Jackson Five Friday: Emotional Support Humans


Hope you had a lovely Christmas. Our church service Christmas Eve was one of my all-time favorites. The tradition is for high school seniors to do all the scripture reading on Christmas Eve which is really sweet, especially when you have a senior. Plus, I just loved the message.

And now we are just days away from a whole new decade. The last decade has ushered in all kinds of changes, one being the prevalence of dogs in airports. Have you noticed this? Recently I witnessed something I wish I had a delete button for. The owner was pulling her reluctant stiff-legged dog by the leash, sliding the dog down the terminal hallway. But the dog had decided “now is the time, this is the place.” I averted my eyes but I’m just going to assume that the attractive, well-heeled twenty-something came prepared with a baggie and some means of detoxing. But dogs are everywhere in airports — on leashes, in cages, in strollers, in laps — only a few of which are service animals. Once in a while you see the emotional support animal vest. Of course, the emotional support animal prevalence deserves its own mention. Suddenly, they are ubiquitous.

I can envision having my own emotional support doggy if I ever grow old and am alone. Except my 90-year-old knees and eyes don’t exactly bode well for reaching old age, and when is the last time you saw a six-foot old woman? But here’s the thing: every time I see an emotional support animal I feel like that little vest begs a question. The question is: Where are your emotional support humans? It feels like the need for emotional support animals highlights our failure to love one another well. Can’t we do better? Do we need to start donning little vests that signify, “Emotional Support Human.” The fine print could say, “I will stop and listen to you. I will do my best to help you. I will point you to your Creator and the Lover of your soul.”

Last month I was in Florida. I have moved around a lot in life, but have vacationed on the same little stretch of beach with fair frequency since I was ten. Will and I got engaged there, and many of life’s happiest memories have been made on that sand. Anyway, I was walking along the beach one morning and noticed a crowd gathered. It looked like some kind of a ceremony so I asked a gentleman standing nearby what was going on.

“A turtle is being released,” he said.

I was pumped. All these years of coming to this beach I’d never seen a turtle released. I’ve been to the turtle hospital many, many times. I’ve watched turtles come out of the ocean at night and lay their eggs, but I have not seen a turtle from the hospital released back into the ocean. I walked over and joined the throng. It was 9:45 a.m. and the crowd was already quite large. I stood there for a while, but then I learned that the ceremony didn’t start until 11:00 a.m. I had things to do and couldn’t justify standing there that long.

As I walked away I thought about how you never see a throng like that for a person coming out of rehab. I mean, that’s essentially what it is. The turtle has been rehabbed, and is being released back into the world. If we were emotional support humans maybe we’d line up to celebrate rehab releases. We’d madly cheer and be filled with hope that they would succeed back in the big blue sea of life.

I am praying today that this next decade, the 2020’s, will be filled with clarity of vision to recognize the needs of others, to care about them, and to live aware — as C.S. Lewis said — that we never do meet mere mortals.

Praying too that when humans fail me and you that we will turn to the One who never fails and who always understands.

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭7:26-28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus offered himself and is our High Priest. He truly meets our needs and is perfect forever. Amen.

Happy New Year! Happy New Decade too! May it be ten years of loving each other well, emulating the perfect love of Jesus.

With Love,