Taking the Gospel to "The Found"

For all the talk that goes on in Christian churches today about reaching “the lost,” I would love to see a little more emphasis on reaching “the found.”  When people who identify as Christian but are mired from month to month and year to year in pornography, gambling, addictions, and bad marriages (at nearly identical rates to those who do not claim to be Christians), something is profoundly wrong.

There are several directions we can go with this.  1.) We can say that the reason Christians are nearly identical to non-Christians in terms of how we actually live is because what we believe is not actually capable of bringing transformation; 2) We can say that we’re missing a critical piece of the whole thing — something upon which the promise of transformation itself rests and without which there can simply be no significant transformation; 3) We can say that the problem is that we just aren’t trying hard enough.  (As some popular writers are in fact saying.  See my post “Not Crazy about Crazy Love“.)

I think the answer is #1 and #2.  I think the reason Christians en-masse are not experiencing significant life transformation is because we missing a critical piece of what Christianity actually is. 

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Was Mellencamp Right?

In his song, “Jack and Diane,” John (Cougar) Mellencamp wrote, “Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.” If I am honest, sometimes I feel that way. I’m 43, and there aren’t very many firsts left anymore. In fact, I think my next “first” to look forward to is my first grandchild. That’s probably some time away.

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The Almost-Suicide of My Daughter, prt. 6

Dan and boys and me and girls at Daniel Amos concert

Dan and boys and my girls at Daniel Amos concert

[This is the true story of the darkest few months of my life. I hope and believe others can learn from it. It revolves around my daughter Anna, and Anna has reviewed and given her consent for me to post each of the parts in this series. It is her desire for others to learn from her experience. She has blogged on this experience from her perspective this week as well.]

Anna spent four days at White Pines. The most important thing accomplished there was just putting some time between the suicide attempt and when she came back home. It was probably as important for Christy and me (and Brittany and Kyra) as it was for Anna. We were terrified of what would happen when she came back.

We were allowed one 30 minute visit per day. Every day we made the trek to Saginaw (one hour) to visit her. Every time it was surreal — checking in, waiting in the meeting room as a nurse went to fetch our kid, hearing her stories about what life was like on the ward. She wasn’t scared but it certainly helped her to continue to realize how good she had it. And she was put on medication at White Pines. She still takes it now. So do many other people in our family.  

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The Almost-Suicide of My Daughter, prt. 5

Kyra, Anna, and Erin carving pumpkin

Kyra, Anna, almost-sister Erin Webster

 

[This is the true story of the darkest few months of my life. I hope and believe others can learn from it. It revolves around my daughter Anna, and Anna has reviewed and given her consent for me to post each of the parts in this series. It is her desire for others to learn from her experience. She has blogged on this experience from her perspective this week as well.]

Christy, who until this time had been tense but fairly stoic, began to cry as we walked — stunned, through the sterile halls at White Pines. Things like this don’t happen in good, supportive, loving families. Do they? Her tears turned to sobs which turned to gasps and by the time we were outside she couldn’t go on. Literally. She doubled over there on the sidewalk, and for a time, could neither move nor be moved. She had taken charge and gotten our family through this terrible time on the homefront, and now was a time for grieving. I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there, numbly and dumbly, holding her hand. Decades of counseling experience, teaching, pastoring, critical incident work, and a lot of degrees on my wall added up to less than nothing as I stood paralyzed and silent. I had been insufficient for my daughter and I was insufficient for my wife. I couldn’t see signs of Anna’s depression, or prevent her attempt, and now there was nothing I could say to console my wife. I couldn’t hug Brittany and Kyra tightly enough to shield them from what they would have to walk through. I had never, and have never, felt so powerless, so ineffectual.   

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The Almost-Suicide of My Daughter, prt. 4

Anna with Brittany and Kyra

Sister love

The plan was to send Anna to an in-patient treatment facility after she was discharged from the hospital. The hospital had plans to send Anna to a place that her mom was not comfortable with. I shared Christy’s opinion, but there’s only one mama bear. Thankfully she stood her ground and insisted on doing research and finding the best facility we could find. We chose White Pines in Saginaw.

Anna was discharged and wheeled on a stretcher out the door and directly into an ambulance. It was as dreary as a day could be, cold rain coming down like sharp nails. Fitting, it seemed. I climbed up in the ambulance with Anna, and Christy drove behind us and we made the hour-long trip to Saginaw.

First the search. Anna was taken into a room and searched for weapons, substances, and anything else that was other than Anna. Nothing found, of course. Then intake began. We answered question after question after question. 

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