When I told one of my good friends that I was fasting from media for an entire week, she asked if that included newspapers. It was a funny question, because I haven't gotten my news from a real live piece of paper in a very long time. And she seemed to wonder what I would do if something monumental happened. "I guess my husband will let me know if the world is about to end," I joked.
Days passed. I did not realize how insulated and softened I had become. We live in a major metropolitan area. The nightly news is routinely chock-full of awful tidbits...accidents, murders, suicides. But during my quiet week, I had been spared all of those mentions that make us desensitized to others' life-changing pain.
So, on the Saturday of my fast, day six, I was truly caught off guard. My husband was checking his ipad at the kitchen table late at night. "You might want to know what's going on. There's been a shooting in Arizona. Somebody shot a congresswoman." I walked up behind him and peeked over his shoulder. There was a picture of a lovely woman on the screen. Then, a doctor was announcing that, contrary to previous reports, Gabrielle Giffords was not dead. Though I hadn't heard any of those previous reports, I felt relieved. I walked away. And that's when I heard the announcement that among the victims was a 9-year-old child, and that she had been killed.
I gasped aloud. I stepped back to my husband and grabbed his hand. I pulled it in desperation and shock. I turned and went into our bedroom, where I couldn't help the tears from falling. A child was dead!
My husband followed me into our room, and said, "Honey, we hear about stuff like this on TV all the time. You don't usually get so upset." And that's when I knew that something greater was at work in this little media fast idea. I had become a person who was used to hearing about children getting killed. I heard about it so often that I usually didn't get upset. That's horrible! The constant bombardment of bad news had caused me to become emotionally cold toward tragedy.
So many of you who read this are role models of mine, and among the things I admire about so many of you is that you have removed the television from your homes. So, I am primarily lecturing myself when I say the following: even those of us who believe we are making conscious choices about television, news sources, books, magazines, and games may do well to remove those things for a while and ask God to show us how they are truly affecting us. Perhaps we have built a harder shell around our hearts than we may have meant to. Perhaps we must remove that shell so that God can mold our hearts more easily.