Our relationship with the things of this world requires a very delicate balance between loving creation and allowing it to rule our hearts. The Lord is very clear in Scripture that we are to bow to only One Being. Surprisingly, our TV screen or our iPhone is not that Supreme Being who demands our full and undivided attention. I have been feeling more and more convicted as of late to cut down on the amount of time I dedicate to screen-gazing everyday.
When watching TV becomes a way to distract yourself from dealing with the struggles of life, then you start to think that maybe something isn’t right. The crazy part is that most of the time we are totally oblivious to the effects that watching TV and surfing Facebook can have on our life. We think that we are in control of how much time we spend browsing websites and searching for the latest episodes of our favorite TV shows, but I am not so sure we actually have as much control as we might like to think.
Warning: I may be a harsh critic of the pleasures of TV and Internet use, but I am not going to go to one extreme or the other on this matter. Even though I am condemning excessive use of screen activities, I am not saying that this automatically demands abandoning them altogether. Like all good things on this earth, this too should be taken in moderation. We’re all Catholic here…let’s take the both/and approach…we should both enjoy our time in front of the TV and restrict it for the good of our souls.
I must confess that my personal conviction about limiting my daily dose of Netflix shows came in the early hours of the morning as I struggled to overcome panic from a disturbing nightmare. I prayed desperately for peace so that I could return to sleeping, and instead I was bombarded with the conviction that I was merely using TV, apps and other technology as a means to distract myself and avoid embracing my crosses. When the Lord gets you with your guard down, He doesn’t let up for a minute!
As I continued to pray and ponder this conviction throughout the day, I slowly came to see how true it was….and that I am not the only person was has been deceived on this level. I call it deception because I really do see the presence of evil in the addiction modern society has to any object with a screen and Internet access. Again, these things are not evil in and of themselves, but they can definitely lead us astray.
Along with my conviction, there came this overwhelming feeling that watching TV was distracting me from truly using my gifts to serve the Lord. I would feel unmotivated to work on something for my job, so instead I was choosing to watch TV and relax for a little while. The more I watched, the more unmotivated I felt, so the more I would continue to watch. I think you get the picture. It’s a vicious cycle really. The ‘funny’ thing was…what I wanted more than anything was to be motivated to do my work. I allowed myself to be deceived into thinking that watching TV was helping me when instead it was leading me farther and farther into myself, and away from the work God set before me. I thought that my motivation would be found in distracting myself rather than facing the problem.
On the surface, choosing a distraction over choosing to face a problem sounds like a really good plan. If you look deeper, however, you will find that these distractions only serve to make the problem worse than if you had just faced it in the beginning. When the devil wants to deceive, he really knows how to get us weak human beings to fall for his lies. It’s a good thing God is stronger! The image that comes to my mind is that I saw my crosses sitting in front of me and instead of looking at Jesus and asking Him to help me, I chose to stare at the rocks that were sitting beside the crosses. In the end, ignoring the crosses ends up making the journey more difficult. We end up walking around aimlessly, or maybe stumbling over the rocks I stared at so ardently would be a better way to put it.
The challenge here is to evaluate how much of yourself you are dedicating to the world of technology. It’s not about the amount of time because tolerance levels will vary from person to person, but it is about how much of your heart you have given away. Our God is a jealous God. He wants our full and undivided devotion.
May God be praised!