I have a confession. I am an addict. Ten years ago I discovered online gaming and quickly became consumed by it. I joined a team of gamers who competed nationally. At the height of my addiction, I had become the leader of that team, and we had about 250 players competing in games. We practiced two or three times a week for a couple hours each practice. I participated in gaming with the team in some way, every night. In the mornings, I would wake up early to review statistics, other teams rankings, and anything I may have missed while I slept. I read blog posts and magazine articles and watched videos about gaming. Companies would send me the newest keyboard or mouse or graphics card to try out and write a review on. I talked about gaming with my friends; I wore t-shirts that promoted the games I was playing, and I drank out of coffee cups that had our team logo on it. I would schedule my real world relationships around my gaming addiction. I couldn't see my addiction, but my wife could.
When Jennifer first started to ask me about spending less time gaming, I was annoyed. She persisted, so I justified my time by saying I was building relationships for the sake of the gospel. I didn't realize it, but I was neglecting my wife and children. Not only was I spending time and money on my addiction, but I could not focus on shepherding my family well because I was always thinking about gaming. It consumed me and I loved it. An older lady was mentoring her, and her mentor encouraged her to begin praying for me, and the Spirit began to work in my life.
Fall is approaching. It's that wonderful season when the leaves begin to turn; the weather cools, and autumn family pictures begin to flood Facebook feeds. But it is also a season when families begin to lose their husbands. Like an adulteress whispering from a darkened alley, football and hunting will soon begin to whisper. Read my confession above and replace gaming with what may be drawing your attention, your affections. Can you relate?
Are gaming, football and hunting inherently evil? Absolutely not, but like sex, alcohol or food, they can draw our affections from the things and people who really matter. A season or schedule is not an excuse to abandon the call God has on your life. When evaluating whether or not your affections have wandered, the first response is to immediately justify; you may have already started. Football is harmless, and it's a great time to have friends over and I enjoy it. Hunting is a way to provide meat for my families and friends, and I can use it to spend time investing in others. Maybe you have not started justifying it; instead you embrace your misplaced affections, and flat out deny that there's a problem.
Ask yourself these six questions. If you answer yes to one more, you may have a problem.
1. Have I ever felt like I needed to cut down on my time in this area?
2. Have I ever felt annoyed by someone suggesting that I cut down on my time in this area?
3. Have I ever felt guilty about the time or money I spend in this area?
4. Do I immediately start thinking about this area when I wake up in the morning?
5. When I am stressed or tired, is this an area that I desire to run to relieve the pressure or regain the excitement of life?
6. Is the thought of giving up this activity for a week stressful?
If you answered yes to one of the above questions, go further in your assessment of yourself.
1. Take a moment to pray and ask God to set your affections on Him and His mission.
2. Ask someone who knows you best if they think this describes you. Be willing to listen.
3. If you are married, ask your spouse, if you are single, ask a mature friend to help you moderate your time and resources in this area.
Our affections can be drawn to just about anything in this life. Jesus redeemed us and invited us to be in His family. He then began transforming us so that we would live as servants and join Him on His mission. Transformation is a continual, sometimes difficult journey. My hope is that this post may help you see areas in your life that may be hidden to you, as you continue in your journey.