It is true what scripture says…”A brother is born for adversity.” But before I explain what this means to me today I must put things in the proper context. Just before Thanksgiving Lori and I discovered that our Son Ty had done some things in our home that have and will continue to have a profound effect on us. This is a deeply personal matter and I have debated as to whether or not I should write about it here. Yet it occurs to me that what has happened in our home has likewise happened in the homes of countless other people around the world and maybe just maybe the Lord will use this post in a way that brings healing and hope to others.
Like any other couple with 6 children, Lori and I came to the realization that we needed to make time to invest in each other. As a result we began going on dates, usually Friday evenings when Belle was home and could watch after the little ones for us, Justin and Ty were more than capable of seeing after themselves. Typically it was a movie night for us and we would wait until the last showing so as to make sure we had time to get the feedings and baths done before we left. Belle would only then be responsible for putting them in the bed. On this night as we made our way home from Warner Robins I received a phone call from Belle, she sounded as if she was hyperventilating, hysterical would be an understatement. Immediately I assumed the worst, I tried for several minutes (minutes that seemed like hours) to calm her down as I attempted to find out what was wrong. What she would eventually come to tell us that night would forever alter our family. Belle had discovered some things that Ty was doing to another one of our children. Unfortunately that night she blamed herself. She was the one on duty, the one we had entrusted to watch over the kids, in her mind it was all her fault.
The emotions I felt that night were emotions I had not felt in decades. In the past I struggled with anger, I would hold onto things, continue to push them down deep into my soul and hope they just went away. They never did. Eventually I would store up so much anger that there was no room left and I would explode in a blind fit of rage. I know full well what it means to see red as my eyes would literally fade into black and turn into a sea of red. This all came to a head while I was in the service and dealing with a mix of complicated emotions. In the process I was forced to seek counseling in a program known as ADAPC. I likewise spent about 3 days in the hospital for what they would call homicidal behavior.
Within the next couple of years I made the transition from military to civilian life, Lori and I would go on to start our lives together and most importantly I would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Since that time I have not dealt with anger. I guess in a naïve way I thought it was completely gone, that is until this night. As I arrived home I felt that anger come over me, I ran upstairs and picked Ty up out of his slumber. I honestly have no idea what my intentions were that night, all I know is, my eyes were fading to black and as the sea of red began to crash over me in a flood of hate, something else was coming over me as well. This had never happened before, I was never able to hold back this flood in the past, but now something else was happening and suddenly I began to see clearly again. My only explanation is that the God I had come to trust in had somehow broken through and the separated the waters of rage that began to fill my mind.
The next few weeks were without question the hardest weeks of my life. I have experienced pain in the past, both physical and emotional. This however was beyond pain, it was paralyzing. I struggled with knowing how to minister to my family, my wife, my daughters and my sons. How do I hold us together when forces that seem to be much stronger than myself are literally tearing us apart at the seams? Lori and I have faced difficulty in the past, but after 18 years together I can say that never before has our marriage been tested as it has through this. I began to fall apart, I offered to resign from the Church even, thinking that I was no longer qualified to serve. I demanded things from my family that they were not ready to give. I grew impatient with them when they failed to respond in what I thought was the biblical way. As I reached out for help I found that the Church is still there and Jesus Christ is as alive now as he ever was. But still I was hurting, I felt as if I was dying inside, a slow and agonizing death.
Thankfully several months before this incident occurred, my brother had planned and paid for our family to join his in Disney World a couple of weeks before Christmas. Ty could not join us, but for the rest of the kids it was a welcome retreat from the misery we had been living. While in Orlando my brother and I had an opportunity to sit and talk…a lot. There were many nights there when we stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning just reminiscing. It was nice, it was needed more so than he will ever know. I always looked up to Jason. He seemed always to be the one that could make anything work. I never knew quite how he did and still does it, but he hasn’t changed in that regard. Yet the thing that I looked up to the most was his compassion. Jason always seemed to identify better with the broken, maybe it’s because he can identify the broken. He is no stranger to brokenness himself, there was a time when I had entered into his suffering and it was dark, so dark I wondered at how a man could live in such darkness for any length of time. I grieved for him daily and I worried about him often. Yet the experience has shaped him in ways that have made him the man he is today.
During our adoption training we were told that the sibling relationship is the strongest relationship in the human experience. Jason and I have been through a lot together, and I guess it’s partially due to our shared experiences and the sibling relationship that he is able to see the things in me that others could not. Jason Knew I was falling apart, he knew that I was in exceptional danger of allowing my circumstances to overwhelm me. To my surprise, he called just after we returned from Orlando and said he would be flying into Atlanta just after Christmas to spend an undetermined amount of time here. He assured me his wife and children were ok with his plans, that his church and in-laws were both in agreement with him and that they were all praying for our family.
For the next four weeks Jason would show me how to properly minister in a time of such pain and uncertainty. He was patient with us, he was kind to us and he was always near to us. He represented the Lord in ways that I had not. He was a welcome distraction for Justin and taught him many things about life in the process and Justin will miss him dearly as will we all. The Sacrifices that I have made in the past for my own family pale in comparison to the sacrifices that Jason has made for us all in this time of desperation.
Sadly Jason will be getting on a plane today and returning to his own. However I have learned so much from watching him, things that will stay with me forever. But perhaps the most important thing is the simple reminder that Ministry is about making one’s life a little easier to live in the midst of a broken world, and to do so in a way that screams the Love of Jesus in the process.
Thank you Jason for making my life easier in this process…a brother really is born for adversity.
Thank you Paula, Cameron, December and Isaac for sharing your husband and father with our family during this difficult time. I pray your sacrifices will be repaid in full and that your cup shall runeth over.