I also don't know how things "went down" when the police arrived, except that there was an altercation... the man was beaten and arrested and hauled off to jail. The beating was serious enough that the young man's jaws were wired shut for the next six weeks. He was unable to work during most of this time, and I'm not sure how he survived. I'm even more sure I don't want to know.
This young man had several things going against him...
- he was cocky... he had an attitude
- he had a drug problem, and most importantly
- he was gay.
And yes, my brother did a lot of drugs...up until the last few years of his life. It's how he coped... how he tried to fit in. I do not excuse drug abuse... but I do understand more every day how hard it was for my brother - and others like him - to find love and acceptance, even in their own families. My brother took a lot of blame – and punishment… and I have to own my part in that, too. He was four years younger than I, and to this day, I remember a serious switching he received from my mother for something I did and tagged on him. Before he died, he forgave me for this. But it will haunt me forever, because it symbolizes my part in his torture… and reminds me that I could have/should have done more to protect him.
My brother was one of THE best nurses I ever met. He was smart, competent, pulled no punches… and showed more compassion and bedside manner than I have ever seen from anyone else in the medical community. A veteran nurse who worked alongside him told me recently, “I think he was better because of his own personal experiences. He took those and used them to be more compassionate and caring toward his patients.”
I’ve been in quite a funk lately over all of the news headlines. People are calling for the execution of a deranged murderer who went on a shooting spree in Colorado. Others are spouting hate-filled comments left and right on social media about everything from the two political parties and their candidates to abortion, gay rights, gun control, “family values” and what constitutes a “traditional marriage”. One group held a “dine-in” at a nationally-recognized restaurant chain whose owners have spoken publicly in favor of “traditional marriage” between a man and a woman. I know for a fact that at least one local church organized a caravan – I assume to the restaurant located some 40 miles south of here – to show their support.
What, exactly, does this have to do with the church? Where is the “Christian” example in this? I understand the desire to support a concept you subscribe to… but in what spirit? When you publicly get in a caravan in a church parking lot and drive 40 miles to dine at an establishment that has openly expressed disdain for same-sex marriage, how can you expect anyone who believes differently from you – and not just about homosexuality – to ever feel welcome among your members? Does public protest at an abortion clinic or the wearing of a T-shirt that says, “Abortion Kills” make the woman who terminated her pregnancy at age 14 want to come and be a part of your church body… or the body of Christ anywhere? When we publicly call for the execution of a deranged murderer, what have we said about Jesus’ ability to forgive and heal… anyone, anywhere, anytime? Is grace, mercy, love, compassion and forgiveness only available to a chosen few? Show me where the Bible says so!
The more I read and hear about the attitudes of so many – particularly those who purport to be “faith-filled Christians,” the more disheartened I become. It’s no wonder my brother and others like him turned to drugs and irresponsible behaviors in an effort to fit in – or forget. I don’t excuse these coping mechanisms… but I certainly understand them. I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel so incredibly alone and unaccepted… to wonder where you fit into God’s plan in all of this… to question where you will ever be accepted in a house of God and truly feel His love and blessings as much as the people sitting next to you.
I stumbled onto a couple of YouTube videos by a young woman named Jackson Pearce that put the whole Chick-Fil-A debacle into perspective better than anything I’ve seen:
Please take time to watch these. And think of the young man with his jaws wired shut… a man who only ever wanted to have a committed companion and a family of his own… to live his life as a nurse and enjoy the same things other young professionals enjoy… and to be loved and accepted by society just as his sisters, cousins, friends and relatives were. I won’t be going to Chick-Fil-A to eat – ever. I would not want my presence to be misconstrued as an endorsement of their insults and hatred. But I hope that out of all who do enter the establishment, at least a few will simply ask for a water.