US: Mr. Thomas

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There are many times while plodding along the parenting path that outside influences intervene. Some are good and some are not. It is up to us, the parents, to weed out the things that may hinder and cultivate those that will help. When William was twelve, God sent someone to us that altered what we were as a family and was a tremendous help in bringing up our children. Roshad Thomas was involved with the youth group at our church and he took an interest in William when he entered middle school. It wasn't just William he was investing in, there were three other boys the same age he was focused on, but his interest in William intersected our lives in a profound way.

It started simple enough. Roshad would plan some time with William twice per week and they would talk. I felt good about it because, as I have mentioned before, middle school is evil and I welcomed help where I could get it. The planned meetings evolved into hanging out at the house and—Roshad being single, underemployed and hungry—eating dinner with us. Then he started spending the night and, eventually, became our oldest child. He more than held up his end of the bargain beyond the spiritual investment into all three children by helping Hope shuttle the kids all over town (we had three in three different schools) and being available to help us any way he could. We were investing in each other and were both benefiting. He was part of our family and we welcomed him, including at holidays and family events. Hope even yelled him at for leaving his socks on the counter. He was definitely one of our children.

But there was push back from others. Friends initially questioned Roshad's intent, wondering why a single youth leader would be so interested in young boys. Some of the Deep South prejudices reared as family member's questioned why we would allow a black man to become so integral a part of our family. At first we were bothered by all the whispers and mumbling, and then we re-evaluated, stopping a moment to make sure we hadn't missed a signal of alarm and caution. After that three-minute introspection, we got mad and resolved to deal with the push back and let them all know they were wrong. We invited Roshad to share his testimony at our home group and reveal his heart and why it was important for him to pour himself into the kids (and why it was important that he be a member of our intact, “normal” family). We calmly explained to family that Roshad was indeed a part of our family and that he was not going anywhere. And we let them know that, yes, Roshad and his entire family would be attending Thanksgiving at our house and they could come or not—just know his mom's mac and cheese could bring about world peace and it would be their loss. And, over time, people evolved and not only came to accept Roshad but they began to understand why he was a part of our family. Hope's mom, initially guarded but never hostile, grew to love him like one of her own. In her last weeks on earth, she enjoyed his visits and appreciated all he did for her grandchildren.

Now that our kids are older and carving out their own spaces in life, we don't see Roshad as much as we did. And that makes sense because he is off investing in some more middle school boys, prepping them for life and providing discipline and love. But we still hug in the church lobby, talk a little football and we'll grab a meal together on occasion to catch up on more important things. And he still calls me dad.


Alicia Thomas said...

I would like to take this moment to thank you, the entire Collie Family for the unconditional love the you share with Roshad and how you made me a happier person knowing that Roshad had met a family that loved him ALMOST :0) asmuch as I did. Life had not alwaysbeen easy for me and my family, but once we made Jesus the center if our life, he gave us the things we were liking. There were times when I was jeoulous of your relationship but after meeting you and your family, l knew that God's plan was being fullfilled. I remember hoe when Paul would visit cities, God would always have a family to recieve, so that he could do God's work, not that I am comparing Roshad to Paul, but I do remember the day when he wad born, Jesus told me in the delivery room"He is Mine". So all the thimgs we went through was to prepare him for his ministry and He also gave you a part. THANK YOU WITH MY HEART? Ms. THOMAS FOREVER LOVE!!!!!!

Jay said...

Thank you for the kind words, Ms. Thomas. The pleasure was all ours.