So, back around Easter I mentioned that I had three major themes I had been processing through during the Lent season. I even wrote about one of the themes - how amazing it is that Jesus took ALL of our sin into His body when He was crucified. How gruesome and awesome. Then I got stuck. I have really been lacking in motivation to write things down/type things out. A Bible study that I'm currently taking part in has forced me to realize that I have slipped into a yucky habit of working really hard at work - draining myself, in fact - and then coming home and totally zoning out. Just absolutely going braindead (read: watching loads of t.v. or pointlessly surfing the internet). I've really gotten into a survival rut, and I feel it in my bones. It takes work to thrive, rather than just survive. It doesn't take really hard work, though, just intentionality. Autopilot is not a good mode to live in, and I've definitely been living there the last couple of months. Jesus said, "come to me all you who are weary & burdened, and I will give you rest." I haven't been doing a great job of doing my meager part of that equation ... the coming. So, instead, I've just been going about my weary & burdened way. It's hasn't been very healthy for my soul, but I think I'm snapping out of it.
So, now that I'm attempting to exercise my newfound motivation, I would like to complete my thoughts from Easter, if you don't mind. No matter that it was 2 1/2 months ago, right? The second theme the Lord laid on my heart during the Lent season was the futility of my own good works. One of the most difficult things about my job at the advocacy center has been realizing that nothing we can do is ever enough. Yes, the advocates can do an excellent job of working with the families and helping them find services and resources; but they can't make sure that every need is met. The forensic interviewers can skillfully interview the children and can sometimes get great, detailed disclosures; but they can't make children who are too intimidated by their abusers open up and tell the truth. The nurses can be incredibly kind and encouraging; but lots of times there is no medical evidence of abuse to be found. The investigators & attorneys can work so hard to gather witnesses' testimonies, put together the pieces of the puzzle, arrest, prosecute, etc.; but they cannot ensure that justice will always be done. The other therapists & I can hopefully help the nightmares to lessen and some of the dignity to be restored; but we cannot heal the deep heart wounds. Even when every member of our team is on top of their game and the entire process goes as well as it possibly could; none of us can take the ashes that the victims and their families carry with them and make beauty out of them. We might be helpful, but we are not transformational.
As I pondered this in light of the great resurrection of Jesus, my eyes were opened in a new way to the words of Isaiah 64:6:
" ... all our righteous acts are like filthy rags ..." I've known this verse since I was a little girl. I've known that, compared to the glory of God, my best efforts look like dirt. This spring, though, a new mental image was birthed in my mind to accompany this verse. You know how when you spill a lot of liquid, like a 2 liter or something, and you try to sop it up with paper towels it just sort of sloshes the liquid around and you end up smearing the mess further ... and with a handful of sopping wet towels? Well, that's how I've started seeing my righteous acts. My co-workers and I may be able to absorb some of the evil that our clients have experienced. We may be able to sort of push it around a little, but we cannot make it disappear. Since our center opened nine years ago, prosecutions against child abusers in our county have gone up 2000%. That's right, two thousand (in case you thought I accidentally typed too many zeros). So, you know, that's a lot of people doing some really good stuff. Put the bad guys behind bars, and all of that. Now, I'm not trying to downplay how awesome it is when justice happens. It feels REALLY good when I get to hear that one of my clients' offenders will be serving time for 25 years. However, as great as that is, it really doesn't fix anything. It squeegees some of the evil into a prison cell, but it doesn't heal or restore anything. A bad guy going to jail does not erase what was inflicted on the child. It does not restore innocence and the feeling of safety that the family once had.
That's why I think systems never work. I saw a preview on t.v. the other night for a new show called "The Philanthropist". It appears to be about some guy who has gobs of money and chooses to do wonderful things for others with it. As I watched the preview I thought, "you know, that's great. We should all aspire to be generous and world-changers, but even if I had all the money in the world I could ever want and all the wisdom to know how to use it best, I still could not expunge evil from the earth." And evil is the problem. So that's why Easter was so magnificent to me this year. It is magnificent because it is a celebration of the only One who is Transformational. He does transform death to life. He does transform ashes into beauty. He does transform gaping wounds into glorious strengths. My life is forever His because He has graciously chosen to transform me.