Eight is Enough

I try to stay out of the political arena and tend to steer clear of current affairs. Because deep down, I’m a big coward. I want to keep everyone’s approval so I avoid hot topics.

Moreover, when it comes to verbal debate, I usually lose. If an argument presents and I disagree, I keep quiet. Because my mouth never seems to have my back. Though words tumble around in my brain, they rarely make it to my mouth. So I remain voiceless on the most important issues of the day.

However, this morning I saw something as I worked. And feel I cannot keep silent. Take a look…

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These are my file labels. There’s a thin blue line on them and that’s a term I hadn’t heard before this week. The Thin Blue Line. It refers to the police force. According to Wikipedia, the blue is used to symbolize law enforcement as the protectors of civilians from criminals. The blue, which separates the black lines of public and criminals, represents the police force.

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Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy. Proverbs 31:9

Thanks to the world wide web, I learned the idea behind this graphic. Basically, law enforcement is what stands between regular citizens and the violence and victimization by criminals. In essence, they’re our shield. Our defenders. They’re who we call if we find ourselves in trouble.

And yet, the police finds itself in an unusual predicament today. Our defenders are under attack. Shot by the very people they serve and protect. And what I find absolutely incredible is our President remains silent on this matter. And his silence is deafening. It says… I don’t have your back.

It appears that those who cover the backs of American citizens don’t have the support of our nation’s leader. If I’m wrong about this, please, correct me. If our president has voiced concern over this issue, enlighten me. I’d really like to know his stance on these police shootings.

Because unless I’m mistaken, he’s not given any indication that he stands with the men and women who comprise the thin blue line. Not even in the wake of EIGHT shootings within one month’s time. And I find this astounding.

Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:10-12

On September 1, I jotted down, “Eight is enough.” I was thinking of the old TV show. A lot of siblings. But then my thoughts morphed to friendship. Would eight be enough to satisfy my needs. To fill the void I sometimes feel. Would eight women be enough to support me… and cover my back.

But today, God led me down another rabbit hole altogether. It’s a hole called offense. Because truth is when I wrote down eight is enough, I was offended. I felt slighted by something silly and it caused me to want to inflict pain. And my method of harm is called withholding. I shut down and close up within myself.

Thus, I stumble. And my friends stumble. Because I no longer have their back.

But today, I hear God loud and clear. He says, “Eight is enough!” He says it to me and He says it to our nation. Eight lost lives is more than enough.

And why were these innocents shot? Slaughtered in cold blood? Because someone chose to be offended. Someone was filled with so much hate and violence, they lashed out by doling out evil. They murdered living souls. And in the name of offense, they feel justified by their evil deeds.

But this is outrageous. It jars me loose from my inward reveries. And it causes my blood to boil.

I wonder, what can be done? God help us all.

Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another, but instead decide not to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. Romans 14:13

I looked up offended in the concordance today and was surprised by what I found. Among other definitions, it means to put a stumbling block in the way, upon which another may trip and fall; to entice sin; or to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey. This was a holy moly moment for me.

Because this is taking place on American soil. Right now. People no longer trust policeman. Our protectors have become the bad guys. And this ought not to be! No doubt, there are bad cops out there. Just as there’s corrupt personnel in every other field. But does that give us the right to take our guns and snuff out God-given life? Or eradicate an entire career field? Just because we’re offended by something that happened to someone else.

No.

No it doesn’t.

And yet, I’m not seeing much support on this issue from the POTUS. I reiterate, please correct me if I’m wrong. If President Obama has taken the stance that he is in full support of our law enforcement, that he has their backs, then I must retract my words. It’s just that if he has, I’ve missed it…

So  then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. Romans 14:19

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Look at my boy here… oh, he melts my heart. And he enrages me. But in the end, I’m like butter in his hands. I love him so. And I ache for him. Because he is so much like me. He’s easily offended. He doesn’t handle teasing well. Oh, he can dish it out but if you jab back, he gets so bent out of shape.

No doubt, he’s an easy mark. Because when you wear your heart on your sleeve, more teasing follows. I should know.

It happened to him yesterday. After Mom and I teased him, he stomped off to a corner and sat down… head in his lap. He advised us we were bullying him. And though I don’t think that’s what we were doing, his remark gives me pause today.

Bullying is what he said. And in my humble estimation, I’d have to say that’s what’s occurring in our country today. Our police force is being bullied. By threatening calls such as the one to Aurora Colorado’s 911:

“It is time that you guys know we are no longer playing around with the police departments,” the anonymous caller said. “Aurora and Denver, we are about to start striking fear shooting down all cops that we see by their selves. This will go for the sheriff’s department. You guys are evicting innocent people. Let us catch you by yourself and it’s shots fired.”

But unlike what our kids hear at school, leadership doesn’t seem to practice what’s taught. Or preached.

And so I just have to wonder, what is happening? Has the whole world gone mad?

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21

God speaks in such diverse ways. He prepares my heart long before I know where He’s leading me. Like last week when He whispered, “Eight is enough.” It began as a mere thought but as the week progressed, layers were added. And then, I heard a newscaster last night. The report made mention that eight police officers have lost their lives within a month.

That’s when I understood God’s deeper meaning.

He says eight lives are too many. Furthermore, God says enough.

More alarmingly, though, I understand God’s meaning to me. Personally. Because I can be just the same as those who are at the other end of my pointing fingers. No different than the offended who fired shots. I do the same. Just in the reverse.

A brother, or sister, offends me by not noticing me or my effort. Or a word is spoken – too easy to misunderstand. So, I withhold myself. I withhold kindness and encouraging words, smiles and eye contact. I plain old withhold me. All of me.

But God says, eight is enough. Plain old, “Enough!”

He tells me, His daughter, “Enough of that, Pam.”

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17

Hurting people hurt people. I’ve seen it more than once this past week. And today I realize hurting people are those highly offended. They’re the ones stumbling in the dark. And sadly, they pick up guns and shoot other people.

The hard truth is, they need someone to have their back. Just as I do. They need to be part of something bigger than themselves. Woven into the brotherhood or sisterhood of God’s people. Unity is required. Not division. It’s just our country has gotten so divisive. Splintered.

Yes, it’s true. Hurting people need a support system. And the shelter of a good friend.

This is what every person needs.

Those who are offended. And those who offend.

“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire.  So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:21-24 

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I’ve been mulling over “eight is enough” for a solid week now. With regard to my friends but also, with regard to sleep. And my daughter’s pacifiers. See, she’s been having a rough time. Ear infection. Teething. Sleepless nights. So I tell myself, six is enough. Six hours of sleep should hold me.

But that’s dwindled to four or five past few nights. So as far as sleep goes, I know I need more. Six will do in a crunch, but eight would be better. A good night’s sleep.

For now, though, I resign myself to the fact I’ll have less. Because Annabelle is restless. And when she cries out, I go to her. But sometimes, her paci is no where to be found. In the darkness, I drop to my knees frantically in search of finding that which calms her. A dim nightlight to guide me. Usually, I find it under the crib. Or hidden amongst her blanket.

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We were down to only two pacifiers last week. I swear, it seemed like we never had them both at the same time. One was always missing. So Jason brought home extra. That way we’d have backup. We covered Annabelle’s back by way of five pretty pacifiers.

I’d say that’s enough. Five will do. At least with regard to pacifiers…

But then, there are my friends. My sisterhood. Though all too often I find myself in lonely places, truth is I do have them. I have my girls. And if only I’d cry out, they’d have my back in a hot minute. All I have to do is ask.

And just as I run to Annabelle under the cover of darkness, they’d do the same for me. Again, all I have to do is ask.

I just need to open my mouth. And speak up.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Today, God sets before me a choice. I can be offended or not. But experience proves one offers only isolation. The other, shelter. One provides coldness but the other offers warmth. Harm or help. Stand or stumble. Offend or be offended. That’s my choice.

So I ask for God’s help. That I’d be wise enough to not hide away within perceived offenses. Because He told me already… eight is enough!

Help me, God, to not withhold myself when I feel let down. When expectations go unmet. Because as far as friends go, I need them. Two are better than one. And three, well, that’s even better. For I don’t want to do this thing called life alone.

Would eight be enough? Probably. But in reality, eight friends are probably more than I can handle…

I don’t want to spread myself too thin, now do I?

A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24


 

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