They lived a whole life before we ever met. And although it's a life I would have changed for them - rescued them from if I could have - it was the life the Lord had for them and it's shaped who they've become.
Kids who've grown up in the inner-city have lots of defenses. Walls they've constructed over time to protect themselves. They can be merciless to one another about clothes, haircuts, and shoes. Mommas, and teeth. And often, innocence is regarded as weakness. Boys especially don't hug or hold hands and Dea and Darius are often at a loss when Graham gives them a big hug when they walk through the door or when he wants to hold their hand walking around Six Flags. Often, they respond with, "Naw, man. That's gay." Or, dude. That's fruity."
So, the other day, when my boys said the same thing to each other, we had a long talk. (the long talk followed me telling them to stop calling each other 'gay' using my outside voice. I may have popped a vessel.)
After I'd calmed down, I explained to both my little boys that brothers hug, and there's nothing sexual about it. It's a hug and it's innocent and it's one of the ways we demonstrate love. So, please, stop classifying innocence as something other than what it is.
That afternoon, Graham, who's my most demonstratively affectionate, went to Dea. "Dea, it's time for your daily hug!" Dea said, "Dude, guys don't hug. That's fruity." Then, Graham did what I should have done long ago. He said just matter of factly, "Dea, your my brother and I'm gonna hug you. It's not fruity, it's just what brothers do."
Hours later, I got a text on my phone, "MaMelissa, tell Graham I'm sorry I called his hugs fruity. They're not fruity."
And Graham's smile could have lit the city.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;"
1 Peter, 1:22-23