They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
~ Mark 8:22-25
Ever since I saw the new Avengers movie, I’ve been writing a post in my head. It’s a good one; I think you’ll love it. I had planned to share it today, but when I sat down to actually write this week, I got stuck.
I got stuck when I sat down to write for the same reason I couldn’t sleep when I went to bed.
It’s Ann Voskamp’s fault, really. I totally blame her for my tired eyes, my empty blog post – and my broken heart.
See, as I was winding down for the night, scrolling through Facebook one more time before logging off, I saw it. Two of my friends plus Ann had linked to her most recent post. I’d already gotten a notice about it via Google+ in my email – and deleted it. But, I decided, maybe I should click over and see what Ann is talking about.
Her post is called, “Into Iraq #2: What the News isn’t Telling You & Why We Can’t Afford to Pretend It’s Not Happening [Sozan’s Impossible Choice — and Our Very Possible One].” I’m a sucker for “What the News Isn’t Telling You,” enough that I ignored the “can’t pretend it’s not happening” part. Because if I’m real honest, the kind of honest I don’t want to be if you must know, that’s my strategy for most of what the news tells and doesn’t tell us.
It’s hard to face true tragedy and depravity, too hard. So I don’t. I don’t watch the news and I don’t read those articles and I don’t let myself feel or understand or — here’s that honest part — care.
But this week I clicked on Ann’s link. And I read her post. The whole long thing, on my tiny smartphone screen, sitting on my couch before going to bed.
I sat there and I read it and I cried. My head started shaking and my hands started waving and, in my head because SLEEPING BABY AT MIDNIGHT, my heart started shouting, “Stop it! Stop telling me this! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT IT?”
Finally, my phone went dark and I walked down the hall to take out my contacts. I climbed into bed, still shaking, and I reached for a novel about foolish people doing stupid things in a make-believe world that doesn’t matter. You know, the novel I hadn’t been able to put down all week? I reached for it, but my hand fell short because I just couldn’t.
Oh, I wanted to dive into a pretend world where the stakes were the opposite of high because they weren’t real. I wanted to sink into my pillows and dream about things only my tired brain could make up – and then wake up to a world where things like what Ann told me about were no more true than that novel or those dreams.
But I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop thinking, I couldn’t stop shaking or crying. I couldn’t turn away, and now? Now I can’t forget.
I didn’t know before. Because I didn’t want to know. I knew that I couldn’t handle it, that my brain couldn’t process it, that my heart couldn’t bear it. But now I know. I know and I was right. I can’t handle it, and I wish I didn’t know.
But I do. And I can’t very well go back to looking at the world, at this horrible, very real part of our world through fingers tightly clasped over my face, like I’m watching a grisly scene of NCIS. I’ve heard, from someone who has been there, just how horrific things are in Iraq. I’ve read about nine-year-old girls and the horrors they face, and I’ve looked at my seven-year-old girl, and I’ve cried. I’ve read about mothers choosing which children to take with them as they escape the persecution at their doors, and I’ve looked at my girls, and all I can say is, “No. Nononononono.”
I’ll write about the Avengers movie another time. But today you and I can be the superheroes, if we’re brave enough to click and to read and to understand and to know. If you’ve been blind, intentionally or not, this is your chance to have your sight restored and to see clearly. Please take a few minutes today. Read, pray, give. Just don’t look away.
- You can read what Ann has written about her trip to Iraq here.
- You can read Jennifer Dukes Lee’s response (A Story We Don’t Want to Read — But We Have To) here.
- And my friend Shelly wrote a response (Do Something. Bring Justice. Help Iraq.) here.
- Finally, if you’d like to hear Ann speak about this with Jennie Allen of the IF Gathering and Jeremy Courtney of Preemptive Love Coalition (an organization working in Iraq), you can watch it here.
These women are so much more eloquent than I am, and they have wisdom and hearts that I respect and trust. What they have to say is important. What we do in response is even more so.