“We all have the same twenty-four hours.”
A very wise friend said this to me the other day. We were talking about productivity, mindfulness, general wisdom, and life, overall, and he said it in the context of every person’s own choices making up who they become.
It struck me, and hard.
Before this conversation, I had already been toying with the ideas of what I was going to give up for Lent this year. Last year was the first year I’ve ever successfully made it through the entire thing, and all I gave up was Diet Coke. Trust me, that was hard enough in its own right (I will, shamelessly, admit that I have one Diet Coke every weekday, since we keep the office stocked). However, this year, it was really put on my heart to look for something more challenging, something that might help me pursue the true meaning of Lent and find what the Lord wants me to find in this season.
Then, a few days before this conversation with my friend, I stumbled across a snippet from John 10:10 – I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
That got me thinking even further. What in my life is hindering me from living abundantly? Diet Coke had no real impact on my abundance of life, and perhaps that was why it was so easy to go without. Sure, it’s an indulgence, but hardly something I feel overly attached to. There are other ways of getting a midday caffeine rush.
I looked deeper at my daily habits and found that I kept coming back to one thing that was really bothering me: I watch a lot of TV. Mindlessly, at that.
I didn’t used to do this. I wasn’t necessarily raised that way. My mom is a huge reader and not a big TV lover, and the TV she does watch tends to fall into thoughtful, witty sitcoms, like Fraiser, and what she watches, she does for enjoyment. I started thinking about my TV habits, and really wondering if I get any sort of enjoyment or fulfillment from what I was doing. And I realized that, undeniably… I wasn’t.
I’m not talking about the news, or about Friday nights where the boy and I cuddle up on the couch and watch the Olympics. I’m talking about my terrible habit of turning on Netflix when I get home from work and just zoning out until he gets home, when that is a solid couple of hours that I could spend doing something so much more engaging: reading, writing, praying… anything, really.
Then, this conversation happened, just before Ash Wednesday and therefore just before I needed to really commit to what I’m giving up this year.
It was pretty obvious, after that. We do all get the same 24 hours, and if I am going to further pursue not only the Lord, but fulfillment over all, I need to not be spending 3 of it zoning out in front of a TV show I’m hardly paying attention to.
So, I’ve decided that for the next 40 days, I will not watch Netflix.
I’ve given myself the option of watching the news, or the Olympics, or basically anything else that might be on my very limited cable package. But 18 channels, most of which are local, doesn’t offer a lot of options, and what there is, you generally need to pay attention to. I already read when the boy turns on games, so I decided those don’t count either.
Netflix and Hulu, though? Yeah, those are off until Easter.
Now, the three or so hours that I get to myself each evening will be spend with a book in my hand. I’ve committed myself to reading each night, with the goal of both generally broadening my own mind and perspectives, and, because I plan to spend some of that time in scripture, discovering what the Lord has in store for me next. I have three new books to read: a beautiful hardcover edition of To Kill A Mockingbird that I was gifted for Valentine’s Day (though I’m not sure I can call that “new,” as it was gifted to me because it is one of my all-time favorites, but you get the point); plus Hillary Clinton and Jeff Flake’s books, which I was given by this same wise friend who mentioned the 24 hours, as an opportunity to see both sides of the story. I already made it a goal to read more this year, so I hope that this commitment to freeing up my time to do something more… well, substantial… might help me pursue that goal as well.
Overall, I really just wanted to use this season as a chance to let our Father do His work on my heart, and I realized that mindlessly turning to Netflix every day was keeping me relatively closed off to that. I didn’t have to think when I was watching Chandler, Joey, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Monica, and I’ve been feeling all the more disconnected lately because of that.
Anyways. This was a bit of a rambling stream of consciousness, I admit, but I felt compelled to share what I’ve challenged myself to for Lent this year, and why. Do you observe this time of fasting and sacrifice? What are some goals you have in this season, if you do?
Regardless of your choice — good luck to you, and God bless.