"I just want to be happy" the young man replied, strapped to the gurney in the local emergency room 'bullpit' where they threw the patients who were out of danger and who were waiting discharge.
I had been called in by the parents of this lonely and desperate young man. They didn't know what else to do. Years of rehab, years of trying this program and that had failed. He kept relapsing.
He kept being unhappy.
"How come you seem so happy, Chaplain?" the young man leaned up as far as he could on his elbows, the restraining straps holding him in an awkward position. "How come you can smile?"
'Tommy' knew me well, since his mother was my sister. He knew the life I had lived before my 'getting Jesus' and the trials, tribulations, and downright abusing situations I've found myself in since. To this kid, fifteen years of battering and bruising should qualify me for some serious anti-depressant drugs.
Years of talking to Tommy, his mother, and his father had failed to awaken within each of them that desire to know Jesus. It was heartrending to me to think of these souls lost to the Enemy for all eternity. This is why I was here, in this hospital's emergency room, talking to a kid that everyone else had given up on.
"Because, I was once like you," I whispered softly, letting the pain and sorrow fill the echoing of my soul to this boy.
"Like me?" Tommy's eyes went wider, pleading for me to tell my story. To tell him my secret.
I sat down on the edge of the gurney and began. I spoke of the life of broken dreams; of parents who didn't want the children they had and so got rid of them, of places that no child should ever have to see, and of things that would make even the stout of heart quake in fearful realization at the loss of all hope.
"And how, Uncle, did you find happiness?" Tommy's plead struck that cord in my heart that vibrated with the intensity of his need. "How did you overcome the past?"
"By losing my life." I whispered the scars of the attempts I had taken flaring with the remembered pain, the overwhelming sorrow.
Tommy's eyes glanced down at my wrists, at the vertical scarring on them, and then sought my eyes again. The question was clear.
"You see, when I had reached the place where I could no longer support my fragile world with the lie my life had been, I gave it up. Everything. I realized that I could no longer fool myself into thinking I'd find happiness."
"And then?" Tommy's whispered plea to continue echoed in the halls of my memory.
"Then He came." I whispered back, as if the reverence of the moment still could be felt in my soul. Which, it could.
"Who?" Tommy asked.
"Him. I AM. Jesus Christ, as He is commonly known." I said, capturing my nephew's eyes and holding them with mine. "The creator, the designer. The one person in the whole of creation that would know what could truly make me happy, make my world complete."
"And?" Tommy demanded.
"The promise? What's the promise and why would that make you so happy?" the tone of being sold a bill of goods echoed in the young man's voice.
"The promise. He said that He'd return for me one day and take me to the place that He went to prepare for me, where there would be no sorrow, no pain, no death, and no despair." I took his hand, and continued. "Nothing is permanent here. I know where my treasure lies. And my happiness is in the realization that He doesn't desire only me but everyone else I love and hold dear."
We continued talking through the night until the nurse came and released my nephew into my care. We took the long way home, talking about the source of joy and peace, the alignment of purpose and design. And my nephew, the source of so much sorrow, becomes a source of joy in the early morning dawn.
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