Saturday, February 2, 2013

From the Cracks

Our security door has been bent up at the bottom since we moved in, a vestige of a previous attempt to break-in. I voted to take it off, but stubbornly it remains anchored to the house, never quite latching closed unless dead-bolted. When the wind blows, it swings open ferociously and bangs loudly against the house until I jump out of my skin at the unexpected announcement of its presence. Even now as I sit typing and erasing and re-writing and trying to connect my head and heart to coalesce into words, it bangs. Distracting and reminding me that even the things we expect to offer security sometimes really just fling to and fro with the wind.

This week has been a doozy. Right now, in fact, my feverish boy warms my lap, equal parts wiggly and spent.
Tuesdays are my busiest, most favorite day of the week. This week is no exception: predictable excited knocks begin peppering our front door as soon as high school lets out. We arrive home after picking Zack up from school to a porch-full of boys, wondering if Jayci made them cookies and requesting basketballs and/or changing space in the bathroom so they can get into their uniforms. Open and shut the door bangs, until finally it's nearly time to leave, and our babysitter (my sister) is stuck in traffic and so my other sister and brother-in-law brought the girl they mentor over to work on a science project and we need to find the hot glue gun. I shake up a bottle for Caden, heat frozen vegetables in the microwave for Jayci, gather the sandwiches and cookies we made the boys, and rummage through bins of endlessly unorganized craft supplies mired in glitter. All the while, I herd boys back onto the front porch until legs too long for teenage bodies fill every available space, perched on railings and dropping candy wrappers all over the lawn. Adam and I gather and try to leave on time (a next-to-impossible task for us). Somehow in the unsupervised mix of twenty-odd teenage boys, something inappropriate and/or unkind gets yelled from our front porch to a girl walking by (shocking I know). And the snap in return is equally predictable, her too-tight t-shirt and weave bobbing with anger and indignation as she lobs a brick at our house. Angry raised voices bring me running out on the front porch and get-in-here-right-now-sir dissipates the situation until she returns with angry protective males in two, threatening to kill someone, to shoot our house while we sleep.

Wednesday we leave Zack watching an ESPN documentary on Lolo. She jumps hurdles effortlessly while our babies sleep. We slip out the door, giggling at the unexpected freedom, and sit down to eat fried egg sandwiches and chicken and waffles, chatting with friends who understand about Tuesday night's incident and what-in-the-world-are-we-doing-here? After dinner, we sit on couches wrapped in blankets and talk about our kiddos. Expelled from second grade, suspended, in jail, pregnant, angry. Our lives are inextricably entwined with those of our neighbors and friends, and suddenly love your neighbor as yourself takes on an achingly tangible quality. Huddled under blankets against the cold front that blew in on the heels of tornadoes and flash floods, my chest feels tight, like the burdens of all our kiddos have coalesced and planted themselves squarely on my heart.

Thursday dawns, and I feel heavy of heart and limb, barely able to pull myself from under covers to swing my weary feet onto cold floors. A sick baby means even less sleep than usual, combined with a few fitful hours of worrying over the kiddos before finally drifting into oft-interrupted slumber. But, of course, for the mama there are no sick days, no worrying-in-bed-all-day days. So I slip on thick socks and warm boots, and pour my coffee bleary-eyed before driving Jayci to school and spending some time working on emails and “real work.” Busy work that distracts me for only a moment before I dive back into thoughts of the kiddos, our boys, the neighborhood.
 
I pick Jayci up, and we head to Publix because, you know, free cookies and balloons make every grocery time approximately sixty-eight times easier. I am juggling checkout when Adam calls me to tell me that Zack's teacher called: he got in trouble at school, and is behind in his classes. Oh and our other boy, the brother he is living with has no money for food. I sigh heavily, struggling to navigate the giant race-car shopping cart towards the van. Buckling the kids in, I cant help but think that there's a reason we are eased into the parenting of teenagers through pre-teen and (shudder) middle school years. Jayci sings all the words to Call Me Maybe and I go to a drive-through for a giant diet coke because sometimes I just need to reward myself (for nothing, really, besides existing through one crisis after another).

Pulling off the highway at our exit, I'm jarred from auto-pilot by the sight of four or five helicopters hovering above the neighborhood middle and high school. I flick the radio station to news, hearing that there has been a shooting at Price Middle School in our neighborhood. Only a few of the kids we know actually go to this school, but it's right next door to the high school that nearly all the Anteaters attend, and they too are on lock-down.

And, not for the first time this week, I feel hard-pressed to catch my breath for the unrelenting weight on my heart. Because even though the boy who was shot will be ok, even though no one “shot up our house,” even though we gave money for food for Sabo, even though Zack is still the best fifteen year old I know despite his teenager-moments, even though a new day will dawn after night, there are still so many things in our city that betray a creeping and persistent darkness. And lately I’m feeling like we keep finding ourselves shoved more and more deeply into the cracks that these kiddos slip through.
And the truth of the matter is that the cracks aren’t very comfortable. They’re dark, and kind of squishy, and supremely lonely. We’ve been having trouble recruiting mentors, which has given me a bad attitude and made me feel a little despondent and frustrated. Like why in the world are we the only ones here? Where are all the other people who love Jesus? 

But when I get in that place, when I get overwhelmed by the darkness, by the storm that so often surrounds us here, it usually means I have taken my eyes off of Jesus. Because here’s the thing about cracks: they let the light shine through. So even when they feel broken, and dark, and even a little scary, I am learning that standing in the gap for “the least of these” means we bear the great privilege and responsibility of being a fissure for Christ’s love to seep through.

Driving to pick Zack up from school today (do you sense a theme here? We’ve been spending a lot of time driving these days), I noticed the moon. Pale and barely discernable, white pencil sketched on brilliant blue sky. Beautiful, yes, and still bravely holding its place in the sun-soaked sky. But it seemed scarcely related to the glowing orb I noticed the night before, let alone the same creature. Only under the cloak of darkness do we most desperately long for the moon’s light. And even then, it only reflects the light of the sun to a blackened landscape, casting dim shadows, dappled by craters.

And so it is with us. We hold our place, hoping to reflect the sun onto the darkness around us. And sometimes it is hard. Sometimes things seem especially dark. And yet we continue in our orbit, hoping that the light we reflect will shine through the cracks for the ones we are most desperately in love with. The ones who teach us Jesus, the ones who seem most likely to slip through the deepest cracks that society and life offer. Because just as we reflect the sun, so do they. And, like catching our reflection in a mirror, we realize that our lives are inextricably connected as we serve and follow a Savior who shines brightest in the darkness.

So tonight, as I type these words, the moon’s light filters through the bent security door, latched for the night; and reflects on the shards of broken glass on the back window. I’m reminded where our security really comes from. And it’s not from having our kids in a “safe” school. It’s not from metal detectors, or youth groups, or mace cans, or metal bars on our windows. It’s from following Jesus, from loving our neighbor as ourselves, from a Father who never gives up, who fills the cracks with His people to stop even one of His beloved children from slipping through, and who shines His light fearlessly and fiercely into the waiting and desperate arms of a broken world

15 comments:

  1. Becca--THANK YOU for being a family that stands in the gap for the "least of these." I've indirectly mentioned you in a blog post today at http://wp.me/p12eul-j6

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    1. I loved your post. Thanks so much for sharing! :-)

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  2. Oh, Becca. I thought of y'all when I saw the news of the shooting. Praying for your kiddos and community and for mentors to step up.

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  3. Becca, thank you for sharing the hard parts. Praying for you and know you are not the only one squished down in those cracks. Satan would like for us to feel all alone, but that is just another one of his lies. Lifting you up to our Lord today.
    Blessings, Nichole
    nicholeinantwerp.blogspot.com

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    1. Nichole - thank you so much for that reminder. Seriously needed it!

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  4. I love you. Praying for you so much. xoxoxo

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  5. As always, I think you're amazing, Becca. The work you and Adam do is so full of God's love.

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  6. Such a beautiful reminder of our true security in this anxious time. Thank you.

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  7. As usual, your posts are so encouraging! It sounds like you've had a crazy week. Know that you're not alone--we live in a similar neighbourhood doing a similar thing...and I struggle with many similar questions, fears and doubts. Be encouraged--God is with you and will give you the strength you need for each moment! Thank you for all of your care for your kiddos, and for being a huge encouragement!

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    1. Thanks for being such a source of encouragement girl, not to mention how much I love reading and hearing about other people living this crazy life! :-)

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  8. Just wanted you to know that its beautiful to hear your heart but its also sad you feel so alone in the effort. I think we are taught that "wisdom" or being "wise" is equated with being "safe" and choosing "safety" for our kids. I just don't think that's the case...the safest place in is the center of God's will. Prayers that you will feel that burden lift off of your heart, if only for a moment, so you can catch your breath! I know you are doing amazing things in these kids and that the sacrifice of your safety and your time and your emotions is a beautiful offering before God. Thankful for people like you who are willing to get their hands dirty for the Cause.

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    1. Thanks friend - I think of you often - hope you guys are well :-) I'm still crossing my fingers for a West Egg date next time you're in the Atl :-)

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  9. I love reading your blog and hearing about all your kiddos. I live in a similar area and have similar thoughts to yours and am sometimes overwhelmed but lately have just been reminded of how dark my neighborhood is but that Jesus' light can reach anywhere- I liked the cracks analogy. Thankful to read blogs like this and be encouraged! Praying for you guys!

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