Twenty-seven years later, Jacob Wetterling has been found. The horrific details have been dredged out and pushed into the light, and collectively we begin again the grieving process of a boy most of us never met, but whom all of us mourned. He changed our Minnesotan childhoods. Jacob’s abductor and killer will only serve up to 20 years as part of a deal he made with authorities in exchange for releasing the full story of what happened all those years ago, and it doesn’t seem to be – because it isn’t – enough.
A college student has been released early from his already short sentence for the vile, unspeakable act of violence he committed towards a woman he’d known for a few hours in a club. That’s not enough justice for her.
The looming presidential election literally gives me nightmares, terrified as I am of one of the candidates and marginally impressed with the other. I worry about trigger-happy bombs dropped, and give thanks that my husband’s eyesight would prevent him from a draft.
I’m a bundle of anxiety. And aren’t we believers supposed to lean into peace? The kind of peace that swoops right past understanding. The kind of peace that consumes and relieves when it makes sense to be full of fear. The kind of peace that is supernatural, extraordinary, available.
But when evil seems to overtake, to run rampant, to threaten our being… When it shocks us into a fear-induced cocoon of living… When evil seems to be bigger, we rally. We realize we’ve been deceived by it’s snare because evil. does. not. win.
Love overcame. Love flows wild and free. Love gently becomes our being. Love doesn’t shock or strike. Love is always bigger. Love wins.
But evil is often easier to see.
So what can we do?
Jacob’s mom, Patty Wetterling, gave a statement earlier this week that has lodged itself into my heart. When asked, “What can we do to help?”, she said:
Say a prayer.
Light a candle.
Be with your friends.
Play with your children.
Eat ice cream.
Help your neighbor.
That is what will bring me comfort today.
It feels like nothing, doesn’t it? Like brushing over tragedy and fear, sadness and bad news? It feels like we’re sad for a moment then we move along with the tide, writing off non-action as activity.
But God takes our small offerings and He gives them wings. Like the offered loaves and fishes, placed into his hands while thousands watched, He still makes miracles from our mundane and that which we place in His hands is secure. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if it’s not right away. Even if… He still holds it all.
So in the actual face of tragedy, staring us down from the paper and the news and the internet, what can we do? How can we make love easier to see, more obvious and blatant than the evil that stares us down? When we know deep in our bones that love wins, we can love each other well.
Kiss our spouse.
Fit five on a bed at night for storytime.
Make peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
Wipe rear ends and cheer for potty-going.
Take deep breaths.
Pick up the mail.
Appreciate a good cup of coffee. Send a friend $5 for her own good cup of coffee.
Go to church. Hug our friends.
Call our mom.
Give stickers to the kids. Hug them tightly when we’d rather send them to time out.
Make dinner. Eat together.
Leave the porch light on.
Scroll through Facebook and ‘like’ every single back-to-school photo.
Smile at a mom in line at Target.
Sing in the car.
Do our jobs well.
Turn off the TV.
Watch TV just for fun.
Let the kids stay in the bath for an hour and after, put them in matching pajamas.
Go to bed early and wake up the same. Stay up late and wear sweatpants all day.
Say ‘yes’ to your kids.
Love, love, love.
We can do our blessed, holy, sacred, everyday ordinary, normal with such love that He multiplies our offering. This is honoring. This is defying evil. This is love in action. And it is the best that we can do.