Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Fleeting Pleasures of Self-Medication

So, you’ve had a horrible day.

Maybe you woke up with a stiff neck and shivering because during your tumultuous dreams you thrashed all of your covers onto the floor. Perhaps at breakfast the cafeteria was packed and they were out of chocolate chip banana pancakes, and the special someone you like barely gave you a second glance and spent most of the breakfast hour laughing and chatting with everyone but you. Maybe you end up spending the rest of the morning tackling the 9-foot high pile of homework on your desk, doing laundry, and stalking your campus crush on Facebook. Then there’s classes, and work, and your lunch date is half an hour late, and by the time you get a quiet moment to yourself, all you want to do is log onto Netflix and tube yourself into oblivion in the hopes that somehow a few hours of Neil Patrick Harris will make everything all better.

Last year one of my roommates spent over 4 hours a day watching Bones, Oprah, and Supernatural. She would shuffle into the room after a long hard day at college, grab her bag of candy, and snuggle into her bed with her laptop for her daily escape from reality. The more shows she watched, the worse of a day she’d had. For other people, other forms of “self-medication” take the place or supplement websites and movies: sexual addiction, pornography, eating Swedish fish, etc.

Come on, don’t tell me you’ve never dinked around on Facebook jealously stalking your object of unrequited love, pushed piles of homework aside for an episode or three or four of Doctor Who, or tried to forget about a bad day by immersing yourself in the world of Skyrim (in my case, insert Combat! in place of all three). But the funny thing is that we never really do feel better afterwards, do we? When the credits roll or when you’ve gotten to Level 306 and must cast aside the Wii in order to obtain water and nourishment, our problems haven’t gone anywhere and are possibly more intimidating than before. 

Vic Morrow in need of a hug in "Cat and Mouse" (Combat! Season 1)

Hmm. Maybe we should have listened to that annoying little voice that told us to open up our Bible instead of our iPad. What?! The devil, you say! Revolutionary! Insane! Inconceivable!

But how true. If we just had the courage to turn to Jesus for comfort instead of an inanimate object, we would be feeling much better right now. Not to say that Jesus is going to fix our problems; He might, but He also might ask us to wait. Nonetheless, in either circumstance He generously supplies His grace.

 Jesus makes it so easy to come to Him. We don’t have to have our lives figured out. We don’t have to love Him perfectly. All we have to do is approach Him with confidence, trusting that He will make all things work together for our good. And even if you don’t have a lot of confidence in Him, ask Him to help you, and He will! It’s that simple, and it works. Jesus interacts with us directly; He knows every fiber of our hearts and every facet of our flawed human nature. He knows each of our particular weaknesses, our deepest longings, our fears. Why wouldn’t we want to come to Him?

I’m sorry; Vic Morrow may be awesome, but he’s dead, and Neal Patrick Harris might as well be for all he cares about your problems. Hulu and World of Warcraft might help you temporarily forget, but they can’t help you heal. I know, it’s much easier to sit dumbly while a screen flings beautiful images and sounds into your face, but it’s much more worth it to grab a devotional book or a journal, sit down somewhere quiet, and face your dragons with the grace of God. After a while it will become a habit, and you may even (gasp!) cancel your Netflix subscription.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not always nefarious to enjoy your favorite show, game, or website, but when you’re using them as Band-Aids for your life, some reconsideration is necessary. Maybe even mandatory.

Be brave; take the plunge. You won’t regret it. And nobody really cares if you haven’t caught up on the last season of Downton Abbey. 


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