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.

Rambling Angry Stuff That May or May Not Have a Point

homeless
Sometimes the pain is so great I feel as though I can’t speak.

Yesterday we endured another visit to the psychiatrist, where once again the S word was tossed about liberally. There were also words like “lifelong,” “chronic” and “disability.”

I am ashamed to say that I have been feeling sorry for myself. I know it is like holding the door open so that the long-toothed depression beast can stroll right on in and make himself good and comfortable. I struggle to maintain a sense of reality.

People do not like to think about the S word. I’m one of them, since I don’t even like typing it. My own parents don’t call and ask how my son is doing or how I’m holding up. I suppose it is painful for them, so they, like almost everyone else, pretend it is not happening, that it does’t exist.

I’m so angry I could spit. Obviously, I’m angry that both of my sons, as well as my brother, have fallen victim to this disease or whatever it is.

I’m angry because I asked for support and didn’t get it. Well, not from the people I asked, anyway. The thing is, I’m well aware that I have no right to my anger because no one owes me — or my son — a thing. And I am blessed because God sent someone into my life who personifies His love, and that person also loves my son and played an instrumental role in our not going to the ER a few days ago for a psych eval.

I don’t know what to do with the anger, though. I want to say hurtful things. I want to blame someone else for this pain.

I feel like I could just explode, I really do. I’d like to see the fake constructs of our society made into visible strips of paper so I could tear them apart and the truth would lie there naked for all to see — and deal with.

We are all like blah, blah, blah. Love others. Love people with mental illness. Love unlovely people. Behind the words “Jesus loves you” are often “but I don’t, not really.” I think this has made it easy for people to mock my savior, this hypocrisy he’s so often associated with. And we all know how Jesus felt about hypocrites. That’s one thing I love about Jesus. He was not fake at all. He lived what he preached.

There was a catalyst to this anger.

My good friend Gen and I were at Starbucks a few days ago, sipping coffee on the patio. There was a man restlessly pacing the sidewalk, muttering to himself. Gen went up to him and asked him if he was okay. I followed.

It turned out he wasn’t okay, which was no surprise. He had suffered the loss of three family members in the space of two months. He was either manic, on drugs or both. We prayed with him.

I have to say that two months ago, this would have been completely outside my comfort zone. I’ll never forget the time Gen and I were in Java Jacks and she said, “Well, let’s pray about that.”

I was thinking, “Here? Now? In front of people?” but kept my mouth shut as I furtively looked around the room to see if anyone was watching.

I’m over that now.

At any rate, this guy was surprised. He said that he wanted to attend church, but didn’t know of one where he wouldn’t be judged. This was a valid concern. I figured some folks wouldn’t be able to get past his wearing swim trunks in public in January.

I realized that I didn’t know of a church I could invite him to, although some Facebook friends had some ideas. I thought about how my son doesn’t fit into most churches and how I couldn’t go to a church that couldn’t embrace people with the S disease, drug addicts, and even criminal histories, even though most probably have good intentions.

Sometimes things are messy.

Sometimes things aren’t safe. That’s okay. Jesus never says that we are supposed to stay safe. He says this instead.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. — Luke 14:32

I interpret this verse to mean that we may be called to literally give up everything — up to and including personal safety and even our lives, especially in light of this verse:

Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. Luke 17:33

What a hard teaching. To me it is clear, though, that hanging onto socially respectable behaviors and ideas about the lifestyle we feel we are entitled to is the wrong path.

I don’t want to attempt to fit the gospel into the lifestyle that I want to have.

Anyway, so Gen and I got into the car and I started to cry. Our encounter with this guy just hurt my heart so much. So many people are lonely and have such awful lives. We have to show them love, we just have to! Love in action is it, it is everything. It is the only way to defeat the devil that I can see.

And I’m thinking, what if there were more people like Gen who were willing to put whatever they are doing on hold to comfort a stranger, to cheer a friend’s son out of suicidal ideation, to randomly warm people’s hearts for no reason other than to lift them up?

Can you imagine the type of world we’d live in??

We’d all see the kingdom of God every day.