Have you ever really considered how you see the world? Why do you notice certain things and completely miss others? Why are you offended by some people and easily accept others by default? What causes your heart to leap in celebration? What moves you to tears? And why are these things different from some of the people around you?
It’s unbelievable how conditioned we are as people. The places we live, the parents we have, the teaching we receive and the experiences of our lives shape us deeply – often far beyond what we realize. These influences in our lives work to shape our reality. Our perception of the way things are and the way things ought to be.
What is amazing is how much of this happens below the surface. Beneath our awareness. It’s so easy to allow ourselves to simply drift through day-to-day, absorbing the ideas and values of our encounters and our culture.
But, what if we live aware, with our eyes wide open? What if we ask authentic questions about why things are the way they are? And what if we turn this vision on ourselves? To our own hearts? What would we find at the core? What have we allowed to become our center? To drive our hearts and our pursuits? What will we find there?
As a Jesus Follower, this has become a huge issue for me. You see, I want to really see! I want to experience the world with awareness and intentionality. I want to encounter people with the eyes of my God. To see them with the love and compassion he has for them. To ache for a world that is broken and to be moved to joy when they find life as it should be.
This kind of vision doesn’t come easily. It takes practice. It requires pursuing the heart of God that we find in Jesus. And it demands that when we find him, we stop and listen deeply. Authentically. Humbly. And invite him to uproot what we have known and who we have become. We will have to be honest with ourselves, often seeing our own lives and pursuits differently. It will change everything.
No, it’s not easy but wow…the indescribable beauty that is revealed when we have eyes that see!
At the first of February, I initiated a 40 day media fast. There were a lot of reasons for this. At Journey, we were in the middle of a several month vision discussion and I wanted to continue leading well. Kristen had started a new job and our family’s schedule was very full. And I had realized that my intentional one on one time with God wasn’t as consistent as I wanted it to be. In short, I felt the need to focus on God, draw close to him and quiet the distractions.
As I thought through how to prioritize my connection with the Father, I began to take an honest look at my life. I realized that I had developed habits with how I use my time. I began to notice that so much of my free time, a moment here or 15 minutes there, was spent on my phone using media in some way or another. I found myself checking Facebook a dozen times a day or more. When I came home from work, I would hit my Cowboys app and check out all the latest news from Big D. I would check this blog to see how many people had visited that day. I would check Journey’s Facebook and Reckless Pursuit’s Facebook. I would jump over to my ESPN app and see what I had missed that day. On and on it would go.
For years, I have arranged my life, reordered my schedule and even set up my office to prioritize people and relationships. It’s who I want to be and how I want to live. I felt like I was doing a fairly good job of that at work but I had begun to be less present at home – when I was off and could relax. I wasn’t engaging my family like I’d want to nor was I as connected with God as I needed to be.
So…40 days in the wilderness here I came! 40 days of no media. No TV. No talk radio. No apps of the phone. No internet. The only things I allow myself were talking on the phone, texting and emailing for work. After I cut those things out, I decided to take back media for the good. I added in Air1 radio, because it feeds my heart and I built a 40 day Bible reading plan into the notes app on my phone. Every day, when I had a free moment – instead of pulling up the Cowboys or Facebook – I would grab my phone and read scripture. When I came home, I would put my phone away and be present. I played with my kids. Sat on the kitchen counter and talked with Kristen while she cooked. Started reading Reckless Pursuit to my family and played games with them. It was amazing how much time I felt like I got back!
Everything wasn’t easy though. About 3 weeks in, there was struggle. I really wanted to just sit on the couch and relax – veg. I had gotten weary and longed for a break. For freedom from the discipline. The next week was hard. However, the last week or two of the fast was great. It was back to the earlier experience. I was present with my family and I was chasing God actively.
As I write this, I’m finished with the media fast but have come to live a bit different. I check Facebook a couple of times a day and hit my Cowboys app once or twice as well. But I am present both with people and with God. I can’t wait to initiate something like this again!