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Monday, April 9, 2012

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it."-John 1:5

Dear Boys,
As I write this you are snug in your beds, bellies full of our Sunday dinner that we all ate together.  All is dark upstairs except for a rectangle of light sneaking out of the bathroom since we are too old for nightlights now, but apparently not for light.:)  It was a quiet dinner, not much chatter, not even much laughter, which there usually is.  It was quiet and normal and benign.  And I am moved by the ease of it.  I am actually beyond moved.   Tonight I am scared by it.  I often find myself, when I am worrying about other families, looking at you and wondering when the other shoe will drop. 

My prayer list grows longer and longer and I grow more and more tense wondering,  “Why, when so many are suffering, just down the street, why, God, are my people just fine - not perfect, but really just fine?” Am I missing something?  When will it come to me?  When will my name or my husband’s or my sons’ names be written on the corner of someone’s church bulletin?  So then, I turn the worry away from how I can help and turn it on to me.  How quickly things become about me.  This from your mother who encourages you to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”*  Doesn’t sound very trusting or faithful, does it?  It’s not and it’s not what we are to be about.

I want to wrap you up tight in this moment, in this space in our lives and make everything stay the same.  At this point, when my biggest frustrations inside these walls have to do with too many shoes strewn around and too many claims that “I’ve looked, Mom, I’ve really looked and I can’t find my shoes!  I need help!”  Oh, how it frustrates me and I think, “I don’t want to help find shoes.  I DON’T WANT TO HELP ANYONE.”  And then I am ashamed and I ask Him forgiveness, again. I know that if begging help to look for our Nikes is our biggest need today, then we have been chosen for something more, at least for today. There might be a time when the shoes are not our biggest issue.  In fact, I am certain of it.  But now, we are strong and we can’t huddle up in our beds and watch reruns of The Cosby Show all day.  God has told us to “Go”, boys, and in some way, whether small or large, we must do that.

I am overwhelmed with prayer requests for young people.  There is so much pain in so many children today and not all physical pain.  Perhaps there was so much pain in children yesterday and last year and many years ago, but now I am a mommy.  And the pain seems so much harsher when I know how it is multiplied in the heart of a parent.  The pain is here.   Here, in our tidy little neighborhood with its HOA standards and red brick town hall.  Inside the walls of houses lined up like dominoes, it is here.  There is anxiety, depression, self-loathing, panic attacks and fear.  Some of that pain is a result of divorce, broken families, drug abuse or job loss . . . things we can point to, things we can blame.  And sometimes, we can find no explanation, no trigger and no event that brings on that pain.  I have, in my own life, been there, done (some of) that.   These feelings are cruel and crippling and terrifying.  They are all of those things for the person experiencing them and they are all of those things for those who love that person.  Sometimes I think these evils build over time and sometimes they seemingly crash into us out of nowhere.  As if you left the door open just a crack one day and the evil just snuck in and took over before you had time to turn the knob tight.

We are believers and many of our friends who are hurting?  So are they.  We “do not grieve like those who have no hope”**  Isn’t that easy?  Isn’t that just great?  Yea, I know, not so much.  For those of us, who are believers it isn’t always easier.  For a believer, pain is very real.  The trust and the faith which may have come so easily before seem just out of reach.  Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts that trust is work.  And in the midst of suffering in any form, trust can be tedious, laborious and exhausting.  When the mind and the soul are filled with racing thoughts, muddled up with all the things of the world, it is so hard to look for the light that is not of the world.  When I was suffering, I don’t remember praying for myself, although I’m sure I did.  What I remember is that people were praying for me.  I remember that people helped me.  I remember that people didn’t judge me.  So, that’s what I have come to when I feel like things are going so easily, so ridiculously well, that I find myself looking over my shoulder.  That’s when we are called, boys. 
When we have the strength to pray and to go out into the world, we must go.  We must go because of the One who went before us and who will go for us again when we are lost and here’s the thing, my kiddos:  We will be lost again because we’ve been told that “in this world we will have trouble.”*** So when we are strong and healthy and ready, that is when God is calling us.  That’s when we must be the light.  That’s when we get to the hard work of trust and of prayer and just going.  That is when we hit our knees beside your beds covered in sports emblems and stuffed animals.  That’s when we “with thanksgiving, present our requests to God”.****  That’s when we have to show compassion and grace.  That’s when we have to listen.  That’s when we must put our hand on top of another’s and help to hold the door closed tight.  We have to wrap our arms around the broken with no fancy words, no false wisdom.  We don’t have to be anything extraordinary.  We don’t have to say anything profound.  We just have to let the hurting see a sliver of God’s light peeking through that door and help them keep their gaze steady on that sliver until the wonder of heaven breaks through and they are flooded in brightness.  Hang on to that little sliver of light, boys.  It is God.  He wants to get to you when your heart hurts or when your heart bursts with joy.  And sometimes He wants you to help bring His light to someone else. 

Love, Mom

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light” – Ephesians 5:8
PS Boys:  Aren’t those little asterisks annoying?  I know, that means you have to do something.  Now, go look those verses up, ok?  If you do, maybe I’ll help you look for your shoes one more time.

*Proverbs 3:5, **1 Thessalonians 4:13, ***John 16:33, ****Philippians 4:6