I received a message via Facebook from an online friend. I have never actually met this sweet woman, but we have mutual acquaintances and we have gotten to know each other online. She sent a short message, asking if I would call (we’ve never even spoken over the phone before). She left her phone number, so once I saw the message I sent a quick text asking if it was a good time to chat.
“A friend confided in me and I need your advice. Her son has sexually abused another child.”
My heart absolutely shattered and immediately tears filled my eyes and spilled out through my closed lids. Another mother was facing this unspeakable horror. I was transported right back to that moment a few years ago when I saw my world collapse around me. When my soul splintered and my faith began to crumble. When an aching black hole opened up inside of me and sucked every good, perfect, and beautiful thing out of my world. The moment when my life forever changed.
“I’d like your advice on what to tell her.”
That’s right. I’m on the phone. She called me for advice. Advice. What advice can I possibly give? I’ve barely survived. I’m still a mess. I’m here at least.
So I talked to my friend, offering my phone number and contact information to the woman that confided in her. She thanked me and hung up.
My thoughts went into overdrive. What if this poor woman actually called me? What would I say to her? Do I tell her to do the right thing and turn her son over to the authorities knowing that her life will become an absolute hell? Do I tell her that reporting this will open up a CPS investigation into her home? That her younger children will have to talk to detectives and possibly have rape kits done? That she will see her son fingerprinted, handcuffed, and turned over to a secular and far from perfect court system? That she will lose the option to determine what is best for her son? That her life will never be the same? That she will walk through the blackest days she could ever imagine and she will face despair like she has never known?
Or…do I tell her that yes, it is absolute hell, but it was worth it? That out of the many, many regrets I have, reporting my son to the authorities is not one of them? That at her son’s age the courts will seek to help, not criminalize, but that won’t always be the case? That there are resources out there to help her family survive this? That this will be the hardest thing she has ever done, but it is vital for all members of her family? That a tremendous amount of damage has already been done and it’s now her job to help minimize the aftershocks? That she will be completely shattered, but we know the Great Physician? That it’s been years, and I’m still not whole, but I’m still here. That my kids bear heavy scars, but they’ve survived? That despite the bleakness that threatens to swallow her whole, there is still hope? Yes. That is what I tell this grieving, heartsick, standing on the edge of the abyss, mom. I tell her my story. I open a vein and pour out with sincerity all that is within me with the hope that maybe, just maybe, it will give her just enough strength to make it through the day. That maybe providing her with what little perspective I have, it will make her not feel so utterly alone.
So tonight, as I lay down to sleep, I pray for this dear woman and her broken heart. I pray that she may have the courage to actually place the call to me. And I pray, I pray earnestly, that if that call comes, that God will guide my every word and that somehow, somehow, maybe something useful can come out of the agony my family has been endured.