Through Many Shed Tears
It’s been a little over three months since my precious son, James, attempted suicide. A little over three months since I realized the house was too quiet, rushed to his room and found him unconscious and turning blue. Though I didn’t know it at the time, as I fought to loose death’s grip on my son’s limp and lifeless body, the Lord was setting my feet on a path of understanding the lost and rejected in ways I never had before. I’m still on that path. Shattered through my experiences of unspoken grief and many shed tears, I am humbled and thankful that I can rebuild my life with my son by my side. As I rebuild, though, I know I will never be the same. Once you’ve seen your child so broken that they would rather die than live you cannot help but reevaluate every choice you’ve ever made.
But There Were No Tears on Our Behalf
It had been a crushing day. James was physically stable after his suicide attempt. Though just hours before he was unconscious and blue, he was now awake and alert in the ER. Still, having attempted suicide, he was on a 72-hour psychiatric hold awaiting a bed in a local mental health facility. Until one was available, we had to wait in the ER. Due to the circumstances surrounding James’ admission, a security guard was posted outside his door which only drew attention to our family. Making things worse, the door was required to be left wide open. We couldn’t even close it slightly for a hint of privacy. Even as Phillip, James and I wept together in our shock, grief, and despair we were on display for all to see. As the nurses joked at the nursing station about their recent blind dates, and the security guards openly complained about having to stand guard over our, “damn mental case” son — we wept. We were shell-shocked and so traumatized. On the worst day of our lives — when our souls ached for compassion, understanding, and love — there were no tears on our behalf to be found.
Peacemakers and Protectors of the Least of These
Now that James is home again, every night at around 2 AM I sneak quietly into his room and just sit and listen to him breathe. I won’t ever take those breaths for granted. Usually, after just a few moments of listening, tears begin to flow. At first, those tears were always in relief because I still had my James. More recently, however, I’ve found my tears have also overflowed over the state of our nation. We are far less compassionate, long-suffering and loving than we’ve ever been in my lifetime. It seems we are raging more. We are drawn to drama, fast talking, and mean-spirited words instead of feeding the hungry, weeping with those who weep and protecting the vulnerable. We have become the cheering section of the bullies instead of the peacemakers and protectors of the, “least of these”. Almost every night, as I leave James’ room, I find myself asking this one question, “Why aren’t we shaken by the suffering of others?”
I’m Going to Hit a Nerve
This week in Phoenix Arizona a 35-year-old mother of two teenage children was deported. Yes, she was living in the United States of America illegally. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos was brought to the United States when she was 14 years old and has lived here for the past 21 years. She has worked here, with a false social security number, and paid taxes. For years, she has reported to ICE and was most recently shown leniency under the Obama administration. However, this week, when she reported, she was arrested, and through many shed tears, deported. de Rayos is indeed a felon – a class 6 felony ( for having false documents ) – but she is not the type of felon President Trump has insisted he is going after (“rapists, murders – really bad dudes”). Instead, she is a mama who was brought to his country as a teenager and, as an adult, has worked hard to provide for her American citizen children. She has contributed to her community. She has attended church and loved her neighbors. She is more like you and me than most of us would like to acknowledge, and now, she has been ripped out of her children’s lives.
Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos (Rob Schumacher / AP)
Pause for a moment.
Take the politics out.
A mother and her two teenagers are now separated. Friends. This is something to weep over. If you aren’t stirred to weep, or if you aren’t stirred to compassion then fall to your knees now and cry out to the Lord to soften your stony heart.
Clanging Cymbals or Love?
As the news unfolds these days, it’s easy to see we are living in a predominantly loveless world filled with the clanging cymbal’s that 1 Corinthians 13 describes. This is a heartbreaking reality. We should grieve for our nation and be the change we want to see. We need to feed the hungry, love the brokenhearted, weep with those who weep, protect the vulnerable, guard the innocent, replace arrogance with humility and pride with prayer. We need to touch the sick, love the lost, employ felons, embrace the disabled and humanize and understand the plight of the undocumented. The love of Christ is our call, and the heart of Christ must be our desire.
It’s time to stop being clanging cymbals. It’s time to stop presenting ourselves as loving Christians when in fact we are allowing the hurting, the hopeless and the hidden to remain lost. Christ is calling us to be men and women of action and compassion. We must go beyond our comfort zones and outside of our communities. I am sure, when we do, it won’t always be easy. However, He will be with us, and the beauty of His enduring love will be greater than anything we have ever seen.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Three months ago, I screamed as I grabbed the lifeless body of my son after he tried to take his life. By God’s grace, we are rebuilding, growing and learning anew about mercy, compassion, hope, long-suffering and authentic love. As a result of our journey together, the painful journeys of others have become far more vivid to me. Perhaps, that is part of the Lord’s touch in the midst of our story. The ashes of our lives are being transformed into His beauty; where we no longer easily turn away from those who are hurting and are rather compelled towards love for those in need.
Our story is not yet fully written. Only time will only show how the Lord ends these chapters. I am confident, though, it will involve our hearts growing softer and more like His. That my friends is an utterly humbling and awe-inspiring thought for me.
May the Lord draw us all closer to Him. May He teach us His ways. May we all grow in humility, compassion, and love for the lost and broken. May we all become authentic ministers of His love.
I’m in, how about you?