Obsessed

With fear and trembling, we gave in to the grandparents’ request to buy our seven-year old daughter an iPad. It wasn’t so much the extravagance of the gift, nor the notion that our daughter is growing up. We know that technology in and of itself isn’t bad, but the question to us as parents was “Are we ready?”

Are we ready to navigate screen time? Answering this is tricky – but honestly, we thought we had the right answer. Our daughter would get to use it on special occasions like trips and on weekends, but she had to earn her time by doing chores and even then, time would be limited. We started out strong and it was going well. We even put the iPad in a hidden place to facilitate our daughter having to ask us to get it out.  

Then the realities of life set in. We got tired and lazy. We started to bend the parameters of her use of the iPad and things started to go downhill quick. Soon, she was using it during the week and though she still was getting her chores done, it was now something she wanted to do all the time. The iPad became the thing to give her when we needed to connect as a couple, or when we had a meeting with someone. It was like we were using it as her babysitter, to entertain her while we were busy. Then we began to see her behaviour change. She became moody, more argumentative and when we would begin to limit the iPad use again, it was like her world was ending. It seemed she had become obsessed and really it wasn’t her fault.

Dedicated to the right things
It has always been my utopian dream that my family would be this tech-free, simplistic, creatively inspired unit. That we would be free from the obsessions of the world. Yet technology creeps in and can easily take control of our lives. Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter and all the new social media sites can quickly begin to babysit us and lure us away from being obsessed with something even more amazing – God’s incredible love. In Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love, he writes about the profile of the obsessed. He gives short quotes on various character traits and here is what he says about The Dedicated: “A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn’t depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God (James 1:2-4).”

To cultivate a dedicated life is to train and continue to do the things that are important. It’s just like being physically fit – a person must regularly exercise, eat right and make this a routine in their life. When you stop eating right and being active, you gradually become unfit. When we stop fostering a relationship with God, we become distant and more obsessed with the culture and world around us. We become focused on money, status, appearance and independence, which are all good things within reason, but when God isn’t our first obsession we are out of synch.

When we began to bend the rules and got lazy with our daughter’s iPad, we began to cultivate an obsession for her. It didn’t happen overnight; it was a gradual process and now as we get back on track with a healthy routine, the switch won’t be immediate either. There will be a gradual re-learning and understanding of what is good and what is too much. Similarly, when we realize we’ve been far too obsessed with the world, cultivating an intimate relationship with God again won’t just happen overnight. Yet both begin with a simple yes. A “yes” accompanied by dedication. Not rule- or law-based, but simply understanding that God our Father desires us to know him and to foster this relationship with him. That’s a good place for our obsession to land.

  • Kenny Warkentin after working several years as an urban missionary with Living Waters Canada and Exodus International is now an associate Pastor. Kenny is passionate about issues regarding relational wholeness, gender and sexuality and has written numerous columns on those issues as it pertains to the Body of Christ. He is married to Paula and they have a daughter Phoebe. Paula and Kenny are both avid artists and they have showcased their work in various venues. Paula is a spoken word poet and Kenny is a photographer and painter. The are passionate about marriage and travel and share their testimony throughout North America.

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