“The bad guys” have entered Levi’s playtime. He has moved on from the innocent worlds like Thomas, where the worst characters are the Troublesome Trucks who simply cause those around them to no longer be useful, and now there are “good guys” and so inevitably “bad guys”. And the bad guys do “bad things” and they “kill” (although he doesn’t really know what that means) and characters in his imagination world now “die” (another word he only halfway knows the meaning of…by the way, Easter really messed with his understanding of death. He now believes that death is only temporary, like how Jesus came back from the dead, and while, spiritually death being temporary is most definitely a tenant we hold, its not quite within his 5 year old brain’s grasp to really understand that. So the fact that his grandma’s fish died and instead of coming back to life, made a trip down the toilet is greatly confusing to him.) But he now knows that “death” is a thing.
Two mornings in a row I have woken up to my social media feeds announcing that tragedy has finally come to Orlando. Just like Levi discovering bad guys, it was bound to happen. To be honest, being the pessimist that I am, I’ve been waiting for it. When you have as many tourists spanning from across the globe visiting one city, as Orlando does, it seems silly to think that terrorism and senseless violence will somehow give you a pass because you are the home to a giant cartoon mouse. But this week, our time was up. It was surprising to me that the tourist spots were not the targeted venues, but instead ones where locals frequent. Tiny holes in the walls that you have to know about to find and where you expect to run into friends when you arrive. These places are now stained with blood and fear.
As I woke up this morning, piecing together the events that unfolded last night and the 20 souls who no longer call this world home, I kept looking over at Levi, who was blissfully unaware that the real bad guys had come to town. I kept wondering how much longer until we have to start talking about the real bad guys. Just yesterday he asked why we lock our doors when we leave our house. And when we explained its because we want to keep our house safe from people who might want to take our things, his response was “Can’t we just leave the bad guys a note? Like ‘Dear bad guys, we aren’t home but please don’t take our stuff.” His understanding of the bad is increasing every day and one day his adorable innocence will be broken and replaced by fear and anger and despair, much like I am feeling today.
I started thinking about what I want to teach him about all this real bad guy stuff. And in a flash of lightning it hit me exactly what I want him to understand. The Darkness will never overcome the Light. I hate when people throw catchy phrases or hashtags or Scripture around like its a cure all for the evil in the world, but that one statement is the exception for me. I LOVE that the Bible references light so often. And not because it paints a pretty picture that Thomas Kinkaide can exploit the crap out of, but because the idea of dark versus light, good versus evil, is so easily understood and believed. Despite your spiritual leanings or upbringing or socio-economic status, the idea of the light always piercing through the darkness is a universal truth. Its what light does! Like scientifically and in real life. Its easy to demonstrate to even the youngest of kids. Get a dark room. Turn on a flashlight. Boom! Science.
And that is what I want Levi to understand as he begins to put flesh and blood to the bad guys. I want him to understand that the dark only wins for a fleeting moment before the Light comes flashing in. I want him to know that no matter how sure the victory for evil looks in the moment, the game has already been won by good. And it will win because we believe it will. As a follower of Jesus, I believe the darkness will not overcome the Light because the Light did away with the Dark two thousand years ago on a cross. And I want Levi to have that Light inside him so that when he encounters other people who have a harder time seeing the Light how we see it, he can simply be a beacon of hope that believes good will triumph evil, no matter what form it takes. I want him to know that its ok to be scared and angry and devastated and that its ok to believe that the Light will win.
So to my precious city of Orlando, please remember that the darkness will not overcome our city. The fear cannot win. The terror cannot live. If for no other reason than we declare that it won’t. Let’s leave a note on the front door of our city that says, “Dear bad guys, you’ve had a good run this week. But we are still here. And you will lose.”