Seattle broke a 122-year-old record for rain last week (ugh) but all I can think about is wearing sunscreen to prevent any more sun damage from being inflicted on my already-peeling skin.
I spent last weekend in the beautiful, ever-sunny Los Angeles laying by the beach and seeing JOHN MAYER in concert. Emphasis on John and Mayer because if you know me at all, you know that’s a REALLY big deal.
I developed a deep love for Mayer my freshman year of college. I had recently ended things with my boyfriend of four and a half years and all I wanted to do was cry and listen to break up songs. Fun fact: John Mayer has SO MANY good break up songs. I guess relationships don’t last long when you’re rich, famous, and a grade-A jerk.
Anyways, the concert.
It was amazing. So good. All I wanted to do was close my eyes and melt into the floor as I listened to him serenade me with his perfect break up songs forever. As I looked around me though, I saw something different…the dim blue light of screens everywhere. I watched a girl ahead of me record every. single. song. on her phone.
As I watched her, I thought to myself, why? Why would you go to a concert just to end up watching the whole thing through a screen?
Part of me wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. She must really love Mayer and wants to be able to go back and watch all of those videos later on. But I knew better. She wasn’t going to do that.
She wanted proof. Proof that she went to the concert. Evidence that she was cool… that she was out on a Friday night doing something fun. I watched her upload the videos to Snapchat. Those videos would be gone in 24 hours and she’d never watch them again, but she would be content knowing that her followers got to know that she was there.
I feel like I need a quick disclaimer. I took some videos at the concert and I posted one or two of them, so I’m not saying I’m immune to the desire to let people know JUST HOW AMAZING John Mayer was live, but recognizing the sea of iPhones at the concert brought up a valid question; what were we really there for?
I’m a senior communication student at the University of Washington and I’m currently taking a class about inequality in the media. My professor lectured on the new zombie craze in the media recently. Have you noticed it? I mean, it’s pretty hard to miss. Zombie games, zombie movies, zombie 5k runs…apparently we’ve become a bit obsessed with the idea of these insatiable post-apocalyptic crazies and maybe that’s because they’re a lot like us.
Now wait a second, before you tune me out, take a second to think about the first thing you did this morning when you woke up. Or how you spent your lunch break. Or what you consider to be relaxing in your leisure time. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I must resemble a zombie when I spend my break time during class scrolling through my phone.
Like I said, we want distraction. We crave it. We prefer to spend our time thinking about ourselves and what other people think about us because that seems easier to change than our broken health care system or poverty or scarcity of resources.
And sometimes that’s not a bad thing.
This world we live in is brutal. We live in a society where people are enslaved and oppressed, where equality is preached but not practiced, where there is suffering and heartache and pain…and we are only human. Sometimes we need a break from the chaos. We need a moment to tune out and find relief. And that’s okay.
But we can’t stay in that place. We can’t walk away from the pain and suffering of reality and think that it’s acceptable.
Reality demands consciousness. It begs for our full attention. It requires action.
Distraction leads to despair. It offers temporary relief but follows up with empty promises. It tricks us into spending our time and energy on things that don’t matter. It tricks us into believing that making sure that our followers see that we went to the John Mayer concert is important or that having trendy clothes and the newest iPhone is going to make us more likable. It deceives us into thinking that the world revolves around us.
News flash: it doesn’t. The world isn’t about you and it sure as hell isn’t about me.
And praise God for that because we are fallible, fragile human beings.
What is your purpose? What is your why?
In other words- what do you care about? At the end of the day, when all is said and done, what are you willing to place your stake in the ground for?
Is it money? Name brand clothes? Expensive food? More followers? Success? Being cool?
The likelihood is that it’s not. At the end of the day, you’d probably say that lifting people up is what you care about the most. Or loving your family well. Or finding genuine joy. Or maybe you want to reflect the character of Jesus through service and mercy to others.
Whatever it is, spending all of your time thinking about yourself probably isn’t the answer.
Whatever our why, we must look at our actions and determine whether what we care about matches up with what we’re actually doing.
You see, I’ve come to realize recently just how important actions are. We’ve all heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words,” but how often do we use it as a measure for our own lives?
I recently experienced a major life transition that left me asking myself a lot of hard questions. After making the decision to step back from a commitment I’ve had for the past four years, I spent an evening sitting in my bedroom, writing down a list of my priorities arranged by importance. I then did my best to objectively write down another list- this time it was a list of actions. They didn’t match.
We must align our actions with that which we profess as priorities otherwise our souls suffer from dissonance between our deepest desires and our superficial cravings.
It isn’t easy and it requires honesty. Honesty about what we want, what type of person we want to be, and the types of sacrifices we are willing to make to become that person.
So ask yourself: what do you want?
What are you willing to give up to get it?