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Lenten Sacrifices...

Posted by Dena on February 27, 2004, at 13:31:23

Usually for Lent, we give up meat on Fridays, & desserts except for on Sundayas (feast days). All that's fine and good, and traditional, but it struck me that really, all the food sacrifices do for me is to make me feel proud of my will power (as well as grumpy when I'd really like a cookie). And my children just look forlorn after dinner. Not much spiritual growth here.

This year, I've finally given in to my husband's decade-long plea that we give up the TV for Lent (& perhaps after - that's his true desire). I've fought this for years now. I'm not sure why... I hate what most of the shows "teach" my children, i.e., sexual immorality, dating, disrespect for authority, cheating, name-calling, disregard for life, crude language, violence, etc (& this is all from just the "safe" family hour programming & child-focused channels! We don't allow them to watch the adult programs). Even the cartoons are destructive! Every one I've checked out (& that's a LOT) present the parents as complete idiots & the children as smart alecks. In other words, children rule & parents are to be discounted. Exactly the oppositve messages that I'm teaching my children: sexual purity, courtship, respect for authority, honesty, kindness, respect for life, edifying language, peace, etc. And that God has given them parents to lovingly teach them that authority is to protect them. Not to squelch them.

I despise what I've allowed the television to do to my children. Their creativity has been stunted - they're used to sitting mindlessly in front of a hypnotizing box. They don't enjoy the fresh air & exercise that their bodies need. They've become lazy. They fight with each other - they've learned the "me first" syndrome, rather than putting others before themselves. They don't know how to entertain themselves - they get bored without the barrage of stimulation that the TV has blasted at them. They don't know the simple pleasure of getting lost in a book. It's so sad. And I take full responsibility for allowing this to happen to them.

So, why have I been so reluctant to take this away from my children? Because I have to sacrifice it for myself as well. Otherwise, they'll just see it as hypocritical. I look forward to getting all 7 of them in bed at night, straightening up the living room & settling in for a self-indulgent hour or two of private escapism. I've justified it for years because, after all, I'm not watching the "Spice" channel, or spending thousands of dollars watching the QVC network! I'm just watching the decorating shows, the talk shows & sometimes even the religious shows.

But...I've begun to realize that I seem to always need things going on around me... activity, tasks, chores, errands, music, radio, television... things that get me caught up in them, keep me busy, keep me distracted... from what?

It's like I'm trying to keep myself from hearing the still, small voice of God.

Because if I don't hear Him, clearly, then I have an excuse as to why I don't obey Him. If I don't hear Him, I'm not responsible to do what He asks of me ... & there's always that fear that He'll ask me to do things I dont' want to do, things that are hard, uncomfortable, inconvenient, painful, etc.

And, bottom line, I want my life to be easy, comfortable, convenient, pleasant. I want my life to be mine, so that I have the last say, so that I get to call the shots, so that I get to be in charge of me.

And, I hear Him calling me away from my own grip on my life. I hear Him asking me to trust Him, to let go of my own agenda, to discover what He had in mind for me when He made me.

I've made my comfort, my convenience, my preferences into idols. Spiritually speaking, I've put these idols onto the altar of my life, & I spend a great deal of time & attention on them, polishing them, admiring them, protecting them from getting knocked down. I've even been known to attack those who threaten to displace my idols. But for all of my careful tending of my idols, they don't bring me the peace, the joy, the security for which I long.

And I feel God calling me, asking me to remove my idols from the place where He rightfully belongs - on the altar of my life, which is my heart.

I know that turning off the TV for 40 days isn't going to fix me. But it's just one small way that I can perhaps quiet myself enough to hear the One who alone can do for me what I can't do for myself.

Shalom, Dena




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