The Time-Eater

a step toward mindfulness: part three

There are countless things endlessly vying for our attention. I’ve blogged about a big one here but that is just one distraction. Today I want to share with you how going without something we used almost every day impacted our lives, and how it continues to.

We went without Netflix for a week (and have since adjusted our habits).

If you’re following along on our #52weekswithout challenge, you already know that we did this. Netflix was the first thing we gave up in 2019. I was honestly bummed and a little concerned. I was obsessed with Criminal Minds at the time and did not want to give it up for a week. (Especially because we only had TWO episodes left in that season!)

On top of missing the show, we didn’t know what we would do in the evenings. “Maybe we’ll be more productive since Netflix isn’t an option.” My husband and I almost seemed to have this perspective that Netflix held us captive. It wasn’t our fault we weren’t unproductive in the evenings; it was the fault of Netflix. Netflix may have made it more difficult to be productive in the evenings or weekends, but it was certainly not the responsibility of an inanimate object to make sure we made the most of our time.

Our goal was to see if we could live without it, and we learned that we can. But more important than realizing that we can live without it was realizing how much more enjoyable and productive our evenings can be without sitting in front of the television! (What a novel idea, I know.) We accomplished so many things that week. We painted our basement, unpacked several boxes, threw a ton of stuff out or into a box to be donated, read more than we had in a long time, and purchased and assembled our dining room table.

We were stunned as we started to notice how much time Netflix had taken up. We were spending more time together and being more productive. Netflix is one of those things that isn’t bad or wrong in and of itself. But it is very easy to use it in a bad or wrong way. We don’t think that we were necessarily obsessed with it, but it was easy to sit down and watch three or four episodes without thinking.

Since all these realizations, even though it’s been a month and a half since we banned Netflix, we have been watching it much less. We did finish the last two episodes of Criminal Minds, but we haven’t really found any new shows we are really into. And we are okay with that. We enjoy card games. We’ve been reading more. We have more restful evenings, or get to bed earlier. We take our time with making and eating dinner because we aren’t in a hurry to go find out what happens in the next episode. We learned there is so much more to life than binge-watching–despite the memes.

I would encourage you to try it. Try going without one of your time-eaters. Maybe it’s Netflix. (Or Amazon or Hulu or whatever you sit down and watch.) Maybe it’s Instagram or Snapchat. Maybe it’s another device, or just texting. Where you spend your time reveals your priorities. We make time for what’s important to us. Unfortunately, wasting time was more important than being productive for us. But after challenging ourselves, it opened our eyes to how enjoyable and fulfilling life can be.

Life is short. If we spend our days on useless things, we will say at the end of our life, “It was all vanity,” as Solomon did. What is something you need to do but keep putting off? We say we are busy, but we are busy with things that are not important. Take a good look at your life, where your time goes, and what you’re putting into your mind. Decide to make the most of each day. There is so much more than what’s happening on your screen.

Colossians 4:5 – Walk in wisdom . . . redeeming the time.

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