Written By Tiffany Rogers, USA
Let me tell you a story: A young woman comes home after a long day. She sets her things down, throws her hair up, and changes into comfy clothes in record time. Breathing a deep sigh of relief, she grabs her laptop and flips it open. The screen illuminates, showing the last webpage she visited: Netflix.
The familiar words appear on the screen: Playback Timed Out. Her muscle memory kicks in and she hits “refresh” as the episode she fell asleep on continues, right where she left off.
This is how she spends her evening. Maybe she eats, maybe she showers, and maybe she talks to some people. But at any given moment, and especially in bed getting ready to fall asleep, she is watching Netflix.
Now, let me tell you a secret: For months, that girl was me.
Don’t get me wrong; I had a social life, I had friends, and I even had a boyfriend. But when people asked what my “hobbies” were, I had to lie by deflection. I said things like, “Oh, I enjoy reading. I write sometimes. I love the outdoors!” Because I certainly couldn’t tell them, “I literally spend all of my free time watching The Office on Netflix.”
Here’s the thing: Netflix was my escape from life, from stress, from feelings, and from people. I used the shows I watched on Netflix to keep fear and depression at bay. If I was watching Netflix, nothing could hurt me.
I know that sounds extreme because it was extreme. Netflix was my therapy, my shield, and my safety. I couldn’t even go in the kitchen to make food without bringing Netflix with me to play in the background while I cooked.
That was my reality. But it wasn’t that I was a lazy bum without anything better to do. It was that at the root of my incessant Netflix binge, something was terribly wrong. Something was awry in my heart, and it caused fear and depression to hover over me like an individualized dark rain cloud, and Netflix was my perpetual umbrella.
Then, something happened. The relationship I was in was crumbling. I had known for a long time it wasn’t right, and I suddenly found myself at a place where everything I held dearest was slipping through my fingers: my future, my plans, my pride and my love.
That breakup was how the Lord got ahold of me. For a long time I knew I needed to turn back to Him and finally listen to His voice. He had been whispering into my soul, like a parent whispers too closely in a child’s ear when chastising at a dinner table, and the whisper makes them flinch and squirm because it tickles, but not in a funny way. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves, He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)
In my life, I had stopped seeking God. I chased feelings and intuitions instead of prayerfully asking the Lord for guidance and peace. I listened to my own overly emotional and foolish heart over listening to the wisdom and discernment of the Holy Spirit. In no uncertain terms, I was running. I had found what I thought I wanted, and I didn’t want to hear what God had to say, for fear it would contradict my desires.
And on the surface of it all, I Netflixed the days away. While my heart was wasting in torture and turmoil, I naively believed the longer I watched Netflix, the longer I could put off the change I knew needed to happen.
As a result, I gladly gave Him the attention I once rendered to Netflix and all my social media platforms. I found a year-long Bible reading plan and started reading the Bible as well as embarking on some devotionals. I also dove into Christian books by authors like Gary Thomas, John Bevere and Timothy Keller, among others. I used that time instead to seek Him diligently. My desire became to know Him intimately and to grow my love for Him unlike ever before. Now, I can humbly say that God is my greatest love, and my desire is for Him.
Maybe for you it’s not Netflix. Maybe it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Maybe your job is your shield, or your spouse is your escape. Maybe a hobby, an addiction or a toxic relationship is causing your growing separation from the Lord. In any case, I want to challenge you to look inside your heart. Ask yourself honestly if you’re running to anything before running to God for guidance, safety, and peace. Is anything besides Jesus taking the first place in your heart?
If so, be encouraged. Just as you are sick of running and hiding behind something or someone, Jesus is just as eager and ready to receive you with open arms. Matthew 7:7 tells us: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” It is a breath of fresh air knowing that as we seek Him, we find Him. He doesn’t hide Himself from us, rather, He pulls us out of our deep ruts (which we often create ourselves), and places us right next to Him with nothing but love in His heart and tenderness in His eyes.
Are you ready to make a change? Here’s a prayer you can follow:
Lord, forgive me for placing other things or people on the throne of my heart. I surrender to You, and my desire is for You to be my greatest love. Give me courage to remove whatever is taking up my affection, that I may replace it with my earnest love for You. Teach me to love You more than ever before. I want to know You, God. Reveal yourself to me through your Holy Spirit, that I might grow in closeness with You, my Heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.