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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

News or Not

Photo by Max LaRochelle on Unsplash

We were on our way to Des Moines when I read Ann Voskamp’s blog post about Beirut. I’d been aware of the explosion, barely. My husband had mentioned it earlier in the week, saying it was an accident, not attack. But now I was reading this post, finding out it was the biggest explosion since WWII, wiping out half a city. And Ann is saying she’d spent time in that city, and she knew people there, now asking for donations, in honor of her own birthday. Which of course, I do.

A few days later I’m out at the lake wrapping up a Zoom meeting, returning Nils’ Facetime call. Vaguely aware of something going on, skimming through a family group chat I’d assumed was mostly about baseball. Admitting I’d been a bit confused about Luke’s question, “Nils, did u make it home okay?”—and maybe it wasn’t home plate he was meaning. Now on video call, Nils and me, and a handful of his coworkers, real time realizing Mom is clueless. They’re telling me about straight-line winds, Monday afternoon, wreaking havoc on my just-barely-adulting son’s new hometown. And he’d weathered the storm in a car with said-coworkers, headed for a staff retreat. Now retreating in someone’s home with no power, and Cedar Rapids in shambles. Yikes, really?

It’s hard these days, to keep up on the news, to keep my own head out of the proverbial sand. I should tune in more often. A phrase I’ve uttered with little conviction, too many times. NEWS not being my priority, which would include, I guess, nightly broadcasts, as well as Facebook headlines, and those notifications periodically flashing across my iPhone screen. And now, here I am, spending too much time on lake house construction, not quite off the grid, but might as well be.

My husband doesn’t help. Working at his cluttered desk in the townhouse basement, somehow he does find time to scroll the headlines, reading articles, from this source and that. Unlike me, he is informed, mostly. But he’s also a cynic. Complaining daily about media hype controlling the world, no source unbiased, and “you can’t trust the news.” Which brings me back to my default conclusion. Why bother?

And yet. This doesn’t seem responsible somehow. I feel like I ought to be informed, if only to PRAY. Which I still believe is our best, first solution, especially in 2020. And so—once again—I make up my mind to pay attention. God help me.

Of course, we never only pray, because when we’re really asking, and actually listening, there’s always a whisper of something to do. Maybe it’s a birthday donation, but likely it’s some kind of skin in the game. For me, lately, it’s the question of kids. I’ve been keeping my car radio set at a local station, partly because they broadcast Twins games, but also because I’m paying attention. So lately the thing that’s been on my radar is this not-so-perfect storm of COVID and kids and something we’re calling an education gap. My news source this week tells me we’re topping the charts here in Minnesota with this less than flattering statistic; now schools afraid to open, and honestly I do not care which side of the political conversation you’re on, I just want to know what we’re doing about the kids. Because I’m a teacher at heart, and I’m a Mama-Nana, and I’m listening to Jesus, and this matters.

That said. It has been, and will continue to be, my deepest conviction to put the Good News above the World News, now and forever. Because I still believe following Jesus is the only sure way out of this mess, and I am also convinced He knows what’s true and what isn’t, and there’s no conspiracy theory or political agenda He doesn’t see right through. And when it comes to storms, Jesus has a way of walking right through them, bringing PEACE in unlikely places. Which, I’m pretty convinced is still His agenda. For me. And for you. As long as we’re willing to walk with Him, and pay attention.

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