Based in south Louisiana, Release & Gather is a blog by Holly Rabalais.  Her posts explore people, community, and matters of the heart.  Everyone has a unique journey.  Welcome to a window into hers.

To the Guy Who Punched My Son

In the early stages of labor on April 20, 1999, I checked into the hospital and settled into my room. To pass the time while I waited to meet my first child, I turned on the TV and watched in dismay as news of the Columbine shootings unfolded before me. I labored all day and into the wee hours of the morning with the heaviness of that hatred and violence hanging over me. I finally met my son, Noah, a little past three the next morning, and wondered how I would protect that sweet baby from the evils of this world. 

I learned after he was born that the name Noah means "rest" and is derived from a word meaning "resting place." It seemed comical at the time because what newborn brings rest?! Through the years, however, I've seen how God has used Noah to bring rest to my life. As a baby, his birth drove me back to the God I turned away from after completing high school. And most recently--last year, in fact--his decision to live with his dad drove me to trust God more fully and deeply than I ever have.

Until you are a parent, you don't really understand the love that runs so deep for a person that it can break you. No matter his words or actions, I love my son with everything in me. I'm sure your own mother would tell you the same. So when I got the call from Noah yesterday describing what happened, of course Mama Bear was livid that someone would dare lay a finger on her man-cub. Noah told me everything except who, but since I investigate for a living it didn't take long to know your name, parents' names (all three of them), age, vehicle make and model, weight, and height. Then the struggle really began--the flesh against the Spirit. What I wanted to do vs. what I was called to do. What I wanted to think of you (some kid I didn't know who punched my son in the face) vs. what I really should think of you (created by my Father in His image).

This morning as I spent time in Bible study, I read about a woman who was described as both possessing authority and submitting to authority, a woman who knew when to step up and when to bow down. And I read the words, "...we are not called to respond naturally." The struggle died right there. God has called me for two things: 1) to come to a relationship with Him through the gospel (accepting that I am a sinner and have no other way to absolve those sins except Jesus Christ's death on the cross for me), and 2) to share the gift of that gospel with others in my brief time here on this earth.

Regardless of your heart (whether sorry or not, good or evil), I forgive you. You are God's creation--His masterpiece, as the Bible says--and God's love for everything and everyone He created is far greater than my love for my own son. God trumps every emotion with LOVE. For that fact alone, I love you and I forgive you. But on a personal note, I do know my son's strong, stubborn personality. I can understand how you may have been angry enough to want to punch him, but I also know the world of trouble you might find yourself in as a near-adult; trouble that could ruin opportunities down the road.

My mama's heart was full of gratitude to hear my son say that when the officer asked him if he wanted to press charges, he chose not to--because you're "just a 17-year-old kid who did something dumb and will hopefully grow up one day" (a fairly well-thought-out statement from another 17-year-old kid who does dumb things sometimes, too). I'm under no impression that Noah's actions are always Christlike, but I am thankful this choice truly mirrored what Jesus would do instead of how the world responds to injustice--with vengeance and retaliation. My ultimate desire is to see both of you forgive each other and reconcile what I know used to be a friendship. There's just too much hate and hard feelings in this world already. Brothers in Christ need to stand together instead of tearing each other apart.

God has burdened me for the last decade or so for two people groups--1) young adults trying to navigate the transition to adulthood and the independence that comes with it; and 2) boys/young men--because this world does not have enough godly men teaching the next generation what real men look like. One day I hope you will use this event to speak truth and encouragement into the lives of young men. Mentor them and show them there's nothing wrong with anger, but acting on it in a way that harms others is. I hope you help them learn to drop to their knees in their anger and ask God to control their actions by His power so they don't act out of their human desires. Those actions can have lasting, negative consequences.

God can use any situation for good. I'm asking you to let Him use you and your story for His glory.

Ayah

When the Helper Needs Help