In that part of the South where I grew up, people hadn’t started using hyphens to stick names together, but dragging a kid’s first and middle name together into a moniker that sounded like a single word was commonplace. For that reason, middle names like “Lee” were all the rage–lots of “Jerry-Lee’s”, “Freddie-Lee’s”, “Tommy-Lee’s”, etc. around in those days.
An Unforgettable Meeting ~
In any case, the middle name of the guy on my mind today was “Dan”. On my first day in school, “Bobby-Dan” became a name I would never forget but not because we developed one of those childhood buddy relationships that stick with you over the years. I remember this guy because he had the poor taste not to like me, a fact I was quick to detect. Even at age six, my keen sense of deductive reasoning locked onto the truth about how he felt about me right away–something about that look in his eye gave it away when he glared at me and growled out, “You have big ears, and I don’t like you.”
For some undisclosed reason, Bobby-Dan decided that the name my mother gave me just would not do and that from then on, I should be called “Snotrag.” He shared my new name and his assessment of me with all the other kids that day, but in order to maximize awareness of my new identity, he took it a step further. He made it his mission in life to wait for me every morning at the school door, where he would point his finger at me and yell, “Hey everybody, there goes Snotrag.”
This was new social territory for me because I wasn’t one of the “town kids.” I grew up on a little family farm and spent most of my time with my brother and grandparents. We didn’t go to church except on random occasions, so I didn’t have the typical Sunday School contacts, and kindergarten didn’t exist in those days, at least not for us. So I had no prior experience with someone calling me names or the feelings that go with it.
Now… before you go reaching for the tissues, I’m not trying to construct a plot for the next Hallmark movie. I’m pursuing a different objective. Nearly two decades later, I had occasion to revisit that first grade experience when I ran into a former classmate from my hometown and shared some memories. In the midst of our conversation, he asked, “By the way, did you hear about Bobby-Dan?” “No”, I said. “Is he still around?” “Well…, not anymore. He’s in prison now.”
I wasn’t prepared for how it felt to hear that. But what bothered me about the news was that strange and unexpected feeling of being somewhat glad about it. The feeling was just there–spontaneous, undeniable, and immediate–an overwhelming sense of vindication. Memories of the misery he caused me years ago came flooding back, and that deep longing for something to happen to him that would let him know how his hateful, unprovoked attacks felt on my end. It was clear that the old adage, “Time heals all wounds” was a lie. Time hadn’t healed anything. Time alone never does, and that’s the point I want to highlight.
An Unscheduled Parade ~
We have been subjected recently to a parade that wasn’t on anyone’s holiday schedule. One after another of entertainment’s icons, media’s darlings, and DC’s elites have had their pretentious garments of secrecy rendered transparent by the truth. Naked debauchery hidden for decades by threats of career assassination, social isolation, and other forms of intimidation has been brought into full view, and there are lessons to be learned.
When arrogant power-mongers have their weapons neutralized, their fortresses demolished, and their enviable lifestyles stripped of their appeal, there’s often an assumption that “justice” has somehow corrected the problem. People who apparently believed that fame, money, social influence, or political power gave them license to abuse others while remaining “untouchable” themselves are finally being “touched” by the truth in ways they never expected, but does that mean that the wounds they caused have been healed, or are there other lessons to be learned?
Here are some potential lessons worth considering:
- The painful and unwanted violation of protective boundaries creates deep moral wounds that time alone cannot affect.
- Exposing the wound is a vital part of the healing process. More than acknowledgment is needed.
- Healing demands intervention and application–intervention by someone who knows what needs to be done and the application of something with the power to make broken things whole again.
- Unless and until healing takes place, the wound will remain and the pain will continue.
Vindication Isn’t Healing ~
We are grateful for the expertise of doctors, psychologists, chemists, and technicians, but healing doesn’t begin with them. Ultimately, the knowledge needed to heal resides in the original Designer of life’s many complex systems, and the power to restore the broken belongs to the One who made them whole to start with. Jesus Christ was and is God’s response to our wounds and the only One who can make us whole again. Isaiah said this of Him:
“Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes, we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV)
A Change in Perspective ~
After hearing the “Good News” of forgiveness in Jesus, my thoughts about Bobby-Dan are different. Now, instead of wanting him to feel the misery he caused me back then, I think of the misery inside him. Instead of wanting him to experience the pain from years ago, I want him to know the peace I’m blessed with now. The passing of years didn’t give me that, and as the news reports make clear, time was powerless to heal all those other wounds we’re hearing about.
As we engage in another Christmas season, we should pause to remember that when God set out to address all the misery and brokenness plaguing this sin-cursed earth, He didn’t have Mary give birth to a clock. When He determined to provide healing that makes everything whole again forever, it wasn’t a calendar that He nailed to that cross in Jerusalem. Until we surrender our wounds to Him, we’ll never experience the peace of His resurrected scars.
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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