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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dangerous Discontent

I have recently been reading a book by Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwanda holocaust of 1994.  Her book is entitled Left to Tell, and I highly recommend it to older teens and up- http://www.lefttotell.com/ .  It is very graphic in description of the horrors that took place in her country.  She, along with seven other girls/women survived by hiding in a 3' by 4' bathroom that belonged to a local pastor.  They stayed in this bathroom for 91 days, often times only sharing 1 plate of food amongst them.  More than once they would hear groups of killers, standing just inches away from their hiding place, chanting gruesome killing songs and calling out their names as they searched houses and streets hoping to add them to their killing list.  It was a shocking discovery that Immaculee found when listening to these killers and once getting a peek at them that these were not hardened, trained killers or soldiers that cried out for her blood and the blood of her people; these were her neighbors and friends that she grew up with, played with, that her own family had even helped out before with money or shelter.  She struggled with disbelief as much as she struggled for comfort and yet, it was in that tiny bathroom that she found peace.  Encircled by contempt, she found contentment.  Surrounded by discontent, she found love.   

Now, if you are like me, and pretty much any other human being, you have to be asking- How?  How could she find harmony in the midst of war.  One way she did this was by the grace of God.  Imaculee is a practicing Catholic who always found a joy in prayer.  She treasured her faith and the traditions that her family had grown up with.  There in a cramped bathroom, she retreated to the depth of her heart and conversed with the creator of the earth and found hope in the chaos.

This almost sounds "easy," doesn't it?  I can only imagine that it wasn't.  I would never want to experience the disarray she encountered.  Reading her story is so heavy, so sorrowful and yet incredibly insightful.  I am carrying her story in my heart, in my soul.  It has me thinking about events and people in different ways. 

I am dumbfounded, as was she, by the actions of friends and neighbors.  Just as it was in Germany.  There too Jewish people found hate expressed to them by neighbors and loved ones.  Afterward, we stood shocked at what human beings can do to one another.  We probably even confess with our lips that we could never do something like that ourselves. 

And yet, I propose to you, are we really so different?  Imaculee herself experienced the hate that drives a human to the desire revenge.  She struggled with it until she found the forgiveness of Christ. 

But not all of us are hidden away in a 3' by 4' bathroom with killers calling for our blood.  We face discontent on a far different level and probably daily.  For some, it may be very mild- a dissatisfaction of others' actions or even their possessions.  For others, it may be a bigger, growing discontent of dealing with moral situations at work or struggling with political actions of the government. 

When Adam and Eve left the garden, they experienced discontent.  But if we had been there, would we not also have "messed up" along the way- bringing sin and sorrow to every generation?  Sure, it is easy to say "No!" with 20/20 hindsight, but being "in the moment" brings each of us to the reality that sometimes our choices bring us and others discontent. 

Lately, I have experienced a level of discontent that is disturbing me.  No, I am not out for revenge- more so, I am longing change.  This discontent is on a personal scale.  It is not aimed at the government, my neighbors, my friends or my family.  I am feeling uneasiness in my lifestyle.  What I find so disturbing though is how much my restlessness has an effect on my family.  

In my heart I feel the Lord calling me to shun some of the influence of media upon my family's time.  It is so easy for me to "veg" out in front of the t.v. at the end of the day- I crave the mindless entertainment!  It was actually something I grew up with- with a t.v. in nearly every room, I could tell the time of the day by what was on the tube.  I have strongest memories of t.v. characters from my youth than I do of  daily activities.  It is a addiction I struggled with and still do.  When I had my first child, I made a decision to fight against this desire.  The t.v. went off and I forced myself to live in the moment.  I have worked to keep this habit suppressed for the last 16 years.  Usually I feel pretty good about it.  I allow my children around 1/2 hour a day, 3 times a week of viewing what we call "Jesus movies."  On the weekend, we would watch a bit more- indulging in a full length video each day.  However, as my older kids hit the teen years, we've found the  convenience of replay episodes online,  which led to a creeping back of the old habit of more viewing. 



Our first week passed.  I won't call it a roaring success.  I won't even call it overwhelmingly enjoyable.  It is hard work to work against the influence of media!  I know though that anything worth having is usually accompanied by hard work.  Sadly, many nights, we called it to an end went to bed early.  It was like we couldn't find enjoyment amongst ourselves unless we had the t.v. as a distraction. 

Discontent.  There it is again.  Discontent without the media, discontent with media.  Don't get me wrong- I am not comparing my discontent on the level of Imacculee's or the Jewish holocaust.  But discontent has to start somewhere.  It has to be given birth, feed, and nurtured. 

In distress, I watched myself and my spouse as we hit a weekend- the 2 nights that my husband doesn't work.  He has a second shift job and doesn't get home until after midnight.  These 2 nights are supposed to be a time when we can work and build our relationship.  Where did I find us on Sat. and Sun. night?  In front of the t.v.

Discontent.  Tearing at my heart.  Letting Satan in.  Finding unhappiness in my life.  I just want to give into the easy answer.  Turn to the media, embrace it.  It wasn't like we were unhappy being tube heads.  We laughed with each other, shared jokes about, and had discussions about our viewing.  Unfortunately it doesn't really build relationships; it doesn't strengthen us. 

Discontent.  Without the t.v., I have found I have a "boring" life.  Don't pity me with the use of that word.  I don't mean that I want to leave my life, give up my family and run off with the circus.  I mean I have lost myself and my ability to function with those I love and I crave change in such a fashion that I am actually restless.

When we have discontent in our hearts, is it not a quick jump from uncomfortable feelings to hate? 

I will leave you on that question.  Ponder it.  Pray about it.  Respond to it.  And if you feel led, comment on my blog about it.  We often find answers in the places we least expect- so please share your thoughts on this subject.  You could help others- you could help me. 

Discontently Surviving Myself,
Mary

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