This blog originally posted a week ago. Since then, two more videos have been released from Planned Parenthood. My heart continues to break. The casual way this has been addressed by the media, the lackadaisical attitude with which the general public has responded (some even defending such horrific acts as “legal” and therefore legitimate), and the willingness to turn a blind eye or distract to other causes (like a lion in Zimbabwe) shows a greater numbness and apathy towards the sacredness of human life than I originally imagined. It is imperative that we speak life – to our children, to each other, to this world – and that we never allow ourselves to grow callous and numb.
Our hearts should break. Our sleep should be restless. Our stomachs should turn and our eyes fill with tears. We shouldn’t need to wait for “another boy” to lose their life and limbs and for another girl to walk away wondering if that was her “clump of cells” being dismembered and sold for parts. We should be the voice for the voiceless – we are called to no less. We need to return the dignity and holiness to life that God breathed into it and said, “It is good.” We cannot grow numb. We just can’t.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Suess, Horton Hears a Who
I came across this book while I was cleaning my son’s room yesterday and fell open to this page…and I started to cry. Right before I had come up to clean, I had viewed just a small portion of the released Planned Parenthood video where one person was discussing with another person the sale of the body parts of another person as though they were talking about jewelry or shoes. This quote cut through the numbness and I cried.
I cried for the children.
I cried for the doctor.
I cried for the mothers.
I cried for a nation who has so devalued life that this conversation could even take place in a restaurant over wine and be defended by some as “perfectly legal.”
And I can’t help but wonder how we begin to address this with our children. Oh, I don’t want you to sit down and talk about the Planned Parenthood video and the evil displayed there. But I do think we need to begin to instill in our kids a high value on life, theirs and the lives of others.
This world seems hell-bent (literally) on destroying life. From video games to television shows, we see life get snuffed out before our eyes daily. Drugs, alcohol, and disease wreak havoc on lives, destroying marriages, wrecking childhoods, and crushing dreams all around us. Terror and violence fill our headlines and our entertainment.
This has got to have a numbing effect. Constantly brushing up against the same thing causes callouses on our physical body; I can only assume this constant brush with destruction of life does the same to our soul.
A study done at the University of Michigan on the effect of violence in video games and movies “suggest that violent media make people numb to the pain and suffering of others.” The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry state that children “become “immune” or numb to the horror of violence, begin to accept violence as a way to solve problems, imitate the violence they observe on television; and identify with certain characters, victims and/or victimizers.”
Church. Parents. We must “get” this!
If the average amount of time for a child to be engaged with media during a normal week is around 40 hours, then they are awash in this message of devaluing life. Society has immersed us to the point of numbness and our daily headlines proclaim the result of this constant message.
But we, we are the keepers of Life! The thief comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Jesus came that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly (John 10:10). We are the life-keepers, the sustainers, the light-bringers, the embodiment of hope. We, the Church, are the very essence of Life in this world.
We should “feel” different. We should stand out.
When people are around us, the callous on their heart should soften. Words of hate, of death, of violence and callousness have no place in our midst. Our children NEED to be immersed in Life every day. Our actions should proclaim to them that life is important and valued, that their life is important and valued, that they are wanted, needed, and called by God to a purpose. That they have a value that deserves our protection and our celebration.
And we need to tell the that by not only saying it to them and welcoming them and affirming them, but by doing that to everyone around us. We need to model a way of living that places high value on life. Because our society simply does not send that message. We need to grieve deeply when life is taken so that our children know a life lost is to be grieved. We need to cheer loudly when life is saved so they know that life is to be celebrated. We need to guard ourselves agains the numbness and callous that can cover our own heart.
That is not easy. And it hurts. To feel. To know the heartache of grieving loss of life in a world that constantly barrages us with that message. But our Father grieves. I know He does. And hopefully, that grief will motivate us to actively seek out life – to expose our children to the places where life is being celebrated and valued.
And Church, you have got to be one of those places. Your petty squabbles about service styles and building designs can steal that Life – don’t let it happen! Welcome the children to a place where LIFE is happening. Where LIFE gets the attention. Where faith, and hope, and love are celebrated and life is the focus. Where joy is part of the DNA and where value is placed on lives, all lives, even those who are perpetuating death.
Jon Acuff once shared that “you can’t fight against changing trends, but you can fight for unchanging truth.” Here’s the truth: God so loved this world, He sent His Son to us so that all who believe may have LIFE. Let’s embrace that life. Let’s show our children that death does not prevail. That light always beats darkness and life conquers death. For He came to give us life, even life to the fullest!
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About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com, Seedbed, and D6 Family.