A Letter to God Concerning the Bruises I Saw on My Son’s Head

Dear Father,

You know that I’ve tried to pray for my son, but I can’t seem to complete a single sentence. My words run out, and I resort to a weak, babbling, “Oh God… Oh God…” that fades out when something shiny distracts me. Sorry about that. You deserve better, I know. Sometimes, when I can’t figure out what to say, I have to start writing, and let my fingers help me sort it all out. So I’m going to try that right now as I fly home from New York.

Oh God… I’m so confused.

My words have run out because I don’t know how to pray for Jack anymore. Shortly after his diagnosis, it was an easy and obvious prayer: “Lord, please heal my son.” But then I started to learn about this thing we call autism, and the more I learned, the more aware I became of my own ignorance. I grow more ignorant all the time.

I’ve learned that autism is not a disease, but something else. I don’t know what that something else is. In some sense, it is a part of him. Some say it is an integral part of his identity. Is that true? I would be okay with that, I think, if he was just “different.” Really, I think I would. But you’ve seen us the past few weeks. You’ve seen us installing the new alarm on our door to keep him from wandering. You’ve seen the black bike helmet we’ve been strapping onto his head to keep him from hurting himself during his meltdowns. And you see the bruises he gave himself at school on Wednesday. They couldn’t get the helmet on him quickly enough. When I saw them on Facetime, I knew exactly what had happened, and it about tore me up.

This is all new territory, God.

I am afraid. And I am not okay with any of it. Jack is not just a quirky kid whose mind works in it’s own exciting way. I could accept quirky, but this? Something is wrong. Something inside of him is not working the way you designed it to work. He doesn’t have the words to tell us what troubles him, but whatever it is, it is so extreme that he has decided that the best way to deal with hist frustration is to injure himself.

Dear God, this is no the way you designed him, is it? To live with unbearable frustration that turns to pain? Is that part of the identity that you have planned for him? Because I’ll be honest: if it is, well… I just don’t know how to deal with that.

I have always believed the world is broken, and that you didn’t break it.

That you are the great Restorer. That your Son came to make all things new. This has been my conclusion after years of study and thought, but I have to admit, I am bias on this point, because I desperately want to believe it. I need to believe that You are truly, wholly good. That you don’t desire innocent children to live frantic and bruised. That you don’t lock up a boy’s future behind impaired speech centers in the brain.

I don’t know how to help my son, and I don’t know how to pray. I can’t just pray “heal my son” because I don’t even know what that means anymore. I don’t know what anything means.

So I won’t pray anything too bold for now. Instead, I will just remind that your name is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Come close, Immanuel. Prince of peace, draw near to my son, and give him rest.

Amen.

Photo courtesy of Kanegen under Creative Commons License

17 replies
  1. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Beautifully written. My son has thick, deep scars on his head from putting it through his bedroom window twice out of sheer frustration. Seeing the blood run down his face from a large gash hit hard.He also hits himself leaving bruises.
    Thank you for saying what’s in my heart.

  2. michael sexton
    michael sexton says:

    I know this applies to more people and more situations in our everyday battles in life I thank all of you folks for saying what a lot of us can or has not said there is a lot of special people in this world as you all said in the post these people are here to help those of us who sometimes need to get back to basics again thank all of you you are in my prayers thank you lord for this moment of reality amen

  3. Teri
    Teri says:

    I have a son who is different and quirky and not self-injurious. My theological questions were great with the suffering that he had born from acute awareness of his differences& rejection, but, yes, your parenting situation would turn much on its head. I’m sorry. You are truly on that elemental journey of finding what’s true, behind all the facades of belief we create. Yet, in tearing them down, you come to that most primitive decision of believing or not: on whether God really is there to care. Somehow, faith can persist through seeing cases of “grace within challenge.” Best wishes. Thanks for sharing.

    • jason
      jason says:

      Beautifully stated, Teri. I don’t know when people started to believe that having faith meant putting up those facades and not admitting their struggles. I think faith is most potent when it is most honest. “I believe. Help my unbelief!” Thanks for reading.

  4. Holly
    Holly says:

    Jason, I wrestle with God too. Our kids – 3 of them – adopted from hard places with special needs and brokenness and trauma and wounds, and scars, and neurological disorders…

    You put words to the pain, the doubt, the struggle.

    I too hold onto a loving God who (in His own time) will redeem & restore. For now, I beg for strength for the moment. I beg for healing. I beg for mercy, and I put my hope in Him who may not deliver my kids from their sufferings within this lifetime. But He is good. I know that He will eternally redeem our temporary suffering in this life.

    Hebrews 11:13 “These all died in faith, NOT having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (emphasis mine)

    I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you.”

    • jason
      jason says:

      It’s tough to think about, isn’t it Holly? That we might have to wait to see the completion of His good work? That Hebrews verse is a beautiful, maddening, inspirational downer of a great promise.

      Thanks for reading. I have some very fond memories of your husband growing up 🙂

      • Holly
        Holly says:

        Yes, yes it is. You really take that muddled soup of feelings and thoughts, and put it all into clear & articulate words. Thank you so much for processing publicly – we all benefit from it. Most of the time it’s all just a murky cloud floating around my head, but your blog brings rays of clear light that cut through the haze.

  5. Tahhya
    Tahhya says:

    Beautifully written. I have a son with a different disease- Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy. I echo your thoughts and prayers.

  6. Dee
    Dee says:

    Thank you for sharing.. I pray God continues to simply give you strength & discernment. We know all things work for his good and although it’s hard to see.. There will come a day, a time where you will experience your “aha” moment I pray that your son will bring your family & friends closer. And through it all.. He will be with you, Emanuel, with your son and with your family. God bless you today & always

  7. Beverly
    Beverly says:

    Dear Jason and Sara,

    I returned home on Wednesday and was reading through my Facebook when I saw your post.

    Oh, how I wept reading your letter to God about our precious little man Jack. God has the answer. Let’s be like the persistent widow and give God no rest until Jack is healed.. Let’s marshal watchmen and women to take their places on the prayer wall for Jack, Sara, you and your family. We are expecting the Lord our God to supernaturally heal Jack from autism. Be strong and courageous my friends. Jehovah Rapha is sending help from His sanctuary. Shalom over the Hague family, Beverly

  8. S.Good
    S.Good says:

    Your words resonate with me. I’ve always believed the God doesn’t make mistakes. That He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…
    My sons diagnosis has both caused me doubt and strengthened my faith at the same time which almost seems impossible. My aunt who has been my spiritual rock throughout my life told me that God knew Charlie would need a mom like me and that why He gave him to me…however I rarely feel cut out for the task. I know His plans are greater than I could ever fathom but but its so often hard to see.

    • jason
      jason says:

      Yeah, I can relate to everything you are saying. This whole thing is so complicated. For me, it’s been more helpful to remember God’s presence in the here and now rather than to speculate too much on they WHY’s. We don’t know what His plans are, and we probably won’t until we see them in hindsight. But to know He is feeling all of these swells of doubt and faith and sadness and joy and concern and triumph with us? That does something inside of me. We’re playing the long game, here, so to speak, and He is beside us every step of the way.

  9. Kelliee
    Kelliee says:

    My beautiful, brilliant, perfectly-exactly-who-he’s-supposed-to-be six year old son, Cadence, made two amazing strides today.

    He added “I only wanna see you inna purpo RAIN” to his daily chorus of Purple Rain – he even has the paras at school singing with him.

    AND he looked at his Daddy tonight, said “outside” and in response to Daddy saying “no outside, Buddy, it’s raining”, Cadence smacked Daddy on the arm and said
    “DAMN!”

    And dammit! I’ll take it!

    It’s the little moments that are actually huge in the grand scheme of things.

    I will never allow myself to lose faith in that these beautiful souls are just trying to wait patiently or impatiently for the rest of us to catch up.

    💙

Comments are closed.