I’m currently in the process of trying to break this dreadful habit I have of visiting the vending machine in the building where I work a little too frequently. I don’t drink coffee, so when I’m in the building for hours on end and am feeling a little tired, a trip to the vending machine usually does the trick. I get to skip down the hall and swing my arms around and then wake myself up further with a sugary snack.
The second part isn’t really the best for my health. The other day I skipped to the machine and, finding that they were out of my favorite snack, settled for a jumbo honey bun. (I’m growing more disgusted with this eating habit as I write this all down.) About halfway through the honey bun, I realized that I was feeling much more awake and not all that hungry. But I finished it anyway, largely just because it was there.
Similarly, one of my roommates turned the television off a while ago to help create a more studious atmosphere, saying that there wasn’t anything good on anyway.
How is that similar? In both instances, we started with a purpose; waking up/satisfying hunger and seeking entertainment. In both instances, the purpose passed and we continued on with the activity anyway, rather unnecessarily.
This made me notice that I have (another) bad habit- one of mindlessly going about things and letting precious opportunities and experiences pass us by.
One of my favorite bands, Relient K, references “the cycle of the double-edged sword of being lazy and being bored” in one of their songs. I agree- it’s so easy to just fall into something that might not always be beneficial. I remember one extremely lazy day freshman year where I literally just sat and watched T.V. and ate all day. At the end, it felt like such a waste! The only thing I’d accomplished was doing a load of laundry. Not particularly impressive.
We’re called to rest- that’s the what the Sabbath is for. But the Bible also warns us against taking “rest” too far. “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander no overseer or ruler, yet it stores it provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there[?]… A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest- and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man,” says Proverbs 6.
I’m no Bible scholar, but I think that the part that reads “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,” (emphasis added) is spoken much as the phrase “I’m resting my eyes” is when the speaker is actually taking a nap, and not just resting their eyes. (I maintain that there is a difference!). I’m fairly certain the lesson here is not that we should stop sleeping or resting, because as I mentioned before, the Sabbath is something we’re commanded to observe.
I think it really comes down to asking yourself if what you’re doing right now is beneficial. Is it making the most of what you have? It’s tough to remember to think of constantly, but you can pray that God would bring to your attention times that could be better spent with Him or serving Him.
I gave YouTube up very randomly during my freshman year because I realized that it was sucking up my time. Interestingly enough, I realized that the day that I’m writing this is exactly two years after the last day of my YouTube ban. The effects have been lasting, and even though I’m still definitely a visitor to YouTube, I spend less time watching videos and wasting time there.
“Be very careful then, how you live- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil,” Ephesians 5:15-16 says. Making the most of every opportunity is quite an undertaking, but we are working and hoping towards a goal that makes it easier. =)
I know about a couple videos that showcase this excellently, but sadly I don’t want to link to on my blog. One features city filled with people that are stuck repeating certain motions. Some are laughing, some are listening to music, some are hanging out- but they’re just doing the same thing over and over again and can’t break free. It’s like when a video freezes and you just have to watch the same jerky motions repeatedly. Thankfully, the artists and some breakdancing robots show up to help. They’re all carrying these guns whose shots break the people free of their confinement, and free them into dance!
What sucks you in? Are you stuck in the same mindless motion? I think that most of the time, it’s the small things as opposed to spending months of our lives like I spent that one Saturday freshman year. It’s that we spend six hours a day watching T.V. or surfing Facebook, or we’re too wrapped up in something else. I definitely think it’s okay to own a television and chat with friends on Facebook, but we have to draw a line somewhere. Jesus freed us from being slaves to our idols and to sin and rededicated us to righteousness. The dance-inducing shock wave of the artists’ guns is nothing compared to the death, resurrection and love of Christ. May He transform and renew us even more every day- we’ve got a whole new life ahead of us.
This is something that I need to work on. It’s so easy to get distracted and avoid living purposefully. But if faith and my relationship with the Creator of the universe is being reduced to a quick, meaningless prayer before meals and that half-conscious Bible reading, or I’m missing opportunities to serve or form relationships because I have to catch my favorite show or spend unnecessary time browsing Facebook, then something is wrong.
If you want to challenge yourself, try keeping track of how much time you spend doing different activities. I’m not saying that you should be reading the Bible for the same amount of time that you’re on Facebook (if that’s something you want to try, let me know how it goes!), because just “reading the Bible” isn’t having a full out relationship with God. Actions play a huge role, too. Just see where your time is going. You might be surprised!
p.s. I thought of another great video that showcases an effect much like the video mentioned earlier does. It’s Ms. Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” video. Everyone’s stuck in this boring monotony until Willow starts, of course, whipping her hair (and getting paint everywhere). Just don’t spend too much time watching all of the remixes and parodies! ;P