It's been so long since I've blogged that I had to do the whole "password reset" process because I couldn't remember what password I used here. Although it was only three weeks ago that I last blogged, it seems like months. The added stress of having our eighteen-year-old son back in our lives has been more obvious than I want to admit, I guess.
If you read my wife's blog you know that things have been limping along with Mike back in the home. It has been just a month since the fateful conversation in which he pleaded with me to come back home. He needed to make a change in his life, the people he has lived with and hung out with were only bringing him down, and prison time was imminent if he didn't find a better place to live and reform his life.
Well, he has had a better place to live. But he has not reformed his life. And I live with the guilt of knowing that I am the one who, once again, brought him back into our lives. This whole ordeal would be so much easier if I were not a person of Christian faith. If I were not a follower of the One who says, "Turn the other cheek," "Father, forgive [him] for [he] does not know what [he does]," "Forgive one another," I could make a summary judgment once and for all and be done with the matter, but I have redemption and transformation as core values of my life. I ardently believe (and have witnessed) the changed lives God offers in Jesus Christ.
I can almost hear the psychic prattle of the blogosphere as you read those words. But, please don't even begin to criticize my Christian faith. It was this faith that caused me more than a decade ago to adopt children with special needs. I will admit that I was naive, but who isn't when it comes to such serious challenges? I was idealistic, but who isn't when considering doing what so many will not even consider? I was hopeful, but who enters the adoption process without the belief that he/she/they can do something to benefit kids who have had a rough start in life?
Time and again as Claudia and I have agonized over the "Mike situation," I have asked, "But didn't Jesus himself forgive Judas, even as he was dipping his hand into the same dish to feed himself?" In my early Christian life when I read about the Judas - Jesus relationship I didn't pay it all that much attention. It was a piece of the Last Supper narrative I was very familiar with, but not in any personal sense.
But now, you see, I live with Judas. And, although I follow him as the Lord of my life, I am not Jesus.
I have been betrayed by Mike too many times to count. Hundreds of dollars have been stolen over the decade he has lived with us. My high school class ring and a family ring (it was my great-grandfather's, who died in 1919) have long since disappeared. My reputation was dragged through the mud during his months in juvenile treatment centers as he (successfully, on occasion) convinced therapists and social workers that his adoptive parents were his biggest problem. Two months ago he was instrumental in stealing our car, which after the insurance company totaled it, resulted in a loss in value of more than $3500 to us. And now he has set us up to have a stranger enter our home and steal the one inanimate object that has practical usefulness to me, my iPod.
The issue is not the "stuff." My mental images of the rings are enough if that's all I have. My reputation can be slowly repaired as people see the person I truly am. Cars can be repaired or replaced. My iPod's content is completely backed up on my computer's hard drive and the item can be replaced. The issue is my trust and the safety and welfare of my family. These are more "essential" to life than any object stolen, and once these qualities of life (which I do not consider "luxuries") are not present, trouble is afoot. My wife and children should not have to "wait and see" what Mike might do the next time.
We have believed through all of this that if Mike is committing illegal acts eventually the system will catch up with him, but we are no longer enamored with that prospect. In their desire to prevent another "kid" from ending up in prison the caretakers of the criminal justice system are doing all they can do to keep him from incarceration. In the meantime, however, how many lives will be impacted by his confused, chaotic, selfish thinking?
And, of course, the nagging question in my conscience: in what ways is his living at home contributing to his success or only enabling his criminality? There is no sign of success, there are only signs of criminality, and now it is crouching in the corners of my home, which I cannot allow.
You know, even Jesus chose not to stop Judas. Perhaps he knew that he couldn't change the course of things, perhaps it was a gesture to human free will, perhaps it was simply that Judas could not accept what Jesus offered. Whatever the case, Jesus did what he needed to do, and Judas did what he felt he needed to do. But at least Judas had the good sense and courtesy to leave.
I recognize that this is not one of my more lucid blogs, but perhaps it simply conveys the difficulty of life with a Judas. The situation must change very soon, and it will be, as always, unpleasant.