This post was originally published on the Integrity Blog.
I’m about to be painfully real for a second.
For the past five years of my life, I’ve been in college and surrounded by all of my best friends, endless studying, classes, projects, jobs, training, and everything else under the sun. If I were to catch a show on Netflix, it would be after a long week of toil and work. I would curl up with my best friend, a bottle of wine, and it was a glorious once-a-week ritual.
Fast forward to right now. I live in a teeny little studio apartment with my husband. I have a job with fourth graders that keeps me extraordinarily busy; working anywhere from 60-90 hours a week. I have friends in the town where I live, but of course they aren’t down the hall from me anymore. Usually, my get togethers are planned days in advance and the departure time is around 9pm, after we’ve vented about all of the adult problems we find ourselves facing. So...what do I do every day when I come home from work?
I throw off my pencil skirt and heels, grab the chicken and rice I eat every night, slump on the couch, and I press play.
I’ve been through several complete shows on Netflix, including Lost, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the Bachelor, Grey’s Anatomy and bits of Pretty Little Liars, Fringe, and Law and Order.
Now, let me just say that this Netflix habit started on my honeymoon. My husband and I had just finished school (literally taking final exams before our rehearsal dinner), put on a giant wedding for under $2,000, packed up everything we owned, and moved across the country to Arizona in a broken car. When we arrived at our resort in Phoenix, we concocted a giant ice cream cake, made a blanket fort, and watched Lost for seven days straight. It was amazing, therapeutic, and exactly what we needed at the time. We needed that time to completely and totally veg out and not give a damn about anything else.
But right now?
Last night, we took a walk around our little apartment complex and sat on the patio, watching the sunset over the glorious Arizona mountains. And suddenly my husband said, “I am going to cancel Netflix.”
WHAT?! No. My shows. My leisure time. I love them.
It got me thinking. I have a copy of The Brothers Karamazov on my table that I have yet to finish, because I’m never in the mood to delve into “the problem of evil” after a long day of disciplining screaming children. I have a rosary sitting on my nightstand that I took to Maximilian Kolbe’s cell in Poland, but I always forget to pick it up and pray because “I’ll just offer a quick prayer of thanks to God in my head thanking Him for the day, because that’s more personal, anyway, right?” I have mason jars of paintbrushes and pencils waiting to be used for any number of artistic endeavors, but I am always too devoid of inspiration to pick up and start
Netflix has sucked up my creativity, my passion for intellectual literature, my energy for prayer.
I really, truly hate being hypocritical, because I like to think of myself as an enlightened, thoughtful human person who is aligned philosophically and is conquering the world with truth and goodness.
But...what in the hell am I doing with my leisure time? I used to always sneer at humanity and sniff, “Pah. The world is full of people who don’t care about politics, feeding the poor, perfecting themselves, loving others, or reading the beloved classics of the Western canon. All people do nowadays is watch the media-saturated, trashy shows on TV and Netflix and they are disconnected from reality and nature.”
Welp, I have become that person. And I am cutting off the log in my eye that forces me to sin.
Because since when have we forgotten that sins of omission are actually sins? It’s not just enough to refrain from horrible things like murder and theft and adultery. If you are spending your free time in endless hours of Netflix and Hulu, you are failing to pray, failing to perfect yourself, and failing to use the talents you have been given to change the world, or change the people around you. You are failing to converse with people, failing to make friends you could be making, failing to pray, failing to open the Bible, failing to read the books you always wanted, and failing to be the human being you could be.
I have tried to convince myself for a while that “I deserve some relaxing time.” Well, I do. Of course I deserve time to watch movies and chillax. But I have forgotten about my calling to deny myself. I am called to make sacrifices. I am called to fast. I am called to a daily life far superior to a screen and a vocation far more beautiful and real than vegging out in the evenings.
So, that is why I am cancelling Netflix. For now.
I am going to eat dinner with my husband at our little plastic table with the pumpkin spice candle I got for Christmas last year. I am going to take walks in the evening and have conversations with him, like we did when we were dating and infatuated with the sight of each other. I am going to get a library card and read Anna Karenina. I am going to fill up mugs with water and paint and watch watercolor tutorials on Pinterest. I am going to get on my knees before my cross from Assisi and remind myself that I am going to die someday and start preparing my account that I am expected to give to God in the face in….less than eighty years now.
I just realized I have an infinite amount of life to live, and I am done wasting it on Meredith Grey, Saul Goodman, and Frank Underwood.