The goodbyes are beginning.
I don’t know when they will stop.
Goodbye innocence. Goodbye assumptions. Goodbye dreams of childhood wholeness. Goodbye summer. Goodbye easy. Goodbye silly. Goodbye family. Goodbye understanding and calm and peace. Goodbye to feeling confident that we were parenting well. Goodbye to believing that our conversations and decisions and practices were keeping evil outside of our home. Goodbye to belonging – because how many families of faith come forward and share this journey openly? Goodbye security.
I must cling to something or else I know that I will be saying goodbye to my own sanity. As I watch everything in my world that made sense slip into a black hole, I cry out to a God that promises faithfulness and steadfast love. I see the distance between me and everything I ever knew grow wider, and I must believe that my Savior not only has a way of making this misery worthy of His glory but that it is His best way for making His glory manifest in the broken and dark corner of the world where I live. I don’t believe for an instant that my children were sacrificed to an egotistical God who believes the more pain and suffering His children experience the more honor and glory He will receive. But I do know that the God who created the universe by a word spoken from His mouth has an understanding that far exceeds my own. I rely on that to hold me fast when I must say goodbye to one more dream, one more person, one more relationship.
Jesus Christ will never say goodbye to me.
Joseph and I cling to Asher in the courtroom where the sheriff’s order to take him into holding until his deposition was granted. It is the same order that we not only supported but initiated. We whisper our love to him and try to somehow cram all the right words into a few moments. The deputy is standing only a few feet away from us. He is waiting patiently, but clearly expectantly, for us to finish. Asher buries his head into me and begins to quietly whimper. Joseph circles us both in his arms and prays for the God of the universe to meet us in this place. I look Asher in the eyes and tell him how much I love him. I also tell him that this is what Daddy and I think is best for him and for our whole family. “You are broken, sweet boy. And it is our responsibility to seek out the best ways to care for you so that you can become well. We want you home with us, but we cannot ignore your choice to not only break the law but to hurt your siblings.” Asher numbly moves his head up and down in a dazed recognition of my words.
I desperately need him to understand that I am not abandoning him. I am not throwing him away from my love. I am not trying to ignore his needs and hurts. I would still willingly lay down my own life if it meant he could be spared from any of this! But he doesn’t understand because if he did, then we would not be in this very situation. If he understood that no matter what someone did to him it didn’t change our love for him, then he would have come to us years ago to share the abuse he was suffering. If he truly accepted the unconditional love of his mama and daddy, then his heart would have stayed soft and the grotesque perversions that allowed him to make victims of his 3 younger siblings would have remained disgusting to him. No, he does not understand.
Jesus, you must make him understand. You must break through the hardness and the pain and the brokenness and show him the ways of the cross. You must make him realize that grace is messy because it does not simply buy the good and make them better, it buys the rotting and depraved and makes them sacred and holy.
Asher is gone. I don’t know when he will ever return.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them [enemies of Israel], for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.