The Resilient Child

Children are resilient.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this….

The truth is children are not any more resilient than adults. They are helpless and not yet mature enough to understand or control the harm done to them. We all carry our wounds with us, and children need vigorous advocates, not cheap platitudes.

My friend tells a story: he was quite young and won a prize at a picnic. An older child tricked him into relinquishing his winning ticket. Only later did he understand the trust he had placed in the older child was misplaced and he had been cheated.

Small story, but one he tells to this day with a sense of injustice. How much more are the truly harmful things that happen to children wounds we carry into adulthood?

So think about my small story the next time someone says children are resilient. If you want your child to recover from the wounds of deception, abuse, or cruelty in a darkened world you will have to be their advocate and physician– providing a safe place to heal, a shoulder to grieve on, and a tough mama or daddy to fight for them. Fight for the safety of the little ones.

You be the resilient one. Speak out.

A Simple Plan

This has happened more than once.

I sit next to an adult and give them a version of my reasons for writing and they share their story.

This one involved mental illness, alcoholism, a tragic death and an injunction against talking about the truth. Children were made to bear witness to a terrible story and then could never talk about what they had experienced.

Mind-bending. And the norm. Most adults not only do not allow children to verbally process traumatic events, they often suppress these stories.

Incredibly destructive. No matter how tough, embarrassing or difficult the event, every child deserves a voice–a safe place to tell their tale of woe.

Otherwise the wound itself is exacerbated by the additional loss of trust in the grownups whose job it was to protect us.

What Faith Can Do

Mark 6:4-13 (NIV)
Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” [5] He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. [6] And he was amazed at their lack of faith. Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. [7] Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. [8] These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. [9] Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. [10] Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. [11] And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” [12] They went out and preached that people should repent. [13] They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Jesus never forces us to believe him and he never pushes his gifts on us. If we want his eternal bounty, we get it, if we don’t…well sometimes he heals us anyway. Or gets us standby seats, or fixes our power outages.

Because he is love.

He lets us see him as an interloper or an imposition. But if we take a risk on Jesus, we find he is a Sure Thing.

He is that good.

He Knows

Mark 5:25-34 (NIV)
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. [26] She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. [27] When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, [28] because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” [29] Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. [30] At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” [31] “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, `Who touched me?’ ” [32] But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. [33] Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. [34] He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Jesus lived his life for me, for you. A sceptic reading Mark would shrug and say that Mark crafted this story. I believe Jesus crafted it. Every detail matters–in the story, in his life, in out lives. Nothing is accidental.

I think about those 12 years of waiting. Jesus was there–in Israel, alive in the world–he was on his way to her.

I have lived through a number of chronic conditions. Pain, illness, suffering, grief without a quick-ish resolution is terrible. You live with the pain of today and the dreadful fear of all those tomorrow. What if it gets worse? What if it never stops?

The definition of unending suffering is hell.

The Bible tells us this woman’s condition was getting worse. Imagine her mixture of hope and fear when she heard about Jesus, as she pushed through the crowd toward him.

Jesus heals her automatically.. His power is abundant. He stops everything to talk to her because he loves her.

The gift of his love, his gaze, is more precious even than her restored health and freedom.

Waiting.

Mark 5:21-29 (NIV)
When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. [22] Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet [23] and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” [24] So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. [25] And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. [26] She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. [27] When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, [28] because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” [29] Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

Jesus from afar. He is not constrained by cement walls, ordinary time, peer pressure, or the weather.

This can be hard to understand in a crisis. We want instant relief from grief or illness, and sometimes we get pain, loneliness, waiting.

This story works best if you don’t know the ending. Jairus was desperate. We know he wouldn’t have risked himself if he had another option. It must have been excruciating to wait. You can almost see the words in a bubble–

c’mon, my daughter is dying!

But Jesus is in no hurry. In fact there is no mention of him ever hurrying. The waiting is part of the story….

For all of us.

Wow! You’ve Changed!

Mark 5:18-20 (NIV)
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. [19] Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” [20] So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

I would have wanted to follow Jesus like a puppy dog. But Jesus tells the man to go home.

Think of 5 of the worst humans you know–personally or historically. Now imagine them come home smelling good and acting like Mother Teresa.

That is what God can do.

And it is indeed amazing.

Those Pigs.

When I was a kid I went through a rough patch–lots of strep throat. I remember rounds of antibiotics and shots. The shots worked the best. One big dose of medicine.

That is how I see Jesus. His healing is so profound and complete and wholesome. Miraculous and life-giving.

So when he meets up with a guy who has an army of demons, the authority of his healing is strict and simple–

Mark 5:9-17 (NIV)
Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” [10] And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. [11] A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. [12] The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” [13] He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. [14] Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. [15] When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. [16] Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. [17] Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

The pigs were smart, out for themselves, property, minding their own business, pork bystanders.

Why did the demons want to go into the pigs?

They did not want to get sent back to their master or their chosen home. Even demons don’t like hell.

And pigs aren’t crazy about demons.

Humans invite darkness into their hearts all the time, but these pigs did not. Their panicked suicide is a barometer of how awful the habitation of darkness is.

And the humans? Upset they lost their pigs. They fail to see Jesus is worth all the pigs in the world. They banish the Lord of Life for a few shekels.

Don’t make their mistake. Stay close to Jesus.

He sets the captive free.

The whole town gathered at his door

Mark 1:32-34 (NIV)
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. [33] The whole town gathered at the door, [34] and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

His door?
The whole town gathered at his door?

It is a beautiful image–a crowd of people. Some have bunions or arthritis, others have problems with acne or depression. Some might be paralyzed, others deaf or blind. They would have had cancer, depression, disease.

In the course of a 24 hour period a man has a demonic outburst in church and then the whole town sees/hears/responds to Jesus healing power by trucking out their infirmities.

A very good thing.

Imagine if the story went like this–

They saw what Jesus did for the demon possessed man but they did not want their neighbors to know about their weaknesses, illness, and grief, so they stayed home. Pretended they didn’t have any problems. Died prematurely.

Welcome to the American Christianity. Sure, we have hand sanitizer and flu shots now….But the truth is you have to have the courage, honesty, and desperation to admit you have a problem if you want to get healed.

I have a problem. I do not trust easily anymore. I used to be very trusting. Too trusting, you could say. But then that trust was broken, not by one or two people but a lot of people and my children were hurt. I watch my children in pain.

The loneliness and grief can seem overwhelming. So every day I go to Jesus’ door and I wait for him to heal me.

And he does, thank God.

Give me a new country

Uncock the gun

Release the bullets

Into the palm of your hand

Put the weapon down

Smash it into pieces

Sown into earth

Like the teeth of the mythical

Dragon

Pull down the walls

Release the lions

They will feed now

On grass like the Lamb

Who has tamed them

Undo all  the damage

Unleashed by thIs savage

Heart  next to

A river, next to a Tree

At the center of this new country

Wanna

build you a fort

of sheets.quilts

blankets–

counterpanes

A Comforter Stronghold

pillow masonry

fortifying all our flying

buttresses

around this cathedral

the artisans, all children

nobody hurt there

not allowed–

the very law of love

forbids it

and all the pain

of our collective

history

would unravel like a braid each night

healing all these grievous wounds