I’ve been reading a thought-provoking book entitled, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, by Cornelius Plantinga Jr. A section of the book called “Amusing Ourselves to Death” has the following quote: “the value we place on entertainment suggests that it has become a diversion not only in the sense of a playful relief from the main business of life but also in the sense of a distraction from it, an evasion of it…”
Do you know people like this? People who seem to derive more meaning from watching others, than from living their own life? It’s certainly nothing new to say that Americans watch too much television, but I do think it’s interesting to consider why we are watching in the first place. Is it “playful relief from the main business of life”? Or have we let entertainment become a way to distract ourselves from our lives, or even evade our lives? Of course, TV isn’t the only culprit. With the latest technologies a person can avoid even a second’s reflection by taking their iPod everywhere they go. There are some wonderfully enriching and edifying options, and while I am thankful for these resources, the still small voice of God still cannot be found on iTunes. Another readily available distraction is this medium: the Internet. This is my biggest weakness. I can be pretty compulsive about it. And sometimes I sit down to do something very specific like pay a bill, and I get off on ridiculous tangents that consume way too much of my time. When one-year-old Sam toddles over and takes control of the mouse I know I’ve exceeded a reasonable limit.
I am currently doing the second year of a fellowship program offered by the C.S. Lewis Institute (find out more at http://www.cslewisinstitute.org). During year one of the program the fellows were required to do a time-audit. It was a useful exercise to take a candid look at how I spend my time. I highly recommend keeping a record for a few days, especially with regard to how much television you watch, how much time you spend on the Internet, how much time you spend in quiet reflection, and how much time you spend studying the Word of God. I need to do it again myself. Maybe, if I’m feeling brave, I will share with you just how much Internet time I log on an average day. The truth is I don’t even want to know. It’s not like I sit here for hours, but the two minutes here and ten minutes there really add up.
Of course, I have three huge reasons to be intentional about how I spend my “couple more soons” (see previous post if that doesn’t make sense to you), and their names are Will, Nate and Sam. Obviously I want to spend as much time as I possibly can playing with them, teaching them, and loving on them, but what’s more is that, just like all children, their behaviors are more caught than taught. And that means that I need to be ever-cognizant of all that I am modeling.
Sam is only nineteen months old, but I am continually amazed at what he has already caught. I don’t wear makeup everyday and I only curl my eyelashes once in a blue moon, but if Sam gets into my bag of tricks (my sister Laurie’s term) he holds the curler up to his eye! In fact, Sam somehow knows the proper use for each item in the bag, and has for months. And the sippy cups I use have a little rubber valve that fits into the top. It looks like a symmetric piece of rubber with two sides, but there is actually a right way and a wrong way. There is a tiny little arrow on the translucent valve that points to the right way and I usually hold it up to the light to see it. Sam loves to get into the dishwasher and fit the sippy cups together. He takes the cup, the top and the valve, and guess what he does with the valve? Yup, he holds it up to the light. Kind of freakish really. If we think anything is getting past our little ones we are mistaken.
But whether you have children or not, there are people watching how you live, and they are making judgments about how consistently your life aligns with what you profess to believe. How you manage your time is just one small part, but I believe it is an important part. And I for one can definitely do better.