A part of being a police officer is responding to calls in which family members reach out to us in desperation because their loved one will not respond to their calls or other normal means of contact.
The time between when they summon our help and the moment that an officer contacts them to advise of our findings must be excruciating for the family. They call us to check on the welfare of their loved ones because they fear the worst, that they are gone, having taken their own lives. They fear that they can no longer console, or council. They can no longer joke or reminisce with the one they love.
When responding to these circumstances, officers often get a snap shot of the life of a person or family which is often filled tragedy and despair. People who take their lives sometimes leave notes or communication for those left behind to pick up the pieces which provides an insight into their darkest hour. These cases are interwoven with the common thread of despair: a total loss of hope.
In the brilliantly composed book “Fathered by God,” John Eldridge unpacks and describes stages of the masculine journey which were meant to lead us to the greatness for which we were made. All of these stages are meant to be developed and passed down to us by our fathers. However, wounds or simply unfinished initiation during these phases can often stifle our development as men which have long lasting effects.
One of the first phases of the journey described by Eldridge is labeled the “Beloved Son” stage. During this stage, boys are meant to be initiated and know that “You are noticed, Your heart matters, and Your Father adores you.”
For many of us this experience and lesson has been cut short, assaulted, unfinished, or stolen. “We were designed to experience belovedness and boyhood, soak in it for years, learn its lessons, have them written indelibly upon our hearts, and then pass through this stage to the next, carrying all its treasures with us.” (1)
The great news is that even if we carry wounds during this journey, God always provides a remedy and wants to initiate us where we are in order to make up for lost time.
The danger of not recognizing these wounds or lack of initiation during our masculine journey can perpetuate itself and can be seen in men who seek to be noticed and adored through what they do in their career or how much stuff they compile. A different and more tragic path is walked by men who never knew that they are beloved sons of the One who is so powerful that he creates without effort.
We are all sons of the One who breathes billions of stars into the sky and without effort creates incomprehensible beauty here on earth. The men that miss this critical lesson in their journey can find themselves questioning if their life is of any value, and while alone and lacking hope, they fall for the lie that they are worthless.
Christ knows our despair and our missing links. He wants us to come to know Him through His wounds. These unfinished parts of our lives keep us from starting new, and from becoming intentional. Pope Francis spoke about this eloquently on the feast of St. Thomas, who was the Apostle who doubted God’s greatness until he could see it for himself.
“Noting Thomas’ absence when Christ first appeared to the apostles after his Resurrection, Pope Francis commented that Jesus wanted him to wait a week before appearing to him. “The Lord knows why He does such things,” the Pope said.
“And He allows the time He believes best for each of us. He gave Thomas a week. Jesus reveals himself with His wounds: His whole body was clean, beautiful and full of light but the wounds were and are still there, and when the Lord comes at the end of the world, we will see His wounds. Before he could believe, Thomas wanted to place his fingers in the wounds. He was stubborn.
But that was what the Lord wanted – a stubborn person to make us understand something greater. Thomas saw the Lord and was invited to put his finger into the wounds left by the nails; to put his hand in His side. He did not merely say, ‘It’s true: the Lord is risen’. No! He went further. He said: ‘God’. He was the first of the disciples to confess the divinity of Christ after the Resurrection. And he worshipped Him.”
“The Holy Father went on to say that the Lord’s intention in making Thomas wait was not only to guide him to believe in the Resurrection, but also to affirm Christ’s Divinity. Drawing comparison to the apostles acting of touching Jesus’ wounds, Pope Francis told those present that the only path is our encounter with God.” (2)
The good news is the greatness of our God. Jesus comes to us, down to our level so we can touch and see His wounds which contain our wounds. Through His wounds, ours are healed. We can see that God works in our lives in ways that are mysterious, but timely. We just have to be open to listening in order to recognize Him. Just like the first apostles, we can come to know God through His woundedness. It is through His suffering that we can begin to make sense of our own and change direction in order to become His intentional disciple.
(1) Fathered by God Workbook. John Eldridge (http://store.ransomedheart.com/products/fathered?variant=7669159939)