i like to consider myself a reader.
up until last year, i probably read about 100 books a year, easily. but somewhere in there, there was a shift. i think part of it was just that i wanted to be busy, so i spent more time in coffee shops with people. i started watching more TV. my sister moved in. we got a dog. my job got more demanding and my schedule wasn’t as free.
[side note: there is a boy standing outside the coffee shop i’m sitting in and i swear i have never seen pants that tight on a guy. like, YIKES tight. i can’t un-see that. send help and $1200!]
i went to the beach with my family over the summer, which was a week of absolute bliss. (except for the awful piece of fabric they tried to call a mattress. my back has never been the same.) we laid out in the sun, mostly stayed out of the water (hello, 8+ shark attacks in NC this year), talked life and deep mysteries with my sister, argued about politics with my dad, walked the beach with my mom, and READ NINE books. that is more than one per day that we were gone! all fiction. most that i would entertain the notion of reading again. all new authors- i had not read their works before. i’ve added 7 more books to the tally since then, and i’m sure there were a few earlier in the year- i lose track of the ones i read in the kindle app on my phone- but the total is somewhere around 30 … and i know i’m bad at math, but i’m certain that 30 is quite a bit less than 100.
i read a book earlier this week. i started a new book today. granted, the one i started today is for book club, but at least it keeps me reading! it actually makes me sad when i look at this … partially because i’m slightly ashamed that i’ve only read 30 books this year, but also because i actually enjoy reading, and i haven’t been making it a priority.
i think somewhere along the line, i needed to put down all the christian living/leadership/smart books i was reading because they weren’t edifying- they were either making me angry, or they were puffing me up. so i did, but then went too far with fiction and began to use it as an escape. if i was engrossed in the life and times of some fictional character, my hurts and fears weren’t so prominent.
we got a roku for christmas (which is the cheaper alternative to apple tv, and it works with ‘dumb’ tv’s, so WIN/WIN), which was the best adult gift i’ve ever given myself. but with it came netflix and amazon prime and BLACKLIST. man, i love that show. i started watching season 1 with a friend and got hooked. then i made sarah watch it and we FLEW through seasons 1&2. i think we’re making ourselves wait for all of season 3 and not watching it online … i could be wrong. we’ll see how strong my self control is. but now i probably watch 7-9 hours of tv a week instead of reading or being with other humans. the time relaxing with sarah is great, and i have a very hard time turning down snuggle time with my dog (exhibit a in why i’ll be single forever). i realize that the hours i spend watching tv are below average for my age bracket, but that is more than hours in a week than ever in my adult life.
is that bad? i don’t know, really. answering that would require asking myself alot more questions … like what am i watching/reading? why am i watching/reading? am i neglecting people by watching/readin? is my home in need of the attention i am giving to tv or a book? is my brain turning to mush? should i be spending the $9 on netflix every month? does watching tv actually help me relax or rest? am i filling my mind and imagination with material that makes me smarter? does the book i’m reading make me engage with the world, or hide from it? does this make me smarter, or actively make me more stupid and vapid?
am i just thinking too much? (short answer: yes. and no.) but as any time-management guru/article will tell you, there are so many hours in the day, and hours you use in one place are robbed from another. so we must prioritize! (ok, so i could have made this up, but i am pretty sure i read it somewhere.) where is the line between self-care and escapism? does this hour spent watching tv or reading relax or inform me so that i can do something else better? or does it remove me from reality and steal my brain power from things that are really important?
i get stuck in the tension between rest and work so often. i love my job … but it is intense. i use so much of my mental and emotional energy for work that i often come home spent, and don’t want to do anything else. you know what else i love? my small group. you know, those ladies that i’ve committed to discipling and walking through life with? and you know what else i love? my house. my sister. my dog. sleep.
i am so much law, and so little grace. law is safer, because it is measureable. it comes with black and white boundaries- work now, rest then. grace is beautiful, but in a terrifying sense- i do not know how to receive grace, and rest, and it is finished. law makes me feel useful, gives me value because i do something that adds to the world. law is productive. and i love little more than being productive. but productive can be sinful. productive applauds what i do and how fast i do it, and looks out of the corner of its eye at grace, just walking with the steadiness that knows its value doesn’t come from its productivity … because grace is done. grace has nothing left to prove.
law tells me that there is no room for me to read for pleasure; that watching criminal minds with my sister is time i could be spending cleaning my house or preparing materials for my upcoming trip to india. but grace says otherwise. grace says that sitting on the couch acknowledges that i’m human, and weary, and in need of rest. grace hands me the novel and helps me unclench my shoulder muscles and relax my mind so that i can find pleasure in the created thing that was a good gift from the creator.
law can take a hike.
bye, i’m gonna go read a book.