2017 took from me. I lost a lot of peace. I lost way too much focus. I even lost a friend.
My heart felt constantly challenged at the mercy and grace of a God “who could let such horrible things happen.” Fires, floods and hurricanes frequent news headlines of devastation. Where was God in all that?
My soul cringed at the remarks on how God “would let a man such as he be the President” of our country. Or worse yet, the belief that God somehow condones this President’s actions because a well-known evangelical somewhere endorsed the President.
2017 screamed at me and shook my heart. The undeniable attention drawn to sexual harassment was startling and sad. My heart grieved at the thousands and thousands of voices shouting for recognition of sexual assault. Recognition that will hopefully keep moving towards reconciliation. Towards healing.
From the raging voice of man behind the pulpit to the sneering grab of a woman’s breast on a bus, these voices are shouting an irrefutable reminder: we live in a fallen world, full of free will and choice. A world full of sin.
I hate when people say that sometimes. I even sort of squint my eyes shut and shake my head when I read it.
It can feel so compassionless. So graceless. So condescending to one’s emotions. Maybe even invalidating to those emotions.
But above all, I hate it because for the angry and for the unbelievers, it typically stops there.
To the angry heart, living in a fallen world doesn’t help them find healing from the badgering boss who forced you to have sex with him so you could keep your job. Living in a fallen world is not going to bring back your burnt family photos from a ravenous fire. Living in a fallen world doesn’t shed light on the darkness of a shooting as a young child’s blood smears the concrete.
Yes, we live in a world full of nasty, heart-wrenching sin.
And my heart aches for the unbeliever who stops there.
Because you know what we also live in?
A world full of hope.
A world full of hope that’s been giving to us by the one who died on the cross while we were all still sinners.
Jesus didn’t just die for the victims to find hope; he died so the murderer could find healing too.
If we don’t believe in the hope of healing and restoration for the victim and the predator, then we’ll never see past our fatalistic predictions.
All the shouts for change and reformation will fall on deaf ears when the next shooting occurs or when we hear of another boss assaulting a coworker.
We’ll never see God’s grace for what it really is.
Real change comes from healed hearts.
Real change comes from accepting God’s grace.
We live in a world full of hope not only when we see the victim forgiving the perpetrator, but when we see the perpetrator find God too.
We live in a world of hope when the victim’s family publicly and privately forgive the shooter, and their act of grace and forgiveness through the power of Jesus, brings restoration for the shooter.
We are called to bring God’s light into the dark. How would we know we live in a dark, deathly world, if not for God’s life-giving light?
And to be even more honest, I struggle with this calling. I struggle knowing how I, as a 30 something, white, middle-class privileged female can bring about any change.
I struggle with my own fatalistic thinking.
But when I look into the innocent eyes of my son, playing with the water in our kitchen sink, I know what I’m supposed to do.
When I see my sweet daughter laugh at her brother’s silly dance moves, I know what I’m supposed to do.
When I see my neighbor crying on the porch, I know what I’m supposed to do.
When I see a text from my friend whose husband is having an affair, I know what I’m supposed to do.
When I think about the books, movies, and music my children will listen to, I know what I’m supposed to do.
Those seem obvious “I know what I’m supposed to dos”.
What isn’t so obvious is what to do when my husband hurts me or when I hear about an old friend of ours molested his daughter. What isn’t so obvious about what to do is when a family member reaches out after years of anger and bitterness.
Those not so obvious moments are our opportunity to bring about progression and hope.
I bring God’s light into the lives of those around me by loving them as God has called me to because with his grace in me, I can.
I educate myself to bring diversity into our household so my children know more than what they’re privileged to. I teach my children about body boundaries and pray my heart out over their protection. I pray for protection at my husband’s work from a walk-in gunman.
I pray for hope. I believe in hope. I use grace to guide my decisions and forgiveness to lead my heart.
I listen to God’s still small voice in my heart about raising my children believing they will hear his still small voice in their hearts.
I do something for someone else today.
I accept that my form of bringing about God’s light into this world may look different than how God has called you to. And because of that, I don’t think your way is any more or less than mine.
Because in the end, we’re both being obedient to what God has called us.
And that’s how we change our world. No, not change. Change implies that we have the sole power to make things right. And we don’t. We can bring about progress. We can bring about a push towards a world that is closer to Christ.
We have the ability to shed God’s hope, so when we hear we live in a fallen world, we can say that only with God’s strength, we’re helping us get back up again.