I don’t know where the name comes from, because I don’t feel like asking the Google, but it looks innocent enough. Why is he so scary? Maybe he would seem less scary if we pictured him in a white polyester suit, a la John Travolta. “Hey, fear not. I just came to boogie.”
But no. The Boogieman, while totally fictional, represents any number of hidden, unforeseen dangers that might sneak up on us at any given moment. And we don’t outgrow our fear of him just because we grow up. Our fear just takes on a more “mature” form: concern, worry, dutifulness, being careful or vigilant.
Our kids used to love to watch the Veggie Tales movie, God is Bigger Than the BoogieMan. They mostly loved the song of the same name, because of the funny dance Bob, Larry and Junior Asparagus do while they’re singing.
It was entertaining but, at the same time, it bothered me. I felt like the overall idea communicated was that because God is bigger, bad things won’t happen. One thing I don’t want to do is give my kids false ideas that will eventually cause them to question God’s goodness if things don’t play out the way I promised them they would.
As for me, I had seen the boogieman come to someone I loved dearly, and to her family. For them he came in the form of cancer. After watching her endure ten or so months of treatment, and her eventual death, I could most definitely not tell my kids that bad things don’t happen when we trust God.
I never believed that, anyway. All we have to do is look around to see the truth in that.
So, what do I tell them? What do we tell ourselves, when the proverbial boogieman comes?
I think what we say is that God is with us when we suffer. He draws near to the brokenhearted. He is Immanuel, God with us – really. He is a real person, with real thoughts and emotions. He wants us to talk to Him, honestly, about our pain and anger and fear.
I think we tell ourselves that He is slow to anger and rich in mercy. He is faithful when we are faithless. He stands in the gaps for us when we are weak and questioning.
I think we tell ourselves that God suffers when we suffer. This world isn’t what it was made to be, or what it will be one day. We are caught in the in-between, where life is crazy beautiful and sometimes crazy painful. But, He isn’t standing aloof, uninterested in how things are playing out. Never forget that Jesus is a suffering savior, and if we’ve seen Him, we’ve seen God.
I think we remind ourselves that across the finish line is the fullness of His presence and joy. This isn’t the end…it’s barely even the beginning. God actually is bigger than the boogieman, and He wins.
I think we remember that He gave us each other. We are the human embrace of Christ to those in pain. We cannot survive alone. It’s hard, really hard, to sit with people who are suffering, sometimes, because we feel helpless to fix it. The good news is, they don’t want us to fix it – that’s the opposite of what they need and want. All we really have to do is be there. In some cases, we meet practical needs, or feed them, and that can be a ministry to the soul. But, the deeper things are left to the Lord. The bottom line is that we are God’s plan to care for a broken world. Love and sacrificial service are the highest callings.
I think we declare that God is good. At His very core, He is love and goodness. Everything He does flows from that place. We can trust Him.
And, we do pray. We do ask God to intervene. We ask Him to comfort, to heal, to mend broken hearts, to speak life to dead situations, to bring justice, to help us in our doubts or anger. He is our source.
I wrestled for a long time after Summer died. It wasn’t because I was disappointed with God or because I expected healing and didn’t see it. I never doubted His goodness or faithfulness or nearness.
My wrestle was with how He interacts with us here, and what we can and should really expect from Him. What are the promises we can cling to wholeheartedly? What can I teach my kids about His character? What does His goodness look like? What can I pray for with bold faith?
I don’t think my wrestle is fully done – I don’t have all the answers – but the things I listed above are solid for me. Those are the things I believe with my whole heart and they’re all I need for now.
I think what I want my kids to know about God and the Boogieman, is that God always wins. Love wins. And, if we turn toward Him, we win.