Living with the knowledge of Evil

I read an article the other day that began with the question, “Do you ever wonder if evil exists in the world?”.  The story that followed clearly answered the question. I have been troubled by the facts of the story since…it is in the most simplistic terms, one of the worst cases of child abuse I’ve read. I won’t repost it because, honestly, it is too disturbing and I don’t want to further their fame.

A few hours after reading that, our house was filled with roses and streamers and brightly decorated presents and cupcakes. Family came over and we joined together to celebrate a little girl.

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The striking contrast of the celebration of our little girl and the intentional destruction of another little girl left an ache deep within. 

There is evil in this world. The image that we have been given, by inspiration, of a roaraing lion seeking whom he could devour…we need to not let that fade into literary sweetness.

There is a destroying, active evil around us. It should terrify and enrage us.

As I have ‘listened’ to the conversations on FaceBook surrounding gay marriage and abortion and other issues, I hear that same evil stirring the conversation.  No…I am not saying what you think.

 

I am saying that I hear in our hatred and in our rejoicing in the failures of others that evil which seeks to destroy.

 

I wonder if our easy dismissal of others causes such a deep ache in the heart of God as the story of the intentional destruction of a wee innocent little baby did to my heart. Sometimes we need things to be more obvious before we get it…but God knows the way evil seeks to destroy in a variety of ways.  I can be sickened by the more obvious ways, and yet give in to the subtle hatred and the subtle evil around me.

 

There is evil in our world, and I do not like to talk about it. I talk more about wonder and about creation and about joy and about grace. Evil makes me aware that I am vulnerable and my children are vulnerable and that I am, frankly, incapable of stopping the evil completely. I can put bars on my doors and I can be vigilant and I can protect…but the evil that seeks to destroy us knows our weaknesses and destroys from within as well as from without.

 

Here’s the thing. I know that this evil will be dealt with. I know that God has dealt with sin, with the evil within me…I know that He has made a way to set me free from the hold of destruction on my life…and I know that ultimately He will deal with the evil that seeks to destroy. That is not fairy tale and it is not wishful thinking.

 

And so, we celebrate and we love and we do not cower.

 

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We delight.

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We step outside into the sunlight fully aware that there is a lion that seeks to destroy us…and yet, we love more tenderly and we are aware that the innocence and delight of our children holds a tinge of pain because that vulnerability is there.

 

Looking at Madeleine these last few days all I could think was of the little baby who was tormented and destroyed. It made me want to love Madeleine well  somehow to honor that other little one. Somehow to say that as much as evil may seek to destroy we will seek to build and to love and to embrace and to celebrate. We do so in the strength of the One who will ultimately deal with the evil.

 

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Enough!!! Well…..not really.

Dinner the other night did not end well.  The boys were rowdy and would not tone it down. Not after the first request. Not after the second. Or the third.  Not after Dad left the table and Mom gave them the silent treatment. They were reprimanded and scolded and told to knock it off.

Life with three boys can be rowdy. Most of the time. They test each other constantly and if they are not physically wrestling, they are wrestling verbally. Constantly. Sometimes there is giggling involved and sometimes there are tears.

They test Steve and I often. Not out-of-control rebellion, but they question us and they push us to see if we push back. They are not surprised that we do.

Then there is the addition of the little Miss. She has enough personality to keep them all in check. Granted, she comes by it honestly…there are stories that my folks had to tie a piece of plywood to the top of my crib to keep me from crawling out in the middle of the night. Since I am now almost 43 I think it is safe to say that without fear they will be called by Social Services. Apparently, however, I was slightly a handful and Maddie is following in my steps. She can scowl with the best and she has got a mean pointer finger that seems to be attached to her eyebrows…they go up when she points at you and says, “No!”.

Something struck me tonight as I was rocking Maddie. I’m glad the boys push and I’m glad Maddie is full of personality and challenge.

Sometimes I have a headache and I wish they would veg. Sometimes Steve has had a long day at work and wishes they would just be quiet at dinner and talk like…well, not like little boys.

We are weary from the responsibilities of life and they are filled with the enthusiasm of childhood. The enthusiasm that embraces fart jokes and mocking your brother, or imitating all the facial expressions of the family. We want to say, “Enough!”, but actually I’m thankful that they will constantly be pushing us.

That means when they venture beyond our dinner table they will continue to push. Not that I want disobedient children, and it would be nice if they know which fork to use when they go out to dinner and can hold a conversation without, well, farting. I do, however, want them to be full of life.

I’m realizing as we make our way through this journey some things about what is required of me as a parent.

I’m required to guide them in their knowledge of wrong and right, and to show that there are consequences to choices. I’m required to be committed with Steve to be consistent in our expectations of them, and to create a structure that gives them space to be themselves while learning how to behave with integrity and some level of decorum.

There is more though…

I’m required to delight in their giggles and to know all the tickle spots that bring the best laughter.

I’m required to pay attention to what is important to them at the moment, because it is important to them.
I’m required to remind them that they have amazing imaginations, and then to listen as those imaginations take flight and spin amazing stories. Even at the dinner table. Even when I’m tired and have a headache and wish there was a little more quiet.

I’m required to put them to bed with some routine that brings them comfort and structure and love and stories and imagination and wonder. Sometimes, though, I’m required to rock them (especially the littlest) until their eyelids flutter and they give themselves over to sleep in my arms. Then I am required to be amazed at this litte Image Bearer who trusts me implicitly to know what is required to care for them.

I’m required to delight in them. Because as I delight in them they blossom and they grow and they experiment. They watch to see if I am watching and if I am bored with them….well, they just might be bored with me and with life and they may not be interested in what I have to say.

Sometimes it is simply twinkling lights hung up in an empty cabinet to create a secret play space. Sometimes it is the hour…or two…of reading before bed that spins stories of adventure and courage and faith and wonder. Sometimes it is talking of God with hushed voices because…well…because He is amazing and wondrous and Creator and they bear His Image.

Enough….sometimes I want to shout that, but really, I don’t. I want to shout instead: “Keep at it!! Keep pushing!!! Keep living…loudly, with vigor and enthusiasm. Ignore that I am weary and have a headache and am boring. Remind me that life is amazing and worth delight.”