I put the television away on Wednesday.
Rocking Eliot in the glider in his room, reading Francis Chan’s Forgotten God, suddenly it hit me. Waves of emotion and the sting of my apathy flooded my spirit, and I realized that I’d poured dirty water over the Truth’s consuming fire, once lit bright within me.
Chan puts it this way:
In the craziness of our world, it takes tremendous effort to find a quiet place. It takes time to quiet your mind and your heart before the Lord. It means turning off the music, the television, or your cell phone…I don’t know what it looks like for you to be still before the Lord. But I do know that no matter what your personality, it is a spiritual discipline to be still, to listen, and to cut out the distraction and din of our world. And as we practice this stillness, this waiting, this being, it is then that we can experience deep intimacy and relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The TV is my thing. It’s my black noise, my mindlessness, my void. It is my pleasure, my lack of self-control, my apathetic indulgence. Moments before I turned it on, I could hear that Spirit, Come and be with Me. Come spend time with Me. But I pushed the button instead.
That day, gliding back and forth with Eliot in my arms, I saw in myself the brokenness of sin that causes the collapse of communing with God. I looked down at him and reminded myself of the future Travis and I have planned. It is not filled with days of television viewing. It is filled with reading, learning, talking, listening, living, climbing, playing, rejoicing, grieving, laughing, sighing, singing- lots of singing, dancing, mimicking, and loving.
For me to be that mother, to lead him in that direction, I have to take on those activities. I have to actively engage the beautiful things, put off my flaws and bad attitudes, my dirty habits and selfish ways. This means no television for my family for a while.
A few pages later, this beautiful Spirit of Truth spoke to me again. The words were different, and they released a realization in me:
Do you ever want to distance yourself from Him because you feel so much shame over your sin? This was a regular pattern for me. I wanted to prove that I was sorry for what I did by being faithful for a period of time. I wanted to develop a good track record before pursuing my relationship with Him again. I wanted God to see that I could be a good servant. Then I felt good enough to talk with God again. But God didn’t want a good slave who tried really hard. He wanted me to see that He was a good Father. He wants intimacy.
I have to say it over and over again lately. God wants me. He wants me. Travis has to tell me, and he does. I have to listen. I glide with an almost-6 month old and remember that this vulnerability isn’t just for me anymore. The house is quiet today, and there’s been a peace in our midst as the antique dresser now displays pictures and candles instead of the black screen, not black often enough.
I feel the desire constantly, but that Good Spirit within helps me to stand. That Good Spirit within me changes, the water trickles down to nothingness, and the flames engulf every corner once again. It may take a while to get there, and the shame may still creep up, but that good Father wants intimacy. I pray that’s what He’ll get.