I felt my heart break yesterday. It only took a split second, the reading of a sentence on a TV screen, the hearing of the words "20 children dead". My eyes poured tears, my hands shook and my head weaved back and forth in disbelief. How could this be? How could someone walk into an elementary school and kill little children...babies, really?
I have never had my heart break before. I have suffered loss and endured anger and dissapointment, but not heart break. I have seen tragedy and mourned. But never has my heart simply snapped in half before. It's strange because in the last few weeks I have asked God to break my heart for the sake of His children. To make me mourn the state of our nation. To grieve for the lost and to weep for those who hurt. Strange thing to ask for, I know, but ask I did. Never doubt, "ask and ye shall recieve"!
Also strange is the fact that my heart broke not just for those children, those brave teachers and school administrators, the parents, family and friends of those who lost loved ones, but also for the man who killed them. WAIT!! Don't turn away from my words just yet. Can you imagine the darkness that encompassed him? Can you imagine the horror that was filtering through his mind? Not only did he kill family members, but others who may not have had any real meaning to him. The evil that had to have been leaking through him...my heart breaks because his life, too, is gone. Once you are dead, there are no second chances.
It caused me to ponder even further the state of our nation. We have become a nation of pleasures, a nation of greed, a nation of now...and now we are paying the price for that mindset. Drugs, mental illness, sexual depravity, abuse...all these things are common occurances on the nightly news. What have we, Americans, become?
A friend brought up the point that we, as Christians, are meant to be the light. However, we cannot be the light unless we are willing to experience a revival of our spirits. The kind of revival many of us have been praying for, for the sake of our country, cannot occur because we, ourselves are not right with God.
How many of us pray with hearts that simply don't feel anymore? I, too, am guilty of this. It is hard to feel! It is hard to hurt...especially for people we don't even know. But God calls us to do just that. He calls us to admit to our sins...and then to turn away from them, because now we know better! He does not call us to perfection, knowing that it is impossible for us...but He calls us to be right with Him. If we are not right with Him, our prayers cannot be heard.
I think it's time for us to feel again. I think it's time for us to sacrifice again. I think it's time for us to care less about how weird our neighbors think we are and more about how God does or does not approve of our actions. We were never called to be alone. "No man is an island" applies whether you believe in God or not. In order for us to not become isolated, we must reach out to others. We cannot reach out with hate, or discord, or even indifference. We must reach out with love, selflessness, charity, and good nature. Even to those who would be so easy to hate.
It's Christmas time. This is the time of year when good cheer is shouted from street corners, rescue missions receive an abundance of donations, bells are rung for your spare change in front of stores, smiles are exchanged with perfect strangers and children giggle with joy at the sight of wrapped presents.
It's Christmas time. This is the time of year when military seperations hurt even more, parents weep because they are unable to buy tinsel much less presents, children shiver because they have no coats, when young adults choose to die because life has become too much and when people commit criminal acts based upon desperation.
It's Christmas time and we have a choice - we can carry on like nothing is wrong. We can shake our collective heads at the horror that is on TV and say how thankful we are it didn't affect us. We can continue to pray, even when we see our sin displayed in front of us (and I mean our personal sin, not collective) and somehow think that our prayers are being answered. Or we can choose to change. We can change our lifestyle, our ways, our thinking, and our motivations. We can choose to reach out to others, even if it means we might have to give up a little. We can choose to love...even the unlovable. We can choose to be a part of life...and not simply a viewer of life.
I hope this year all of you are able to enjoy yourselves. I hope you have a tree and presents under it. I hope your children (if you have them) wake you up at 3am, excited to open presents. I hope you are able to gather with family, both blood family and the extended family that life has given you. I hope you are blessed. I hope you bless someone else - on purpose, without bragging or pointing at yourselves for kudos. I hope your heart is able to break. I hope you can cry for someone else, even if you don't know them and never will. I hope you have a very, merry Christmas...inspite of it all.