Christmas gifts under 26+ trees that will never be opened.
The beds that are unmade and sheets that are wrinkled from embracing and warming tiny bodies night after night after....
The clothes in the washing machine and dryer.
Reminder calls from doctors and dentists for appointments that have been scheduled for months.
The plane tickets that were purchased weeks ago for a long-overdue Christmas vacation.
Dance classes. Basketball games. Piano lessons.
The dogs that wait by the door at the same time every afternoon.
All on my mind this morning....
As we come out of the fog of last Friday and the tragedy it will always be remembered for, our Facebook and Twitter feeds, the news, magazines, and general chit-chat remain saturated with prayer, speculation, well-wishes, questions, love for those who are close to us and for those who aren't, for family and for strangers, and tears... the news, magazines, FB, and Twitter will eventually find something new to discuss...
Friday, December 14, 2012 will become an event on a timeline.
Our children, many of them 5, 6, or 7 years old, will talk about December 14 for a few minutes in their high school History class. Our grown children will analyze the day's events in their college Psychology course.
Friday, December 14, 2012 will become a 'September 11, 2001' or an 'April 20, 1999' or 'April 19, 1995' or 'January 8, 2011' or 'April 16, 2007' or 'July 20, 2012'.
Do those dates stand out to you? Besides 9/11... do you remember the others?
They were devastating. I'm sure the majority of us remember where we were and what we were doing when Special Reports and show interruptions first aired. Now, they're all dates on a timeline. In History books. Adults remember them and our children will learn about them.
We learn to play the blame-game at an early age...
"He did it!"
"No! She did it!"
"But the other kids did it, too!"
And we never really grow out of it....
"I've asked you a million times and now look what happened!"
"If you had just listened!"
"I tried to warn you!"
We place blame for bad behavior.... but take credit for good.
We place blame for mistakes.... but take credit for our selflessness and good intention.
We administer blame for things we don't understand.... and boast about what we do.
And when disaster and tragedy strike and we are left confused and angry and scared we do what we learned to do at a young age...
We blame personality disorders....
We feel the devastation of a tragedy like the one at Sandy Hook and once the devastation and shock start to fade, why must we find someone or something to blame when the answer to every question is clear... and has been clear since the very beginning of time...
Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death resulted from sin, therefore everyone dies, because everyone has sinned.
Nothing explains or excuses the choice a person makes when he or she takes lives.
Nothing will ever make that ok.
Nothing will ever ease the pain for those of us who are left behind... who have to live in the aftermath.
Whatever form it comes in is painful, but death is no surprise.
'Sin' feels like such an abstract concept to many of us but the truth is that sin is one of the most tangible concepts one can imagine...
we're surrounded by it.
Some sins are emotional and affect us from within.
And some are physical and affect the people and things around us.
But it's all sin.
What's our goal in this game we play?
Are we trying to understand something?
How will we ever understand what could push someone to do something so unthinkable?
Are we trying to fill the huge void that we're left with?
It can't be filled. It shouldn't be filled. Those sweet babies and their teachers deserve to keep the space they've left behind... we can't take it away.
Are we trying to prevent such tragedy, such an enormous loss of life from happening again?
Cars kill more people each year than handguns. We can't prevent death. While it's natural to want to try and prevent *this kind of death*, just like trying to prevent death from Cancer or anything else, arguing and blaming and pointing aren't the answers.
We have to stop.
We have to stop turning tragedy into conflict and a date.
We like to say that these tragedies bring us together ...
Do they? For how long? A few days? Because here today, 3 days later, all I see and hear is conflict and arguing and blaming when I turn on the TV, Internet, or radio...
Tragedy is inevitable and something like this will happen again... no matter what laws change or how medication is controlled.
It's a harsh reality.... one that brings us no comfort.
And maybe hearing it today, on December 17, 2012 stings more than it would have on December 13 but it's still our reality every day.
What CAN we do?
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace
We can decide that we will spend OUR time, the time we have left, teaching, speaking, and breathing HOPE.
Sin + Earth= Death
Sin + Hope= Heaven
It's a simple equation, really.
It won't prevent sin and it won't prevent death.
But it will save lives.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.
I wish we could rest in HOPE as a nation.... one that's grounded 'under God'.
It can be enough.
It is enough.
No more arguing.... no more blaming... no more questioning...
Just taking comfort in the promise that, though sin is inevitable no matter how hard we try to prevent or diminish it, and death will come....
that there's still life to live...
and life to look forward to.
Turning tragedy into HOPE does not in any way symbolize 'moving on' or 'getting over it' but it does symbolize healing and understanding, which I believe are what we are desperately reaching for in our blame-game. Healing.
We can't change what happened....and we can argue about changing the laws and changing security and changing limitations... but nothing will change what's done.
I know that hurts.
Christ offers healing;
Whether one dies in a car, in a hospital, on a plane, at work, at school, or at point-blank range... or whether One dies hanging on a cross with nails and thorns through His flesh...
HOPE can result from death.
And without HOPE.... there is nothing.
I will choose to take comfort in knowing that while we lost precious lives in a horrible tragedy, that LIFE is the final result. And I will choose to pray for my children every day. I will pray for 20 parents... that they can find HOPE through Him... through God who is difficult to understand and is even hard to love, at times... but who holds their children, their lives, safely in His arms.
We will see death again... we will be surprised by it again... we will cry again... and argue again... and blame again...
And then we have to choose HOPE again.
Lives have been lost. Precious, innocent lives.
And lives can be saved...
through change? maybe
through new laws? maybe
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Choose HOPE. Hold your loved ones close. Grieve for the lives lost and the tremendous suffering left behind. Pray for our leaders as they try to make sense out of senselessness. Remember those precious children for what all children represent; innocence, trust, and purity. Don't turn December 14 into a dot on a timeline... turn it into HOPE.