I fondly remember the summer of 2020 when the Lord led me to make reading of physical books a commitment. This came from an understanding I spent far too much time staring at screens between my laptop, phone, and kindle. With the Lords help, the evenings were always reserved for reading which led to spiritual, as well as mental growth.
In December 2020 I took a picture of all the books I’d been able to read (along with a few by kindle that I didn’t have a physical copy of).
That picture used to give me joy……
but now it makes me very sad
Since that time I began to slowly fall back into entertainment by screens using Netflix, or news in the evenings instead of reading. I told myself “just ten minutes of this, and then I will read my book”. But as you can imagine, it ended up lasting a lot longer. Books such as “Digital Minimalism” make it very clear social media, or streaming sites are created to keep our attention. The apps especially make it very easy (too easy!) to swallow up all of our free time.
In a deeper sense this isn’t really about social media and streaming though
It’s a question of how we will invest our free time.
I usually come home from visitation about 6:00 in the evening pretty tired. In that moment I have an incredibly important decision to make.
- Do I read a book while cooking?
- Or do I watch something?
- In the end this comes down to education, or entertainment?
Sadly in my tired state I choose entertainment most of the time.
“But wait!” you might say, “it isn’t a sin to be entertained!”
No it isn’t……
but every time I choose entertainment over education at night, I develop a habit of choosing it at other times.
James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits” says our choices “are like votes for who we would like to become.”
So if I vote for entertainment every night at 6:00, guess what I will vote for when I do have energy.
Recently I was at the doctors office (had taken a member there) and brought a book, and notebook to pass the time. As the minutes passed I spent some time working on sermons in the notebook and decided to reward myself with fifteen minutes of social media. But because my brain was focused accustomed to indulging in it every night, it was incredibly hard to just spend 15 minutes on it. The book was never opened 😦
The answer to staring at screens is simple but not easy…….
Defend your free time with everything you have!
This means making a book THE FIRST OPTION in EVERY SITUATION! I currently rely heavily on my kindle because it doesn’t allow me to go online (I have a basic reader) but don’t use the phone app since it is too much of a distraction. The funny thing is if I make myself reach for the book first, I will enjoy it immensely! But reaching for it first is very difficult.
In my backpack I always have a physical bible, a kindle, and preferably a physical book. In my right-hand pocked I always have my phone. In moments of what I reach to makes all the difference in the world.