I sat on my front porch they morning with a cup of coffee, relishing a fleeting few minutes to myself before the children woke up.
And I saw the clouds roll in. I felt the temperatures change, the winds shift. In 10 minutes, being outside looked much less inviting than it had when I situated myself in my rocking chair, and rested my arm and coffee mug against the arm rest.
My husband had pointed out the other night how lopsided the two dogwood trees in our front yard were. The branches facing west were stretched out wide. The East facing branches, not so much.
They grew toward the sun.
This was a crazy week in the news. Nothing more loud and unsettling than the news of the D_____ family. It has literally been inescapable. I never watched their show. Never really followed them, though I knew of them.
And I have read more about them this week than ever before.
Seething comments and commentary, dripping with hate and disgust and disbelief, and even, sadly, justification and excuses.
What is the right answer?
Is there a right answer?
I don’t know.
But for those who are of the faith, I encourage you to grow toward the Son.
I feel for those girls, who have most likely had to relive this tragedy and betrayal and abuse all over again. Though we don’t know for absolute certainty who and when exactly, we could all probably guess. And how could that not change things for them?
A million questions arise about how they were treated afterward. How they are still treated today. Have they healed? Can there truly be reconciliation?
Those are not for us to know. It is for them to explore and walk through however they need to or needed to.
But I encourage those who wonder to grow toward the Son.
Is (I don’t want to even write his name here) really repentant? Has he truly changed? Is this no longer happening?
For those for us who wonder if true sanctification and repentance is possible in this situation, I encourage you to grow toward the Son.
For people who have walked through abuse. Who were used and mistreated and taken advantage of – it was not okay. And though it may feel like it, it is not for you to be ashamed. You are worth more than that. You are loved. You do not have to hide. You can be strong. You can grieve how you need to grieve. You don’t have to be afraid.
For those who are being abused – silence is not your consent. Not saying no is not your consent. Not telling anyone is not your consent. You are not just letting it happen. You did not invite it, you did not ask for it.
I encourage you to grow toward the Son, who says He will bring all things to the light. That there is a possibility for healing. That there is redemption, and no shame or secret too great to keep you apart from Him.
Where there are accusations and betrayal and anger and dismay and confusion – that is not where Jesus is found.
There are so many points to consider this from. I am not saying that there is no room for any of those things. What happened was utterly and completely unacceptable. No one gets a free pass from that.
What I am saying is that, as Christians, it was a black eye for us this week. I saw the word hypocrite tossed around quite a bit. It hurt to read things like that, because I know that in my heart of hearts, I do not agree with what happened or even how it was handled.
I want to jump in and tell others that christians don’t think that this is okay. At all. I want to defend myself. I want to defend The Cross.
The cross needs no defense, I am reminded.
Do we really believe that Christ bore our SHAME and our wrong doings when he was nailed to it? People sweep that under the rug, as if it was a magical fix all, both Christians and non-Christians alike.
On the contrary, when you look at the offensive and unnerving truth of the cross, blood shed, skin ripped away, bones crushed, torture and pain and misery – I don’t see that as simple magic.
I see it like my sins were paid for with a heavy, heavy price.
And it is NOT a magical cure-all. It is no assurance that we will live perfect lives. It is no assurance that we will be without sin. We are saved and comforted so that WE may help save and comfort those in a falling world.
It is the assurance that even the darkest of the dark, the most shameful of the shame, will have a place with Christ, even if they don’t have it here in this world. And by that transaction, we are moved to incredible action. We are moved to grow toward the Son. To reach for life. To love our fellow-man indescribably and without hesitation. We are moved to pursuing a life free from the bondage of sin.
We should be growing toward the Son. The only Son.
This past week even tested my faith. Do I believe that there is room for all at the feet of Jesus? Even those who have committed the most offensive and vile acts of them all?
I struggle with that. Maybe this was a reminder.
The Cross stands today as it does a week ago. Even though things come to light, and sins are committed and hearts are hurt, The Cross, and its message does. not. change. Christ overcame this world. He is not surprised when hate and pain are perpetuated. Indeed, He experienced rejection, violence and brutality to the very end.
Maybe we need to remember, too, that when we grow towards the Son, this wold will see how lopsided we are if they look just right. If we aren’t honest. If we our actions do not match our words.
The word tells us that this world will hate us. This world will not agree with us. This world will try to shame us. Because we don’t belong in this world. And while the world may know of our shame and our wrong doings, that is not enough to keep us from connecting with God.
This is not hope for just (insert his name here), it is all our hope. Whether we have been wronged, or we have done wrong. As contrary as all of that is to our nature, we must try to remember this ultimate truth.
We must all always try to grow toward the Son.