He has suffered horrific childhood abuse of every kind. In one of our first conversations, he said that he wanted to tell me something really funny, and he laughed while he told me a first-hand story of being exploited.
I felt a little ill.
His survival skills were phenomenal, but his ability to move into adult life with healthy relationships had been seriously crippled.
Over the course of nearly a dozen years I have had the privilege of watching this youth grow into manhood. He has struggled to heal and be free of the damage of the past.
He joined the Marines and served in Iraq. He married and had children. He has nurtured his children. He graduated from college and entered graduate school.
He has struggled philosophically, since he is in truth a philosopher. What is truth? Does anything really exist? He came to the point where he knew confidently that at least one thing really existed: love. He knew that he loved his son. His daughter. His wife. And from there he began to realize that there is a kind of truth that cannot be quantified, but which exists.
In the first part of December he was given the gift of faith in God, in Jesus. At the same time, he was given healing for his heart and soul.
A few weeks later we were talking on the phone, and he gave me two pieces of news. He has cancer. And he and his wife are expecting their third child.
Grief and joy mingled. Healing followed by fresh suffering. Fresh grief. Fresh pain. And fresh hope.
He told me once that after his surgery, he had a couple days where he was tempted to think angrily, "Haven't I suffered enough?" But his foundational understanding is that suffering is good. . .or results in good. There are good reasons for suffering.
Much of this is beyond my ability to comprehend. But I feel privileged to observe and love this amazing manchild. I love to see him making such tremendous effort and succeeding.
I am inspired by his courage.
Touched by this Poem that was read on Sunday before communion - Before I take the body of my Lord Before I share his life in bread and wine I recognize the sorry things within These I lay down The words of hope I often ...
7 months ago