Do you have headphones in? How many pages on your computer do you have open right now? Do you feel yourself drawn to put on music, a T.V. show or a movie whenever you are alone? A few weeks ago, my wife brought up the striking reality that sometimes we have a hard time choosing to cease the input from media. And it does have an effect on our minds, which in turn affects our attitude and actions. For college students, media is our main avenue for knowledge, a place of entertainment, and a place to let our minds vegetate after four hours of class.
Three weeks ago Sarah decided it would be great to get together with friends and watch the first 3 Harry Potter movies to kick off October. Now we aren’t hardcore Harry Potter enthusiasts in this house but we do like our movies. Not to mention Harry Potter is based in England, and if you know anything about Sarah you’ll understand her love for it. We invited friends and the party was put on the calendar.
As we were counting down the days, Sarah pointed out something that is anything but a rare occurrence. My phone didn’t leave my hand, I was constantly checking it. When confronted about this I told her why I was looking at my phone, checking my computer and watching something on the television. “There are things to do,” I said. “I like this stuff,” I reasoned. We then started to discuss all the things I was reading, listening to and watching all day long. Now, my days are full of work and school and it was amazing how much time I spent with my eyes glued to a computer screen or my ear drums beating with the sound of our current culture’s music. Sarah spoke kindly saying, “You spend too much time in media honey. When you spend that much time watching things or listening to things, it starts to change your attitude and you lose yourself in that world.” After a long discussion, I concluded that she was right. And so began our fast from media until the Harry Potter Party. What a revealing two weeks that was!
You see, according to my understanding, once you start taking information in, information has to come out, and what is going in determines what is coming out. Makes sense right? Think about this: What are you letting in? Is it the right stuff? Let me explain: Media is powerful. If you’ve been on Facebook 10 of the 24 hours in the day, you’re probably less involved in your world and more in that of your friend who is 3 states away. If all you listen to is Macklemore, then his values will show up in your life. Where is the proper input? In that webpage? In his songs? Or is it found somewhere else? I argue it needs to be found in the Lord and his word.
There is a trend in our culture and age group to constantly open our minds to input from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, Blogger, Hulu, Netflix, and so on. What the ratio of time you gave to media vs. time you spent with the LORD in prayer or in his word this week?
Here’s the reality: Most of us are subconsciously hiding in media input. Whether we are hiding from God, from our demons within, or from ourselves, we are using media to hide or go numb. As for myself, I try clinging to things that make me momentarily forget about my pain or fears. I often try to use movies, TV and music to act as a soothing balm to my ailments. But here’s my experience: When you force fear or pain into the dark, it grows. It makes connections with other dark things and they bind together so when one is physically alone and his mind slips for but a moment, the dark thoughts come crashing like waves. Like ice cubes at the bottom of the tilted cup smashing into my face. They overwhelm me. Soon, I find myself mindless, wandering around, sitting in shock with a tear in my eye wondering where I was for the past five minutes, and I feel like there is a thick layer of tar in my chest for the rest of the day.
So why do we run to media? Unbelief that God can heal our wounds? Nah. We know he will. We are afraid of the healing. Disagree? Give yourself a moment of honesty. Go on, just ask yourself if you think God is bigger then your mess. We know he is! The truth lies within our minds, but our hearts are too scared to accept it. We know God is bigger then our demons yet we hold on to them. Why do we fear? Because healing comes through grace. And the scary thing about grace is that it makes you vulnerable. Grace doesn’t sweep messiness out of sight. Grace exposes the mess to the light. Because without exposure, there can be no healing.
We run to media to hide from our brokenness, but grace is confrontational. Sometimes we use media as a shield to ignore the present issue and bury ourselves in a world that isn’t our own. In truth we need to seek out Jesus and find healing within his community. Grace is confrontational, life is messy and in the end grace is so good and freeing. God takes our brokenness and reveals it to truth and says, “This is what reality is. This is truth. Dwell in it.” God invites us to dwell in his grace and to set us free from our brokenness in Jesus. He does that through the Holy Spirit working within the people of God.
We came out of our fast with a new appreciation for God’s grace to work in our hearts and minds. Media isn’t all bad. We spent the whole day watching Harry Potter movies, but we did it with friends that we love. We spent time in relationship talking about the movie, sharing insights about how the movie speaks to our culture and of certain truths. We commented on the struggle of the life of Harry, how broken Voldemort is and how cool Dumbledore is. We broke our fast in community, with brothers and sisters. God’s redemptive plan is ushered and demonstrated in and through the people of God. God’s Spirit works in others to make his grace known and to pull the brokenness from each other and reveal it for all to see partake in the healing process. God’s love and grace flows throughout the community. It floods our hearts and satisfies our souls.