I Googled “curiosity as a vice” the other night after Chris called me out as being too curious and reminding me of the old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” That man of mine is usually on point, or fleek or whatever the term is now, although I would never admit it at first. I always object at first. “I’m not too curious, I have children and we need to know these things,” I object and excuse. Then his words roll around my mind a little later on and I know he’s right. So I always, yes always, go back to him and tell him he was right. I apologize for arguing, if I did, and thank him for his counsel. You see, I go back and tell him when he’s right because I need him to keep being right and to keep calling me to better. I believe this is a tremendous grace in our marriage and has built a level of trust that I depend on. But back to the thief of curiosity.
A few months ago there was a local, horrific highway accident involving a mother and five children–not all of them her own. This momma was a soccer mom and her car was filled with her own soccer children and a couple of their friends. I am a soccer momma who drives soccer children; not only did the horror of the accident reel me in, so did the similarities. For one reason or another, it was determined this momma was driving distracted and ran into the back of a semi killing her and her son, and a brother and sister from another family and seriously injuring their sister. All told, two different families each lost two members. This story made me sick to my stomach, afraid to drive or ride with anyone, and scared of my children driving or riding with anyone. And yet I couldn’t stop reading updates. At first, the updates would come across my Facebook feed as shared posts from friends. But then I started Googling updates.
Recently, there was a tragedy after a local Friday football game involving a high school boy. It came across my Facebook feed as a prayer request. This tragedy, like the above, made me sick to my stomach. It made me feel shaky, weak, and anxious. I Googled more; I wanted to read the rest of the story. I wanted to know what had happened and why? At first, there were conflicting reports and I wanted to know which was the correct one. I found his Facebook profile and a post from his dad. Gut-wrenching stuff y’all. I sat down next to Chris to talk it through, maybe to ease my mind by dumping some of it out on him? Do you know what I’m talking about? But Chris wouldn’t have any of it.
First, my husband isn’t new around here. We’ve been married twenty-five years and he knows me too well enough–a new phrase I just thought of instead of “well enough.” He knows things like these stories eat at my thoughts and consume my heart. He also knows they steal my joy and peace. He knows, because he’s lived through it. He knows how hard of a battle it was to change my mind. How hard of a battle it is…Not only was it hard on me and hard for him to watch me go through, as anyone can tell you who has suffered alongside, it took a toll on him too.
So he knows how stories like these affect me. He also knows, and he’s absolutely right, that I am mostly to blame for the suffering they cause me. I get sucked in and I want to know more and more. I Google, watch the news–which I never watch, search Facebook profiles and social media posts about these tragedies. I dive headfirst and heart-first into the emotional tragedy and I replace “them” with “us.” I ponder what I would do and how it would make me feel. As I’m typing this out I’m thinking how twisted and torturous that sounds! And evil.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I know that I know I’m not just telling you about myself right now. I’m talking about you. I can feel it. I know you’re on the other side of this screen and you know exactly.what.I’m.talking.about because I am describing you perfectly. I’m describing us perfectly.
I recently read, the Greek word for thief used here means ‘to steal’ and it lends itself to the mental image of a pickpocket, or thief who is so artful in the way he steals, he can get away unnoticed. The Greek word is klepto, sound familiar? It’s where we get the word kleptomaniac for a person who cannot help themselves but to steal.
The Scriptures tell us the enemy is prowling around looking for someone to devour–to consume, to go through and that pretty much sums up what happens when we read these stories. The images and emotions–real or supposed–begin to consume our thoughts and go through our hearts. All because we wanted to know a little more. Because we were curious about them or the events or the similarities. And suddenly, our curiosity has made off with our joy and peace. “I’ve been robbed!” we may protest when in reality, we opened the front door and welcomed the thief right in, maybe even making a nice cup of coffee or a bowl of popcorn to enjoy while we allowed the thief of curiosity to roam freely.
So, what do we do? First, don’t fall for the click bait of prayer. Yes, the click bait of prayer. How often does this begin with, “Prayers for…” You know what, listen close, we can pray for someone without knowing the what and why’s. Listen even closer, God knows, He doesn’t need us to tell Him. There is just as much love and compassion and intercession in “Lord I pray for that family” as in “Lord I pray for that family, similar to mine who lost their momma and child and for the other family who lost two of their children and has one recovering in the hospital. Please Lord, give them strength to continue, help them to feel Your loving presence and know that You are God of mercy. I pray forgiveness enters the hearts of all those involved. Please bless them with a peace that passes all understanding and heal their hearts, minds and bodies….” Y’all who is that for? That is not for God’s sake. That may not even be for the family’s sake. That’s me putting all my thoughts and fears into that prayer.
Also, every minute I click around, read more or spend time on the phone talking about it, is time taken away from somewhere else. Honestly, the more I click around gathering more information, the less time I have to pray for them. It also takes time away from my vocation and duties.
Second, do not pray, “Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet.
The arrogant have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path” from Psalm 140 and then invite the enemy to cozy up next to us. I have a large guard dog, but she cannot protect me from what I invite and allow into my yard.
In reality, this looks like minding our own business. Yes, it is our business and Christian duty to pray for others, no we don’t have to know all the details. We don’t need to see their Facebook profile picture or know if we have friends in common.
I’ll end with this quote I found while Googling ‘curiosity as a vice.’ “We live in a curious culture. I ardently believe that curiosity, when not tempered, leads to comparison, comparison leads to complacency, and complacency leads to death,” Connor Flanagan writes in, The Vice of Curiosity. That quote alone I’m sure requires another post on the thief of comparison and complacency.
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