“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
warning: addresses sexual violence
When we were licensed to be foster parents several years ago, the first call we got from the social workers was about a sibling set who needed a home immediately, ideally a permanent one. (It's always immediately by the way. Generally, you have just a few hours to decide if you will take them in or not.)
The girl was eight. Her brother was six. We'll call him Samuel.
Samuel needed constant supervision—24/7 supervision—and our house would need to be clear of all small, cylindrical objects. Locked away. Out of reach. Out of sight. No pencils or markers or batteries, etc. So we would have to screen every toy and every object in the house. And watch him. All the time.
This was because when Samuel was a baby, he had been repeatedly raped.
And now, by habit and conditioning, he would find anything that's even remotely shaped like a phallus and insert it into his anus.
Someone did that to a baby.
And I just have to believe that there will be a reckoning some day. A millstone to set things right. A place of judgment for the forces of evil that have conditioned a child to violate himself.
After getting that call, we told the social worker that we'd pray about it and let them know. We only had a few hours to decide if we would take them or not. We tried to pray. We mostly just cried. For Samuel, and his sister, and for all the others who have nowhere safe to call a home, and also because we had come to the realization that we couldn't say yes and take them in. With our busy schedules at the time, we were not able to provide the supervision and care that he needed.
Our first experience as foster parents was one in which we wanted to be the refuge, but couldn't. We were confronted with our finitude.
Yet a part of us still wonders if that’s just an excuse. An excuse to continue living in our comfortable bubble so that we don’t have to face the horrors of the world outside.
Maybe we said no because we're so comfortable with the status quo that we aren't bold enough to have our life upended and to confront those forces of evil, or even to try to heal those who have been decimated by them. It's so ugly in those wastelands--the margins of society--but we can spend our entire lives never even catching a glimpse of them.
Ever since that call, we've struggled to come to terms with our role as foster parents. And honestly, we've struggled to come to terms with God's role as a good Father to the vulnerable. When we went on to care for other foster children and learned of their stories and struggled to help them, the doubts only grew.
So Millstone, here, is a character I’ve developed that’s grown out of this grief and anger.
He represents a hope that I have. He’s everything I can’t do. He sets things right. He’s the righteous violence I long for. Not the Jesus in the manger, or the one on the cross, but the one in Revelation who “in righteousness judges and makes war” and who “treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19).
A refuge for kids like Samuel.