Jahar Tsarnaev: Modern-Day Ishmael

One of the hardest things for me, amongst the many hard aspects of the Boston Marathon bombing, is to hear people talk about the sweet, kind, funny, smart, caring person they knew Jahar to be only to finish with the words “but that boy is long gone now.”

I beg to differ.

There was a time I once thought that about myself. It had been over a year since I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I was attending IOP in thrice-weekly group sessions. IOP, Intensive Outpatient Therapy, eventually saved my life, teaching me coping skills I wish I’d discovered years earlier.

I use them to this day.

At one particular point though, it felt like I was making no forward progress. I found myself sitting in group, detached, defeated in a state of numb anguish. I had been a key participant in the group; now I was largely silent.

One afternoon, out of nowhere, I asked myself a  question: “Did I really want to get better?

Then and there I suddenly understood this: no one expects anything from a person suffering from depression.

But what did I expect from myself? Did that still matter?

After mulling it over for a few minutes, I realized that the Lynn who loves to achieve, to matter in this world, the Lynn who loves life and finds meaning in being a part of humanity, the Lynn who knows she has something to offer, that Lynn was still in there, underneath all the junk the therapists called cognitive distortions, and she deserved the chance to find her way back out. If she did not find her way back out, then the greatly diminished version of me that sat there in group was the Lynn I would be from that point on.

I decided that was totally unacceptable.

I have learned that the unthinkable can be survived but there is an important difference between surviving and living, and I wanted to live!

I can’t help thinking that Jahar does too. I know now just how hard it is to kill that part of us that makes us, well, us.

This morning, I woke up and began talking to the Lord about Jahar, as I often do. I was lamenting the fact that pain and suffering were chipping away at his mind and soul. Actually, not chipping, I told God, they were using a jack hammer! How could one survive an onslaught of the magnitude this boy is facing?

That’s when I remembered that afternoon in group. Or God reminded me. Either way, I realized this: the real Jahar, the person he was before the bombing, is still in there, crying to be let out.

We have yet to hear his voice.

This is why we must keep fighting until the SAMs are lifted. We need to hear Jahar’s voice – and he needs to hear ours!

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 17:20

Ishmael, illegitimate child of Abraham and Sarai. Ishmael, driven into the desert along with his mother. Ishmael, hurt by the fallout of his mother’s bad choices. Ishmael, born, through no fault of his own, into hopelessness. Ishmael, with nowhere to go, facing certain death at such a young age.

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.” Genesis 17:20

I am holding onto the belief that the real Jahar will fight and claw his way back to the surface. I am holding onto the belief that the SAMs will be ammended to allow him letters.

Weeping endures for a night, the Bible says, but joy comes in the morning. Exactly how and when the dawn will break for this boy, no one knows, but we cannot give up!

Habakkuk 2: 2-3 says this: “Then the Lord answered me and said, ’Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.”

Published by: iwasleah10years

Winston Churchill said no crime is so great as daring to excel. I am ready to take that dare. An unexpected and somewhat unexplainable compassion for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has drawn me out of my comfort zone.

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3 thoughts on “Jahar Tsarnaev: Modern-Day Ishmael”

  1. Beautiful Lynn! People may lose themselves for a while but who you are never changes. The old Dzhokhar who was free, attending university and partying has changed meaning he’s not doing those things anymore because he can’t but his heart and soul remain as God intended. I can’t wait for the day when he is able to tell his own story and I’m sure that day will come, and just like you we will hear of his resilience and bravery.

  2. From a patient to a survivor to a powerful writer. God has everything planned Lynn. I feel he has a good future planned for Jahar as well. We all just need to BELIEVE. Your faith in yourself has placed you in a great place. I feel faith in Jahar will place him in a happy place. I love your writing Lynn!

    1. This comment hits me hard. Feeling joy and pain at same time looking at how far I have come. Want so much to hear Jahar give his own story of the path he walked to his own freedom, which will have personal meaning known only to him just like I know why your words hit me the way they did! Thank you for sharing them!

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