*Disclaimer: This post and video discuss the very difficult issue of child abuse. Reader and viewer discretion is advised.
If we pay even the slightest attention to the news, our senses are inundated with stories of heinous acts each and every day. Events from Norway to Egypt to Boston serve as a constant reminder that we are not a people at peace with each other nor with ourselves.
Desensitization is nearly inevitable.
But on occasion we catch word of an event that comes like a punch in the gut. An atrocity that affects a person, cause or place close to our heart carries a weight that sends minds into tailspins and hearts into pieces. The closer evil comes to our world the more evil it seems.
And so was my reaction when I saw the headline about the arrest of a former classmate of mine:
"Lebanon man accused of seriously injuring infant"
The article goes on to explain in too much detail the abuse of a four month old little girl endured at the hand of her father. I cannot imagine a greater wickedness than this grossly distorted relationship between parent and child. I am thankful my imagination cannot extend beyond the words of the article for the mere thought would be too much to bear.
Initially I could not pull forth the name that matched this man's mugshot. My mind flipped through forgotten names and faces as I clicked on the link and waited for the info to load. The name came to me like a second punch in the abdomen as the entangled web of human wickedness gained clarity.
In middle school, the two years my life intersected with his, this boy was known to all as "Gay Robert." I don't know what made him a target for two straight years, but he was it--one of two kids that all other students knew to avoid if they hoped to survive the ruthlessness of middle school peerdom. I don't know what his life was like outside of his personal twelve period hell, but I know his clothes were dirty and his hair, unkempt.
Since his arrest I have heard new descriptors slapped on him. The arsenal of junior high sneers have been replaced by the sole label of "monster." Indeed, his actions justify this name. His crime is unthinkable and his sentence well-deserved.
But monsters are not born.
Humans are born.
And humans bear the image of the holy and the good.
What, then, does it take for the image of God, a human being in all his goodness and glory, to be so twisted, scarred, distorted, and marred that their only human resemblance is the skeleton they carry?
How deep into people's souls do our mocking words penetrate?
How damaging is our neglect of each other?
At what point does bitterness become hate, hate become evil, and evil distort the image of God into a monster?
Sin is a complicated web. A web to which we all contribute.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Pray for this damaged little girl.
And if you are able, pray for Robert.