I met a patient the other day with an interesting and difficult story. As we were talking she began to share that her husband died four years ago, this past June. They had been married for 46 years. Five months later her oldest son passed away from a tragic accident, which the family would never disclose to her. Another one of her children, her daughter, had disassociated from the family twenty years ago. As an aging woman, she understandably missed her husband and eldest son, and was angry that her daughter would estrange herself from the family.
Then, strangely this woman’s demeanor totally changed when she began to speak about her youngest son…the “mistake” she called him. Her husband and her had figured that she was no longer fertile back in the day, because of a medical procedure she had undergone. It seems that God showed them, and surprised them with a third child.
It is this son, the mistake, who has been her daily support system over the past four years. He visits her in the hospital nearly everyday; when she is home he comes over to cook for her everynight. He tends to her pets, and cares for her home. As if that is not enough, She said he treats his own wife to the same doting.
Having cried throughout the stories of her other children, and having longed for her husband, she smiled as she regailed me with stories of this “mistake.”
For some reason, her story resonates within me. Perhaps it is because I am the youngest son whom was occassional refered to as the “pleasan surprise” (a little transference?) by my parents, or perhaps it is because this story seems to represent God’s message.
There are times when we will be alone, when all else seems to have failed, when family members disappoint, when friends die, when things do not make sense. But it is during these times when God is trying to reveal himself through the mistakes.
The gospel message is riddled with “mistakes.” The great-grandparents to the nth degree, who disobeyed God’s one order. The drunk captain who rescues two of every animal. The great liberator who killed a man. The prostitute who hid the spies. And it culiminates with the story of Christ, for Christ was born to an unwed mother, ran with fishermen (After my time at the bluewater tournament in Amelia Island, the term “fisherman” means a whole new thing!), broke the most basic religious rules, was someone “undesirable” [Isaiah 53:4], and died the death of a criminal.
But that is gospel story, that through “mistakes” redemption and salvation occurs. So while this woman’s youngest son probably has many flaws, her story has a familiar tune to it.