Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Life With Judas

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.


Cindy said...

Yes you are right, that's all I can say. I've BTDT and it is TOUGH and unpleasant. You also have to factor in the issue of your other kids and what message they may be inadvertantly receiving from your valiant attempts to be loving and fair. You HAVE been loving and fair. Always remember that.

Panda Curry said...

I am not familiar with all the details of Judas & Jesus' relationship. Did Judas Habitually betray Jesus' trust? Or was it only the one time?

We can't guess what Jesus would have done with years of constant betrayal from his disciple. Would he have still kept Judas in his graces after countless sabotages to their trust? Or would he have altered their relationship to not allow Judas to sabotage his mission further? Jesus would have surely still loved and forgave Judas, possibly just changed their relationship' dynamics.

Eric PandaCurry.com

Bart said...

The New Testament texts say little about Judas before "the" betrayal most are familiar with. I would have to believe, though, that Judas had a history of smaller betrayals (he had to have been scheming with the officials before the actual event to "set up" the details) along the way. I guess it's only conjecture, but my impression is that Jesus always knew himself, identified his mission and let others choose what they would do. Your point is well taken, though; there comes a place and time when the mission itself is too sacred and significant to be perpetually thwarted by an individual who is unwilling or unable to be part of it. I think that's kind of where we are as a family right now.

Yondalla said...

I left this on Claudia's blog, but I am going to leave it here too.

You know of course the story about the man who was forgiven a debt and then failed for forgive someone else. The conclusion states that we are supposed be forgiving -- and forgive far more than seems reasonable.

Two things have always struck me about that story. The first is that there is no mention of anyone loaning anyone more money.

The second is that when I hear that I am to forgive over and over it strikes a deep cord, but a different one than most other people seem hear or feel. I think about how difficult forgiveness is for me and how many times I have to forgive someone for the very same thing.

My father is an alcoholic and was abusive, and it was my Christian faith was part of my returning to the relationship. It took me a while, but I finally decided that forgiving someone didn't mean volunteering to be his victim.

So eventually I set up the boundaries I needed to keep myself and my children safe.

And decided to forgive him, and over and over I think I have, but the rage will come back. I will realize I am still holding onto resentment like a shield to keep me safe.

And I have to do it all over again.

And nothing here is intended as advice. I just wanted to share.

kidsrkruc said...

I'm living the same life, just a fews behind you... I think it compounds the situation that it is Christmas, something that you didn't mention, and no one wants to say to a kid, "Hey, I'm sorry but this justn't working out."...
That being said, I'm going to point out something obvious... Judas betrayed Jesus unto his death - you can't wait for that to happen. You judst can't.
Judas must not have betrayed Jesus before that (except in his plotting because he was one of the 12 - the closest advisors)... That is a great difference from what Mike is in your family. He is a child with a child's mind.
I'm trying to work this out in my own mind for my own family, but this is what I'm seeing for us - Josh, you can stay here X number of days through the Christmas holiday because we want to be a family. But things just aren't working the way we envisioned them, are they? Let's put our heads together and try to figure out someway you could find another place to live... And then I'm going to suggest that I can give him $150.00 a month to be placed in his bank account (God, please help me with this budget) to cover his food... It will be up to Josh to get a job to cover rent and utilities... That would be a part time job at best... I'm going to suggest to him that we meet on Fridays (pay days) for dinner and I can help him with his budget/bills... setting aside 10% for savings, what he needs for rent/utilities and he can keep the rest. It's the only thing I can see.

Gawdess said...

The idea of being critical of your faith would never occur to me...I read your wife's blog and your blog and all that I can think of to say is I hope to never be in a similar situation.
I guess I would have to depend on trying to do what was best for the many especially if doing your best for the the one wasn't working, especially for reasons beyond your control.
Cindy is certainly right, you have been loving and fair. And are loving and fair.

FAScinated said...

I don't have any real answers for you, I wish I did. As you know I have a 39 year old sister with FASD who is dying because of her substance use. I love her but there is no way I could have her living at my house no matter how desperate she was.

I'll keep you in my prayers as you decide what is best for your family.

I'll end this comment in the same way that Anna ends all her prayers lately...

Love ya! Amen! ~Kari

Don said...

Sometimes I think I should have my son read your blog. Then again, I'm very sure he still wouldn't understand the pain that accompanies living with someone who consistently betrays you. Or does he already? I wonder when I see these behaviors if they're not just his manifestation of the behaviors he lived with for the first ten years of his life. Either way, I struggle with how to explain to him how much harm he's done to our relationship by betraying my trust.

I'm watching your story closely. Part of me fears that I'm looking at the ghost of "Christmases Yet To Come." Again, you are in my prayers. I know this is all difficult to deal with. For what it's worth, I believe you're doing all the right things, and appreciate the fact that you're sharing your experiences with us.