What’s my current status today?… The best description I guess would just be – overstimulated.
My brother has been talking about something along these lines for a few weeks now. I won’t go into detail about what he’s said and most of it has been in passing with something he’s doing personally. But I guess it’s started to sink in with me just how over-stimulated we are… I’m paying attention now to what’s going on within my own person.
Our generation lives in the information era. We have access to an over-abundance of information. The internet, other media, television, movies, books, blogs, vlogs, iphones, smartphones, other technology that allows us to access it all freely and constantly. We live in excess with things already, but throw in loads of information we get bombarded with daily and our ever growing technology to retrieve it right when we want it… and it creates a new animal all together.
The convenient-desire and consumerism of this generation isn’t new. Although we now typically have immediate access to an abundance of information versus previous centuries, it’s just fueling a problem we’ve had since we began our mutiny against God and it’s showing itself in a new way externally. We’re becoming increasingly more excessive in feeding our sin, dark, flesh.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. – 2 Timothy 3:1-7
I think the majority of us Christians make the assumption that Paul (I think he’s the one who wrote this book of the bible, but don’t take my word for it) is talking about everyone BUT us. So we forget that we are just as capable of being tempted and walking in our sin toward the last days as the next person is. If we fixate our eyes upon the cross and let Christ’s light shine in our hearts, we may find and understand that we are not immune and that we have to fully rely upon His grace and must live in submission to His Spirit constantly. We can be just as much lovers of ourselves, ungrateful, without self-control, loves of pleasure, and always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth… I bolded these statements because I think they are pertinent to the topic of our information overload/overstimulation. We can’t neglect the responsibility we have to pay attention and freely choose Christ over our evil desires. We still have to practice self-control – we aren’t God’s puppets and He won’t force His will upon us.
But back to the overstimulation point…
There are multiple articles on the effects of the internet on our brains, or the effects of technology and the overabundance of information. They likely even have articles about the effects of these things on our souls. I won’t go into a debate or give you the various viewpoints on it (there are far too many to research anyway and I don’t want to keep “learning” about these different views). We keep trying to locate where certain problems began and we like to blame certain things for why we’re so distracted, or why our attention is divided, and we’re overstimulated. I’ve tried to pin-point it myself and blame it on new technology, the internet, facebook, etc. – I want to assign the blame even now, stand up and say “it’s all computers fault!” That would be silly though for one thing and on the other hand I’m not being personally accountable. I won’t be able to stand before God when that day comes and say ‘well God, if there hadn’t been the internet and the technology of computers, texting, twitter, facebook, etc. etc. – I wouldn’t be in this mess. We’d be closer. I was just too overstimulated and distracted, you see – stupid technology!”
Cutting those things out that overstimulate me still may not resolve the problem (just puts a band-aid on it and makes it easier), because it’s a deeply rooted issue that dates back to the beginning of time. I do this ALL the time though… delete facebook, break such-and-such bad habit, throw out my computer, turn off my music, stop texting, no more movies, no TV, no reading, no communication. I actively put forth the effort to attempt to make myself less distracted. All these might be steps toward becoming less distracted, sure, maybe. And sometimes they help… but only to a certain point, because I’ve only scratched a surface itch. WHY am I distracted? Wouldn’t it be nice to just shut down everything? Take away all noise, all sight, all activities, all the things that stimulate our brains and hold our attention? No more work or external activities or information. Then we could just focus on God, right? If all that was taken away and put to a halt… for just a little while, my mind could then focus and I could dwell on my Father, right? My logic says “yeah! try that!”
I attempted this morning, to just shut down all external factors and just sit there with God. No music, no writing, no reading. My brain had been active all night even though I was asleep, infiltrated by dreams and thoughts without full cognitive awareness. I was at a loss for words when I sat down to spend time with Him anyway, so it seemed like a “good idea”. I just wanted to be in His presence without hindrance, distraction, or other stimulation. I lasted maybe 20 seconds before my mind started its wandering… toward what I had to do today and ‘well, maybe I should turn on the music to praise Him’ or ‘I should probably read my devotional for the day so I can get my focus right, on Him’… work, activities, music, information – I was “NEEDING” it in order to spend time with God. It hit me. I’ve been practicing this my whole life, my mind and very being was used to this, this stimulation… it craved it, wanted it, “needed” it. I could not just sit there in silence and be still with my Lord. So the problem wasn’t the external factors that were distracting me – it was still in me. Cutting out the external was still a good thing because it allowed the Lord to reveal my heart and sin – my addictions, idolatry, impurities, immoralities, etc. but the taking away of the things that overstimulated my mind and heart was not the solution to my problem (as I’m so accustom to thinking it is).
It frustrates me sometimes that God just won’t take over completely and all the time. I’d like to be a robot, wouldn’t you? That’d make things so much easier. If He would only just force me to not be distracted. If He would just MAKE my mind not wander. If He would only just MAKE me submit to Him. Then I could follow Him the right way, spend time with Him without other things capturing my attention and holding me back…
How empty that would be though for Him and for me. The “relationship” would not be a relationship. My free will would not exist and I wouldn’t be choosing Him at all.
Instead, He let’s us decide – but He is still faithful, patient, just, merciful, among so many other things. He sent His Son down to experience all that we are. The distractions, activities, over-stimulation, thoughts, dreams, emotions – all things human… so that He could understand, live it, then take our place.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus speaking to His disciples in John 16:33
…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. – 1 John 5:4-5
Stimulation cannot be my god, I cannot be a lover of myself or a lover of pleasure rather than a lover of God, my stomach cannot be my god. I have to actively and willingly believe that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore follow Him only. I need to pursue Him, and not the idea of Him or what I think must be done to pursue. He lets us choose to live in submission to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to actively be in our lives. He is gracious and faithful, but we must still have self-control.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22-25
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. – Titus 2:11-14
He’s not finished with us yet, keep desiring and pursuing Jesus Christ. Do not worry about anything in this life, but continue your dance and let Him lead you in His glorious waltz. He will teach you, lead you, and guide you – you just have to submit and choose Him.