What Do We Do With the Dark?


 This article ran today at Heart of the Matter!

I saw him across the park as I scanned the area, mama bear protecting cubs.


Many years I’ve watched for danger as my children blissfully play. Playgrounds at restaurants, swing sets at parks, lakes on nature trails; all suspect until mama feels like it’s safe. This park we’ve visited many times, and I’m not a worrier in general—evidenced by the fact that I was eventually convinced to let my two year old attempt riding down the slide on a plastic choo-choo train he’d been hauling around the park. (It went fine, by the way. Look on his face after he zoomed to the bottom? Pure bliss.)



But I didn’t like the looks of this child.


About 10 years old, in a camouflage shirt and pants, he stood at the top of the fort-like structure with arms crossed and eyes full of anger, brooding. He was alone, though it appeared his mom was at the picnic area on the side, preparing a party.


Eventually, he found his way over to where our four year olds were playing Indians. I sidled over so I could listen in …


“I wish I weren’t even here … Everything needs to end … “

 he was singing in a monotone, words to some currently popular death-culture-filled song.


To our four year olds.


“Excuse me,” I said, “why don’t you go ahead and go play somewhere else? I don’t really want you singing that to these kids, okay?”


He scowled and obeyed. I gave the other moms the heads-up so we could work as a team; lionesses protecting the pride.


Later, the girls complained of him following them around. He had done it from a distance, so I hadn’t intervened, but it was bothering them. When he managed to corner the little ones, inserting himself into the capture-the-bad-guys game they were playing, and wouldn’t let them out of an area, I again stepped in and asked him to go somewhere else.


His mom continued barbecuing. But she’d been there for a couple of hours, and still the party tables still sat empty.


It was only ten minutes before I had to head toward him again, and this time he must have felt me coming because he bolted for the park exit before I reached him, this time muttering under his breath but loud enough for me to hear, 

 “I should just kill myself. I shouldn’t be alive.”

I shook my head, thinking how sad it was that this boy was so troubled. I wondered if his mom knew.

 The baby was tired and we’d been there awhile, so I determined it was time to pack up, anyway. As I walked over to get my bag, I prayed, “Lord, that child is troubled. Please send someone into his life to tell him You love him!”


And God said, “What about YOU?”


“Oh, yeah …” I thought to myself.


I’m quick like that.


So on our way out, as he once again came over to us, I got bold. I said, “Hey, you know what? God really loves you. He created you for a special reason, and He has an awesome plan for your life!”


“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “I go to church.”


Hmmm. “Well,” I continued, “lots of people go to church and still don’t really know that. God made you really special. You should love your life, and ask God what He wants you to do with it. He really, really loves you.”


And then I packed up my own happy, smiley kids and drove home. I prayed for him some more. I have a feeling I won’t forget that brooding stare for a long time.


As this post goes up, it’s Halloween. Yuch. I’ve never been a fan, finding horror movies to be … well, horrible and not having any desire to glorify evil in any form. It boggles my mind that people decorate with symbols of death, and encourage their kids to enjoy that.


But I think there’s an equally mystifying though opposite response, and that is the one I heard of for the first time many years ago, when I’d moved away from home and started attending a great church. Asking one of my friends what her family was doing for Halloween, I was stunned at the answer: they’d be hiding out.


That’s right. On Halloween every year, this family turned out all their house lights, outside and in, and huddled together in an interior room with no windows.


They were *pastors.*


What’s your response to darkness?


Is it like mine was yesterday—a tendency to shoo it off, to keep it away from your children?


Or maybe like my friend’s parents—a reaction of fear, a desire to pretend it isn’t happening, to hide from it?


May I suggest that we all could use a re-tuning? We have no need to fear the dark. Jesus called Himself the Light of the World, and then later called His disciples by that same moniker … 


“You are the light of the world …” Matthew 5:14.


I’m not advocating blithely letting your children play with strangers, or joining in the glorification of evil. But I am advocating asking God what He wants you to do when you encounter darkness. Might He want you to do something a little more proactive than hiding in a corner? Might He use you to bring about a change? To speak a word of encouragement, or bring some hope to a situation? To do something positive, rather than just avoiding the negative?


I think He has bigger ideas of what He wants to do with our lives than we think. Our salvation is not just for us, not just for our family. If we’re still on earth, it’s because there’s still a good work He’s prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10) which we haven’t done yet.


It’s going to take me awhile, but eventually I’m going to learn.





Read the other posts in 31 Days of Encouragement! 

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4 Responses to What Do We Do With the Dark?

  1. Jenny says:

    I enjoyed your post.  I chuckled as I read it sitting in the dark occupying quietly while this evening passes by.  I have a little bit different take on what we are doing.  I too have young children, and they get exposed to way more of the gore and horror of Halloween than I would ever want.  There is a house in our neighborhood we have to pass everytime we leave the neighborhood that puts up their Halloween decorations the second week in SEPTEMBER and they don’t take them down until the first week in December.  It is VERY gory imagery…skeletons hanging from trees, bodies hanging from trees, headstones across the lawn…it goes on and on.  We see it in the decorations in stores near those we shop at…on billboards etc.  And we choose to sit out this evening every year so we don’t have to look on the additional imagery.  There are no guarantees of what will or won’t approach our door. 

    On the other hand, I don’t see this so much as hiding but keeping…keeping my children’s innocence from things they don’t need to see.  I can’t control what comes up to our door (could be slutty, could be gory, could be cute and appealing), but I can guard their little eyes from looking on it or longing after it.   I take my stand in our neighborhood the other days of the year.  Our front yard is known as the gathering place for many neighborhood children when my kids are out playing.  Most of the time it is the greatest of fun with wonderful kids.  Sometimes I have to stay very close by because not all kids are as kind or mannered as others.  Some are downright mean…and I WILL be a shield against that.  (Thankfully we’ve won over a couple from meanness to kindness…just by setting firm boundaries, and showing love).

    Like you, I don’t understand the thrill of reveling in the spirit of death.  And while I don’t think everyone who celebrates Halloween does…there is no question of the spirit that lurks this holiday season.  Personally the first Halloween following the death of my dad brought the reality of the “celebration” straight home.  Every fake headstone made me think to myself, “What is FUN about death?” 

    So I agree with you about not hiding out from other people’s lives, but I see value in guarding our eyes and minds from the imagery and revelry of death that flits around this evening every year.

    • Misty Krasawski says:

      Girl, I certainly hear you. Making decisions for our children is so difficult sometimes pretty much always! I’m not sure I’d ever be a fan of allowing people to stream to my door–and for the same reason as you say; I don’t want to invite scariness into my children’s world. We deal with enough starting in September just from going shopping, right? Sheesh. I guess if I were going to do anything from home, I’d have my kids go *out* first! My church hosts a fall festival, so we do that. And my neighborhood doesn’t allow trick or treating (yards are just flat too large and spread out!) so we haven’t really had to deal with that. Everyone has to measure their response before the Lord and do what they think is right. Blessings to you!

  2. Muthering Heights says:

    That poor boy…  :(

    • Misty Krasawski says:

      Isn’t it awful? I’m glad I got to speak to him just a little, and also that God reminds me to pray for him once in awhile. There are so many more out there like that … :-(

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