adventure… and netflix

Last post, I echoed the words of St. John Paul II: “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure,” and shared how that’s totally been the theme of my last year. If you missed it, check it out here.

But one thing I’ve realized lately – or maybe better said, re-realized lately – is that this adventure is completely countercultural, and is anything but passive.

The culture sends many messages, and many of these messages are sneakier than we think. They are also more anti-adventure than we think. I think it’s very easy for us as Christians to fool ourselves into thinking we’ve “made it” into this paradoxical place of being “in the world but not of the world.” We think that once we’ve experienced a conversion to Christ that although we know the culture is sending lots of messages, we believe that we aren’t actually being influenced by them.

But with that being said… how much time do you spend watching Netflix (or TV, or movies, or video games, or your idle activity of choice)?

For me, the answer is an embarrassing amount. I could blame it on living alone and just turning it on while I eat dinner, but does that account for the several hours after dinner that it continues to play? I could blame it on there being nothing to do in the evenings, but does that account for the fact that I live literally 5 minutes from the beautiful lakefront of Lake Superior?

Although I go to daily Mass, pray at least a few minutes daily, try to think of Christ; my number one adventure-opposer, life-sucker, and boredom-bringer is sitting in my living room, accessible on my phone, is often open on my tablet, and on the daily is given the number one priority in my life. At least, that’s what a log of how I spend my time would say. I say I’m serious about living a real Christian life – a counter-cultural Christian adventure – but then I come home and hunker down for the rest of the evening.

I’m not pretending that Netflix is the root of all my problems, and I’m not saying that Netflix is evil. But what I am saying is that if I’m honest with myself, I have literally been handing away the adventure the Lord has planned for me over to characters who aren’t even real. I have been spending my free moments allowing my head to be filled with empty messages that aren’t life-giving, rather than pondering truth, beauty, and goodness. I haven’t been exercising, I haven’t been reading, and I haven’t been cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I love Parks and Rec and Gilmore Girls and The Office just as much (maybe more) than the next person, but in the scheme of eternity, they don’t matter. And in the smaller scheme of things, I don’t even feel refreshed after I watch these shows. The more I watch Netflix, the more I do nothing but sit and watch Netflix. It doesn’t remind me that life is a beautiful adventure, with its highs and lows, handpicked out of love for me by the Beloved of my soul. No, it allows me to zone out for however many hours I want before I have to come back to reality and push myself though another week, more tired and less refreshed than when I first sat down to “recharge.” It makes me forget that I’m even an adventurer.

And so what am I doing about all of this?

Discipline.

Discipline can be a scary word because it’s not an easy thing. Discipline doesn’t come easily to me, and I don’t think it’s supposed to. But it is discipline that leads us to freedom. When we are disciplined and we live a life that is in balance, then we are free to live the fullest life. This doesn’t mean we can’t do anything fun, we can never watch a show, and our whole life has to be spent in the chapel. But it does mean that all things should be balanced, and in proper order. It means that we are no longer slaves to the things in our life, but that we are living in the true freedom of the children of God.

I know myself and so for me, this means that I am no longer watching more than an hour and a half of TV in a given day. In the time I find myself with, I will read, exercise, see friends, or just think. For you, this might mean something entirely different. You know what’s keeping you from living the adventure Christ has for you. I invite you to join me, let’s say “yes” to the adventure Christ has for us, today.

 

 

ponderings of an adventurer

 

Today marks one full year since I started working as a youth minister in Duluth. It’s been a lot of things, both incredible and challenging, but I think St. John Paul II sums it up best when he said, “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.”

Following the call to up and move to a completely new city was a little bit intimidating for me a year ago, and I didn’t know what this new place and new time in my life would hold. But I did know that Jesus was bringing me on an adventure and He would be with me. Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.

This was very exciting in the beginning. I was blown away by the beauty of the city of Duluth and the beauty of Lake Superior. I loved meeting a whole new community of people and seeing the witness of their faith. I couldn’t believe how generous people were with me in helping me to get set up. I felt more alive than I ever had in my life, because I had trusted the Lord and taken a leap of faith. I couldn’t believe that God’s plan could be so good. Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.

About halfway through this year, the adventure stopped being exciting for me. The wood of the cross was very real, and daily life was exhausting. I wondered what happened to the exciting adventure the Lord had promised me. I wondered if I had done something wrong. I found myself in the middle of a lot of confusion. Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure, but in those confusing and desolate moments, it didn’t feel so wonderful.

But then the Lord reminded me of something important. An adventure, to be real, to be meaningful, cannot just be exciting. It can’t stay at the mountain top. A real adventure is taxing. A real adventure empties us. A real adventure takes everything in us. A real adventure takes us to somewhere we’ve never been before, and in that new place we are unable to remain the same. Saying yes to adventure with Christ, means saying no to staying the same. Saying yes to adventure with Christ, means saying yes a real adventure. Saying yes to adventure with Christ, means saying yes to an entirely new life. Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.

My adventure with Jesus in Duluth is only beginning. It seems that this first year has only been the start of the adventure Jesus has for me here. I am pretty confident that exciting moments as well as trying moments are in my future here. But one thing I do know, is that you can’t go wrong going where Jesus is. Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.

Jesus never promised us that life would be easy. In fact, He said if we want to follow Him than we have to pick up our cross and follow Him. I forgot that in the excitement of the new adventure. But He loves us too much not to give us the opportunity to have a real adventure with Him; a real adventure that stretches us, challenges us, allows us to become the people we are created to be, people who are His image in the world. Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.

I am so grateful that He has more than the mountaintop in store for me. I am so grateful that He loves me enough to transform me into Himself. And I am so grateful to be right in the middle of this adventure, commonly known as youth ministry. Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.

As I embark upon year two, following where Jesus leads, I have only two words: “adventure on.”