Today marks the third day of “Icepocolypse” and the first day of Lent.
Honestly, I was really hoping to go back to work today. I had already decided to give up Netflix for Lent and make a conscious effort to not watch more regular television in its place. Another day stuck inside my studio apartment watching Netflix seemed unbearable, let alone not watching Netflix. Unfortunately, the powers that be did not care about my comfort and cared more about my safety, and they kept the salon closed another day.
I, however, cared very little about my safety. I grew up in the northern tundra, but moved to the south right before I would have learned how to drive. Thus, I have the heart and stubbornness of a northerner, but none of the actual know-how or tools to drive in northern weather conditions. However, with my couch permanently disfigured due to my butt imprint and the conversations with myself getting more and more repetitive and borderline crazy, there was no way I was going to stay trapped in my apartment for another day.
So I grabbed a ballpoint pen and started hacking at the ice covering my windshield. The first thing I learned today is that ballpoint pens are effective but not efficient at getting thick ice off of one’s windshield. At ice scraping efficiency, pens land somewhere in between reward cards for local restaurants and actual ice scrapers. In fact, they land pretty close to reward cards for local restaurants…
A million jillion minutes later, feeling like Cristoph in the first scene of Frozen, and with a bad case of imagined frostbite, I was on my way to one of my favorite coffee shops, speeding up and down hills at about ten miles per hour.
And there, in that coffee shop, a couple hours in, on my third book, I read this line:
“I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift, who will use it up and wring it out and drag it around like a favorite sweater,” (Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines.)
That line allowed me to learn my second thing of the day: why I chose to give up Netflix for Lent. I thought I had done it because I was sick of being a lazy bum who quoted TV shows too often, but I didn’t dissect it much more beyond that…which is absolutely insane because I overly dissect literally every moment of my existence.
I put down my book, picked up a (different) ballpoint pen and wrote: Art. Food/Drink. Adventure. Conversation.
These are my favorite things. These are the reasons I love to live. These are some of the reasons I have fallen deeply in love with Jesus and am convinced of his existence. And binge-watching shows on Netflix provides me with nonenonenone of these things.
Art: In my case, art means music and writing. I love other types of art, but we’re talking soul-craving, life-giving, tear-your-hair-out-in-frustration stuff and for me, that is music and writing.
I love music. It connects me to people I love so deeply. It reminds me of a simpler world – one I’ve never truly experienced as a child of the 21st century, but one we millennials crave anyways and occasionally glimpse. It shows me how much beauty there is to enjoy and experience and create. When it’s worship, tangible joy literally rushes through my being and makes me jump and sway and raise my hands and look at my friends worshiping alongside me and just laugh because of how good God is and how cool life is and how beautiful and talented and genuine my friends are.
Writing is like personal, intimate music. It points me inward to wrack my brain and scrutinize my heart. I start thinking and forming and feeling – feeling embarrassed and liberated and appreciative of the ability to feel. Then I write it down and it comes off dramatic and flowery and ridiculous but it is mine, my feelings, my thoughts, my heart so I still love it and hate it all at the same time. And then I try to make it accessible and interesting and helpful to a greater community because even the most intimate things, moments, thoughts can be embraced by, forgiven by, helpful to your community.
Food/Drink: Cooking is an art. It involves creativity and taking risks and failing over and over again. It is an art I am still failing at, frankly. I cooked chicken today and am currently in fear of dying in the night because, short of burning it, I will never be convinced that any chicken I cook is fully done. I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian just so that I would never have to brave cooking meat, but then I realized I could not live without hope of the sweet, sweet taste of a Hopdoddy’s burger in my mouth once again. So I’m trying to cook edible chicken.
As I was saying, food fosters creativity and community. Food brings people together. Drink (specifically coffee) allows me to function as a human, which is helpful. On a heart level, some of my favorite conversations have been over coffee. That beautiful black stuff brings out stories and laughter and honest tears better than anything else I’ve ever experienced.
Adventure: Adventure is necessary because it is an excuse for stories to be made and shared experiences to be had. My favorite adventures involve road trips of various lengths to and with friends. It doesn’t have to be long trips though; adventures can happen in your own city, in your own home. It’s wherever I feel a memory being made. The unexpected, the risky, the bonding. I love it all.
Conversation: It’s the reason I love any of these things, really. People are fascinating and their stories are unique. Jesus made us (among other things) to create and share stories and to love and share His story.
These things bring me joy. They bring me closer to myself, the community around me, and the One who created it all. Where does television fit into any of my favorite things? It doesn’t. I don’t think me spending my evenings with the cast of Friends makes God belly laugh. And yet, I have clocked countless, countless hours in front of it. It distracts, entertains, kills time. It’s not bad, by any means. But before today, it was taking away my art, my food and drink, my adventure, my conversation. I want those things back.
So this Lent I shall. I shall take back my joys and become reconnected to my Love.
I will miss Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross, and Joey, but hopefully not as much as I’ve missed Him.
And I will probably be writing more these 40 days, so my sincere apologies if the idea of that makes you physically ill or even roll your eyes.