Does your choice matter?

Do our choices matter?  I read two things yesterday that sparked off each other and melded into a crushing assault that reverberated through me like a Big Ben gong.

1.  “Our stories affect one another whether we know it or not. Sometimes obedience isn’t for us at all, but for another. We don’t know how God holds the kingdom in balance … but we can trust Him when he says press on, cling to hope, stay the course. He is always at work….” [quote from Jen Hatmaker ]*

2.  “Devon bought a gun and killed himself.” [personal email]

Awareness of the truth of the first, and shock and sadness of the second paralyzed me. The utter hopelessness he must have felt gnawed at me. I’ll be juggling emotions and thoughts and responses for a while. But one thing I know:  We are a part of each others’ stories. And somehow Devon slipped between the pages into darkness, and did not know he wasn’t alone or unimportant.

I also know that what Jen said is also true of our prayers. God works in myriad ways we are often not even aware of, and in mysterious ways beyond our understanding. But Scripture tells us to pray and that our prayers have impact. **

And I know that choices we make matter. I must be vigilant and remind myself of this fact. Even when industries and countries and churches and mobs of people in the streets shout:  “You are one alone and your little bit of action isn’t going to make any difference. Will not move the decisions of the powerful one smidgen.” Even when doubts are whispered to my spirit “Who do you think you are? Your effort, your prayer, will not put a scratch, much less a dent, in the collective needs of this world.” These taunts are lies and I must choose to remember that. I’m guessing you do too.

The truth is ~~ all of history is the accumulation of every action and word of every individual. And if I do not remember what is real and what is shadow, I might follow Devon into the hopelessness.

If you are in a dark, lonely place, please choose to reach out. At the very moment of your darkest hour, the lightning-bright answer may already be on its way!

*          Jen Hatmaker, 7, (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2012), 114.

**        “Pray without ceasing.” [1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV]

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” [James 5:16, KJV]

Protecting the Children

Kids are impacted by spousal domestic violence (DV) in their home. Monumentally so. Yet most parents say they’ve hidden the violence from the children. Many often believe it. But studies and experience show the opposite. Children often hear abuse late at night. They sense the tension. Notice bruises. Even infants are deeply affected. And some abusers purposely assault and/or demean a woman in front of the children.

Many problematic behaviors in children (crying jags, clinginess, tantrums, sleep problems) are triggered by things beyond DV. But a few related to DV you might not think of are:

           Children believing they caused the abuse

           Thinking they cannot escape being violent, it’s in their blood

            Refusing to go to school/faking illness

            Drug/alcohol use/abuse

            Running away

            Suicide attempts

Children often put themselves in danger by stepping into the violence attempting to stop it. Youngsters in DV households are at much greater risk of being abused themselves. Even pet in these homes have a shortened life span.

My space here isn’t sufficient for all the explanations of how and why. And the impact of spousal abuse on a child will vary depending upon his developmental stage. But all kids try to make sense of their surroundings. If you think about it—how they do that is amazing. We adults would have great challenges and make myriad errors if we were dumped into a foreign land, knew nothing of their language and customs, and had to intuit everything. We’d make many wrong assumptions. And kids do. (See the DOVE page for an excellent story of just such a funny error one adult made.)

Sadly, often the parents are so embroiled in the DV cycle that they don’t see the impact on the children. Is this not good reason for all of us to:

be informed?               

learn to safely address our concerns with the adults?

identify resources for families impacted?

Support local shelters/service providers who assist victims & children?

Links to information and resources are in the Oct. 15 post “October Surprise.”  A few of the many helpful books (with links to see them at Amazon) are:         

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: What Every Pastor Needs to Know, Al Miles

     Contains helpful information on domestic violence: identifying, responding, safety. It’s a good read for anyone, not just clergy.


     While this sounds like a “how-to” manual for men, it excels at showing what a healthy relationship should look like—a fact many in DV families no longer remember.


     Many think DV is only about physical abuse. It isn’t. And victims often describe the verbal abuse as more deeply wounding. ALL types take their toll, but do not minimize verbal abuse.