trust, lent and no tv

I have successfully whined, complained, extensively scrolled through social media, debated Biblical theology with my mother, ran errands, balanced our budget, and… did I mention whine and complain to the point of driving myself insane?

It’s been 3 days since I decided to give up TV for Lent and I’M LOSING MY MIND.

I knew I was addicted to TV. It’s the way I escape the world. Total transparency —  it’s the way I escape myself. There’s something incredibly soothing about watching other people, WAY crazier then me, screw up their lives, that makes me feel far better about my own.

I miss Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope. Rachel Green and Lucrezia Borgia. I miss Sheldon Cooper and both Will & Grace.

For those of you not addicted to TV, the above mentioned are the characters in my current favorite shows. In the past 12 years, there have been MANY, MANY obsessions with characters and plot twists that have kept me running back for more.

Growing up, we weren’t allowed to watch much tv. I don’t remember all the rules but I do remember a time my mom came back from running errands to me ratting myself out when I attempted to replug the cable cord she’d unplugged from the tv, breaking the stupid metal piece on the end. I remember there were rules like one hour of tv — a day or week? Regardless, there was little tv watched in the Belt Household.

When I got to college, my freshmen roommate needed the tv to fall asleep every night (which I HATED at first) until I was addicted to the sounds and light of the tv as well.

After Jacob died, I laid in bed in the dorm and watched tv for hours on end. I remember many days I didn’t crawl down from my raised mattress except to go to the bathroom, lulled into a numb-ness that allowed me to partially forget my pain.

Many years later, I sat in a dorm room in Italy, numbing from the pain of the “break up” email. I used international tv hacking sites to watch (or better yet, binge) The Good Wife and Walking Dead. Season after season, numbing  brain cells so they wouldn’t feel all the hurt.

When I moved back to the states, I spent hours and sometimes full days, in my bedroom. Eating food from my bed, letting my Roku run through show after show. I remember asking God in that season — do I need to stop watching TV? TERRIFIED of His answer — but left with a “not yet”.

TV was keeping me away from booze in similar ways smoking cigarette after cigarette keeps drug addicts away from their poison of choice.

As a single woman, moving to Atlanta with few friends, I spent A LOT of weekends binge watching TV in my apartment. I bought THE BEST TV with DVR and Netflix capabilities and loved to click “Watch Next Episode” over and over and over.

There have been weekends or days where I turned the TV off to give me heart and head a break. Always a challenge, always a struggle, always knowing Jesus would one day call me to put the remote down for real, and pick Him over my shows.

Just a few weeks before my 30th birthday, that nudge came.

It is time.

At first I was terrified, then I felt a flood of peace and freedom.

I know it had gotten bad. Every spare minute I have a TV (or iPad) on. Even cooking dinner was being done with one of my favorite characters joining in.

Oh, I have a meal to eat… let’s watch a show.

A load of laundry to do… let’s watch a show.

A work thing to accomplish… let’s watch a show.

My inability to sit and BE in whatever uncomfortable thing I was *being* in was a reality check. Especially when I found an article on Facebook that said “our kids can’t be bored”.

I don’t remember the exact article but here is one very similar. Upon reading it, I was convicted times a bajillion by how many sentences I could have removed the phrase “our kids” and filled it with “VIRGINIA”.

The premise? It’s GOOD to be bored. It’s HEALTHY to be bored.

Life brings boring moments and [VIRGINIA] must learn how to handle them.  

When I looked in the mirror, TV watching had become a two part idol I used to:

  1. Numb yucky feelings
  2. Keep me from being bored

I decided to do it. I decided to trust God and trust Him to show up in those moments when TV would no longer be my GO-TO.

The thought of doing so brought nervousness and also a deep rooted sense of PEACE.

I knew it was time, I knew I was ready.

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?” 

Ester 4:14

It was going to be hard, BUT I CAN DO HARD THINGS, I proclaimed!

The first night was fine. I was more amped and excited then I was terrified.

I survived Thursday too… with a four hour nap.

Then Friday came and Lukas had plans with his dad which meant I’d be at the house alone. The quiet of the house, with the inability to turn the TV on…I was terrified. I stayed at work til almost 7pm. MUST NOT FACE THE SILENCE.

When I got home I was ornery, annoyed, frustrated. I had a bajillion things I could have done because… HELLO ALL THIS TIME I NEVER KNEW I HAD… but instead I just paced.

By the time Lukas got home I was a ball of anxious energy that was all to quick to lash out at him.

This morning was no different, this day has been worse. I’m not feeling good and I know I need to be resting but RESTING WITH NO TV. OMG. I can’t. 4 days ago I would have gotten ecstatic about a day in bed, resting, aka binging my favorite shows. But now, UGH, now, rest in bed was a sentence to hell.

BUT! I can do hard things!! We can do this!!

After an awesome Jesus time this morning I thought I could handle the day. I felt clearly God would help me survive. He would provide for me. He would show up for me. I could trust Him with my day of rest and no TV.

But my perspective of what He would do for me was wonky and I’m humbled by a quote from Brennan Manning.

“We presume…that trust will ease confusion, dull the pain, redeem the times. The cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11 testifies that this is not so. Out trust does not bring final clarity on this earth. It DOES NOT still the chaos or dull the pain or provide a crutch. When all else is unclear, the heart of trust says “into Your hands I commend your Spirit”. 

Commend means “to commit to one’s care”.

By laying down my TV watching addiction and choosing to trust God with my time, I’m putting a stake in the ground — no matter how insane I feel, no matter how painful this is, no matter how gnarly the withdrawal symptoms are, no matter how much yuck in myself I see, no matter how much chaos still abounds… I commit myself to His care.

It seems silly to even type “withdrawal symptoms” for TV watching when I know people are suffering from drug addictions.

The definition of addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

If I had any doubts 4 days ago, I sure as heck don’t anymore.

I’m addicted to TV.

IMG_1540

I’m addicted to escaping into a world that’s not my own. I’m addicted to numbing pain. I’m addicted to hiding from boredom.

And I don’t like being addicted to ANYTHING.

The word addicted means devoted or given up to a practice or habit or to something psychologically or physically habit-forming

I don’t want to be devoted to anything but the Lord.

It may sound silly to some of you, I understand, it’s a mega “religious” thing to say.

But it’s my heart. My pure heart, wanting nothing to get in the way of God’s best for me.

12 years I’ve watched TV without needing to “give it up”. And I sure as heck can’t promise I won’t go right back to binging regularly once Lent is over.

For now, for this day, one day at a time through this Lent season, I will face my addiction and TRUST God’s provision. The real kind of trust, not the “if you make this easy then I’ll trust you” stuff.

It’s hard. But DAMMIT, I can do hard things.

xoxo, va

One thought on “trust, lent and no tv

  1. Pingback: september 24th | Following the Fortunatos

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