It’s a BROKEN World…

This post was written as part of “Five Minute Friday” where bloggers write for 5 minutes on a given topic, without editing or revising their work. You can see the link-up hosted by Lisa-Jo Baker HERE.

A few years ago we were working with at-risk young people in a remote area of Navajoland. Far too many children were raising themselves, or were taking responsibility for younger siblings, while the adults around them were constantly drunk, on drugs, or were out gambling and fighting. Some folks have accused me of being racist, or of being judgmental. I think the truth lies closer to being, at times, completely and totally overwhelmed by the broken world we found around us.

One day the world came crashing down around the teachers and administration at the local all-Navajo-student K-8 school. One of the younger boys, “S,” winced when his teacher put a hand on his shoulder to redirect his attention to his workbook. After proper procedures were followed to investigate what had happened, the student was taken into custody by the State Highway Patrol and a Social Worker, kicking and screaming the entire time; wailing that he loved his mother and his mother loved him.

When my husband and I got to the school a little later that afternoon for our tutoring/teaching responsibilities, we found the adults still in a state of shock. This precious fellow had wounds and deep bruising from his head to his lower legs and down his arms as far as his elbows. “S” had been beaten with a wire by his mother the night before. It must have taken hours for her to do that much damage to him…

A Mini-Art Project I recently made with longing for the day that Jesus brings healing to S.

A Mini-Art Project I recently made with longing for the day that Jesus brings healing to S.

Don’t talk to me of racism. Don’t talk to me of judgmentalism. Let me tell you about a broken, broken world. Especially when I tell you the end of the story: he was back with his mother within days and was moved to another school so none of us could be so “abusive” as to call authorities again.

I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of “S.” And I was reminded of him just the other day during a women’s bible study I am attending. The focus was on Christ’s redeeming us from slavery. In Gal 3:13, it says that Christ became a curse for us. The teacher went on to describe the traditional beating by Jewish tradition: 39 lashes which left wounds and bruising from head to toe and half way down the arms. She made it clear that Christ took that beating for us; He took the curse intended for us; He paid the price in his own body for our wrong-doing.

All of a sudden it came crashing in on me. Young “S” was beaten. He was cursed with a twisted “love” from his mother. His life was, at least at times, a living hell. And yet…and yet…in the middle of that broken world, Jesus has already come to redeem that in “S’s” young life. I began weeping when I realized that someday “S” might learn that Jesus wants to replace those wounds and that curse with His own payment. Jesus wants to redeem and heal those wounds and make “S’s” life whole again.

Hurry, Lord Jesus. Rescue “S” (and other innocent young Navajo children) from this broken, broken world…

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Another Piece of the (grieving) Puzzle

I woke up crying today. And raindrop tears were falling outside.

raindrop tears falling in Timberlake

raindrop tears falling in Timberlake

This is a holiday; a day to celebrate time with family. This is my birthday; a day to celebrate ME. But instead, I’ve been crying for the past few days. I’ve wished this day could be skipped and we could just move on to Tuesday. All of which makes me angry…

This day is also my son’s birthday. He should have been 21 today. But he died five years ago and the picture of my expectations was broken into a million pieces. My bright and colorful life became a puzzle that had to be put back together again.

The first year was hard. The pieces of life were scattered and there was no picture to guide me in reassembling the puzzle. Even the bright, colorful shards were little help. They were hard to recognize in the gray fog of grief. Gradually the outlines were rebuilt that first year; with a piece here and a piece there fitting together. We rebuilt mother’s day and his birthday…click. We survived family gatherings…click. We tried new ways of doing Thanksgiving and Christmas…click. We got through the anniversary of his death…click. The corners and frame for “Life Without James” came together and the first year was finished.

The second year was a little easier. Putting together a puzzle always goes more quickly once the outer edges are clear. It even seemed, at times, like we had glimpses of the guide picture. It felt like we had some clue of what on-going life was going to be like. And it would be okay…

In the years since then, we keep working at the puzzle. I am less afraid of the holes, knowing that a new picture will fill in the empty places. When I find myself sobbing (or angry), I’ve learned to twist the pieces this way and that, looking at the situation from different perspectives. Eventually, I find the missing piece and one more bit of the puzzle comes together and fills the hole. The grief is still there, but it is less fearsome when fitted into a larger picture.

I woke up crying today. And it took a while to figure out why. This hole is bigger than a shared birthday. It is larger than a gray, rainy day. This is a jagged edged gap that threatens to swallow me in to nothingness. Until another piece of the puzzle fell into place this morning…click.

"Grieving Jesus" at OKC Memorial

“Grieving Jesus” at OKC Memorial

Since James died, we have lived in temporary settings. We wandered the West in an RV. We lived with family while we went back to school. We worked with at-risk youth in Navajoland. We lived with family again through five months of unemployment. All of these things were safe. The bits of the puzzle put together in those areas felt secure. A picture of what life might be like was coming together. And it would be okay…

Then my husband started a new job…back in Ohio. We bought a house…back in Ohio. Life is moving forward…back in Ohio. And that makes me angry. I don’t WANT to be in Ohio. I want my temporary living back. I want the guide picture back. Living in Ohio has too many holes. James is missing wherever I turn. Life is turning back to what it was before he died, but he is no longer here to live it with us. Family and friends who never visited us in our temporary settings are already planning to visit us here. Here in this place and in this home that James will never be part of. Ahhh…another piece of the (grieving) puzzle is coming together…click.

There is comfort in seeing the shape of this little piece. There is comfort in knowing the puzzle will continue to be put back together. There is even comfort in understanding this hole. But comfort still doesn’t feel good. My life shattered into a million pieces five years ago. And sometimes I just want the old picture back.

raindrop tears and an empty bench at Timberlake

raindrop tears and an empty bench at Timberlake

I woke up crying today. And raindrop tears were falling outside.

Lessons in Procrastination

I have always heard that procrastination is a bad thing. Sometimes I beat myself up about this character flaw. Other times I just laugh about being an adrenaline junkie and needing a looming deadline to kick into high gear.

Early this summer I realized it was time to jump through the hoops and get our 15 year old son his driving learner’s permit. I knew the process with our older kids—walk into the license bureau, pick up study materials, have the teen take the written test, sign up for driving school somewhere in the neighborhood.

But that was back in Ohio—a very civilized, generally-has-its-act-together state. Now we live in a remote area of New Mexico. Things work differently here…

I discovered that walking into the license bureau was ahead of myself. My son needed to be signed up for drivers ed since he is still under 18. So, I went back home and researched online driving schools. I found an affordable one, but when I tried to sign up our son, I discovered I was (again) ahead of myself. He had to be registered as a homeschooled student with the State so I could give his registration number. I tried that process, but didn’t get a number. In frustration, I gave up.

Over the next few months, I regularly added these tasks to my to-do list. And I regularly ignored them, working on other projects instead. Our son was busy with other things and didn’t hassle me about the lack of progress in getting his learner’s permit…but I beat myself up about it.

I avoided it and avoided it and avoided it. Eventually, this fall, I decided I just HAD to sit down and do whatever it took to get him that permit. And now, 2 online homeschool registrations (does this mean the state thinks there are 3 JLE’s being homeschooled out here this year?!), one form mailed to the Transportation Department, one on-line school registration, and two (count ‘em, TWO) more trips to the license bureau later…he has those temps!

And…when he was asked if he wanted to be an organ donor, it suddenly came crashing in on me why I had procrastinated so long. Yes, I often put things off. Yes, I hate red tape and inefficient bureaucracies. But this time, that wasn’t really the cause. There was a lesson to be learned behind the procrastination. Something to be faced…

I realized this teen’s older brother had proudly gotten his temps 5 years ago. Once I explained what being an organ donor was, that son felt it was OBVIOUS that everyone should say yes to being a donor. And then just a few weeks before he could take the driving test and get his license, that son died unexpectedly. And, yes, we donated as many parts of that body he no longer needed.

But…but…but…I really didn’t want to face the idea that my current 15 year old is almost the same age as his brother was then. (Actually, on Sept 12 this son is now older than his brother will ever be…) I didn’t want to explain organ donation again. I didn’t want to look forward to the big day of another teen earning a full-fledged driver’s license…and never reach that day.

Sigh…

Maybe next time I repeatedly put something off, I will look behind the procrastination. Perhaps there will be another lesson to learn, another hurdle to cross, something else to sort through. Perhaps procrastination is NOT always a character flaw…but is a sign of a wounded heart.

(PS—as I was putting off writing this blog post, I found a really good book about procrastination on the “new books” section of the library—it’s a quick, encouraging read. Go find it…now…not later!!

quick encouraging read…

The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing*   by John Perry        *or, getting things done by putting them off)