Matthew 5:13-14 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
As I scrolled through my facebook feed this week, I was reminded that Lent was fast approaching. Ah, Lent, that time of year when I (sometimes painfully) return my attention to my savior.
This year, I have chosen to stop watching any streaming Netflix. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while. Lent just gives me one more excuse. But, really, it was ISIS and their beheading 21 Christian men this week that really solidified my decision.
What in the heck does ISIS have to do with Netflix, you ask? Reawakening. Specifically, the reawakening of my emotions and sensitivity. Let me explain a little about my previous adventures with Lent so you understand.
In the Catholic faith Lent is a time to “give something up” in order to observe the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert where He was tempted by Satan. These days before we celebrate Christ’s rise from the grave, is a season I have grown to appreciate.
Although I have never subscribed to the Catholic faith, myself, I do like this practice. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the challenge of fasting in this season. It hasn’t always been easy (I still have no idea how I went that long without chocolate! Especially since I didn’t even cheat on Sundays – have mercy!) , but it hasn’t been without its rewards either.
Every craving for chocolate became a reminder of Christ. Every salty food that left me wanting something sweet, left me with a hole that I filled with Christ’s sacrifice rather than refined sugar and cacao. (ok, so, peanut butter helped too!…)
I thought the cravings would get easier. They didn’t. Not really. But when I sat down at midnight Eater morning at a 24/7 diner in New Jersey to finally indulge in my favorite chocolate cheesecake, I was sorely disappointed.
Turns out I wasn’t craving chocolate at all. I was only searching for a way to numb the pain of stress, anxiety, fear, and codependency. I craved chocolate because my mind believed it numbed the pain.
Too bad I didn’t put all the pieces together at the time. If I had stopped to realize that my meditations on Jesus were much more comforting than any substance, I might not have used alcohol and cigarettes to try to numb the pain as well. Who knows, maybe I was too hung over to notice.
I have an addict’s brain. And my brain tells me (all the time) to cling to whatever is most pleasurable to numb out the discomfort of this world. In the absence of alcohol, it seems I have turned to Netflix.
This is no joke. I can become obsessive and start to think about non-existent characters during the day distracting me from the task at hand. Binge watching season after season of Criminal Minds and British murder mysteries has been my escape of choice for quite some time.
Wednesday, as I was still mulling over what to “give up” I scrolled upon a blog about ISIS’s recent assassinations. I was curious. Up to that point I had felt very little of anything about ISIS. Yes, I am outraged and terrified and saddened, but I did not allow myself to dwell upon these feelings for fear of ACTUALLY FEELING them.
The author of the article described emotions that were understandably intense. It was a stark contrast to my passivity. I am ashamed of my numbness. I have confessed and asked forgiveness of God. In repentance, I put down my numbing pastime and best friend, Netflix.
Revelation 3:15-16 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
I am coming out from behind my computer screen to embrace the conflict. I want to feel my emotions as I run toward Jesus and the truth He stands for. I want to spend my time fighting for hope in this world, even if it means I have to get dirty with uncomfortable emotions.
Serenity is not about numbing or avoiding. It’s about planting our feet on God’s truth and focusing on the hope that Jesus has provided us, while the world around us rages and storms. And it is certainly raging and storming with hate crimes and violence all around the world – not just for Christians, but for many religions and races.
And while I am not proud of the hiding I’ve been up to, I know this is a journey. There will be moments like this when I realize my shortcomings. But the realization will not stop me from moving forward. Allowing myself to be overcome by guilt would only compound the problem. Jesus died NOT so that I would be overcome by guilt, but overcome by His love and grace as they propel me forward toward the Lord, which is exactly what I trust will happen in the next 46 streaming-free days.
Netflix is out, Jesus is in, and ISIS will feel weight of my struggle via my prayers for their defeat and redemption. (I believe God has put a Saul/Paul in their numbers somewhere!) Happy Lent!