"All these died in faith without receiving the promises,
but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance,
and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth..."
I'm going to go on a small detour on this verse. We're going on a three-day weekend to a Civil War Reenactment with our fifteen year old. I'll be back next week with my regular posts, but I'm just pondering this, strangers and exiles on the earth concept as it conforms with mental health.
We fost-adopted three children, and this son is our youngest, the only one still at home. He was seventeen months old when we got him, the poor little emaciated thing. He had been abused by neglect, starved, and possibly worse. He was raised up to this point in a violent home and foster homes, going back and forth to his bio-parents. He is one-fourth Maidu Indian and is a tribal member. He is man-sized now.
He began his visits to Mental Health I think when he was about four for mainly what was called Oppositional-Defiant Disorder. When a child is bathed in adrenaline in the womb and in their earliest experience when confronted with danger, their brains become wired to confront life this way sometimes. His answer, "No," went beyond the normal toddler response. I always said that if we said, "We're going to Disneyland!" he would say, "NO!" Sure enough. He has been on meds for this ever since, though his diagnosis has changed to Mood Disorder since teens are not labeled ODD at that age anymore. With his meds, he is a sweetheart and no one can imagine him being otherwise. However, if he forgets his dosage, he refuses to take his meds and is oppositional to everything more than a normal teen thing.
His brother was finally diagnosed with Bi-polar. We had to place him in a group home as we were unable to keep him safe from himself--self-harming--and from bullying his brother. They have a love-hate relationship that is unhealthy. Now his brother is home, is on SSI and we are supporting his independence, living in his own apartment, his launch into manhood at nineteen.
But back to being strangers and exiles on earth, this is especially true when mental illness exists. The mind cannot cope with life as it is and seeks an escape sometimes. Life is hard and especially hard when robbed of coping skills and abilities.
Our fifteen year old is coming to grips with the fact that he cannot serve in the military, his dream, because he is on meds. He is flunking P.E. while feeling shamed. School is challenging. Having his brother back in town has a yo-yo effect on his emotions. Then there are the neighborhood bullies who have been threatening him at school and here in the neighborhood for a couple of years. He is bigger and stronger than any of them, but that doesn't lesson the threat to him. So far he has not responded with violence, which we've told him, and the sheriff's have told him, is in his rights for self-protection.
We've had to call the sheriffs I think about five-times since December due to these bullies jumping Hank's friends while he has been there. His school is aware that a big guy came from off-campus and threatened him one lunch period while eating outside. Up until last week, though Hank witnessed the violence--even when one of the aggressors mother's joined in punching his friends--Hank was frozen on the sidelines.
Hank called 911 last week because three kids tried stealing his friend's basketball and skateboard at the park (where he is not allowed to go, but went and joined his friend on the basketball court a block away from our house), and he was attacked, punched in the jaw, tripped and pushed, falling down and hitting his head on the cement. The only thing we can figure is that this is because Hank reported as a good citizen a couple of these kids smoking pot at the school bus stop last year. They were expelled and figured out who it was who reported them.
We have begun the process of filing restraining orders, but it may cost up to $435 each filing, we're not sure. We are waiting for copies of the sheriff's office's incident reports. We haven't decided if we will file an assault charge or not yet. We have three or four names now. In the meanwhile, it sent Hank on a tail-spin.
He is not coping. He asked for his dad to come pick him up from high school "to talk." He was shaking and sweating and thinking of hurting himself. My husband took him to the Mental Health Crisis facility, and I joined him there. Another stress point was that he said his health class was going to discuss suicide and self-cutting, and he didn't want to attend. The health class has already been stressful with the libs agenda of sex-ed forced on him.
We are supporting his participation in this weekend as an outlet for his avid interest in history, especially war history. One day he wishes he could visit Normandy. He watches You-tube videos on military history. After all, isn't war a reminder that we are strangers and exiles on this earth fighting for a place to find peace? He proudly wears the uniform of the Union. We are taking him out of one day of school, which will count against him since he has already missed so much school, but we are allowing him to participate in an educational program for five to seven hundred school kids in Red Bluff Friday.
So this is our struggle while being strangers and exiles on this earth. It is just harder for some than others, those who are more stranger-ish and exile-ish than others. We just can't avoid all troubles here below. How is your stranger-exile living going? Are you coping? I will revisit other perspectives on this verse later, or maybe not. But sometimes we are where we are. I confess, this is where we are right now, strangering and exiling looking at what is in the distance and longing for what has been promised.