Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sticky Glue

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may know the good, acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2

"Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
1 John 2:15

"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world."
John 17:14

Peter, Paul and Mary went to AWANA tonight.  I'm not helping this year, so far, so I have no control over the interactions my kids will have with other kids.  This makes me nervous.  I believe we are the only homeschooling family attending this year.

My children are going to be exposed to new things--not just to new verses.  I have to be ready to ask a lot of questions, or I may miss something big--something that needs to be filtered through a Scriptural lens, lest my children adopt a worldly view on something.

Peter got a lesson tonight in what it means to be "set apart" by God.

Two boys in his class were talking about computer video games.  Peter told them about a game he borrows from the library--Backyard Soccer (there is also one called Train Town they sometimes choose).  We don't buy any computer games or other kids' software (too expensive).

The boys have a twenty-minute daily limit for their library pick, which I think is enough to allow them amusement time...but not enough to cause screen addiction.

One of the AWANA boys, upon hearing that Peter can only play for twenty minutes, bragged that he has lots of games and can play them for "three or five hours".  And this boy also said "darn it".  Peter mentioned that matter to me because we ask our kids not to use any "fake" cuss words, lest doing so trains their tongues to use real ones, someday.

Peter became uncomfortable and stayed out of the boys' conversation after that.

I have spoken to both my boys about computer screens causing addiction in people's lives.  To me, this is a scary possibility, especially for highly visual kids, like my Paul.

I'm sure I don't have to mention that adults suffer too.  You frequently hear people joke about their compulsive e-mail checking, Twitter checking, or Facebook checking.  What's up with that, anyway?  It's a newer problem, I presume.  Are we addicted to approval, suddenly?  To validation by our peers?  If so, why aren't we more grounded in God's Word.....and in His view of us?

Is this rampant approval addiction caused by social networking, or did we always have it, but in a more hidden form?  Is it merely a "keep up with the Joneses" phenomenon?  We want to fit in...or lead the pack, even?

I struggle with a certain computer-related something.

If I spend a lot of time on a blog post, and feel it's a useful one with good insight, I rarely ever get any comments.

"Oh, my.  I thought that was a good post.  I must be out of my mind....nobody said a word.  Did I offend someone?" 

I shake off these feelings by reminding myself that, number one, I'm fortunate (and grateful) anyone takes the time to read my musings at all.  Second,  I remind myself that I just started writing 2.5 years ago.  That's really nothing, as far as practice time goes.  It takes 10,000  hours to become an expert at something!

So after my 10,000 practice hours, if there are still no comments on what I think is a good post,  I might have something to complain about.  Until then, I need to shut up and keep trying.

Or just shut up.

Anyhow, after I publish one of these "good" posts, I compulsively check my e-mail--just like I hear people joke about.  I don't use Twitter or Facebook, however.  Our lives are too uneventful to bother!

As an aside, I understand if you publish a book nowadays, you're expected to join these social networking sites and use them to promote your book.  Eeww.  I bet Ann Voskamp, who has a book coming out next year, hates the self-promoting part of authoring books.  I know I would have a hard time with that, as a fellow introvert.

Blog comments almost always show up in a blogger's inbox as a function of Blogger.  Now unfortunately, the boys notice when I'm having a compulsive e-mail-checking day.  Their noticing always makes me feel like a terrible parent who preaches one thing and lives another.  I feel so weak, low, despicable.  I hate it.

Okay.  Enough with my long confession digression.  Back to Peter's computer-game conversation.

After hearing of this boy's comments, I told Peter and Paul that it was none of our business how many hours someone uses a computer game--we are not to judge.  There could be a newborn baby in the household, or an illness, which might explain a relaxing of regular computer rules.  We never know what people are going through--or whether kids are telling a tall tale, for that matter.

But I felt they needed to know something else, too.  God expects us to be set apart from the crowd, as Christians.  We have to live for God and not covet the things of this world.  And we must use our time wisely.  We are bought and paid for by Jesus.   He owns us, and wants us set apart for his purposes.

If we spend three hours playing a computer game, can God work on us during that time--molding and changing us?  Can we focus on the Holy Spirit's whispers during that time?

In a word, no.  We can't.

I think I saw comprehension in their eyes over this "set apart" concept, but I'm sure we'll be covering it more and more.

Perhaps the harder part is making sure our kids--and ourselves--are "set apart", without also being prideful or legalistic.

How do we live daily in the tension that exists between this world and the "set apart" one?  

There is only one way.

We have to think of ourselves as having a covering of sticky glue.  If we stay near to God....through our Bible...our prayer life....our quiet listening times....our spiritual music, then we'll be "stuck" to Him.  If we venture too close to e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, computer games, new fashion, new phones, new cars, new decor--whatever we are making a god of--we'll stick to that instead.

We must pause during the day, asking: 

"What am I stuck to, today?  How can I pull away, and adhere only to God?'


Michelle said...

Many words of wisdom on your post today and I can relate on many levels. I go back and forth between feeling as if I spend too much time on the computer (reading blogs, checking FB and OurCompassion) and rationalizing it because 95% of what I do online is for homeschooling or promoting Compassion or connecting with other sponsors.
Thank you for the reminder to stick to God. Words I needed to read this morning!

Margie said...

Thanks so much for the reminder. There are times I am also constantly checking my e-mail or FB, especially at times when I am expecting something. I find that I do this especially in times of stress for example in our home sale situation. I need to remember where my focus belongs instead of seeking approval from my friends/family/peers/others.

Christine said...

Margie, I do it more in times of stress as well--like when there's whining going on around me.