As for Me and My House
“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”
– Ephesians 5:15-17
I was getting the treads on my old Honda Civic changed one day years ago, and the local store that takes care of this for me has a small waiting room. It’s usually a 30-40 minute wait, so I came prepared with my iPod and headphones ready to just enjoy the afternoon. Time passed, and when I thought that it would be getting close to my time to get out of there, I put my iPod away. Just then, I noticed that a lady, maybe in her early 60’s and reminded me of a retired teacher, was watching the news channel the shop had playing. The latest “news” was being paraded as the most important issue in the nation and getting pretty much all of the air-time on most of the stations from what I can recall. I don’t remember what the story was (I believe it was one of the late-2000’s murder cases somewhere in the US), but I remember just before she left I said to her offhandedly “They’ll put anything on there for ratings, huh.” She looked back and said, “Yeah, just imagine what legislation Congress just passed that we’re not hearing about.”
That thought right there always stuck with me. There may or may not have been legislation passed at that time, but surely there was something more important going on in the country that was being ignored. It makes perfect sense when you lay it out on paper, but being an early-20-something young man, I’d just never really cared that much before. I’d always just accepted that whatever the news programs have must truly be the news of the day and that’s that. I’m not against watching the news or reading a newspaper or any of that. As a matter of fact, I think that Google News is the website I frequent the most. The problem I have is with all of the sensationalized garbage that is being passed off as “news”, and add to it all of the superficial living gossip columns and staged “reality” that infects just about every network nowadays. Further, should we as a society really be idolizing the poor decisions constantly being made by the “rich and famous”, and placing them on pedestals for our children to look up to? Is it the wanton lust for more… more money… more power… more of “the good things in life” in our society that keeps the spotlight on those who seem like they have it all? Why, as Americans, do we tend to know more about Reality TV than Reality (Jay Leno – Jaywalking)?
As a nation… as an individual what are we/what am I paying attention to that does not deserve my attention and what are we not paying attention to that does? Are our eyes focused on something that God would rather not have our eyes focused on? I’m not going to be the raving, doomsayer telling everyone to burn their televisions because the day of reckoning is here… I’m simply wondering, and I look into a figurative mirror as I type this, what opportunities have I missed in life because my eyes were focused on the television screen and not elsewhere? I don’t want to be thoughtless anymore; because I need to know what my Lord wants me to do while I yet have time on this earth. How can I say that I’ve made the most of every opportunity I was given when I missed so many because I wasn’t paying attention?
A little history, when my wife and I got married (October 2013, Yay!), we made the decision to not purchase a Cable/Satellite Television subscription. At that point, we mostly did it to try to save a few dollars starting out on our own, but I don’t think we realized quite the impact that it made (in a good way) on our finances, choices, and marriage. The choice that we made, we realized over time, would have a huge impact on our daily lives as we learned to live with each other in the days after we got married (we’re old-fashioned, and dated about 5 years before getting married and we didn’t live together before marriage). Instead of just sitting in front of the TV watching shows all evening beside each other, not having cable forced us to find other ways to fill our time. We spent that time learning even more about each other, communicating about problems and things that needed to be done around the apartment, learning new things and much more. Not having the cable made us deal with things head on, and not put them off “until this show goes off.” We do have an inherited/rescued TV that I picked up before it was going to be sent to the dump when I was in college. We enjoy watching movies on it now and again. The difference that we’ve found is, when the movie is done, it’s done. It’s time to move on to something else. There are not 250+ channels full of other things to keep us there watching more. For us, it was all about learning what works for us and we found it. Being away from Cable TV for a couple of years, I’ve noticed how obnoxious the ads are when I do see them on a TV somewhere. When you’re not blasted with TV ads constantly, you are more conscious of them when you see them and they honestly make me shake my head. To me, the whole thing seems like a racket… why should I pay a company money for the right/privilege/opportunity to be inundated with yet more attempts to get more money out of my pocket (generally for things that you don’t need…)?
The biggest question is, where do you draw the line? The point of this blog entry isn’t to convince anyone to smash their TV’s and cancel the Cable/Satellite subscriptions. The point I want to get across is that when we went from having Cable TV as a regular part of our lives to then not having it at all, we noticed many improvements and thought we’d share some of them. The line for Jason & Steph’s home is drawn at “No Cable/Satellite” subscription for our home. It makes financial sense to us because we’re both young and busy people who honestly don’t have time to watch TV so we can save money not having it. Additionally, with the mid-range Cable package (the one with more than 30 channels) approaching $80 a month, not having cable saves us nearly $1,000 a year. At that price, we don’t think cable is worth ~$2.60 a day, that’s more than a gallon of gasoline at the time of writing. Unlike gasoline, I don’t ever recall anyone dancing because they’re cable bill went down. It makes spiritual sense to us because instead of sitting down to watch the tube, we’ll take that time instead to read the bible together. It makes marriage sense to us because we spend more time communicating with each other about topics that need talking about, making new memories or reminiscing about the past. It makes personal sense to each of us, because it gives us more time to pursue our own interests (I love reading finance books, studying and working with all kinds of tech and Steph loves making all kinds of crafts, decorating and caring for our home, yard work, gardening, couponing, cooking and much more). Every individual and every family is going to be different. If you don’t want to cancel cable, but you’re curious about it, try unplugging for a week… for a month. Force yourself to do something other than sitting there and watch mindlessly. Do something to invest in yourself… Invest in your health, your spirit, your future, your intellect, your relationships… We pray that you take to heart why we’ve made the choice that we’ve made and ask yourself if there’s something you can do in your life to get you paying more attention to what God considers important, not what this world does.