Where Are the Healers? A Lament

heart balloon art

It is possible that moving to the country from the city was one of the worst decisions my family ever made. We moved from a place where my younger son was invited to so many birthday parties that I had to keep a closet stocked with last-minute gifts to a place where he managed to go through most of elementary school without being invited to a single one.

Of course, the fact that he has two sets of grandparents, three uncles, three aunts and three cousins here in our little town made up for it. Being surrounded by loving family can help to make up for the rejection of peers and even their parents.

Alas, this was my fantasy and not reality. No family member has taken much of an interest in my son — to the point where it simply wouldn’t matter where we live when it comes to his interactions with them.

Once the S disease showed its face, I noticed that it helped my son to be around people who distracted him from what was happening in his mind. Desperate, I became bold.

“Will you take Younger Son fishing with you the next time you go?” I asked one family member. “Why not include Younger Son the next time you decide to spend a day in (neighboring city). He would love that!” I suggested to another.

Nothing changed.

Next, I tried guilt.

“Why don’t you ever spend time with your grandson?” I asked my parents.

They didn’t fall for it. Nothing has changed.

More desperate still, I asked people at the house church I was attending. I said something like, “Younger Son really needs connections with other people, role models. Will someone consider taking him under their wing a bit?”

I wish I’d never asked that question. Coping with my grief over the lack of response has been difficult.

I have a friend who has a son who is emotionally disturbed. They don’t ask for help. I used to think this was perhaps prideful, but now realize it is probably realistic on their part.

Here’s the thing. There are any number of Christians who are happy to lay hands on my son and pray for him. I appreciate this. Prayer is powerful.

But.

When you pray for bonds to be broken and healing to take place, God often answers prayers. He is a miraculous God, and sometimes He does things in mysterious ways.

Often, though, He is quite practical. He uses the people in His church as his hands and feet to accomplish His goals. He uses their love.

He sent me and my son a friend who hugs my son. She includes him in some of her plans. She even buys him little gifts. There is now a third person in his life who demonstrably loves him.

I am thankful for this. Oh boy, am I thankful. I wonder though, what if even more people loved my son in a visible way? I know that love heals.

I’ve been reading the diary of George Fox, the man who inadvertently founded the Quakers — some of the few Christians in the United States who actively resisted the institution of slavery. Fox frequently went into the churches in England and asked “Where is your fruit?”

I relate to Fox, because that is just how I feel.

The fruit of Christians should be healing love and not rejection. What if every Christian in our communities welcomed someone who is hurting into his or her life? Can you imagine the difference this would make?

In my town of 30,000, there are probably 10,000 people who attend church. These folks diligently give to food banks, the homeless ministry and other worthy causes. There are so many volunteers at our homeless shelter that it is ridiculous — they hardly have any slots to squeeze new ones in. Yet when I drive past the homeless shelter, the homeless people are always sitting outside the building alone.

No one should ever be alone in the midst of Christians.

Oh what a difference we could make if we gave ourselves over to action to complement our belief.

The lovely print is available for sale on Etsy — click on photo.

Beauty and the Beast Is a True Story

beauty and the beast
I woke up this morning with two things on my mind. The story of Beauty and the Beast, and this verse from John 1:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

Beauty and the Beast is not an ordinary fairy tale. The rescuer is not a prince on a white horse, but a woman of virtue and a pure heart. This fairy tale has been around for years in the oral traditions of several cultures. I believe it came from God.

The beast is selfish. He demands a human sacrifice for Beauty’s father taking a rose from his garden.

Beauty offers her life in return for her father’s.

She lives with the Beast, and eventually truly loves him, which destroys the beast, revealing the prince within.

True love conquers all.

This is what the gospel is all about.

This is not the gospel that is being preached. The gospel that is being preached has a lot to do with having the right beliefs, which vary from denomination to denomination. It often has to do with following a set of rules that we probably aren’t even supposed to worry about.

Jesus and his disciples were not preaching Jewish Mosaic law to the people. They were preaching — and showing love. They were eating with the undesirables of society, challenging hateful judgementalism. Love permeates the gospel. Jesus’ feet were washed with a woman’s hair and today’s equivalent of $35,000 or so worth of perfume. What love.

Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. What love.

Jesus cast out demons easily. I think love had something to do with it. Darkness can never, ever overshadow light. Light, on the other hand, is a different story.

The Beast Prince was overtaken by a demon, it seems. What caused the demon to break away from the prince? Love.

Love heals. Jesus didn’t mind “breaking the Sabbath” to heal a blind man. He followed the law of love, which as He says,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

All the laws have to do with love for God and other people. If you commit an act of adultery, you are not being loving. Stealing and killing are not loving. Worshiping idols (money, good looks, other people) is not loving towards God. Sleeping around tends to be exploitative and selfish, not loving. Lying/gossiping about others — not loving.

Much of this seems to have gotten lost in our quest to understand the Old Testament and reconcile it to the gospel, however. I know that many, many people will disagree, but I’m not convinced we were ever supposed to worry about it. I don’t think Paul went around preaching the 10 Commandments and the meaning of the book of Daniel to the Gentiles. He was preaching the salvation of Jesus — what I think of as the “Law of Love.”

Hundreds of years ago, people didn’t have access to books. They had to listen to the word of God preached by priests, who had an investment in making people more afraid of their sin than the underlying lack of love, because this gave the church money and power. Thank goodness for an oral tradition that nevertheless revealed the truth of God.

Many Christians today have several translations of the Bible on their bookshelf. Why then, does the tale of Beauty and the Beast ring more true than the message one hears in many Christian churches today?

I have much, much more to write about this subject. Dreams, supernatural experiences, friendships — all of this is coming together to form one cohesive story of love and freedom in my life.