It’s not usually the big things that knock you on your keister, is it?
You brace for the big stuff. You hunker down or grab hold when a major turbulence appears on your radar. It’s not always pretty, but you lock down and you survive.
Or, at least, you think you have.
Working with families facing hardship over twenty plus years, I’ve encountered some terrible stories of abuse and neglect. In this field, you prepare for those. You steel yourself.
You find a place to put those types of horror stories and you move on, because you’re one of those helpers Mr. Rogers mentions that kids should try to spot in a crisis. It’s easier to spot you if you’re standing up, not huddled in a corner crying.
One little boy, though, bobs in the dark ocean of my memories and resurfaces at odd times. It’s been many, many years. He’s grown by now, but in my mind, he’ll always be a little boy. One little boy and his blankie.
He was a bubbly toddler in a troubled home. I’ll spare you the details. Over multiple weeks of visits, I loved that when I arrived, he’d climb beside me onto the couch with his blanket.
This blanket had a “sweet spot.” One corner that he loved to rub between his thumb and his index finger. After several visits, he decided I needed a sweet spot of my own. He dubbed me “my safety lady,” because whenever I arrived, the adults and I would discuss what was safe and what wasn’t.
So, little guy designated another corner just for me. There we’d sit as I discussed scary grown up things with the adults in his world, him rubbing one corner and me rubbing mine.
I didn’t realize how that tiny square of flannel was keeping me calm, too. Until the day, it was gone.
The family called me for an emergency meeting. Life was unraveling. The adults weren’t holding things together. I arrived before the other helping grown-ups, and little guy climbed up beside me on the couch, but he didn’t sit.
Instead, kneeling, he cupped his hands over my ear and whispered, “No one’s being safe, safety lady. Help me.”
I asked him to get his blankie while I talked with the grownups. He shook his head letting huge tears fell down his chubby cheeks.
He pointed at one grownup. “She cut it to pieces.”
I looked at the offending adult who crossed her arms and stared at little guy in defiance. “That’s right, go ahead and tell her. I cut his stupid blanket into little pieces and made him watch while I burned it.”
Why this horrified beyond the multitude of other horrific details that emerged that day is beyond me, but it did. “Why would you do that? He’s just a little guy, and it was just a blankie.”
“He’s old enough to learn not to be a baby and cry just because people are fighting. He’s old enough to learn that rubbing a stupid blanket doesn’t make people stick around and love you. He’s old enough to learn not to hold onto anything because at some point someone rips it away and you’re left with nothing. I did him a favor burning that stupid thing. I taught him a life lesson, that’s what I did.”
As worse details of life for this little guy emerged, more helpers arrived and he was, indeed, whisked away to safety. As I called to report in to my boss, I managed to state the numerous terrible details, but when she asked, “Is there anything else?”, I lost my voice.
“Hey, are you okay?”
I sniffled into my cell phone, feeling like a fool as I sat in my car on a sunny day with tears flowing. “They cut up his stupid blankie. I mean, he’s safe now, but seriously, they cut up a little kid’s blankie.”
God designed us with opposable thumbs, because He knew we’d need to hold on to things sometimes. It’s not wrong to need something to hold onto. It’s part of being human. God rejects our sin, not our humanity.
It’s important what we choose to hold.
Some hold fast to the easy comfort of food, alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. Others find their sweet spot on the almighty dollar and the trappings of wealth. Some hold onto any human they can find on any given night, to weigh them down in life’s storm. Others hold onto illusions and lies like parched souls crawling toward a mirage in the desert.
A few will hold onto Truth. And yes, it does exist in the person of Jesus.
A few will discover the sweet spot of life when they lay hold of a splintery wooden cross or when they behold a folded empty grave cloth in an abandoned tomb.
Their thumbs and forefingers turn the pages of a book or slide the screens of a tablet holding ancient, eternal truth that will withstand any battle. No sword can slice it up. No fire can consume it. No tears will dissolve it. And if it comes under assault, it will not fail.
He is our safety. We have a Helper we can call. We have something, someone, we can hold onto, and He will remain steadfast and true.
We are bombarded, in these times, with all manner of warfare, deceptive arguments, and pressure to abandon the truth. Be aware that it’s not always the big assault that knocks you on your keister. It’s often just the unkind remark, the casual cruelty, or the betraying kiss that sends you sprawling over the enemy’s trip wire.
As you fall, he tries to wrest Truth from your hands, but it’s impervious to His weapons. Even when we lose our grip, Jesus never loses His on us. No one will ever snatch us from His hands.
So, hold on, loved ones. He’s coming. Spend more time in the Truth than you spend reading or hearing the lies. Remind yourself and others of the truth you know. Live truth in ways great and small.
Hold on. Hold on to the truth and speak it, because little empty-handed boys grow into hurting men, searching for something true they can hold.
We know the only truth no one will ever burn.
**Loved ones, it can be hard to survive today’s headlines. I have a free gift for readers titled, “Free to Face the Headlines” that outlines proven strategies for processing the news without fear. There are some other free downloads there for anyone to use for themselves or in church groups. Just CLICK HERE and then click on the gift that best suits your needs.
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) April 22, 2017