Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Only when.

Last week I made a friend turn off a rerun of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because there was a torture scene and I couldn't handle it.

They were gracious and a little confused. I tried to laugh and make light of it, but was panicking inside a little bit, and was clear that, sorry, but I need to turn this off, now. Her husband pointed out, "Um, I mean this is from the 90s. I don't think they're going to put anything really graphic on..."

I know it probably wasn't going to be graphic. I know that it, honestly, is a silly TV show, and the fact that it was involving vampires and an overly-dramatic David Boreanaz should have meant that I could continue eating my ice cream as I gave the screen my half-attention and chatted with my friends.

But I can't do torture. I can't do a person looking up at someone with fear- even badly-acted, clearly fake, for-the-sake-of-ratings fear. I can't do screams or grimaces or any visual of knowing someone is about to hurt you and being unable to get away.

Those are real girls to me. Those are real faces, and that is real terror. People I know felt that terror and knew that pain. And so I cannot watch it, or listen to it, or think about it.

I can't watch it or listen to it or think about it unless.

Last night, I sat on the phone with a new, precious friend. We talked for over an hour and it was one of those conversations where you're both falling over each other with excitement and shared passion and ideas and understanding.

And at one point, she started a sentence and I knew what I was about to hear.

I felt the familiar clenching in my stomach- that I feel when a friend suggests watching a movie I know has violence in it, when I know I'm about to be in a group situation where there may be kids crying and I won't be able to physically turn and see: they're safe, they're fine, no one is hurting them, they're just crying because they're kids.

Normally I pay attention to that clenching in my stomach as a sign to get myself out of a situation. But I didn't stop her this time. Because she has held so much more than I have, because it was important, because I took a deep breath and knew, I can handle it, when I really have to.

We talked and I heard the stories. And a few minutes later in the conversation I realized something.

Yes, this makes me sick. Yes, I hate this. Yes, this is everything horrible and evil and full of death and the fall, just like my girls' stories are, just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer's producers' lame representations of someone scared are.

But I knew that I wouldn't be waking up in a nightmare... not tonight.

We talked and laughed (only crazy people who understand what it is to have loved street kids can laugh in a conversation that includes rape, by the way) and understood each other and groaned over stories and figured out how we can combine our resources to get more information, more help, more healing, more redemption, more love, to these kids.

We were talking to heal. We were talking to help. We were talking because we want to use our gifts and resources to contribute to His work of bringing all things right: even street kids, even rape, even torture, even terror, even death.

When I'm hearing it then?
My stomach clenches. My heart races and my skin gets clammy. I want to throw up and I want to scream.
But I don't want to hide. I don't need to leave the room.

Not when it's to, in some tiny way, be a part of the redemption.

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
"Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man...
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away."
And He who was seated on the throne said,
"Behold, I am making all things new."

Revelation 21:3-5


Martyn Wendell said...

Man, this was good. Thank you for sharing this, Emily! Hope to talk with you about it at some point. Skype perhaps???

sarah said...

Em -- loved this piece. I have been in the spot you described at the beginning more than once since my friend's mom and grandmother were killed. Since that kind of pain is no longer an abstraction for me, I can't handle seeing it depicted on TV or in movies. It's made for some awkward movie nights, but also a deeper sensitivity to the reality of violence. Thanks for sharing your reflections

Human Needs Global Resources Covenant, 2009

As fellow travelers on this journey, we commit to this covenant before God. Lord, in Your mercy, hear these our prayers:

When confronted with scarcity, need, and inadequacy, may we be nourished by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. Abundance overflows from Your table, sustaining all who come in faith. Father, help us.

When monotony blurs our vision and dulls our senses, may we encounter others as Christ did, through intentional presence in daily life, submitting as clay to be formed into vessels filled with the Spirit. Christ, guide us.

When wounded by the fractured condition of Your people, may we be united by Your Lordship in faith, hope, and love; seeing, as through the facets of a diamond, the beautiful spectrum of Your light reflected onto Your holy Church joined in praise. Spirit, empower us.

When all Creation groans, afflicted by injustice and driven to despair, may the promise of redemption root us in the hope of Your Kingdom: "Behold, I am making all things new!"

Holy Trinity, send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve You with gladness and singleness of heart.