Thoughts and prayers.

The news is hard to stomach. It makes me cry and literally sick. It’s heavy. It’s hard. It’s real. And that’s scary. These random acts of terrorism happening in our everyday places seem so personal. You would think this would be a time our country would come together to figure out what to do, but instead quite the opposite happens.

I’m so frustrated by the twisted facts, the blatant lies, the blanket statements, the distractions. The truth is, there is a problem here. A big problem.

I guess where I differ from lots of people is I don’t think this only a gun issue. Even stranger, I don’t think it’s just a mental health issue. I think it is a home issue, a focus on yourself issue, most importantly a god-less issue. Now hear me out. I realize a lot of people will move on from this point or get so heated that they can’t grasp all that I’m saying. But just try to stick with me here for a minute.

Our country is moving at an alarming rate away from all attachment to God. I don’t even think we notice it, because it’s so casual to us. It reminds me of a story in Judges and my reaction when I read it. I was so alarmed that a man offered his daughter as a sacrifice to the Lord. He was so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that he swore to offer whatever walked out of his door, and there she was. The two spent quite some time mourning, but in the end, he fulfilled his promise. How could he think this was okay? How could he think that killing anything that walked out of his front door would bring glory to the Lord? My mom reminded me he wasn’t trying to be malicious. He genuinely thought he was glorifying God, even though from the outside it seems so obvious that he was off. Because he was so immersed in his own culture, where human sacrifice was regular and normal, he thought it was honorable. It shocked me and reminded me how unknowingly soaked in the culture of this world we really are. We, as Christians, don’t even realize the things we excuse, justify and defend that are so far off. People who do claim God, don’t know anything about what His word says. We stand in gay-pride parades, are pro-choice, live with our significant other long before marriage. We think that having a “normal college experience” includes one-night stands, at least light drug use, and binge drinking. The divorce rate is the same in the church as it is outside of it. We mock people who are “too conservative.” We all have seen the latest TV show, don’t flinch at the use of the f-word, and post as many hateful, disrespectful comments on social media, if not more, than the rest of the world.

God has been removed from our politics, our schools, our homes, our morals. And now that He’s gone from all of these places, we’re wondering why He isn’t showing up. Um hello! We spit on the very things He deems holy. We have moved the priority from our relationship with the Lord, our marriage, our children, our communities, to ourselves. We focus on being happy instead of doing what’s right or responsible. In every single sense. From abandoning families, the lack of discipline, the degrees we get in school, the entitlement we have.

Here’s the reality, since forever the Lord has reminded us to die to ourselves. That means IT ISNT ABOUT US. And yet, more and more our society tells us it is. (Which when society is trying so hard to tell us something it’s probably a pretty good indicator to do the opposite.) We are constantly unsatisfied, constantly looking for the newest upgrade, constantly comparing through tiny glimpses on a screen. All in search for our personal fulfillment, our own happiness. In one instance, we’ve pushed for women to be in the work force, and men to be there longer hours. Which left kids to be distracted and busied by other people, who will never love them like their parents do. There are nannies and daycares and grandparents who fill these children time with reading and games and “social interaction.” We’re taught to believe that it’s necessary, it’s good for the kids. They spend years at school, at after school programs, in dance class, gymnastics, Karate, soccer, football, etc. We pick them up from school, drop them off at practice, pick them up, drive thru somewhere for dinner, go home and give them baths and put them to bed. And repeat that until the weekend where games and parties and screens take over. We expect teachers to teach our children manners, how to behave, how to be nice to others, but of course we do, because we have no time for it. We’re so busy with our own careers, our own hobbies, our own passions we can’t see that we’ve lost how important time is. We’ve lost “family nights,” “game nights,” or even “movie nights” and replaced them with Girls Night Out or “me-time.” Our conversations about sex and drinking and respect and morals and how to be nice and how to respond to the boy who called you fat and what to do when your heart is broken, have been replaced with tv shows and memes. Men not only don’t care if their wives have careers, they demand it. Someone to share the burden, help carry the weight. Which takes away the role of provider and leader that is so innately given to them. Both parents don’t spend enough intimate time with their children, that they don’t even recognize when they’re hurting or upset. The kids say they’re “fine” then lay in their beds and scroll for answers on their iPads. Everyone is exhausted from trying to “be-it-all” and “do-it-all” that distractions replace discussions. Our kids are looking for stability, for truth, for example, and we are too broken to be that for them. They seek answers from the internet, from their peers, from the media. And they stray away to find answers that all point them back to themselves.

We’re all told our emotions should hold so much power over us. We feel hurt. We feel insecure. We feel broken. We feel angry. Lots of us fill it with business, other with affection from whoever will give it to us, some from drugs or drinking. Some of us turn to porn or eating. And yes, a few turn to violence. I guess my point is, yes there is a huge problem here. A giant problem in our country. It’s a home problem. It’s a lack of God problem. It’s a focus-on-myself problem. It’s an emotion-driven problem.

So while you all telling me that there have been enough “thoughts and prayers,” my concern is quite the opposite. There isn’t enough, and definitely not to the right guy. So I will continue to pray for our country. For our families and homes to be as they should. Once balance is restored at home, I truly believe the rest would fall into place.

My parents always made it a priority to be present. To sit down for dinner together daily. To know who my friends were, my boyfriends. To know what their families were like. To know how I felt. To point me to truth. To know my heart. To be my friend, but to be my parent first. They cared who didn’t text back, what was written on the bathroom wall. They took me to Walmart in the middle of the night to buy a new outfit to wear to school after a boy broke my heart. And peanut butter to leave on my best friends door because he told me he’s smear it all over the boy’s car (xo Shawnny). They left me notes in my lunch box. They drove long distances to be my number one fan when I was second string, on my C-team middle school volleyball team. But they also reminded me how trivial it all was. How I wasn’t going to marry that silly boy and if I ever wanted to, to handle myself with dignity and grace. To be a girl I was proud to be. How C team or not, I was to play my best. That when my friends all formed an actual I HATE ELLIE club or I got made of fun for being prude or my face showed up on the Ultimate Sluts of Frisco Facebook page or my youth pastor had it out for me, that I needed to be kind. I needed to be careful with my words to them and about them. My mom would tell me that if I acted in a way that proved them wrong, that no one would be able to believe them anyway. I didn’t need to post a dramatic Facebook status, send crazy text messages or chew anyone out. Although I’m sure I slipped up at least a few times 😉 My Dad took me on dates and would explain to me all the things he was doing so I knew what kind of date I deserved. They were there for me when I cried and yet intentional about not letting me sit in it. The relationship they formed with me allowed for us to have goofy, playful moments but also important and intentional ones.

I hope to raise my kids where they know they can come to me for it all. That I won’t be too busy, too distracted, too focused on myself to hear about the rude text message from Leia’s best friend or the party Luke didn’t get invited to. That I won’t miss the glossed over eyes after a phone call, or the puffy eyes after a date. That we can quote silly movies and talk about who they think they’re going to marry when they’re 16, and talk about why sex is so special when you wait, why we choose to be non-reactive when people act crazy. I hope that I can pray with them when we’re celebrating and when we’re mourning. I hope to point them to scripture at our weakest, and at our strongest. And if I can do a decent job of that, I will be confident in the job I’ve done.

xo, e.

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