My 3-yr old has recently taken to a new habit. Every once in a while, out of nowhere he screams. (I think out of pure boredom.) Not a long extended blood curdling scream, but rather a short, interrupting shout…and it scares the living daylights out of me.
I’m not terrified in a creepy grotesque Halloween way. I get scared in the startling ‘my heart just stopped’ kind of way. It’s like having a clown hiding behind every cabinet door, jumping out and shouting everytime you go for the box of cereal or a bag of chips. You think you could just stay out of the kitchen and avoid the prank, but then you go to the bathroom and he’s behind the shower curtain, and you pee your pants. There’s no winning. There’s no way to prepare the body for the next heart attack.
It makes me angry…because there’s no reason or rhyme to his madness.
I’ve also been scared by another shocking habit. A habit of our society: sex trafficking. I’ve been diving into research, statistics, and documentaries. I’ve been getting to personally know mothers whose daughters have been kidnapped and forced into the trade. I’ve been meeting with and learning from those who have devoted their lives to raising awareness, to education, to rescue, and to caring for victims. And it’s shocking. And it’s scary. And it makes me angry…because there is a reason and rhyme to the maddness and we’ve lost control of the situation.
These things are relatively easy to talk about. It’s easy to get passionate about daily mom woes or the injustices we see in our society today. They are easy to mention. They are easy to write about in a blog on a Tuesday morning.
But, there’s another scary thing I’ve recently been experiencing.
While I’ve been throwing myself into fighting injustice, making Halloween costumes, and yelling at my 3-yr old to stop screaming, (note the irony), I’ve been casually ignoring a very silent and sneaky clown in my closet.
I’ve been slowly drifting out of the things with which God draws me to Himself. I haven’t been praying. I haven’t been reading His Word. I haven’t been doing the unique activities I’ve realized over the years keep me rooted and grounded in Him: like writing, like singing, like creating. I’ve been neglecting all these things…not willfully, but rather very unknowingly. And it’s scary. And it makes me angry…because there seems to be no rhyme or reason and it seems as though I’ve lost control of the situation and remembering who God created me to be.
I’ve been slowly retreating into a grumpy, drained, and taxed person. My desire to write has vanished. My desire to sing: gone. The desire I once owned to be creative can’t be found.
That’s not to say I haven’t written a few things here and there, or haven’t sung in church, or didn’t make the kids’ costumes this year. But it was out of obligation, not joy. It’s not to say that fighting injustice and rallying the troops isn’t fulfilling work, but it’s not the stuff that rejuvinates me, that personally fills my empty cup. And it’s scary. And it makes me angry.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
I’ve always read that verse and thought of the MGM lion at the beginning of movies with the huge roar…making itself known. I’ve always understood that he prowls and lurks, but I think I’ve assumed that when he’s about to attack, he roars loudly, revealing himself. I think I’ve unknowlingly believed a lie– one that I would refute on paper, but when living out life,
Today, I read it differently. I hear that roar as a faint grumble, snarling with a fierce desire to overcome, but with eerily little to no sound. He prowls. He does lurk. But, he’s also got the time to quietly wait it out. He has stamina to linger while my fatigue and weariness take over, ultimately providing him an easy and satisfying meal.
While I’ve been busy studying on facts and gathering stories, working on websites and organizational structure, and being appalled by the level of sin in this world, I’ve lacked sober-mindedness and watchfulness for my own soul.
This stuff isn’t so easy to write about:
That time the pastor’s wife stopped praying and reading her bible. That time she seemed grumpy and angry all the time, or at best simply absent from the converstaion. That time she had to force herself to get out of bed and go to church.
That time the author, while in the midst of releasing her book, stopped caring if anyone would even read it. That time she spoke with publishers about new projects, but secretly felt she never wanted to write again.
That time the girl got up on stage and sang that worship song. That time when she sang like she was all in, but in reality, she was questioning all of life with every note.
This is the truly, truly scary stuff. When Satan attacks us with a weighty and heavy pressure, stripping away all that brings joy and intimacy with God. He slowly presses down on our souls, squeezing out the joy, squashing out the life.
He is crafty in getting us to a place of silence. He lures us into perfunctory expressions and words, uses our outward activities as distractions. He keeps us from engaging with the condition of our souls and with others. All while the world watches us and believes that what they are seeing on the outside is a reflection of the inside. You know he’s significantly worked us over when we become aware of our soul’s emptiness, but lack the desire or will to change it. We often know the steps back to spiritual health and wellness, but have not the motivation nor sense of urgency to take action.
Like human trafficking and sexual exploitation, the first step in solving the problem is awareness. “How can we fix it, if we don’t know it’s broken?” Light has to be shed on a dark and scary facet of our world, in order for enough people to get a little angry about it, to sense the urgency, and to be motivated to work towards change. While it’s not fun or comfortable to talk about children being sold for sex or about my own current struggles, having open conversation is necessary for ultimate healing and restoration.
So it’s scary. All of it. And it’s finally making me angry. All of it.
Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
Well, Jesus…seek me and save me. I’m angry and tired and in need of rescue from the pit I seem to have fallen in. Seek out those enslaved in a world that devalues them and treats them as a commodity. Those who have been forgotten and lost. Have mercy on them and save them, Jesus. And, while you’re at it, seek out my 3-yr old. He needs some saving…because obviously, he’s lost his mind.