Nathan does not want Asher to come home.
That sentence is so hard for me to write for a number of different reasons. The most obvious, I would think, is that I should never even need to discuss a child’s heart for being reunited with their sibling. In a perfect world, siblings care and love one another in such a tender and unique way that they grow to be life-long friends and advocates. The assumption ought to be: Of course, my children always want to be in relationship with one another.
Someday, this may be spoken of all my children. But not today.
The second reason it is difficult to write that sentence is that I have no control over fixing it. I cannot force Nathan to change his heart. I cannot excuse Asher’s behaviors, minimize their effects, or ignore their consequences. And were I to do any of those things in the hopes of manipulating a reconciliation, then I broker peace on the devil’s terms. Genuine peace must be born from the truth. Anything less, and it is a house of cards.
The third reason it is so hard for me to honestly acknowledge Nathan’s heart is that we must honor it. And that means Asher may not come home.
I spend a great deal of time on this blog discussing Asher and his journey through this nightmare. I talk a lot about the ups and downs we have with him. And I hope I convey, through it all, that we are believing God for a miracle in the redemption of this story. I want to see Asher come home. That means I want to see my sons reunited. I want the happily ever after ending.
But I don’t get to decide those terms. It is vitally important that those people placed in a position of authority or power over child victims understand that although they have the responsibility, and even right, to make certain decisions this is not one of them.
We told all of our children that until each one of them is ready for reunification we will not pursue it. Period. We did not put clauses or conditions on that promise. We knew we couldn’t if we truly wanted to enter into a time of healing. Even Asher must understand that his invitation back into our home is not merely dependent upon his parents. After all, we are adults with decades worth of perspective to inform our feelings. We have a much higher tolerance for setting aside pain and pushing into uncomfortable situations without the promise of happily ever after to motivate us.
My prayer is that this very experience is providing my children with the ability to move into that kind of maturity. I pray that Georgia, Olivia, and Nathan will trust me and Joseph to guide them through scary moments that don’t seem to have any positive outcome. And I hope, with everything I have, that every one of my precious sons and daughters will rely ever more upon the grace of Christ to understand how love still exists in a world filled with evil.
Those are the outcomes and not necessarily the steps to get to that end.
The steps are messier, often ugly, bear very little resemblance to the goal, and take a gazillion moments stretched across untold numbers of conversations, therapy appointments, prayer, and patience.
I don’t know if my words are reaching anyone else sharing our nightmare. If they are, may I just encourage you? Allow your victim child/ren to be real about their fears especially as they involve reunification plans with their sibling/abuser. God is not powerless. And it is in our weakness that His strength is made perfect. I am not on the other side of this journey, and so my words are spoken to me as much as to you. But I am confident that when we allow the Holy Spirit to do the work of transformation we receive the gift of healing in ways far beyond our dreams.