Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Unknown Name

Most of the time I write on this blog, I'm pretty light-hearted, maybe sentimental, and sometimes a little more serious. But tonight I write with a sick and pained heart.

When Lucy was one year old, I was driving to work and heard a news story about a woman who was carrying her one-year-old baby into a store at a strip mall. A mentally ill man with a knife was approaching people in the parking lot and demanding their keys and stabbing them. He approached this woman and stabbed her baby girl. The baby died right there in her arms. By the time I got to work, I was so ill that I had to tell my boss I needed to take a sick day. I turned around and drove home. Darren was taking care of Lucy since it was a Friday, but I needed to be there and to hold her. I needed to make sure that he didn't take her out of the house that day. I spent the day alternately clutching her to me and running to the bathroom to vomit. What chance did she have in the world if she wasn't even safe in her mother's arms? For all the times I carried her into the grocery store or Target...she was not protected there. I kept crying out to God, "Where were You? I don't understand. I don't understand." Suddenly, a verse I'd learned from childhood came to mind, Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." I had to put my hand again in His and trust Him as His child, though I'll never understand. I spent many tortured hours, days, and weeks, wrestling with that, but the fact that I do not have to lean on my own understanding sustained me through it.

Our former church, where we spent seven years and where both our girls were baptized, was as close to perfect (for me) as you could get. If I personally designed a church, it would come out looking like that one. It was large, and the friends we made were often the people who sat around us--quite a number of people sat in roughly the same spot each week. There was a man there, in his sixties, who sat behind us. He was quiet but friendly and seemed a little bit sad. We struck up a friendship, not a close one, but a friendship with him. When I became pregnant with Lucy, all of our "seatmates" around us were excited and then thrilled when she was born. I enjoyed showing her off after she was born and bringing her up from the nursery after the service each Sunday as she grew into a little girl.

Our friend particularly liked her and was so sweet to her. He bought her a little bear and made sure there was nothing on it that could choke her. He always let her play with his keys. Besides missing everything else about our church when we moved here, we missed him, and I was so happy one day when Lucy got a card in the mail from him that said, "Dear Lucy, never forget that Jesus loves you and I love you too." I kept it in her baby book.

Today I opened up the newspaper and discovered that our friend had been sentenced to 39 years in prison for four counts of aggravated sexual assault against an 11-year-old. And discovered this was not his first sexual offense either. He befriended the child's parents, gave gifts to the child, and eventually molested him repeatedly. Apparently there was a lot of brainwashing going on as well because the judge said at his sentencing, "You twisted your religion and Bible references to work these despicable acts."

In between tears and a heaving stomach, I try to think of metaphors--like I've just seen my daughter almost killed by a car but snatched away just in time. But nothing can convey the horror of the misplaced trust and the fact that, at 4 years old, my precious lamb has already met and been liked by a pedophile. Praise God, she is unharmed.

One of my favorite books is part of a fiction series set in the Church of England. This particular book, "Scandalous Risks," is about a 26-year-old woman who embarks on an affair with a married man who is also a clergyman. He twists Scripture and morality until this young woman is so confused, she consults a priest to help her discern what is happening. He says to her, " 'You both stand in very great danger.' 'You mean in danger of being found out?' 'No, in danger of spiritual destruction. Can't you feel the Devil caressing the hair at the nape of your neck?' Instantly my scalp prickled. In fact so powerful was the impact of his suggestion that my hand automatically sped to the nape of my neck to clamp down on the hairs which I felt sure were standing on end. Then reason reclaimed me. I said in a fury, 'You can't frighten me like that! No one believes in the Devil any more!' ...'Forget the little imp with horns,' Father Darrow said...'But think of Hiroshima. When the atomic bomb was dropped many were killed but some people did survive apparently unscathed. Yet they were not unscathed. They had been contaminated by a great pollutant. That was a very great pollutant, but there's another pollutant, the greatest pollutant of them all, and it attacks not men's bodies, but their souls.'"

I have a dear friend who is uncomfortable when I start talking about Christianity, particularly when I mention Satan. But when I opened up the paper today and saw the mugshot of someone I knew and trusted, who had loved my child, and who had perpetrated such evil onto another innocent child...there is no other way to put it. I could feel the Devil caressing the hair at the nape of my neck.

And the absolute worst, worst part of it is that somehow he used the name of Jesus, the name that is so precious to me and my children, so revered in our household, the Jesus who is holy and pure, who created and blessed the children, to get it done. When I saw his picture in the paper, it felt like I was looking right in Satan's face.

This is a pretty dark night for me. I checked on each of my sleeping babies, but I don't know how much I will sleep. In between getting it all out on paper as it were (and anyone who writes knows how cathartic that is), I'm reading the comforting words about the triumph of the light against darkness in 1 John. And just as that day three or so years ago when I cried out to God, "Where were You?" and I was comforted by the words of Proverbs, I'm again comforted by His Word, this time from Revelation 19:12 "His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself."

What an awesome, awesome comfort that is to me. Somewhere on Jesus Christ is written a name that no one knows but Him alone. No one will ever know. No one can touch it. No one can profane it. No one can twist it. No one can foul it. No one can perpetrate hideous acts of wickedness with it. It's pure. It's untouchable. It's holy.



WendyJanelle said...

This made me cry. I don't even know how I ended up here, except that I am tired and reading and went from Ann-Marie's site...

I try not to live in terror, but I have those moments, too, when I just want to hold my children and never let them out of my sight. I can't even listen to the news anymore because it truly puts me in panic mode.

I love my Lord and I pray protection for my family daily (hourly), and I find myself constantly having to hand it back over to Him. Because, like you said, a child is not safe in his own mother's arms. What can I do, but trust in my Father and do the best that I can...

Ann-Marie said...

This is such a horrific story, Alice. How people can believe that man (humankind, I should say) is naturally good boggles my mind. Every time I see something like your post, I think, "There's PROOF we're not good, right there!"

I don't have kids, so I can't imagine your terror, but I am sorry you had to go through this. I'm grateful God protected your children. I'll be praying for the 11 year old and for the man, although it's hard to think that kind of deep-rooted sickness is...forgivable. God can do anything, I know. It's just so overwhelming.

Again, so sorry you had to go through this.