And for a while, I tried to just forget about what was really going on in my life and distract myself as much as possible. During the day that meant just trying to focus on the beauty of the two gorgeous little baby boys in my life. It is never even a possibility in my mind to doubt that they matter, that they are worthy, that they are beautiful. They are a wonderful distraction. In the evenings after they are asleep, and even at nap time, instead of facing my life and my responsibilities (to my house, my husband, myself) I have been deliberately choosing to escape reality so that I don't have to deal with all my "stuff" that needs to be addressed and repented of and handed over to God. Now if I were experiencing this season of life in my teens or early twenties, my mode of escape would probably have been boys, maybe drinking, maybe smoking, obsessing over exercise and losing weight, school work or working extra shifts/long hours. But having to deal with this season NOW, I felt I had limited means of escape. I don't want to drink for many reasons (I'm nursing and providing milk for both babies, it's expensive, I don't want to be drunk because of my commitment to the Lord, etc), I don't want to smoke (it's expensive, I care about the health of my body, I especially care about the health of our children, my husband would kill me, etc.), boys are no longer an escape obviously since I am married (and one of the best parts about marriage is that you no longer have to deal with boys and dating!), I don't "work" or have a "job" to get extra shifts from or consume myself in my career, and currently I am in not in school. So I needed something new. Some new and stupid and ultimately destructive means of trying to forget about my issues.
And the winner was: media.
Media. Particularly in the form of TV shows. TV shows online mostly.
In the past year I have gone from watching one show and one show only to watching dozens of shows. The gloriously time wasting advantage of internet is I can watch whole seasons or series of shows with limited or no commercials, with no waiting time from week to week. I can just plop down set my laptop beside me, put my earbuds in and viola. I have escaped all reality. And I can stay there for as long as I can stay awake, only interrupted when my kiddos wake up or start crying or life demands otherwise.
Once upon a time I was in love with L O S T. Loved it. Love it. Will probably always love it. Has got to be, hands down, in the top 5 best TV shows of all time. And not that TV is probably ever productive for our lives, but watching one show never seems to really interfere with my life. And with a Cult TV show like L O S T it actually had benefits of connecting me with other people in my life who loved the show too, people I had no other common grounds with before. Think Star Trek or X files. Those shows did that too.
Then there was Pretty Little Liars. Not sci-fi like L O S T but a mystery show nonetheless with (in my opinion) good writing, great fashion and enjoyable acting. Now if you aren't familiar, PLL is an ABC Family TV show geared toward.... young teenage girls. And it isn't at all edifying. Originally it had some strong family convictions that I appreciated but now in the third season it has pretty much allowed all of those values to fall by the wayside. And if I had kept my media limited to just that, I probably wouldn't be in the bottom dwelling place that I am tonight.
I liked the feeling I felt when I watched that show. I liked for 1 hour becoming absorbed in a land with excitement and mystery. A world where everyone was beautiful and stylishly dressed, hair down and make-up on (that lifestyle even for a day would be a SAHM's dream come true! ;) And I have several other friends who really like the show and watch it so again I had something in common with some girls.
But it didn't stop there.
I liked that feeling so much, that I wanted more of it. Okay----let's stop right here and just allow me to admit, I know how silly this all sounds and how silly this all is. But it is also very serious and so I must continue on with it.---- So I started watching another ABC Family show. And another one. And another one. And I found more online. So I started watching more. And a friend told me about a show called Revenge. So I watched it online. Then some friends talked a lot about Glee. So I started watching it online from the beginning. On and on and on this went. And when I stopped tonight to think about all the shows I have watched from beginning to end or from the beginning up until the current season, (all of this within the last year) I realized it was A LOT of shows. Nine shows to be exact. Which is a lot of time considering some of the shows had 4 or 5 seasons, one show had 10 seasons! Most of them are still airing so then I was trying to keep up with the current seasons too. I mean this is getting---has gotten, way out of hand.
I USED TO NOT WATCH ANYTHING ON TV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was only a couple years ago that I probably couldn't have named a single TV show that was airing. My husband and I have not had a TV hooked up in any house/apartment that we have lived in since 2007 when we were first married. And even then it was one TV that had no cable that we used only occasionally to watch DVDs on.
I liked the way I felt being a part of something with L O S T. Maybe even that same way with PLL. It is one of the same reasons I will always be a Steelers fan. B/c I get to be part of something bigger than myself. But I have allowed that small indulgence into escaping reality and entertaining myself to become, well an addition of sorts. I am addicted to fantasy and I am using it every chance I get to escape reality.
And here is the reality I have been trying to escape.
1. I have been a pretty lousy wife the past few months. At first I cut myself some slack b/c I was sick/tired/pregnant/exhausted with a newborn/overwhelmed with two babies/adjusting to motherhood again and so on. But I can only use those excuses so long before my heart starts thinking only about myself and none about my spouse. My husband has been more than patient with and forgiving of me and it is time I start putting his needs ahead of my own.
2. I have been a pretty selfish mom. I can tell myself until I am blue in the face that it is "enough" that I have sacrificed my career and a lot of my independence in order to stay at home to raise our children. I can remind myself over and over that I am putting their needs ahead of my own daily, as I care for them. But it isn't enough and I have to stop lying to myself that it is. Don't mishear me. It is a wonderful thing for a mom to raise her children, but it is only the beginning. I can dedicate the next 3 decades to staying at home and raising our children, but if I don't invest myself in loving these children and respecting these gifts the way the good Lord loves/respects and cares for them, I am depriving them of the benefit of a truly Godly mom.
3. I have been one BIG brat of a child to my Father. I am even getting to the point that I am sick of hearing myself complain and grumble and whine to God about my life and my circumstance and my body and my wonds and my blah blah blah! BE QUIET ALREADY I want to tell myself. Jessica Erin Welker, you are getting on my nerves! I never even knew I could *get* on my own nerves.
This evening while cleaning the house, I decided to put on a sermon by Andy Stanley instead of watching one more episode of some B-rated, teenie bopper soap opera. And instead of drifting off into some fantasy, some escape from reality, I was filled up with words of life. I was given hope to face my reality, to change who I am. And in an instant, I realized I have been given the power, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, to live a life full of service to a mighty King, to live a life full of love for my family and joy in my circumstances.
"You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." -James 4:14
Praise God. This life is not forever. It only lasts for a little while. And the POOF! it's gone. It is too delicate, too flimsy, too short to spend it trying to escape rather than trying to enjoy. In the blink of an eye this creation will pass, it will be burned up and renewed.
I am just a vapor. This is not forever. This will not last.
What will last: The Word which is Christ. My relationship with Christ. My relationship with my brothers and sisters who are in Christ.
Let me focus then on this reality. Let me invest then in something that will last. Something eternal.
Heading the advice of Hebrews 12:1-2 Let me lay aside every encumbrance (burden), and the sin which so easily entangles me (that I so easily be involved with) and let me run with endurance the race which has been set before me instead of running away in desperation. Let me fix my eyes and focus on Jesus rather than on myself. And be filled with hope knowing that Jesus will bring my faith to perfection in eternity, since he has already sacrificed himself for me and is waiting at God's right hand.
This...this is not forever. Praise God, I am just a vapor.