Is there a “Ben” in the house?

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[If you have missed the last few Catches, you will wonder who this “Ben” is. He is the main character in my novel, Saint Ben that we are bringing back for a re-release. To catch up, go to our website and scroll down to “Why Saint Ben?” and the next few Catches will summarize the story.]

And his smile will light a candle

That will burn in your heart.

                   – From a song I wrote about Chandler shortly after he was born

I suddenly realized we have our own “Ben” in the house. He’s way more spiritual than I give him credit for. He is a truth-teller, and he makes you into one too by the sheer force of his character. You can’t lie to him because the truth is laid bare the minute you look at him.

Like Ben, he has a different way of thinking that brings everything into sharper focus. You don’t know what he knows, and he rarely tells, but when he does, you had better stop everything and listen. And if you don’t understand (and usually I don’t), you have to be patient and keep listening because one day you will.

When you try to teach him something, you soon find out he already knows. You think you’re going to bring him up to speed, but you soon realize you are the one who has fallen behind. You spend time with him because you want to be a good influence. The real adventure is what happens to you from being with him.

You send him away to treatment (the worse day of your life), and when you go visit him, you realize you are the one who needs it. You also find out he’s running the treatment center. He will tell you when he is ready to come home and not a minute sooner. He hates you for sending him away, but then he thinks that maybe he should have stayed a little longer. You sent him a prayer pillow in treatment and then wondered if he might think it was a little dorky. He responded by asking for one for everyone in his unit by name. He was the spiritual leader for his house.

Suddenly you remember that your job is not to get him to think like you think (that will never happen), but to get inside his shoes, and look at the world through his eyes. It doesn’t take long for you to realize you have a long way to go.

I suddenly realized we have our own “Ben” in the house. His name is Chandler and he is now 21 years old. Like Ben, he doesn’t smile often, but when he does, you know this is what you have been waiting for all along.

* * * * *

Everyone has a Saint “Ben” in their life — someone who sees things from a different perspective, or who people can easily judge because he/she isn’t like them, or doesn’t play by the altogether-too structured rules. 

We want to hear about your “Ben.” You know. The one you have come to admire even when it seems they are making trouble or saying things you don’t quite understand, or who talks about things you never knew existed — like the other side of the moon.

You know your “Ben.”  He/she is the one who surprises you how comfortable they are when discussing difficult subjects but fades away from a conversation that is just too merry. Have you ever been fearful of what your “Ben” will say to company about you or your world?

We would like to hear about the “Ben” you know who is brilliant and reckless, yet committed to truth at any cost.

Do you know a “Ben” who was born with a hole in the heart like all of us, and is angry with God over that?

Tell us about this unorthodox instrument of God in your life — the Saint “Ben” who allows you to witness their “Ben”-shaped hole in the heart of God. We want to be introduced to this person.

Are you recognizing this person for the first time today? Or have they been in your life for a long time? If so, how are you going to reintroduce yourself? Will you walk alongside them to listen so that you might learn from what they think?

Have you hidden your “Ben” from your sphere of influence because you were afraid they would act out? If so, what are your next steps toward restoration? If you do not know, try stepping into their life to see yourself as they see you. 

Keep your eyes open today for a Saint “Ben” to cross your path or go out and find one.  Try not to tell them what you want to say but listen to what they say.  Open your eyes wide and see what they see — and then, reach out in love. Who knows, you just might even get to see for the first time the other side of the moon.

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9 Responses to Is there a “Ben” in the house?

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    Absolutely LOVED this: “Suddenly you remember that your job is not to get him to think like you think (that will never happen), but to get inside his shoes, and look at the world through his eyes. It doesn’t take long for you to realize you have a long way to go.” Amen!

    And let me please suggest once again what could have helped you reach that understanding/conclusion is great book: “The DISC Method of Understanding Personality Types” by Dr. Robert Rohm

    PS maybe consider suggesting it to Chandler – it seems to me & please excuse me if I am wrong here, yet get a good feeling he might be a bit more open to a suggestion about reading a book that expands ones understanding – B/C I’m quite positive I’ve suggested you, Pastor John to consider reading this book for years and believe I wud EASILY seeing influencing your writing…

  2. John A Fagliano says:

    I don’t think I know a “Ben” personally. Although I might have a little of him inside me based on your description. This reminded me of this post by Jacob Nordby. I don’t know if this describes Chandler or Ben but it’s something I actually hope to be somehow.
    https://mybeautfulthings.com/2015/04/28/dendrites-narcissi-and-the-weird-people/blessed-are-the-weird-people-jacob-nordby/

    • jwfisch says:

      I was thinking this while writing, That “Ben” might be us! I do think that is the way it should be, actually. That if we follow Jesus, we will be more like “Ben.”

  3. Sandie says:

    I have lived with a ‘Ben’ for my whole life. I see him every time I look in the mirror, though the image has gotten hazy lately. I was the one, even in school, who found a backstory in a reading and challenged a teacher. I was the one in Catecism who questioned a nun,” If Jesus died to pay for sin, why is there a Purgatory?” I identify and sympathize with Peter the apostle; like him I’m always thinking, “Should I have said that?” So many times I’ve had to apologize for being right…in the wrong way. I was the one who challenged two different pastors, the first when he thought it would be sinful to coach a secular kids baseball team. (He had been semi-pro) When kids at the high school where I worked perished in a car crash, he told me “if I had a closer walk with Jesus I wouldn’t be so destroyed over the loss.” The second pastor accused me of ” seeing too much” in a dispute within the church’s music ministry. When the first pastor was being ousted by the congregation, I was the one who challenged them to pray about it before voting. This was through a friend because I couldn’t speak because my membership was in limbo. An elder responded that enough prayer had been spent over the issue. Our response, “When can you ever pray too much about anything?” I showed up at a staid Methodist Sunday church service dressed in full biker regalia, on my Sportster, to gauge their reaction at my first visit. I challenged them to see that my CMA ministry was as much a mission as going to a foreign country was. As Youth Director I challenged them to save a teen ministry even though it was down to one boy. When they did away with my position. instead of attending a service and eating cake in my honor, I put on my mantle of CMA chaplain and gave a short message and blessing before a memorial ride. The last lesson I gave my teen group was “Does Tim Tebow win because he is a Christian? (He took Denver to the playoffs that year) What about the Christians on the other teams? Does God think he’s better? I also denied access to that last meeting. I feel more comfortable with bikers and teens than those in church. I ask questions like “why” whenever the Holy Spirit taps me on the shoulder and says, “pay attention to this.” I have had a close, intimate relationship with a Jehovahs Witness for over 20 years. I don’t think God can only speak through Christians. I believe the same God passed musical (and other) talents out to anyone He chose (Christian and non). In these last two I challenge…’show me the scripture.’ But lately, like I said, the mirror image is a little hazy. My faith is upside down it seems. “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation.” I know He will. Bless you John for shining a beacon that tells me it’s ok to be me.

  4. Toni Petrella says:

    Great story on parenting. We are all different and even though the Ben in each of our lives may not see situations the way we wish its still the greatest adventure getting to the point of why this person believes and sees life in an unusual way. I think it would be a dull world if it were not for these rather unusual folks in our lives.

  5. jwfisch says:

    Amen!

  6. Toni Petrella says:

    If it wasn’t for the Ben’s of the world life would be rather dull and thank God for each and every one.

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