Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Like Snowflakes, Soft And Gentle, May Peace Come To Us

Several weeks ago, a bookmark with an etching of a tiny, delicate snowflake and those words written on it fell out of my book and onto my lap, and I thought, “Yes, THAT is peace.” It’s an image that has stuck in the back of my mind, one that appears again when my household gets noisy and crazy.

Some days are just like that. My one-year-old and three-year-old chase each other in and out of rooms, laughing and shrieking, and I say “settle down” about 87 times before I remember those words about peace and think, oh wow,peace…I desperately need peace.

Other days I hear about children getting murdered. And I get a dose of perspective.

I listen to a mother tearfully describe her precious daughter who loved ponies and was going to get cowgirl boots for Christmas. I watch the screen cut back to the news anchor whose voice breaks as she struggles to get her words out, and I shuffle to the television to turn it off because I’m barely able to see it anyway…barely able to hear anything over my sobs.

No one needs peace right now more than the families of those sweet babies. They need peace to fill their world, grace to fall around them like flurries of snow. To be given the comfort they can no longer give their children. To be given hope they’ll one day live again.

After my friend Charles died, I spent about a year with a strange ache inside of me, as though at every moment I was acutely aware of his lack of presence on this earth. Grief can physically feel like an anchor weighing you down, pulling you under, refusing to let you surface no matter how hard you struggle. I think that’s why hope is described as an anchor in the Bible – because you have to replace the grief with the secure anchor of hope.

I know everyone wants to understand why this stuff happens. Why must we face evil? Why must we feel fear and pain? Why can’t we fix it? Why can’t we just make that evil disappear?

But the reality is it’s there. The reality is not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

I have tried before, unsuccessfully, to prepare myself for a possible future reality in which I no longer have my children. Gut-wrenching doesn’t even begin to describe the grief and pain that I see in such a world. Yet it’s a reality that parents face.

It’s a reality we all face – the sorrow and brokenness of a world that was never meant to be permanent.  And to be honest, I often choose to bury my head in the sand and pretend that reality does not exist. The pain is too great, the stakes too high. But my ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. My ignoring it doesn’t change the nature of its truth.

This world is not meant to be faced alone, and thankfully, it’s not meant to be faced forever. There’s a better one waiting for us. There’s light beyond the darkness, and no more tears beyond the pain of this earth.

I stalk a forum that my husband is on, and in reading through some of the posts after this tragedy, no words affected me quite like his:

“Evil has no self-restraint, but God has love and mercy immeasurable, and believe me, those children aren't lost but are safe and sound in the bosom of their Savior.”

His words broke me. It’s a truth that I know. It’s a truth that I often refer to in passing or smile and nod at when another person speaks of it. But this eternal truth needs far more attention – because it is the only one that provides an ounce of hope, the only one that knows of sorrow. Here we are, in the midst of the raging battlefield as the silent snow falls all around us. The light in the darkness.

Time does not heal, but hope does fill in those trenches that the grief dug. That’s all I know to do – cling to that hope as I continue down this path of brokenness and heartache.