. It is a beautiful, shining example of God’s love, grace and mercy shown bright in the middle of insane, painful life circumstances. I believe that not only do the Robertsons now truly understand what agonies are unique to the believing man or woman who struggles with same-sex attractions, but their belief, their example of being the best possible example of God’s tireless love for His children should be held high as an example for others to follow. I mean, if there is a group or organization out there that wants to effectively share the love of Christ to the LGBT population, you want them to be leading it. (Personally, I’m still working on a way to clone them.)
Is there anything more you want to know about the Robertsons? About this story? About Ryan? What they’ve learned? If you have questions about any of this, leave them in a comment at the bottom of this post. You have until the last day of September to post your questions. At that time, I’ll invite the Robertsons back for dinner and they’ve agreed to answer your questions on video. They are reserving the right to turn down any questions they so choose. As Rob put it, they are the gatekeepers of God’s story here and I think it’s an entirely reasonable request.
So ask away, folks. Just post a reply to this post and we’ll ask them at dinner in October.