A guest post from my friend Landon Saunders:
I am sitting by the bedside of a thirteen-year-old boy who has been mercilessly beaten by his father. His eyes are black, one swollen shut, his lips are bloody, his back and legs bleeding. And this was not the first time it had happened—not by far.
I do not sit by his bed and launch into a discussion of how most fathers are good. That would be inappropriate and would reveal a moral insensitivity to the wrong he has suffered.
I do not sit by his bed and point out his own mistakes. That would be heard as justification for his father’s criminal behavior.
I do not sit by his bed and treat him to a discussion of how far we’ve come from child labor and other mistreatment of children.
Any of these approaches would deflect from indefensible and criminal behavior. And worse, they would reveal something terribly wrong in my own heart—a glaring moral immaturity or callousness.
I would be part of the problem.
Instead, I sit by the bedside of the beaten boy, and hold his hand—I look at him, I say quiet words to him. What he feels in my touch, what he sees in my eyes, what he hears in the tone of my voice will either fully acknowledge his sense of worth and dignity as a human being…or in his heart he will wish I would just leave.
Today, each of us sits, in one way or another, by the bedside of the deeply wounded among us. How we are present with those in pain either creates solidarity or deepens alienation. How we sit with one another can be healing, or the wounded might simply wish we would leave.
We want no one to be mistaken about with whom we sit. Only then is healing possible…for a beaten boy…or a wounded people.