Peter is one of my favorite dudes in the Bible. He’s all of us getting the chance to hang out with the one that changes the entire universe. He jumps to the front of the line, speaks before he thinks, and tries way too hard.
He wasn’t always on the good side of Jesus.
The night of the arrest in the Garden, Peter cuts the ear off a Roman soldier. Later, faced with the thought of his own arrest and punishment, he issues his denials. Those moments stand out in the midst of faith stories. We tend to gloss over them and rush to his reinstatement. We don’t want to think about denying faith, about what we would do when pressed with a death or decision moment.
Peter, in his fear, acts on impulse and I get it. I’d bet you get it too. Imagine, all the things he’s seen, all the miracles, the rising tide of crowds and revolution.
The one who would finally give freedom is now in shackles. All the evidence goes out the window of short-term memory because, if you say yes, you’ll be there too. Suddenly going back to the lake seems like a good alternative.
The familiar provides a warm bed to distract us from a life of electric possibility.
Last night, Carter was angry. He was tired and angry, not an easy combination for a kid with anxiety. After talking for a few minutes, he calmed.
I had read something earlier in the day online that reaction for kids dealing with hyperactivity and anxiety are emotion-based. This means they don’t try to purposefully make their parents angry. As I spoke to him, the thought bounced around in my head.
It is not an issue of impulse, it is a matter of emotion.
I knelt across from him and took his hand in my own. I looked in his eyes, red and laced with tears, and asked him a question.
“Do you really want to feel like this?”
He took a breath and said no.
For the first time, in the moment, I saw things for how they were. His issues were something concrete outside himself. They didn’t own him. They weren’t his identity. They were something we could help with, work with, and teach him how to cope with and forge himself into the person he wants to be.
We stood and I hugged him, pulled him close and shut my eyes. I told him I loved him.
For a second, I understood. That actions don’t make the person, that impulses are what they are. That Carter’s feelings ran as deep as his soul and that we had hope. We would walk forward together. No matter how many bumps in the road, we’d come back to a moment as father and son.
As I was going to bed last night, I stepped into his room and looked at him sleeping. I thought, for the first time in a while, that we could do this. It would take effort, time, honesty, and work but we could do this. We could do this.
We could do this.