Now I Know

Ok. I think I’m ready to write some more about my Bible study The 7 Experiment. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the areas of Food and Clothing, and how the study has knocked me for a loop. Well, I’ve spent the last couple weeks immersed in Possessions and Media, and to be honest, I’m sort of having a hard time processing these. So I’m warning you now that this post may be a little scattered.. I just feel like I need to spend more than one week in each area, and I need some time in between each area so that I can fully analyze and comprehend everything I’m learning. I guess that’s why the author took four weeks per area of excess…

Anyway, here’s what happened during Possessions Week. We were challenged to give away at least 7 items a day, which would obviously amount to no less than 49 things for the week. The premise was that we, as Americans, have so much stuff. And the more we acquire, the more we desire. It’s true. We spend so much time and energy filling our houses with things that really don’t matter in the long run while there are people half a world away who just want a roof over their heads. Or clean water to drink. Jesus calls us to love people, but if we look at how we spend our money, we’ll see what we truly love. What our idols are…

I went into this week thinking that we don’t have a lot of possessions. I mean, most people that I know have way more stuff than we do. But this was not about other people. It was about me. And my stuff. And, frankly, by the end of Possessions Week, I was ready to get rid of it all.  The more I cleaned out, the more I wanted to give away and downsize. At the end of the week, I had cleaned out 129 items to be donated to a few different ministries here in town. And I still have a whole attic to go through. 

It’s really easy to tie our possessions into the American Dream. After all, every decision we make, (and particularly the career we choose), seems to be about how much money we can make, not about what our passions are. (At least that’s how it was for me.) And the money we earn – well, we deserve it, right? We’ve earned it, so why does it matter how we spend it? Let me tell you, friends, it matters. A lot. If we’re seeking after more money, more stuff, we can’t seek after the only One who truly matters. The Word of God tells us that we can’t have two masters. But, boy have I tried. I realized, though, that we can’t focus completely on Christ if we’re also focusing on the things of this world that trap us. And we miss out on opportunities to serve others because we use our money and possessions to self-indulge and self-promote instead of helping to lift people out of poverty. This week was a great reminder for me that we are to hold loosely to the things of this world…

Next came Media Week. And oh how I love some media! Facebook, email, blogs, The Voice, Duck Dynasty, Good Luck Charlie (no snide comments, please). But here’s the thing: Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day in front of a screen. That’s more than we sleep! Technology robs us of our time and our relationships. We are all so connected to “friends” online that we’ve forgotten how to connect to our real-life friends and family. We need to re-learn how to be present.

As I thought about how I would fast from media this week, I took a good, hard look at how “connected” I am. I’m one of those people who have their iPhone with them 24 hours a day. With instant notifications for new Facebook comments and new emails. Hey, that way I can immediately respond when someone needs me, right? Because you never know when there’s going to be a Facebook emergency.

But here’s the thing – I’m addicted to my phone. It began as a simple necessity, carrying my phone with me everywhere I went, when Peter was deployed for a year. Texting was  basically the only way we could communicate so I carried that stupid thing with me 24/7. But it’s no longer a necessity; it’s an addiction. And it has major potential to interfere with how I interact with my kids. So, no thank you, Steve Jobs. Your multi-billion dollar invention is not more important than my relationship with those 3 precious little ones. I don’t want my kids to remember me as a mom who could never look them in the eye when they talked because I was always looking at my phone.

Because of these realizations, I decided that I would limit myself to one hour of media per day. So, while watching Nineteen Kids and Counting, I simultaneously checked Facebook, read a couple blogs, and answered email. It actually wasn’t very hard to give up media. I really think I could get rid of our tv if I had to. I’m not sure that it’s actually feasible to completely shut ourselves off from the Internet, though. I mean, we use it for communication, work, staying in touch, finding the nearest Chick Fil A when we’re on a road trip. You know, the important stuff…

Here is what I learned during Media Week: We, as a family, need to do a better job of opening our home to our friends and neighbors, building relationships particularly with those who don’t know Jesus. We need to stop spending mindless energy surfing the web and instead make connections with those around us. Because what is more important? Watching the finale of American Idol or introducing people to Christ and watching their whole life transform?

There’s a verse of scripture that basically says, “If you know what to do but don’t do it, you’re sinning.” I need to take what I’ve learned from Possessions and Media Weeks and put those things into practice. Because now I know…

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