Three nights ago I sat in my bed staring at the screen of my phone. I used to be on Facebook a lot, now probably only 10 min. a week. I don’t love Facebook, but there are a few redeeming things about it. I sat staring at my screen because a former pastor of mine had posted something. I am pretty confident this post was a means of the Holy Spirit to get my attention. I will quote him in a minute. First there is some background that needs to be laid.
About 5 days ago I saw that the 7th Planned Parenthood video had been released. I had made up my mind not to watch it thinking, “I know that it will be atrocious, I don’t need to see that, I will just read the summary.” I read the summary and was appalled, but I still had no desire to see the video.
Fast forward again to my night sitting on my bed staring at the screen on my phone. I showed this pastor’s post to my husband and he didn’t say much. Under my breath, but audible enough to be heard, I said, “Chris McGarvey!” This was in a rather frustrated tone. I didn’t want to read his words again. He had once again gotten in my face, under my skin, “in my kitchen,” as he would say. This feeling, which in my estimation could only be a feeling sent by the Holy Spirit, but through the means of a Facebook post, was not a comfortable feeling. I could feel my flesh fighting back, justifying my position. I tried putting my phone down and getting ready for bed. I thought about turning on the TV to get my mind off of his words. My husband could see this confrontation eating at me and he simply said, “Pray about it.”
Here are the words that so rocked my evening:
No matter what your political or religious persuasion, please don’t turn away from these videos [referring to the Planned Parenthood videos]. If you are pro-choice and refuse to view them, you are like a pro-lifer turning a blind eye to news of abortion clinic bombings. “Hear no evil, see no evil” is not virtue. Toeing the party line while ignoring grievous evidence is not virtue. Do you know your reasons for wanting to turn away?
What bothered me most was not knowing my true motivation for not wanting to watch this video. I took my husband’s advise, and with notebook in hand I prayed about it. Here is a glimpse of what came of that,
Lord, why don’t I want to watch this?
Do I not care? No, I know that is not it.
Am I scared?
Do I not want to be burdened by the emotional reaction that is sure to follow?
Those last two questions needed no response, I knew these were the issues, but I still didn’t understand why these were issues; there was more. By this time in my prayer, I really didn’t want to dig any deeper because I could tell it was just going to get ugly. I was going to see this little weed with a giant vining root. I had just gently tugged on it, but there was so much more there.
Here is what followed (beware, it’s ugly):
Why do I turn away from sadness or trouble?
1. Because it is not fun. It messes up my comfort; it messes up the ease with which I can lay my head on the pillow at night and fall asleep. I prefer to laugh, to watch funny movies, play games, be happy. I don’t want that feeling of sadness and anger present.
2. It might convict me to action, and I don’t have time for that. Also, this doesn’t seem like a battle that can be won. It would be an inconvenience to be convicted into action.
3. What do I do after I watch it? I can’t un-see it. I can’t just turn on a movie afterward; that would make me feel guilty, then I would be burdened with guilt and sadness.
Ugly right? I am just beginning to unearth this weed. I don’t yet know the intensity of it’s root system. So how do I encourage you?
Don’t be like me; this is not the way it is supposed to be. Don’t be satisfied by shallow entertainment. Don’t be lulled toward apathy because of its comfort. Don’t think issues of this severity are not worth a spot on the calendar. If you find yourself resonating with me in not wanting to be burdened by hard things, confront the issues, don’t push them aside. Don’t run to your escape method (food, entertainment, alcohol, … ) Sit down in the presence of your Helper.
This is always a helpful starting place for me: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23–24).
I did finally watch the 7th Planned Parenthood video. I wept, I went in to brush my teeth and I wept more, I came back in to see my husband and we wept together then prayed for those involved and the part we can play as a church body and as a family.
And as a qualifier: I love Chris and Beth McGarvey, probably more than they know. He has a reputation for “getting in my kitchen” and it is one of the things for which I am most thankful. The years sitting under his leadership have been some of the most forming years in my life.