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.

Answers in Front of My Face

raising chickens
I want to be a farmer. Seriously. I’d like to move to a few acres, build a hobbit house and plant pomegranate trees and snow peas, raise chickens and goats, become a regular at the farmer’s market.

I’ve had this desire for a while, although it seems so ridiculous that I don’t usually talk about it. I do, however, own a collection of books on alternative building, herb gardening and the like — the result of years of vicarious living.

My younger son shares this desire. He is always talking about how he wants to grow vegetables, and in fact, uses our meager front yard to grow a variety of shockingly hot peppers.

We would do more, but our backyard is a nicely landscaped brick patio, and is entirely shaded. So to implement this dream even a little bit, we’ve got to do something different. Hence my post on Facebook about how I had my eye out for three or more acres close to town.

I’m serious.

Here’s why I mean it.

Last week, my mind was stuck in a rut. I was engaging in either/or thinking and driving myself bats. I was beating myself up for looking at endless medical research and not trusting in God to help with the S disease. My talented and thoughtful friend Kelvin, however, provided some needed perspective by basically asking me why my mind was not open to God’s answers in all aspects of life — including medical research.

I have a complicated answer to that. I am an educated person who is aware of the genetic basis and many of the environmental triggers for the S disease, but am still convinced there is a spiritual component. I won’t go into it right now.

Nevertheless, Kelvin is right. His response made me think.

Of course I pray for understanding and healing of the S disease. Yesterday, I realized that God has indeed provided some answers and continues to do so.

You see, a couple of years ago, my younger son went on an extended campout with his scout troop. I remember how he came back looking tan and trim, with none of the “Aspie” affect and behaviors that he usually had. There were no dietary changes that I’m aware of, unless you count eating worse foods — like endless hot dogs and pop tarts — as a change.

The positive effect had to have come from being outside almost continuously. Being free from electronics was no doubt a factor, but it wasn’t the only one, as we’ve experimented with this at home, and have found it helpful, but nowhere near a “cure.”

We’ve even went so far as to not use electricity for a week or so, reading by candlelight in the evenings like Abe Lincoln. We thought perhaps electric lights were part of the problem. That experiment didn’t have much of an effect.

No, the outdoors is the deciding factor. I’m sure of it. Nature has a healing effect. God made us to live among the trees and in the fields, not in particleboard boxes.

So I think of my son’s request to move to the country and my own increasing desire to do so as well. And I realize that this desire is likely God’s way of nudging us towards healing. Towards eating a natural, organic, non-GMO diet. Towards getting enough sunshine and vitamin D, in which almost all people with the S disease are deficient. Towards getting more exercise. Towards health.

I do not know how to make this happen right away. I shared this epiphany with my husband, and he asked me to inquire about buying some land across the street. I did, and discovered it had already sold. But if it is supposed to happen, it will. I will keep looking.

I like how the answer to my prayers is likely already embedded in my heart.

Becoming a Beautiful Snowflake

Okay, so maybe saying that I think I’m turning into a snowflake doesn’t sound quite right. But it’s an apt description for this process that I am experiencing. Here’s an illustration showing how to create a really fancy snowflake. Check out all the intricate cuts you have to make to get it right.

intricate paper snowflake

Becoming beautiful can be a slow, laborious and painful process.

It’s easier to fold the paper and just make a few triangular cuts, of course. But then you end up with a rectangle with some pretty holes in it. It’s not beautiful — just something to do to fill the time. It won’t stay up on the refrigerator long, either. Your mom will toss it as soon as she knows you’re not looking.

I think a lot of us are content to be that rectangle with the awkwardly placed triangles. I know I often am.

The thing is, I prayed this really scary prayer. I asked God to use me to advance His purposes, to get “me” out of the way. Truthfully, I really didn’t want to pray that prayer, but God is not interested in lukewarm servants. And I’ve seen enough of what God can do to know that I want to consciously be a part of His amazing work.

I know I’m going to be a really beautiful snowflake. The parts of me that are being cut away are immense. It hurts.

But you know what? Before I met God, I would have a greater emotional reaction to having my car break down than I am now with all this business going on with my sons. My friend Deb said, “He is carrying you.” Oh yeah. There is definitely only one set of footprints in the sand.

I lean not on my own understanding.
My life is in the hands of the maker of heaven.
I give it all to You, God,
trusting that You’ll make something beautiful out of me.
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open…