How We Love

I didn’t sleep so great Sunday night.

I was up way too late (I blame Lisa Whelchel and the Survivor finale, at least in part), then felt way too wound up, and by the time I finally thought I might doze off, it was close to 1. But then I started to think about how I was only going to get X hours of sleep before the alarm beeped Monday morning, so I pretty much stressed myself right out of any opportunity for being rested.

Those are some first world problems, aren’t they?

But at some point in all my fitful sleep, I had a little snippet of a dream that I have not been able to quit thinking about for the last couple of days.

(By the way, I realize that the whole “let me tell you about my dream” approach rarely results in enthusiastic readers and/or listeners.)

(In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s right up there with “can you look at this sore on my face and tell me what you think it is?”)

(But just bear with me.)

In my dream, I was standing in our foyer, and when I looked out one of the sidelights, I saw our dog standing still as a stone in the driveway and barking her head off. That whole barking her head off thing got my attention, even in my dream, mainly because our dog is approximately 109 years old and hasn’t barked since 2007.

I walked outside, wondering what in the world was going on, and as soon as I got close to our dog, I was immediately aware of a feeling – a force, even – that I can only describe as utter darkness. It was palpable, the evil, and it was inching closer and closer to our house like a low-level, rumbling cloud. I felt cold chills run from the top of my shoulders down to my fingertips, and as I realized what was in front of me, fear took over. I immediately started walking backwards, trying to find my way back to the house so that I could slam the front door and lock myself inside.

But the dog wouldn’t come with me. She just kept barking. And as I stood inside the door and tried to call her away from the darkness, to convince her to come back inside where it was safe, I realized that my front door was a screen door – with part of the screen torn off in one of the corners. So I stood there, and I stared, and after a few seconds it dawned on me:

There’s no way to keep out the darkness. I’m in my house – where I should be safe – and I can’t keep out the darkness.

That’s the last I remember about my dream, but that feeling? That awareness that no matter where I go, I can’t escape the darkness?

That pretty much sums up the last few days for me.

And I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only one.

*****

There have been times, I guess, when tragedies have made me proactive, when I have walked around with a lot of plans to do a lot of things, when I have gone into action mode and just flat-out worked my way through my grief.

Not this one, though.

Not this time.

Not Newtown.

Because the slaughter of innocent children – the violent disregard for those sweet little lives – it’s almost unthinkable, isn’t it? I still haven’t completely wrapped my mind around what happened in Connecticut this past Friday, and I suspect I never will. Honestly, it seems beyond comprehension that an elementary school would be subjected to that level of terror and fear. We’re talking about kids who still can’t say their “th” sound, who lisp adorably when they say the word “Christmas.” We’re talking about little ones who start off the day by hugging their beloved teachers. We’re talking about precious sons and daughters who sip juice boxes and eat Goldfish and skin their knees on the playground.

Even still, a dark, low-level cloud of evil rolled into their school last Friday.

And despite their very heroic efforts, the administrators and teachers still couldn’t lock it out.

Neither can we, you know.

But I’ll tell you one thing: we can fight it.

*****

I don’t have the gift of prophecy. Well, I mean, there was one time on The Real Housewives of Atlanta when I told Melanie that I really thought such-and-such was going to happen, and LO AND BEHOLD, IT DID. But besides that and the occasional ability to discern that there’s a Popeye’s in my immediate vicinity (in college I minored in Popeye’s chicken) (it’s a little known field of study), I’ve never really been one for reading too much into my dreams and whatnot. I just figure that Sunday night’s dream was a case where my subconscious was trying to process the thoughts that had been running through my head since last Friday afternoon.

But whether I’m awake or asleep, here’s what I can’t quit thinking about:

This world just seems to get darker. And darker. And darker.

And since that’s the case:

We’re gonna need a lot more light, y’all.

*****

The interesting thing about watching any tragedy play out on social media is that after about fifteen minutes of collective grief and sympathy, the disagreements start. Newtown was no exception. And if you think that people weren’t airing their theological differences in the wake of 26 horrific deaths, then perhaps I should introduce you to the Twitter.

And as strange as this next sentence may sound, I’m going to say it anyway. As heavy as my heart is for Newtown, my heart is also heavy for the Church. I get that there is great diversity in the Body, and with that diversity come all sorts of doctrinal issues, all sorts of places where we can disagree. But when a lost and hurting and dark world is crying out for answers and for hope, that seems like an excellent time to call a time-out on the theological boxing matches that are so prevalent in social media these days. I’m not saying that the Arminians have to start planting churches with the Reformed folks, for heaven’s sake. The Pentecostals and the Lutherans don’t have to reach an agreement on election or baptism or anything else.

But I pray that we’ll do a better job of loving each other. Caring for each other. Looking out for one another. We have to do that within the Church so that we can be effective outside of it. I’m betting that some of you have been praying for the same thing. Because when the world hurts (which, by the way, is always), I think it’s good to remember that we’re not called to act like spoiled children who are more concerned with protecting our corner of the theological (or political) playground than we are with showing the love of Jesus to people who are desperate for Good News.

As believers, we have so many opportunities to love people well. To show them the grace and mercy of a loving, living God.

And I can tell you from experience what has never ministered to me, not even one single time in my whole life ever: watching Christians point fingers and fight among themselves.

The devastated people of Newtown, Connecticut deserve better than that. The victims of any tragedy deserve better than that. In fact, any person who is hurting or struggling for any reason whatsoever deserves better than that.

This world just seems to get darker. And darker. And darker.

We’re gonna need a lot more light.

*****

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite Christmas hymn is Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. In the past it’s always made me think of the Christ child, a baby who is the Word incarnate, the Hope of the world, the fulfillment of what God promised His people.

But as Melanie wrote so beautifully earlier this week, “Jesus came in the form of a helpless baby, but he won’t come back that way. He’ll come as a conqueror.” And as I’ve listened to my favorite Christmas hymn this week, I haven’t thought about the baby in the manger as much as I’ve thought about our Conqueror King, the One who can – and will – vanquish that low-level cloud of evil as He ushers in a world that is completely free from sin, from evil, from darkness, from despair.

We don’t just have hope.

We have Hope.

And oh have mercy – I can’t think of a better time to share it.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

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Comments

  1. Beautifully written! Thank you for this!!!

  2. Thank you, that was so well written. The world does need more light.

  3. Beautiful post!! That is one of my favorite hymns too. Have you seen this video of that song playing while the story of redemption is being painted? It is breathtaking.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VLcTLCCpI5A

  4. AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. As horrible as what happened in Newtown was, I have to disagree that the world is getting darker. If you look back at history at the level of brutality that man exhibited towards his fellow man, I think we’ve become more civilized in reality. And back then, the brutality was accepted as the norm. At least now it isn’t. No disrespect intended at all…just a differing of opinions. God bless you and thank you for bringing us into your life.

    • You are right, we have always had evil and always will, but she is right we always have light, and His name is JESUS and HE is always ready to show us HIS light. There is no such thing as darkness so I’m told, it is just the absence of light. Her point is well taken, we the Church have His light and we should be living in love, harmony, and gratefulness for all that He has done to provide it for us and the results would be to light the path for others who are walking in darkness.

      Merry Christmas and may His love abound in and through us all.

    • I agree. I just wrote a FB post on this — on all the evil that happened in our country when people claim it was “moral” — things like slavery and segregation and not allowing women and African-Americans to vote.
      And that’s just our country.
      Evil is happening every day the world over. Just this week 10 little girls in Pakistan were killed by a land mine when they went out to collect firewood. Ten more families dealing with their children never coming home. It’s unfathomable.
      The war in the Congo has been going on for 20 years and has taken more lives than I can even comprehend — I saw a stat this week that is more than than the nuclear bomb, 9-11 happening every day for 365 days plus a bunch of other atrocities — times two. I can’t even wrap my mind around that…and the fact that most of us had no idea it was happening.
      Evil has always been with us — Herod slaughtered every child under the age of 2 when Jesus was born. And it always will be.
      I absolutely agree that we have hope…and that it doesn’t take away the grief and lament over all of these tragedies.

  6. Well, now, you just brightened up my day! Thank you for fanning the flame and bringing some light with your words.

    I’ve been particularly grieved over something that’s happened in my little world (and totally unrelated to Newtown) involving children and teenagers that is absolutely the result of the power of darkness. The thing that scares me so it that adults (and Christians) that should know better seem to be the ones thinking it’s funny or cute so they let it go on. They have been deceived by the darkness themselves and therefore lead their children down that road too. It’s hard to speak up about it without them claiming all they hear is judgement rather than a message of love. I keep telling myself that to be light, you gotta burn, which, depending on how you look at it, can be painful or productive. Indeed, come Emmanuel to set all your people free.

    Sorry. Didn’t mean to spew. You just shed some light on something I was already wresting with.

  7. Great post Sophie! This world needs Jesus… and it seems like after any tragedy… people blame anyone other than themself. And let’s be honest, we should blame ourselves, because I know I have failed miserably when it comes to praying for our country every single day. My prayers usually revolve around me, myself and I. And I’m going to try to do a better job for praying for not just me, myself and I, my family and friends, but our country as a whole. He is the only one who can heal our country from the darkness!

  8. sophie …
    thank you for sharing your heart and encouraging us to love well. you are right, we can do better. for Christ’s sake let’s let our lights shine.
    blessings to you this christmas.

  9. i stop by here from time to time, usually when I need a laugh. This morning I was compelled to stop by (thanks Holy Spirit) because I knew you would have words that would be the balm my broken heart needs….at the same time the kick in the pants to get up and DO what I know needs to be done. Thanks for always speaking the Truth. Christmas blessings to you, dear one.

  10. Oh, how I do love your heart!! I wholeheartedly agree with every word of this!

  11. AMEN. Thank you, sweet Sophie, for so eloquently putting into words what my broken heart is feeling. It’s a great reminder to me as a Christian that it is my call to be Light in this dark world, in this dark time. I’ve been so motivated by this event because…ENOUGH. This morning I {lovingly} : ) placed calls to all my elected reps/senators urging them to work hard on coming up with better plans to prevent horrors like this from happening. I was driven by the amazing words of the mom to Newtown victim 7-year-old Grace, “I will now be Gracie’s voice. I feel fearless. I will never feel any pain greater than I do right now. I’m going to take on the world for our Gracie-girl, for I myself have nothing to lose, and everything to gain”

  12. twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38

    when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.

    their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.

    they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

    they were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.

    they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.

    “where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.

    “this is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”

    when what to their wondering eyes did appear,

    but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.

    He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.

    then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

    and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring

    those children all flew into the arms of their King

    and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,

    one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.

    and as if He could read all the questions she had

    He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”

    then He looked down on earth, the world far below

    He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe

    then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,

    “Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”

    “may this country be delivered from the hands of fools”

    “I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”

    then He and the children stood up without a sound.

    “come now my children, let me show you around.”

    excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.

    all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

    and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,

    “in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

    Written by a Gentleman in Southern Pa

    I received this right after I had read your blog, I thought it might comfort and help.

  13. Teresa Stout says:

    I am thankful I found your blog several years ago. I read it every single day, Monday – Friday. I knew you would put into words the feelings of so many people and today proves just that. You always remind us to look to Jesus, the deliverer of all this evil.

  14. Amen, Sophie, Amen.

  15. Dangit. Sophie just made me cry.

  16. I’ve had that same hymn stuck in my craw for several days now. That’s a good word, Sophie. A good word.

  17. Beautifully written. Moving. Speaking the words of my heart too and I’m sure of so many parents across america. Blessings!

  18. I have cried everyday since I found out. It is not right – these precious little babies. It amazes me that almost immediately people were jumping on the gun law bandwagons and other such. I just want the people to respect these families and let them grieve. When I lost my son that is what needed to happen first. These poor families do not need to be reminded every second of what killed their children – they live it in their dreams each night.

    I agree that the world is getting darker and darker. Why wouldn’t it? The more people push God out of everything the less his light will shine. It is so hard as a Christian {to me at least} to not want to scoop my family up and live in a bubble. Unfortunately as Christians we need to be in the world to let His light shine. Be in the world, but not of the world.

    I do not see why people want to push God out. I mean what is wrong with showing love and compassion and being a good person?

  19. Thank you for writing this-as someone who struggles with faith/the idea of faith, I am discouraged in the aftermath of this horrific event.

    Your statement sums up my feelings so beautifully: “…that seems like an excellent time to call a time-out on the theological boxing matches that are so prevalent in social media these days”.

    I don’t know what the next step of my journey is, but this post has been a meaningful place for me to start. So thank you for that.

    Have a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to more of your words in 2013!

  20. YES! This is what I have been wanting to say, but could not find the words. You have explained so wonderfully the thoughts of many. Praying that there will be more light. We do so need it.

  21. Chris of the Woodwork says:

    AMEN AND HALLELUJAH, PREACH IT, SISTER!!!!

  22. You should check out the song “A Baby Will Come.”

  23. Stand in a dark room. Open the door to the lighted hallway. What happens? Does the darkness overwhelm the light? NO! The Light pours in, slicing away the darkness. It is our job as Christ followers to shine that light. Thank you for a wonderful word encouraging all of us to shine His Light.

  24. Dear Boo Mama,

    I too am concerned about the darkness. It sometimes seems to overwhelm our world!

    But I tell you what I am sure of – God is always light!!! He came to bring a special kind of Light to a lost and desperate world! He sent the “Light of the World”!

    I am also sure of another thing – the teachers in that school were just like the great majority of the rest of us who feel incredibly blessed to spend our days with children and young people! They laughed with them, cried with them, talked about them to their families and friends ad nauseum! They knew which child would be a doctor, which a lawyer, which a teacher, which a fire fighter and so many other things!!! They knew what happened in their homes at night (sometimes things parents would just as soon not have shared with the world!), what their joys were and what their fears were.

    Teachers are a special breed of person!!! When God talked about “loving your neighbor as yourself”, I believe he was thinking about a teacher!

    Thanks for your loving, thoughtful incite into what we are all thinking! Also thanks for being a friend to my own precious daughter who herself is a 27 year old teacher! Couldn’t help making that connection with the young lady in Newtown!

    Have a blessed Christmas!
    Martha’s Mom

    • I have watched the brave teachers at my school lead the little children around campus, and it tweaks my heart a bit.

  25. Jeannette says:

    Girlfriend!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have such a way with words. I agree that Sunday night was a nail biter. And can you believe I had to step out at the beginning of the reunion show and missed seeing Lisa not chosen as the winner. UGH!

    I too am upset about what happened last Friday. We lost another twenty innocent souls. And while we as Americans think that it is a shame, I still cry. I cry over the 50 million innocent souls we have loss since 1973. They too never got to go to school, grow up get married and have their own children. Maybe one of them would have discovered a cure for cancer by now.

    Maybe they would have become the next “Billy Graham”. And shown us how to tell others about the love of our Lord. That when we all get to heaven we will never have to deal with darkness ever again. I listen to Skillets “one day to late” song and pray that it won’t come true. But fearing that it may have already become true.

    I know that the “in” thing as far as the media and government is more gun control. But I want everyone to know that I believe we need radical improvements in our mental health community. There are people out there that are screaming for help and no one is able to help them. I don’t know what the answer is. But we need to be doing something for them even if it is wrong.

    Praying for rational minds to prevail. Praying that even through Newtowns saddness, maybe one person will find God. Praying that our nation will turn from it’s evil ways and return to having God first in our lives.

  26. Jeannette says:

    PS: I forgot to mention that God told me three or four days before Newtown to pray for Connecticut. I had no idea why, where or anything. So I just prayed that Connecticut would have the strength to get through what was happening or was about to happen. Whether is it was the government the people or whatever.
    This is like the third time that something like this has occurred. So when God tells me to pray about something I just do it.

  27. Amen, Girlfriend. Can I call you that even though we’ve never met and you probably just think I’m some crazy stalker who has been reading your blog forever and still literally laugh out loud when I even THINK about your Monkey Alarm post?

  28. Michele Brooks says:

    A hearty Amen, Sister!

  29. This is beautifully written. So true….I can’t wait for Jesus to come back!

  30. So very very well said…..
    One of my favorite songs…Let there be Peace on Earth is so applicable always but rings especially true now….
    Merry Christmas!

  31. What beautiful, very true words!

  32. Amen and amen! Thank you, sweet sister, for expressing what so needed to be said…and for doing it so very well!

  33. Amen and amen! Come, Lord Jesus, come.

  34. AMEN sister!!!

    I had a similar dream a few years ago in which the evil darkness was trying to attack my family. I awoke to the sound of my own voice saying the name “JESUS!” as I sat straight up in bed. I instantly felt complete peace and went right back to sleep. There is power in His name!!! In Him is no darkness at all and at His name the darkness must flea. And that should give us hope.

  35. God bless you.

  36. Amy in Italy says:

    Grazie Sophie.

  37. That was so beautifully written. Thank you! (((Sophie)))

  38. Thank you for a beautifully written piece that speaks volumes to each of us. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed when something so evil happens. You have pointed us to Jesus, our only hope. God has gifted you in a remarkable way, keep speaking the truth. God bless you.

  39. What a beautiful, true, hope-filled post my friend! love it!!!

  40. Amen and amen.

  41. BEAUTIFUL. Absolutely beautiful. I love this!! I’m sitting at my computer with tears streaming down my face.

  42. Thank you for sharing your thoughts (and dream) and allowing God to use you to minister to so many with your love, encouragement and wisdom. Your post blessed me today….thank you!

    P.S. Actually all your posts are a blessing to me. I’ve done a poor job of letting you know that…thanks for the reminder today….I need to extend gratitude, kindness and love a lot more than I’ve even doing.

  43. Karen Ward says:

    Where is the like button??

  44. You Boo, have been light, peace, mercy and grace in some of my darkest hours – I LOVE YOU and so thankful you use the gift you’ve been blessed with ;x

  45. Father, deliver us from evil!

  46. Julie Reynolds says:

    Sophie, sweet dear Sophie, you are always a light in my inbox and you make me smile and laugh out loud at times, but never have I been prouder to know someone or call them my sister in Christ than right now. Your beautiful words made me cry, and wish the whole world could read and see Jesus through your eyes for this moment. Thank you friend. Even so Lord Jesus, come …

  47. This is the the most beautiful thing you have ever written. Wonderful, wonderful.

  48. Where is the Amen button – beautiful, articulate, wonderful. Bless y’all and your families this Christmas.

  49. Amen Sophie. Amen

  50. Hi BooMama! I just happened upon your blog via Kelly’s Korner. I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts this evening. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

    Kate

  51. Thank you. I have to admit that this is the first tragedy in my life where I have felt such a deep darkness. Sure sad things have happened to the country, to the world, to those I love, and to myself, but this one shook me to the core. I, as many others, can’t let it go. The worst part is I try to think of some way to help when something bad happens and this time my mind is blank. That is a bad place to be. I appreciate your writing so much and hope that as a human race we can come together and protect each other, and most importantly protect our children.

  52. You just summed up part of the book, Implosion, which I think you would enjoy. Well, not enjoy, but appreciate. It’s by Joel Rosenburg.

  53. Well said! I’ve been thinking some of the same things. Thank you for sharing.

    (And speaking of dreams, I don’t know you, but the other night I dreamed my family and I were visiting you and Alex.)

  54. Amen, sister. Amen.

  55. Thank you. This was a beautiful post and divinely anointed. Merry Christmas.- Amy

  56. Praise you Jesus!

  57. Long time reader delurking to say…that was just beautiful. I have tears in my eyes and a full heart. Thanks for writing.

  58. I love you and amen.

  59. Absolutely beautifully written post, Sophie. Thank you.

  60. Sophie-

    Do you read Streams in the Desert? It’s a devotional by Mrs.Charles E Cowman. Anyway, I read your post yesterday and then I read the December 21st reading in Streams. YOU have to read it…it goes along with all you wrote about. I couldn’t stop thinking about your post. I wish I could link to it, but I am completely inept at that kind of thing. I’m sure you can find it :)

  61. Thank you

    Merry Christmas – for in the midst of darkness, the Light comes

  62. Yes, Jesus is our Hope.

  63. Beautifully, beautifully said. Thank you for putting into words what I couldn’t figure out how to say.

  64. Thank you, Sophie! For putting into words what we’ve been feeling. Merry Christmas!

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