I read a story about a remarkable couple who adopted an eight year old child from Russia who, as he grew, developed severe anxiety disorders that would throw him into uncontrollable rages. As the boy grew quite large, the fits of aggression became so fearful he would break furniture, smash plates, throw himself against walls, even striking out at others. The husband eventually had to hire a private security guard to protect his wife while he was at work, for the son had battered her on a few occasions. Doctors were consulted, various therapies tried, medications came and went, all seemed for naught. School became so problematic as the child’s hostility spilled its way into the life of the other students. But, as if slowly awakening from a dream, the boy began to respond to the parent’s unending care. He started to see that the deprivations of his early youth in a Russian orphanage were not caused by his adopted parents. He grew to realize how much they had been sacrificing for him and suffering because of him. Slowly, the ship righted itself. His demeanor softened. His outbursts faded. His school work improved so greatly that he became the valedictorian of his high school graduating class. In his speech to the assembly, he thanked his mother and father for not giving up on him and publicly professed his love for the both.
The mother was asked by an interviewer if, when in the depth of the struggle, she was ever tempted see her son as altogether all too much, and to simply send him back to Russia. Shocked, she said, “No! You have to love him. Because if you don’t love him, well then there’s no way out.” I love that thought: If you don’t love them, well then there is no way out. If you don’t forgive them, there is no way out. If you don’t accept them as they are and not as you would have them to be, then there’s no way out. In the gospel, Jesus urges us to pray persistently and God, who is all good, will in time hear and answer our prayer. For what then shall we so urgently pray? The grace to be like that woman.