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"....I realized that when I compare my gifts with someone else's, there are only two places to go: inferiority or superiority. I either become envious or arrogant.....there's no spiritual benefit to doing that, and it comes out of a carnal, self-centered heart."- Chip Ingram
"We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” - C.S. Lewis
"And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that the secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it."- C.S. Lewis
To Read C.S. Lewis's writing on the 'inner ring'-go here.
No guff, he cuts to the quick and says, "But that's not the REAL issue. It's the heart."
I know he's right. How does he have this laser-like focus on life and what really matters?
We are a society that becomes addicted to the next best thing.
The tool somehow becomes the idol.
What can be used for good also has great power to be used for evil.
We have blogs.
We have Twitter.
We have Facebook.
We have Pinterest.
We have ipads, iphones, and the newest technological stuff available.
It can be used, and it can be abused.
It is neutral, but what we use it for, and how we use it has everything to do with our heart.
From out of the heart comes envy, lust, greed, and pride.
"If I give this up, somehow, I am afraid that I will get behind and never catch up," she says.
This desire to keep up follows one and nips at the heels. "I have to stay ahead," she tells me. "If I get behind, what will people think? How will I be able to maintain my job if they can't stay in contact with me?" And I get it. Pagers used to be the 'next best thing' in the 80's, and now it's the cell phone and the tablet. The push to remain current keeps the electronics industry booming. People want what is new and up-to-date, and they scramble to understand these devices just to fit in with the culture that evolves from having the gadgets. They want to be on the 'inner ring', the cutting edge, and be able to talk about these gadgets, devices, and apps with other people. And it changes. Electronic companies change devices almost as quickly as the fashion industry changes clothes designs.
That said, I'm way behind. My hubby and I share a cell phone. It's not even the kind with the cool screen you can touch. Oh yes, I think they call those little programs apps. Our phone is the 'phone home' cell phone. We carry it from the country to the city, so that Hubby can call me between his classes. I guess one could call it the 'love phone' because it's how we stay in touch when Hubby is away. He checks on us, tells us he'll be home, asks if he can get anything, and tells us he loves us. But I still stick napkin notes in his lunchbox.
I have a laptop. It does what I need it to do. E-mail used to be the next best thing, then it was instant messaging, and after that it was Skype and Google Voice. And (gasp) while we were overseas we spent two whole years away from Facebook, and were filtered from Wikipedia. We spent a lot of time reading books and writing email over those years. I use the computer on a daily basis, but there are days when I put the lid down and don't look at it. The outdoors beckons, and Baby and I take a walk. Hubby and I watch the stars. We talk about what we are reading, as opposed to what we have to do. Big ideas and dreams about the future. Plans, wishes, and hopes. Theory, and theology. His mind curiously at work, and mine, engaged in understanding and thinking and finding words for the thoughts. Or we dance, in the living room, just because we can.
Without realizing it, our culture has become one of immediacy. The big house? Now please. The car? Now please. The credit card bill is somehow ignored, and the price people pay is in their time. They are auction their lives off to be debtors to the credit card company, and slaves to the never ending rate race of 'Who Can Get Ahead?'. The new devices? Now please. There is envy, there is greed, there is pride. These existed way before any of the new electronic devices. But now it is possible to know how Suzy Q.'s beautiful living room looks, how Nancy is building her new house down the street, and what new car Joanie got. If God has given you these things, I am thankful that He has so blessed you. Rejoice in that blessing, but please don't sell your life to it. Life is so much more than what we can have. Not everyone is so blessed, and if one isn't careful, they look at Suzy Q., and wish they had what she had (envy), or they look at Suzy Q. and think, "Well, I'm better than she is!"(arrogance), or they look at Suzy Q. and whip out their credit card to buy things they think they should have, too. The matter lies deep within the heart.
We were walking on campus one day when Hubby and I saw something I won't forget. It was a gorgeous Spring day, but no one was looking around. They weren't engaging with one another. Two guys passed us, and they were both plugged into their ipods, their eyes focused downward. They were clearly walking together, but neither was engaged in conversation with the other. We passed a girl sitting on the grass who was totally into the phone conversation she was having but didn't seem to notice the world around her. A guy almost ran into us because he was so focused on text messaging. These devices have created a culture whose greatest struggle will be learning to be with and love on other people, and contentment. The tools that keep us so connected, can also keep us disconnected.
"Yes," I say, "You are right."
"The matter is a heart issue."
Where is your heart? How do you 'unplug' to spend time with family? Have you engaged with a real-life friend this week? Are you content with blog/home/car/ life that you have?