Friday, June 19, 2015

On Charleston, Shootings, Dylann Roof and Motherhood...

I am a "mom mentor" at my church. Each month, a group of 30-50 young women who adore their children gather to discuss the joys and challenges associated with bringing up kids. They share one common goal--to finish this parenthood thing well. They hope that when they gently nudge their sparrows from the nest their little worm-eaters will soar.

So they pray. They read. They study. They invest. And they pray some more. They seek wisdom from others and from God's Word. They believe these little people are not accidents that happened along their life's road, they're blessings bestowed to help them learn the deeper truths about their own nature.

And by learning, I mean being stretched. Like rubber bands. Like Gumby. It isn't easy being a mother. A mom is "the one and only," for what can sometimes feel like forever. 

It is mom who tiptoes out of bed at night to nurse an infant. Mom strokes little heads and rubs little backs to console a wounded heart. Mom makes sandwiches, packs lunches, taxi's to lessons and practices, social events and church. Mom wears many hats and sometimes tumbles into bed at night with little recollection of anything she did for herself that day.

Some dads are exceptionally involved in many of these duties as well. And they should be--but at the end of the day, "MOM!" is usually the first cry of a child in trouble. 

Each time her little love leaves the house a part of her heart walks out the door. A mother's love is a peculiar thing, for when it is functions as intended--as ordained--it is unmatched. And it is this love that mirrors and reflects the heart of God for people, and it is in this role that we best grasp an overwhelming sense of our value to our Creator.

This brings me to my reason for writing everything you just read. Yesterday, a 21 year old man (who barely looks 15) was captured after massacring a group of Christians assembled to pray at their church. This man, this "monster," had a mother. At this point I have not heard from her or seen anything about her, but I am haunted by the idea that somewhere along the way something went terribly wrong in his home and life.

How does hatred of this magnitude manifest itself in one so young? How does lack of regard or concern or compassion for human life become so dominant that a weapon and an opportunity translate into tragedy the scope of which is unbearably horrifying?

When a family abdicates its responsibility to teach, model and demonstrate love, it seems likely that the children of those circumstances might be broken, wounded or challenged. But murderers? Cold-blooded haters? 

The act this young man committed was madness. But it had a beginning. Sometime in his past, warning signs were ignored. Or worse, he was actually taught to be angry and violent, hate-filled and evil.

Either way, my thoughts return to mothers. Those of us who love our children are probably thinking at least two primary things as we reflect on this tragedy: 1. God help the mothers (and families) of every victim--and please protect my own children from evil-doers like Dylann Roof; and 2. Where was his mother?

As I have prayed for all who are bereaved in Charleston, I am reminded that all of us mothers are raising children in a very broken world. Our children, thanks to 24 hour news and social media, are growing up aware that they could be gunned down while praying at church, or eating at a restaurant, or sitting in a classroom. This is not the world I grew up in--this is not a world we want for our children or grandchildren. And yet, it is our (and their) reality.

There are many things we might blame for this. Bad parenting. Social Media misuse and abuse. Video Games. Television. Movies. Stories/books that fuel ignorance and hatred. Guns, Weapons. But there is only one real culprit. Sin. The evil act committed against an assembled group of people in Charleston was nothing more, nothing less than the darkest, deadliest form of sin.

I realize that some who read this will not share my belief in scripture, and yet I challenge those who don't to sit down and actually read it (not a commentary, or a devotional, but THE Bible) before dismissing my premise and here's why. There are many verses that assert the fact that once humans chose rejection rather than fellowship with God, we were given over to our own true nature: Selfishness. Which, when you think about it, really is the source of all sin. We want what WE THINK is best for US--for our purposes, ideals, ideas and ambitions. Sin looks an awful lot like narcissistic selfishness. And that is exactly what it is.

Here's more: in John 10:10 we read the words of Jesus. He said that there is a thief (enemy/satan/sin-stirrer-upper) who has one ambition: to steal, kill and destroy. 

Later, that same dastardly devil is referenced in 1 Peter 5:8 where we read: "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."

Two days ago, young Dylann did the devil's work. And he did it pretty well. And as a mother, this cuts to the core of everything within me because there is no greater horror I can imagine than for one human to be so hate-filled he intentionally ends the life of another. So what now? What do we tell our own kids who are afraid because they are growing up in a world where they may encounter others like him?

We tell them truth. This world is broken and they are not safe--not in the sense that we'd prefer. But they can be. It is possible to be safe in an emotional sense, a spiritual sense--in an ETERNAL sense. Earlier I referenced John 10:10, but I left out half of it. It's a promise from Jesus, God's Son, who overcame everything ugly and sinful and evil. Here are His words: "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."

The news is tragic. The horror is real. But our children--with the right combination of prayer, love, and leading, can know a peace that overcomes this world's woes. They can have life "to the full," in spite of the reality that there are devils lurking out there. 

This "fullness" comes in the form of supernatural peace in the heart that understands this world is not our real home. Knowing, trusting, believing that every victim of yesterday's bullets has graduated from this life to glory--to a place where there will never be another angry, demonic, evil, act, and where only love, joy, blessings and abundance are the reality-- is the hope that affords peace when it cannot be found otherwise. 

Heaven is not a myth--it is a real place promised to those who have surrendered their selfishness to follow The Lord during this brief and temporary time here among the broken. It has no ugliness. No racism. No sickness. No sin. No sorrow. And it is an unmatched place of perfect peace and brilliant displays of the majestic.

Moms--let this terrible event remind us that our first, our greatest goal must be preparing our children for the inevitable. One day--hopefully after they have lived a long, healthy, joyous life-- they will face death. We will have fulfilled our main and primary purpose if we have communicated to them how to be ready.

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