Internalizing Conflict or How I Have To Close My Eyes
One of the reoccurring statements during the recent barrage against Planned Parenthood has variations of "we can't close our eyes any longer." The point is that we as a society cannot afford to turn our gaze and pretend this is not happening. The statement is correct. In a negative example, those who continue to turn their head are made evident in their sin. In a positive example, these videos have tapped into a primal point in human compassion and anger — the eyes.
I have written previously on having the "eyes of Jesus." In summary, through actual sight and seeing our emotions are amplified. Through our eyes, compassion penetrates our veins and rightful overwhelms. Christ exemplifies this multiple times in the gospels. His compassion is linked to His seeing people. He breaks down and weeps. Something similar has been happening with these videos exposing Planned Parenthood. The church has been reignited in its fight against abortion. The sidelines and benches have cleared in a full-on cultural brawl. It really has been a wonderful thing. The church has turned the lights on the world and the truth has been revealed. The asinine rationalizations, logic, and rhetoric of today's sex worship has been put on display.
For some, these levels of compassion can become too much (Danielle has written from our shared INFJ position here). I count myself among this group. Last week I was laying in bed with my eyes closed, trying to sleep. I began to pray and started with the general sphere. I quickly found myself praying over the Planned Parenthood situation. I was immediately flooded by thoughts of babies, mothers, sex slavery and everything that is loosely associated with the filth that is Planned Parenthood. I stopped breathing. I literally experienced a punctuated panic attack. My eyes jolted open, and I gasped for breath. I had to force my thoughts away from the subject right before my figuratively open eyes.
This kind of experience is not uncommon for me. Looking back upon my life I realize that one of the reasons I appeared shut down emotionally was because I was easily overwhelmed. It was a defense mechanism. I now look back to reading Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." It sent me into a mild depression while I was in college. I now understand better why. The story was depressing. It was wonderfully written. It accomplished its purpose. I had a similar situation reading "Catch 22." I could literally feel myself losing the ability to think straight. The insanity of the characters was transferring over to my thinking. I set the book down and never again attempted to read it. Something similar occurred when I read and reviewed "The Cross and Gendercide." I was in an awful mode for two weeks due to the informative and graphic content of the early chapters. My body absorbs emotional intensity and distress.
In the Psalms, David's sin causes his body to waste away (Psalm 31:10). Often, prolonged exposure leads me to feel the same way about cultural/global sins. Perhaps unfairly, I have learned that I need to sometimes close my eyes. I can "compassion myself" out of a good spirit within my own household. This is not because I am uncompassionate, but because my compassion becomes so internalized that I literally feel as if my body is decaying from the inside. It was easy to rile me up over Planned Parenthood last week. But after a week I was unable to sustain open eyes. I continue to pray, but I could not let myself dwell on it. I am not giving up the fight. I am merely preemptively acknowledging the victory.
Laying in bed, breathing regularly once again, it struck me that this understanding of Planned Parenthood's sin was incomplete. The wrecking of my body through any stress or depression was really quite mild. I was reminded that Jesus Christ hung on a cross. The full realization of these sins came crashing on Him completely wrecking His body. Judgment for these sins would also follow. And in His judged humanity He screamed aloud about being forsaken. It is a stirring thing to realize that the judgment many of us are asking God to send down has already been delivered to Christ.
In my frailty, I cannot endure keeping my eyes perpetually open and focused. Sometimes I need to take a break. Thankfully the Scriptures call me to keep my eyes on the cross. The cross where God-become-man kept His eyes open to all of humanity. He even lifted them up towards God amidst His judgment. He did not waver in conquering sin and death. Where I gasped from merely thinking of sin, He endured sin and its judgment on the cross.
That compassionate God reigns now. His eyes are over the entirety of His creation. When I close mine, His stay open. When my compassion has to be shut down, His expands. When I feel myself hopeless and powerless, unable to exert my compassion into successful action, I remember that on the cross compassion already conquered.