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The Night My Son Met the Real Me

Nicholas Hardesty
I prayed over my 4-year old son the other day. He was on Day 3 of vomiting and diarrhea, and I was willing to look like a fool if it meant his healing.
Even as recently as a couple of months ago, I would have never done such a thing. Sure, I’ve prayed over other people before: co-workers, friends, random strangers on the street. But, never my family.
Why is that?

A Confession

I think It’s easy to fall into a strange dynamic when, like me, evangelization is your job. You get up, get dressed, put on your “evangelist hat,” then it’s out the door to do the Lord’s work. But, the reverse also happens: you get home from work, change clothes, take off your “evangelist hat,” and fall back into your old, comfortable habits of living.

Truth talk: That’s what I’ve been doing.

The Real Me

It might sound counter-intuitive at first, but praying over strangers is safer than praying over your family. Think about it: strangers don’t know you from Adam. They assume that this is what you’ve always done. But, your family? They know better. They know how you are when no one else is watching. They know what your bad habits are. They know your history. They know the “real you.”

The real me – I’ve been thinking a lot about who that person is. Am I the guy who laughs at irreverent humor around the campfire? Or am I the guy who initiates faith conversations with waiters, cashiers, and poor people on the street? Am I the one, or the other, or both?

Encountering God’s Power in Me

Since September I’ve been attending something called Encounter School, and it’s got me hungry to live a more consistent and authentic life. Drawing from the riches of our Catholic identity, Encounter School seeks to teach, equip, activate, and deploy disciples to demonstrate the supernatural power and love of God in their spheres of influence.

Every Monday night I force myself, against every tired impulse, to drive up to the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood, OH and attend this School. It has become many things for me: challenging, fulfilling, convicting, inspiring, accepting, and liberating.

Above all, it’s made me realize that I’ve been just barely scratching the surface of what a Catholic, living in the power of his Baptism, is truly capable of. It has taught me what it means to be a “beloved son of the Father,” and it has filled me with a desire to live more fully in that identity.

Sure, I make mistakes, sometimes really big ones. But, I am redeemedI have a new natureI am a saint, a man set apart to be priest, prophet, and king. And on Day 3 of my son’s stomach bug, I finally decided, “It’s time to bring this home.”

Stepping Out … Into a Corner

It didn’t quite go according to plan, but it was still beautiful. Allow me to paint the scene:

My son is autistic. He’s lying in his bed after another bout of sickness. It’s late at night. He’s exhausted, irritable, and in no mood for visitors. I told my wife, “I’m going in there to pray over him for healing.” “Be careful,” she replied. “He wouldn’t let me come near him just now.”

I went in anyway. “Let’s do this,” I told myself. “Time to seize the moment.” I sat on the edge of his bed and put my hand on his chest. He grunted at me, loudly. He’s not having any of it, so I took my hand away. He grunted again, not liking that I’m still sitting on his bed. I moved to the floor and raised my hand in the air. Still not good enough. I put my hand down and started to pray out loud. Another grunt.

Before long I was on the floor in the opposite corner, as far away from him as possible, my hands in my lap, quiet and motionless. I told myself, “This will have to do.” Then, with all the authority of a priest in his domestic church, I prayed: “In the name of Jesus, I command all nausea and diarrhea to leave my son. In the name of Jesus, I command these to leave this house and never return.”

The next morning he played with all the vigor of youth … and I was a little closer to the man I want to be. The man I really am.

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