The Virtue of Remembering- Personal Example

At the start of this month I shared a personal goal for myself: to cut down on my use of media and entertainment. Now when I first made that commitment to myself I was thoroughly convinced on it. I knew that it was the right thing to do and I was actually excited to get started.

The next day I started to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake.

Of course, all the reasons to make this transformation in my life were still valid, but I just couldn’t make myself care about them anymore. In fact, it wasn’t long before I caught myself breaking my commitment, and not even maliciously, I had simply forgotten about the things that had once seemed so important.

Children of God are like this. We have real moments of grandeur where we sincerely want all that is good…followed by a long reversion back into our default “meh” state.

Now with my personal example, once I started thinking again about what my commitment had been and why I had made it, some of that old fire started to rekindle. It really felt like blowing on the coals, bit-by-bit getting the heat back into them until they could ignite again.

As such I’ve instituted a regular “blowing on the coals” practice into my day. Every couple hours an alarm goes off on my phone, reminding me to recite back my commitments and the reasons for why I am doing them. (Yes, the irony of using an alarm on my phone to remind me to not use digital media is not lost on me!)

I hope that in time I will learn to be a better rememberer. But even if I do, I suspect I will always require a time of refreshing, recommitting, and renewing. It is okay that we forget, we just have to be sure, then, to remind ourselves.

Personal Commitment: Month 0

Today I start a new series in this blog, one where I commit to living the principles of the gospel more fully, and keep myself accountable by sharing the results of so trying in each succeeding entry. I do recognize the need to handle this with utmost delicacy, for I know that the cultivation of one’s soul is a very sacred, personal thing, and I do not want to tarnish it through over-exposure.

As such, these commitments are not going to be expressed as crude checklists, or detailed out in every degree. Some parts of my spiritual cultivation I simply will not discuss at all.

Still, I believe that if one handles such matters with thoughtfulness, a great deal of good can come about by having a bit more vulnerability to one another. Being able to honestly talk about where we are at with our own conscience, and to admit that there are things we are still working on, can help us reach for our better natures together.

I’d like to start the ball rolling by stating that I am a millennial, and I am over-saturated in media. Hardly surprising, I know! But just because a trend is common or understandable does not mean it should be condoned. I have felt for a while like I need to take a stance against my own over-consumption of the digital world, and I would rather that this part of my life be a pleasant seasoning, and not the main course.

Of course, excessive media use is never explicitly called out in the scriptures as a sin. And yet, my conscience tells me that it is an idol that at times I have placed before God. To check-in with my conscience now, I would say that I feel like I use media as a crutch to get through times of boredom and stress. I have noted how even after I turn off the screen, I can remain in a dazed state, unable to fully engage with the other aspects of my life. I do not feel that this is how I was meant to live.

Thus I have set some expectations for myself in how I would like to limit the role of media in my life. Some things are being sworn off entirely, others are being limited to specific times and situations. But more than all that, I just intend to follow my conscience, more than my “need” to look up that article or video. One month from now I will share how I have progressed in that journey, and what the effects of it have been. If anything particularly notable happens along the way, I will make note of it at the time.

Thank you.

Making Time for God- Question

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and we have a lot of wheels squeaking in our lives! The smartphone chirps at us, social media rants at us, the television blares at us. Life is a dashboard full of meters constantly draining towards empty, and we rush about frantically trying to fill them all.

We’re afraid of losing things, of missing out, of leaving opportunities on the table. Our lives become machine-like, incessantly servicing all the many calls for our attention.

God, meanwhile, doesn’t squeak at us at all. He’s much too dignified to stoop to that level. This shows what great respect He has for us, but also makes it easy to lose sight of Him amidst the din of the world. Still He waits, patiently, for however long it takes. He waits for us to come to Him. Usually when we do, we’re the ones squeaking now. Squeaking in pain!

Well, God has grease for His in-pain, squeaky-wheel-children. He commiserates with us, then soothes us, and finally heals us. Then we, eternally grateful, skip away happily and promptly lose sight of Him once more. We’re caught back up in the world, we’ll come back when we’ve scraped our knees again.

It’s a way to live life, and I suppose it could be worse…but also it could be better. God invites us to make Him a more permanent fixture in our lives, to give Him time each and every day to heal and strengthen us. He offers to be with us every hour.

With this study we’ll consider how to push some of the world’s clutter off of our shelves and make space for God. We’ll examine what tricks the adversary uses to distract us from the things that really matter. Before we get started, though, I’d love to hear in what ways you’ve found yourself overwhelmed by the noise of the world, and how you were able to make a time and place for holiness.