Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My December 14th

Every year at Christmas time I struggle.

Even though I love the sights, the sounds, 

the reason for the season!

I fall in love with Jesus all over again!

 As I have become a mother myself, I ponder what Mary must have thought as she felt my Saviour kicking inside her womb. So young, and not having been known by any man, yet with child. What courage! What faith! What pain and hardship she endured to bring us our Redeemer. She could never have fully understood when she said "yes" to God how her actions would effect so many lives for eternity. I love Christmas!

But just eleven days before Christmas, when I was just eleven years old I was faced with something no eleven year old should have to go through. I was home alone for the morning babysitting my two younger brothers when my mischievous four year-old brother accidentally set fire to our house. He never escaped the home. The fire fighters found his body hidden under his bed in his bedroom upstairs. The smoke was too toxic. The heat was too intense. My eight year-old brother and I made it out alive though. Despite my best efforts to reenter the house twice, I could not save my baby brother.

For 27 years I have lived with this horrific memory. This is the reason for my struggle with the holiday season. I do love this time of year though. I love to celebrate Jesus, but I am also reminded that my brother didn't make it out of that house alive. I have faith however, that he is now WITH Jesus.
This is my December 14th.
Last Spring, I had a nightmare. I have not had, thankfully, any really scary dreams since losing my brother. But this dream was vivid and in full color. I was being chased by a woman with long dark hair. She had a gun.
I was running from her.
I realized I would not outrun her.
I stopped.
I decided to face her, even though I knew she had a gun.
She stopped chasing me and walked closer.
She smiled, a twisted, evil smile.
She raised her gun and pointed it at me.
I shuddered.
She shook her head as if to say, "no".
She smiled again, that same twisted, evil smile.
She began to hand the gun to me.
I refused!
She forced the gun into my hand and raised my hand up to the side of my head.
She wanted me to pull the trigger on myself!
I immediately dropped the gun and cried out...
and then I woke up....

When I got up that morning and told my dream over to my family it was then that I realized that the woman in my dream was my guilt. She chases me and hunts me down, she tries to get me to destroy my own life at my own hand. I refuse to live in guilt even though she is always there. I have guilt not only because I was the one babysitting when my brother caught fire to the house, I have a second form of guilt, survivor's guilt. How can I live when I know that my brother is gone? It makes me sick in my stomach some days. A piece of my heart is stripped from the fabric of my being. My brothers tiny little voice echoes in my head, "Jen!" The last words he ever called to me before he drew his last breath.
Just in the last few weeks, my nightmare has begun to stare me in the face. In other words, I can see my dream of the woman chasing me while I am awake as clear as I did when I was dreaming it. My dream is haunting me even while I am staring at the t.v. watching a show. It isn't all the time, but it's enough to take me back, and remember, and pray. I move on. I take another breath. I live.

Then in the midst of planning my husband's 40th birthday party my Facebook began to light up with comments about yet another school shooting. This time it is children, lots of little children. Children my own children's age. Children similar to my brother's age when he died. There is a man, with a gun. And he is real. And the horrific events that followed are just tearing me up inside. My own vision of a woman with a gun tries to press in, guilt mixes with grief. A deep, deep grief.
I draw my beautiful daughter closer.

 I hold her tight and try to study her. Try to make every single moment of her life matter to me. Her smile, her laughter, her likes, her wants, her needs, her graceful dancing, the way she hugs her baby brother, and takes her younger sister by the hand for tea parties, how she begs her older brother for piggy back rides, I drink it all in. I soak in my blessings of my daughter. I get to tuck her in at night knowing there are 20 families that won't get to do what I do each night as routine. It is all a miracle. Our children are all blessings.
Why God? Oh why? We all cry it, we all want answers. But no other answer can comfort more than the fact that I have faith that God knows us. He sees us. He meets us, right where we are at. He put on human flesh and came into our stinky world in order to save us from it. To save us from ourselves.

  "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

So we put on our faith. Faith that God was there even in the midst of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Protecting many from harm and holding the wounded. Yes, God was there. Evil may have raised it's head, but God was there.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1).

There is evil all around us. But its days are short lived. God will be victorious. These children no longer suffer but rest peacefully in the arms of our Heavenly Father's loving embrace.

But as so many of us weep for the tragic loss of twenty little precious lives...who weeps for the more than 3,200 babies who are murdered EVERY DAY before they ever get to take their first breath? Who weeps for the baby torn limb from limb every 23 seconds in AMERICA? Who weeps for the little ones, unplanned, unwanted, yet still perfect, created in the image of our God, yet tossed in the garbage bins? Since Roe v. Wade it is estimated that there have been more than 54 MILLION babies lost to abortion. Who weeps for them? God does. God cares. God sees. He says vengeance is His alone.

"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord." Romans 12:19

 I will trust God does not stand silently by allowing our country to murder our own children, there will be Justice. In what form, in what time, I do not know.

Residents of Newtown, CT will heal with time. They are a beautiful community and they will find a way to honor the dead and move on, even though their lives may never be the same.
Twenty-seven years have passed since the loss of my brother. Time does heal a great deal of the pain. Special dates force us to remember. My December 14th is now America's December 14th.
We will never forget.

Justin R. Chute
January 9, 1981-December 14, 1985

We will never forget!

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