Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden when he was 30 years old– and as I reached that milestone this year I have found myself captivated by the words he penned some 160 years ago. Tonight, as I sit and watch the New Year festivities from my living room, I’ve noticed the stark difference between the world of Walden and the world we live in.
#3 / Ignoring my neighbors (comfort)
Flashing lights, over produced sounds, made up words, rambunctious crowds, ridiculous outfits – this is what we have come to memorialize as celebration. In reality, there is nothing being celebrated here beyond the list I’ve already mentioned. Perhaps this is the problem with me. And you. And us. Thoreau envisions a world down the road that gets so caught up in its ‘progress’ that it becomes out of sync with the rest of creation. At such a point, we would lose sight of what truly deserves to be celebrated -- and in the process the art of celebration would escape us. At some point, I have become so enamored by the so called ‘progress’ around me that I have started doing things I need to stop right away – I have all too often celebrated those things which needed confronted, not honored.
Here are 6 things I hope to stop doing in 2014 – and each one of them has its origin in my celebration of something I have valued too much.
#1 / Carrying my smartphone everywhere (connectivity)
Presence is becoming more important to me than connectivity. I find that the times when I am most engaged with God, my wife, my daughters, truth, and creation are the times when I’m unplugged from the constant connection. A close friend challenged me on this earlier this week – I’m going to try putting my smartphone on the shelf when I arrive at home.
#2 / Buying all of my food from someone else (convenience)
Convenience is a fantastic thing and I don’t mean to suggest that it isn’t. We are blessed to have access to all kinds of food whenever we want it because most people in the world don’t. But I could save so much money and learn a thing or two about God’s design if we started to grow some of our own food.
#3 / Ignoring my neighbors (comfort)
Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself” and I am believing more and more that this is not an abstract command, rather it is a very practical one. I want to live life alongside the people I live beside – I want to invite them into our home and show them the love of God in a real, tangible, expressive, “no strings attached” type of way.
#4 / Consuming entertainment instead of appreciating and creating art (laziness)
So many nights I lay down in my bed and get mad at myself because I spent a few hours disconnected from the world, engrossed in a TV show I didn’t like that much in the first place. And in those moments I am keenly aware that every minute I spend consuming entertainment, I lose an opportunity to appreciate art that deserves to be honored AND to create new art. It all boils down to my laziness.
#5 / Spending money on stuff that damages me (pleasure)
If there was ever a problem that I have a hard time fixing, this is it! Amidst all the fast food, tombstone pizzas, sweet teas, and so on, I find myself constantly craving food pleasures that leave my body weak, ill-prepared to battle sickness, and lacking nutrition. Science is pretty solid on the subjects of what all the chemicals, additives, preservatives, sugars, etc. do to our bodies. Yet, I constantly pay other people money for products that are damaging my body. I must stop this!
#6 / Working hard to impress people (perception)
I know I am not the only person who cares too deeply about how other perceive me. Social networking has provided an extensive platform for each one of us to market ourselves (marketing simply means, managing perception). But in careful examination of my motives, I too often fall into the pattern of making decisions, saying sentences, and editing my life in a fashion that makes other people think I am better off than I really am.
Lest you see me in July with a smartphone in one hand and a sweet tea in the other while watching my sixth straight hour of Netflix, please note that I said these are things I would like to stop doing. While I hope to do these things, I'm not perfect.