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I am Shauna Shanks. I love green smoothies. I'm an author, mom & wife chasing smallness.

The Dark Places

The Dark Places

Several weeks ago I was over at Jennie Allen's blog reading Let's Overwhelm Someone. What I remember from it and what keeps repeating in my mind over and over is that she said this, " ....I have been in a dark place honestly and I tend to hole up when I am going through things. But I am turning the corner and this morning as I scrolled through social media I saw another woman in a dark place. I did not know her but I think when we can- we should move into people’s dark places."

What I keep hearing over and over specifically is this part, "I think when we can- we should move into people’s dark places."  

This statement has become compounded to me because I had a dream a few weeks ago that I just haven't been able to shake. Someone that I love dearly was in a very bad situation. In the dream we were at a party. We were surrounded by people that we know and love. As I walked inside to throw away an empty plate, someone had approached the person I love and began verbally assaulting them. A fight broke out. I started to head back outside, but realized, That's really not necessary. The yard is full of people that love us, they will surely intervene before anything terrible happens. I turned my back and walked down a long hallway through the house. At the end of the long hallway was a window. I looked out the window. 

 I saw the person that I love down on the ground being fatally attacked. I took off running for the backyard as fast as I could go. I realized as I ran what else I had seen through the window. 

All of those people.

Good people. Friends. Family. They were standing around in groups. Or in pairs. Some were chatting like nothing was amiss. Most had awkwardly positioned themselves with their backs turned so as not to have to be bothered at all by the assault. Some, I could tell by the looks on their faces, did not want to help because they 'disapproved' that this person had responded or engaged in a 'fight' at all.

As I ran towards the backyard my mind replayed what else I had seen out of the window. My brain tried to make sense of it, but it was too crazy, too inhumane. A few of these good people that we know had their cell phones on recording the whole thing! Recording it, like for entertainment! 

I ran down the hallway as fast as I could screaming, crying, and infuriated. Why would no one help him?! How could they just let him die? I woke up in a sweat with my heart pounding. And still infuriated.

I was so angry. Who would do that? Who could just stand by and watch someone be attacked and do nothing?!In my dream, everyone did. This seemed completely far fetched to me after I woke up. I know good people. I don't know many who, in a real life situation would react that way. 

Yet as I tried to recover from my dream I saw a face in my mind. It was not someone that I love dearly. But it was someone I knew. We used to be friends. She had recently been through a really dark place. She sort of had a very public meltdown on social media. I had thought to reach out to her, I had. But I didn't. 

I didn't for many reasons. For 1. I felt it was none of my business. 2. I hadn't talked to her in a really long time (a go-to excuse not to get involved.) 3. I had my own stuff going on (couldn't we say that every time until forever?) And 4. Honestly, I just didn't want to associate myself with a person who was so publically trainwrecking. I mean, it's their problem. Keep it to yourself, man. 

I began to see other faces in my mind. All the same thing. People who have been in very dark places. I knew about each one. I did nothing. Each time. 

The anger I felt from my dream slowly morphed into something else. Was it horror at my own inactions? Was I ashamed of myself? I'm not sure what the word is to describe my realization that I was one at the party who witnessed an attack, and did nothing.

Jesus. I am the person watching. Holding up my cell phone. Not intervening. 

Usually a dark place is not physical attack. Sometimes, it's a train wreck over social media. Sometimes it's a co-worker struggling through a divorce, or a friend struggling with addiction, or even a stranger who has lost their way. These dark places, if no one intervenes, can lead to years or even a lifetime of depression, chaos, and loneliness.

Within our reach of helping, someone is at the end of their rope and if we are being honest, we know it. We don't care. 

We say we care. In church, we say it. At bedtime, when we pray, we say it. But everyday, we are presented with opportunites. Opportunities to intervene, or to watch. Chances are, as you read this, someone has come to mind. 

Sometimes we don't intervene because we don't love them dearly. If it were a sister or a husband, or a child, we would put our own self in harm's way to defend them. But when it's someone we feel indifferently about, we do nothing. The problem is, as sons and daughters of Christ, He loves everyone dearly. He feels indifferent about no one. His love for each person being attacked in any manner far reaches any chasm, is exorbitant, overwhelms and abounds. 

He has charged us with caring for one another. How must he feel when because we feel indifferent towards someone, we do nothing? 

 "I think when we can- we should move into people’s dark places."  

1 Peter 5:8 says, "Our enemy desires to consume us, but we find strength to resist him when we are dependent upon God for His strength.... Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone."

I do believe in the Bible. Yet I've never seen a physical fight like the one in my dream where I would certainly intervene if it occured right in front of me. Yet I have seen people so confused & frustrated that they shut down. I have watched people struggle over relationships, heartbreak, poverty, I could go on and on. I have been presented with opportunites to kneel down, pick someone up who has either fallen, or been pushed down. It happens nearly every day. It happens when people are within arms reach of grabbing. It happens so much in fact, I wonder if the problem is that I have become desensitzed. 

 "I think when we can- we should move into people’s dark places."  

I think we should stop feeling like it's none of our business. I think we should stop being afraid someone might associate us with the "train wreck." I think we should un-turn our backs beyond our immediate groups who "have it all together" and whom we dearly love. I think it's time to expand our circles. I think we should stop watching and start intervening. 

I have been in seasons of my life when I felt on top of the world and I felt like everyone wanted to be my friend. I've also been the train wreck and I could feel people literally scatter. 

Let's stop that. Let's not be afraid of the mess. 

I have been a watcher. A non-intervener. A cell phone holder-up-er. But I think, when we can- we should move into people's dark places.

You can find Jennie Allen's blog here:

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