by Matt Krieg
What would happen if we shut off the world’s devices for a day, a week, or a month? What if there was no Internet, no gaming, no Netflix, and no screen-filled busyness to distract us for even one day?
What would happen?
I believe that if we did this, we might hear a collective, guttural cry from the pain of loneliness, loss, fear, worthlessness, or shame. This pain is already present in some people. But a vast majority of men and women find a way to drown it out with apps and busyness.
Been there. Done that. I can use all sorts of media to fill my time, and when I have it covers a lot of feelings I hold inside. At times, it has been my drug of choice to anesthetize me to what was really going on within my emotions.
Pornography, sports, games, it all allowed me not to feel, but it did not heal. I was content in my brokenness because it seemingly cost me nothing.
But just because I didn’t feel the cost at that time doesn’t mean it didn’t have a cost. It may have cost me everything: my wife, my daughters, my job, possibly even my life. (This may seem extreme, but doesn’t all sin—played out to its most extreme version—lead to death?)
The God we serve is not content to let us sit in our brokenness. He longs to see us live lives that are full and joyous. But in order to find this joyous life we often must walk through times of letting out that guttural cry.
God knows that pain is necessary for us to heal properly, like the setting of a broken bone. But we have to go through the healing instead of pretending that there isn’t anything broken.
For many years, I pushed my emotions down. As a man, I felt like I was supposed to be able to withstand any amount of emotional scarring and come out of it unscathed. I don’t know exactly when that lie took root in my life, but I do know that it controlled me for a long time.
I prided myself on steadfastness. I never got too high or low emotionally. I was steady.
But life isn’t steady, and I was actually feeling. In the midst of what was real life, I was cut, bruised, and broken. I just didn’t let out how I felt about my hurting. I stuffed and covered it.
It’s easier to put on emotional bandages, take metaphorical (or literal) painkillers, and use crutches.
When I distanced myself from my screens, emotions I stuffed and covered before are coming to the surface. It’s uncomfortable. It inspires intense discussions with Laurie that should have been talked about years ago.
For example, one emotional need I stuffed is the desire to be appreciated and seen as valuable. I did not have the knowledge or ability to deal with the original break I had in junior high, so I put on my own cast of pornography addition, and began limping through life until the pain dulled.
Make no mistake, the pain did lessen. As long as I kept my cast on, I didn’t feel it. It didn’t mean it wasn’t there.
But as I am feeling it now, I see how it invaded our marriage. Years after the initial break/feeling moment, we are talking about it. Thank you, Lord, because he is our great Physician. He is skilled in healing wounds and setting breaks correctly—even if it’s long after the initial injury.
But we have to do this. We have to turn off the noise, pull off the bandages, put down the painkillers, and set our crutches aside long enough to let this Physician begin his work.
It does hurt. It is way easier to be anesthetized than feel, or to check sports scores instead of let out the cry.
But the joy, depth, and connection I am seeing in marriage, friendships, and my relationship to God is proving to me that:
1. This Physician is skilled, and
2. It is worth it.