This week, Jeff and I met with a probation officer in the county juvenile court system. This is in response to a court summons and a list of charges, including felony assault, brought against Jack by the special-needs school in the small town where he lived last year.
Why did a school whose purpose is to educate students with disabilities, like Jack, file such charges? It’s complicated, but there are a few reasons: a) staff were getting hurt on a daily basis at school from Jack’s aggression, b) it was scary, c) the school district told them to contact police and file these charges as a means of getting Jack removed from the school, and d) they believed these charges would force the state to place Jack at the state developmental center, a full-time care facility, where the school felt he needed to be. Their intentions weren’t insidious. But all of this is beside the point, now that we have moved Jack to a new town and a new (perfect!) placement with a different company, and the small fact that the state development center doesn’t take minors, and only considers clients who have demonstrably failed in virtually all other settings. So, the school thought they were finding the best solution. But, it turns out, God had a different path in mind for Jacky at this point in time.
Anyway, back to the meeting with the probation officer. He went through the charges, one by one, and read the victim impact statements, which detailed what we already knew on a general level: Jack was violent at school and constantly hurt his teachers and aides. I know what it feels like to be beaten up by Jack, but it was an even more painful experience to hear those who taught and cared about Jack talking about their injuries. The old feelings of helplessness and failure crept in. This was my son who hurt people, and I couldn’t control him.
Behold, my family: we are, once again, the outliers. Jack was in the most specialized school available, with a dedicated team of professionals working to help him learn, and it wasn’t working.
Jeff and I left the courthouse, where the birds were chirping, the morning sun was shining, and my heart was a fist of despair.
As we drove to get breakfast (followed by a mint brownie at 10 am, yes I did that), Jeff said something that stopped my grief-cycle thoughts and made me consider things from another perspective.
“In no way do I mean to minimize what the Savior did,” he said. “But in some ways, I feel Jack is emulating the Savior’s path, and we as his parents have to struggle to watch and accept it.”
One might say that this comparison is flawed, because Jesus wasn’t hitting and biting people. But Jeff wasn’t saying that Jack is the same as Jesus–just that he has a specific life mission and it’s difficult and out of our hands.
“Jesus left at a young age, his parents couldn’t find him, and it emerged that he was teaching the religious leaders of the time. He was about his father’s business. He was fulfilling his purpose.”
He continued, “Jack left us at a young age, yet is unaccountable for his actions, which basically means that everything he does has been predetermined. He is simply fulfilling his purpose, perhaps by teaching the people who know him something that God wants them to learn.”
As he spoke, a calm descended on me. My wizened heart unclenched, and I breathed more deeply.
Jeff said, “I think we may have just a small inkling of understanding about what Mary and Joseph felt as Jesus’s parents. Jack is a person, and not the Savior, but he does have a big, unusual mission, and we can only view it from a distance.”
I felt a pure thread of truth in this reasoning, helping me plait the threads of the unknowable with my current, evolving understanding of Jack’s eternal nature.
Which leads me to three tiny stories:
First, my sister, Lisa, had a dream a few weeks ago about Jack. We were all at the cabin, organizing and preparing to go somewhere. Lisa said Jack was helping. He was organizing and preparing, too.
Second, last night I dreamed that I was at an office in Jack’s town, and several of his team members walked in for a meeting. Jack was with them and was carrying an eight or nine month old baby, the child of one of his caregivers, apparently, in a car seat hooked over his elbow. My heart skipped a beat as I plotted how to safely get the baby in her bucket away from Jack before he dropped her on the tile floor. But his caregivers trusted Jack and were fine with him holding the baby seat. They weren’t worried. As the dream concluded, Jack kept the car seat handle firmly in the crook of his arm. He was calm and self-possessed. He was gentle.
Third, this final vignette is something I can only allude to at this moment in time. Those who read about my life know that I write about just about anything, not because I’m vain, but because I literally can’t rest or sleep, many times, until I share it. I 100% assure you that NOT posting everything about my life on the internet sounds preferable to putting it all out there and opening myself up to judgment in any form. But I write what God tells me to write. The end.
My friend Allysha described an analogy she heard once, and it resonated: There are certain people we allow to come to gate of our emotional house, so to speak. We meet them there, and we leave them there. There are others we will visit at the door, but then we close the door and draw the boundary. Some people we invite into the entry of our home, and that’s as far as it goes. Still others, are welcome in the kitchen, where they may pull up a chair and stay awhile. Even fewer are the people we would allow into our figurative bedroom. Readers of this blog may feel that I’ve invited everyone into the inner sanctum of my home and my life. To a degree, this may be true. But even though it may seem that I reveal everything there is to know about me, I honestly do not share all of it.
While I am super open and Brene Brown should definitely send me an award for vulnerability, there are nevertheless things that remain in the hidden parts of my emotional house. This last story is one of those things. I’m not going to describe it, other than to say I had a profound spiritual experience in recent days which taught me, in a concrete way, that Jack’s spirit is vast and wise.
Vast, you guys.
I’ve always known he is valiant. Now I know that he is light years ahead of me, in spiritual growth. He is not suffering, but has fully accepted his life and his purpose.
These are revelations I do not take lightly.
But they also put things like court summons and felony assault charges into perspective. These things are bumps. But they are immaterial.
What’s important is that Jack is okay. He’s more than okay. He is way beyond me.
I just need to be smart enough to learn what he is here to teach me.