Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Titanic, Rockets, and Happy Endings

When I was a kid I wasn't allowed to watch the Titanic movie. 

It wasn't because of the love story or the painting scene, it was because my mom knew that after watching it I would have cried for days. As a child I could never get over the fact that they didn't put more people in those lifeboats, and even 75+ years after it happened I still felt the pain as if it had just occurred yesterday and those people on the ship were my family.

It was the same thing with the Holocaust museum, the evening news, and movies without happy endings. As a child all the way into being an adult, I felt the pain of others' sorrow with my entire being. I was sheltered because the depth of the sadness would have overwhelmed my tiny soul and I simply could not handle it.

As an adult I am able to handle things much better, but I suppose old habits die hard because the other day this happened:

It was just a normal night at the Agan household and I was watching a tv show called The 100 with my husband. It is a completely unrealistic show about the last of humanity who lives in a space station and sends some kids down to earth to see if it is safe to live in again. Complete fiction. But in this episode the kids were trying to send up these rockets to let the space station know it was safe before the station killed off 300 people (they were running out of oxygen). I knew, I just knew, that those rockets weren't going to get there in time and those people were going to die unnecessarily. 

So naturally I threw my head under the covers and begged Cameron to turn it off before the inevitable happened (because if you stop the television before the bad things then you can at least pretend there was a happy ending). Cameron tried to tell me repeatedly that neither the show nor the people were real and so it didn't matter, but I couldn't differentiate. To me this show was just a piece of real life, where real people die unnecessarily every day and I couldn't handle it.

So with my head under the covers and my hands pressed to my ears (yes I am a very weird adult) I began to be consumed by the sadness of our world, by the unneccesary deaths and the half-full lifeboats leaving the sinking ships. As I began to cry over a show about a fictional space station I thought about the one thing that could give me hope in a world of holocausts and terrorism and rockets that don't get there in time. . . . Jesus

It sounds cheesy, but I am being serious that in that moment I could only focus on one thing for sure. . . that this isn't the end. In the light of Easter I was reminded that Jesus is going to return to make things right, to fix all that is bad and bring all that is good. And I thought about Easter being important because it means that the sadness doesn't have to last forever. One day all will be well because death could not conquer the light.

And this was the hope that made me come out from under the covers and breathe, knowing that everything will be ok. The pain of the world will end. And I believe that God will hold so tightly those who have been through unhappy endings as He reminds them that there is a happy ending after all. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cookies and Childhood

As a kid I always loved when my mom made homemade chocolate chip cookies. I have distinct memories of rushing to the kitchen, the warm cookies sitting on wax paper, my mom by the oven as we scooped up as many as we could handle (or were allowed). By the end of the night you had eaten at least nine, but only admitted to five, and the whole house was happy.

I think a lot about what I have brought with me from that childhood home, what traits and examples I have grown into. Marriage brings to light a lot of the flaws and beauties that we learned through life and family, and it can certainly be both joyous and annoying. Cameron and I grew up so differently and we fight into and against all that we learned before we met each other. We strive to be the best versions of ourselves, and so much of what we know we have brought with us from our youth.

As I reflect on my own childhood I am moved toward thinking of my girls, the sweet teenage girls who are having children of their own this season.

These young ones haven't always had the easiest lot in life, and so much of what has been instilled in them will be instilled in the little ones they are now charged to raise. I hope to walk alongside them as much as possible, but those little ones are in their care and therefore the best thing I can offer is to lift up my prayers.

I pray that they, as new young moms, will be able to pass along only the good and the lessons learned. I hope that they can leave behind any times that they have not been treated well, or loved enough, or taken care of. That their memories of being tucked in as a child, of being held or hugged or encouraged, of laughter and joy, will be what they pass on to their children.

I pray that God uses their experiences to strengthen them, to put in them a determination to make a better life for the little one they will now spend their life raising. I pray for a better future for the sweet little innocent babies I get to hold in my arms, one where they don't have to fear abuse, where they don't have to worry about having nice clothes or enough food in their homes.

My prayer is that these little ones grow up with chocolate chip cookies.

Last night I made chocolate chip cookies at my house with my new husband and everything was happy. We've been through a bit of a rough patch but God has brought healing and love and a renewed joy to our lives.

And isn't that the prayer for everyone? That God will renew our joy, help us to learn from our mistakes, and bring peace to our surroundings.

I think I like the sound of that.