I remember the day we brought our oldest son, Antonio, for a neuro-psychological evaluation. We were told that he had a pervasive developmental disability. Richard and I were leveled. You see, when we decided to adopt children we had dreamed of being part of all the typical milestones all of our children pass through like school dances, friendships, graduations, university. In that moment all of it was taken away and each year as Antonio grew we felt the loss of the milestones he was missing in the moment. We needed to be the parents we never wanted to be or expected to be. We were disappointed. At the time of Antonio's diagnosis we were given the opportunity to "give him back" to return as a ward of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We never considered it. Despite our devastating disappointment we had made a commitment to Antonio and to our family. We trusted each other and decided to see it through. We could never step away from this disappointment, or our son. Today Antonio is a challenging young adult but is happy and content.
At our last new member recognition ceremony I added a few words to the welcome I deliver to those wanting to join the Congregation. I told them that we, the Congregation, will disappoint them and that they will disappoint us. This is an important truth about life. Being imperfect, we all will be disappointed by and will disappoint those we love and those we share community with. A common human response to disappointment is to pull back or step away from people, circumstances, and communities. I know this is something I'm mindful of in my responses. It's important to remember that disappointment is inevitable but we do have control over how we manage it. It's healthy to pause and assess the situation and feel and process the emotion. It's healthier to pause and and recognize the love and affection we have for the source of our disappointment and our agreements we've made to see it through.
Unitarian Universalism is differentiated from other faiths based on our commitment to being covenantal versus creedal. If we fall out of covenant with one another, others we love, or a community we seek to return to covenant rather than banish ourselves as a creedal faith would. My family covenanted long ago to remain a family come what may. We've fallen out of covenant hundreds of times with one another and we've re-covenanted hundreds of times because of our love and commitment to one another. We agreed to be part of this family and remain a family and so we do -- imperfectly.