Proximity: When broken hits too close to home

Saturday was power-washing day at my house.  Oddly enough, it is one of my favorite days of the year every Spring; a day I wake up excited for and ready to spring into action.  That probably sounds odd to many people, but when you work in full-time ministry and the field of domestic violence, you grow to HUGELY appreciate some very simple things.  For me, power washing is very therapeutic and very symbolic.  It’s a day full of things that I don’t get to experience very often.  I start the day by putting in my ear buds so I can listen to my playlist of all my favorite songs, a mix of everything from decades-old bluegrass to Eminem, and everything in between.  I tune out the rest of the world for hours and spend the day inside my own head thinking, contemplating, and enjoying.  That in itself is very therapeutic, but the thing I love most is the finished product.  You start with something nasty, you put in the hard work, and you end with sparkling clean finished result.  And THAT, my friends, is the truly rare piece.

In the ministry of domestic violence, we show up every (well almost every) day ready to put in the hard work and do all the things that need done.  Every day has its own new set of “needs done” tasks and every case we are involved in carries its own set of emotions. We cry a lot in our office.  There are some feel good moments…….we cry tears of joy when someone has a break through, gets a “win”, or just reaches out because they know they are not alone.  We CHERISH these joyful moments like they are the rarest of treasure, because they ARE.  The brutal truth is that we most frequently cry out of frustration, heartbreak, and anger at a system that is SO BROKEN that nobody in their rational mind could ever imagine how bad it really is.  You see, it’s a system where nearly everybody loses, even when they do all the right things.  It’s a system that accommodates, protects, and values the lives, feelings, & rights of offenders OVER those lives, feelings, & rights of the victims, children, law enforcement, prosecutors, and advocates who are left to “clean up” the destruction left in the wake of these offenders.  It’s a system that stacks the deck against all the players in the game.  We all lose, even the offenders in many cases.  Instead of being held accountable and given the proper tools to change, they are slapped on the wrist and set free to keep living a life that ends in destruction for more victims, their children, and even themselves.  Everybody loses in this game.

The broken system hit us way too hard here in Piatt County last week.  The loss is tremendous.  We are still reeling from the blow and we are ANGRY.  We are angry at a convicted dangerous criminal being set free to terrorize yet another victim.  We are angry that he took the life of a really great man who was just trying to save her life.  We are angry that the Oberheim family is suffering an unrecoverable loss.  We are angry that our law enforcement lost a brother.  We are angry that the news tries pit people against each other rather than unifying.  We are angry that EVERYONE lost, even those that did the right things.  This time, the system had proximity to nearly all of us…….it hit way too close to home.

So, what do we do with that anger?  We FIGHT!  But if we want to win, it is important for us to keep focused on fighting a good clean fight.  It must be a fight that is focused on problems, not on people.  A fight that focuses on solutions, not slinging mud.  A fight that gets results, not just reactions.  A fight that sends the message that THESE LIVES MATTER AND WE WILL BE HEARD!  I love our community and I love watching it step up to send just this very message.  I have never been more proud to be part of a community than I have this past week.  I believe God is looking for those willing to fight a good clean fight and step up to the plate.  He has chosen us this time. We are up to the task.   So we take the time to grieve a horrible loss, we mourn a life gone too soon and a family suffering an unimaginable loss, and we FIGHT!

-Rachel LeJeune