how do you balance time with God and time you spend doing things for entertainment, like reading, watching tv, etc.? i've been feeling so guilty lately and i haven't been reading as much (even though it's something i love) because i feel like i should be spending more/all time with God.
..goodness, I’m not very good at it. Recently, I’ve realized I check my phone/social media at work more than I ACTUALLY work.
You said something interesting about how you felt guilty for doing things like reading, and I just wanted to say that you aren’t all spirit, and you don’t have to be. I want to address this first. Your life isn’t a constant mountaintop experience, and just offering God the intention of being with Him during your “daily normal duties” does a lot.
You’re a human being, your soul and body are connected in a way that is fearful and wonderful. God doesn’t ask you to become a transcendental being and float out of the material realm, which is something a lot of moderns like us believe without even realizing it. It’s like a silent lie that we absorb. It’s called gnosticism (yes, that’s right, it has affected so many people it has a name. Like a virus).
Material things (created things) aren’t bad, it’s just their use and misuse which MAKES them bad or good. Incarnation principle. :) So, your body and created-ness are good.
What you said about feeling like you needed to spend ALL your time with God reminded me of this: that maybe what you meant was that you felt you needed to spend all your time in, like, ecstatic prayer or something, and that God couldn’t be with you in your reading.
Well, bud, He is ALWAYS present. “Emmanuel” - God is with us, always. Even when we do very human things like read. “Jesus became like us in all things but sin”.
If you don’t remember Him when you do things like read, but want to “stay with Him” at all times, ask for the Grace. He longs to draw you close always.
Know that you offering Jesus your intention to be with Him always is meaningful, and you can’t haul yourself up to Him; He lifts you, with His love, if you let Him.
You have duties and obligations you have to fulfill as a human being, God calls us each to a specific state in life - not every person is called to be a hermit and pray for 8 hours a day, and, likewise, not every person is called to be the parent of 6 and thus forgo quiet time for the rest of their lives (I’m kidding).
So you really do need to sit down and have an honest look at what God may be asking of and FOR you this season, and what your state in life demands.
In the words of St. Pio, “Duty before all else, even before that which is holy”.
According to the Incarnation, in which Jesus was born in a stable, we can encounter God through the seemingly mundane, simple, and normal lives we lead. He’s there waiting in the “pots and pans”.
So don’t ever shun the “normal” in favor of the supernatural (I mean, Jesus was a carpenter’s son, that’s pretty “normal” because God is present in both.
- that’s just an aside. to continue:
As far as actually creating a healthy, holy lifestyle centered around God and making time to pray goes:
self-discipline is big, as order is the first principle of heaven. A career services mentor told me in college that if you don’t plan, it won’t happen. So: plan time for God, to make sure that it happens.
Obviously, “God’s ways are above our ways”, and we can’t plan for EVERYTHING Grace might want us to do in a day. Jesus says, “follow Me (& the fishermen dropped their nets, and followed Him)”, not, “make a plan and then give it to me, it’s totally cool, we can follow your schedule, kiddo”.
But God’s leadership/shepherding doesn’t excuse us from trying to live ordered lives, to the best of our ability, while leaving the door open for God’s grace “above our ways”.
For me, practically, that looks like having a consistent daily routine.
This is going to sound overly simple, but every day I try to get up before the sun rises, make some coffee, and just be silent before dawn with the Lord.
Some days, that doesn’t happen because either I get lazy or I need more sleep, but making it a daily thing is my goal.
After that, I try to honor the practical things I have the means to do to care for myself: breakfast, wash my face. I go to work, go to daily mass, work out daily,…y’know. Basic stuff. But, I try to do it all every day.
This sounds silly, but having these tiny pockets of order in your life can be really helpful. Not as ends in of themselves, but as means to create facilitate the action of Grace which created self-discipline in the flesh. I don’t always succeed, but that attempt at discipline, in my opinion, is like a fast that helps us re-order ourselves around God as our center, Love, shepherd, and provision.
For me, beyond spending quiet time with God in the morning, I make a HUGE effort to attend daily Mass AND go to adoration (prayer in the chapel before the eucharist) every day because I have time to right now and I love it. My station in life permits it. We’ll get to that in a second.
Mass***** & quiet prayer with Jesus are non-negotiables, for me. I can physically feel the difference when I don’t receive Jesus and root myself in Him: in His presence, in His merciful Love, in His Word. So, as those are the Most Important, I try to schedule myself AROUND making sure I get there.
Anyway, on the days when I literally can’t go to mass or have time in adoration with Jesus praying because of other duties (I’m a 23 year old laywoman soon-to-be student, peace out I’ll be SO BUSY SOON!) I trust that He will provide what I need, so that protects me from compulsiveness or false guilt.
But when I just choose not Visit Jesus out of laziness, or even poor time management on my part, it sucks.
It makes me feel weak, physically. 100% serious. On these kinds of days, I try to remember I can encounter God in the mundane, and I talk to Him while I do my work. I try to listen, too. You know? Bringing EVERYTHING up into God’s presence and handing them to Him, even the littlest moments.
It sounds complicated on paper, but it’s actually super simple.
So in order to avoid that (missing daily mass and prayer), I started trying that self-discipline/scheduling thing I mentioned earlier. Time management, to the best of my ability, to facilitate healthy upkeep of my relationship with God. Put God at the center and first, and everything else falls into place.
Practical tools like planners are things we can use to help us order our lives around Him.
About balancing that with entertainment, um, well, I mean:
Jesus Himself was accused of being too “cheerful” (”…For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at this glutton and drunkard, a friendof tax collectors and of sinners!’ “ (Luke 7:34))…. AND Jesus went off repeatedly to Quiet Places to pray..so I think we can take that to mean that Jesus knew how to balance both work and play and rest. (If I can say that about play).
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
First, I would say never feel guilty for resting or for something fun. We aren’t stoics or robots. We have friends and families and communities and are human beings. Jesus had community too. And as human beings we have a NEED to rest and recuperate, and God gives us the sabbath to rest and worship Him. And in the evenings, think of an ideal gathering in Jesus’s time, around a table to eat a good meal and maybe tell stories or listen to someone sing or preach….that’s a kind of rest, I think.
TV/entertainment can help us rest and relax…through…being entertained. The purpose of the object is in the name, here. But, like any other created thing, it’s just bad when we it gets out of place, in our lives (or when we watch bad content, but that’s another post).
So second, I would suggest doing a little healthy self-inquisition in Jesus’s loving presence to see if you’re using TV/entertainment as a way to AVOID something that might be nipping at your mind or conscience, or heart, or eve subconsciousness.
In my life, I know that often, when I feel guilty like that, it’s either because I’m using TV and entertainment to avoid something and avoid God or avoid something He wants to tell me, or because my “life” is “out of order” (see above, about ordering life around the essentials :) ) and as soon as I face up and acknowledge it in order to learn and grow and conform to Jesus, I re-find that peace and center in Christ.
But sometimes, that guilt I feel comes from me feeling like I don’t DESERVE rest, or from false SELF CONDEMNATION, which are literally straight from hell.
So on that note, continuing, I know that God is Love, and that He doesn’t ask us to perfect ourselves on our own, which means that if I’m choosing to not making time for Him, I can go to Him and ask for His help reordering my life around Him. I know that He never leaves us, so I trust that even in my “wandering”, He is waiting for me (think Moses in the desert - God still preserved him).
The devil tries to take good, well-meaning people like yourself who want to Do The Right Thing and often tempts them with false guilt and self-condemnation. So if I’m feeling that guilt, I try to stop and evaluate it to see if it is from God or not, as well (I’m Catholic, so I usually also take it to confession and to friends for help discerning the truth).
Remember: God never covers up our sin or equivocates around them or shortcomings, but He never addresses them outside His merciful Love.
God’s voice convicts, heals, and calls us out of error like a good coach, parent, or mentor.
The devil’s accuses, condemns, and blames us for where we’ve messed up.
God draws us into the light where our flaws and painful wounds and sins are exposed, offers us forgiveness, helps us wash our robes white, helps us change our ways, and heals us. We’re kids, and if a kid has a bad habit, even a deadly habit (sin is a deadly habit), the parent doesn’t push them away - the parent helps them get better.
The devil points fingers and yells until we want to curl up in a ball and die and hate ourselves and put ourselves out of existence.
I hope that rambling kind of helped you, a little. I just..typed what I felt.
2) make God / time with God the prioritiy but remember that God also wants you to do “regular” things appropriate to your state in life
>>>>the Incarnation principle>>>>
3) reflect on your actions and thoughts in the presence of God to see whether or not you’re avoiding something via media (and, thus, encountering feelings of guilt)
4) reflect on your feelings of guilt and pray for the HS to show you if they’re from God or the Devil (based in Truth or in a Lie)
5) remember that God enters INTO your mess RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE, THE WAY YOU ARE, helps you with your burdens, etc, and helps you out of it - He doesn’t ask you to be perfect before you come to Him because He MAKES you perfect in His love, and that includes your guilty feelings over not spending enough time with God
6) practical tools like self discipline and planners help us organize and take appropriate stewardship of our time and means
7) “patience obtains all things” = slow and steady wins the race. God honors our little efforts to improve in ALL things and transforms them with Big Grace if we let Him :)
8) life is a balance between work and rest and entertainment and no entertainment, and it takes time to find it, but I trust you will.
God bless ya, dude. Lemme know if that didn’t answered/didn’t answer your question/if you have other questions/need clarification/anything.
(Re, Mass*****: I heard that Protestant churches don’t have daily services like Catholics have daily masses???? So if you ever wanted to go hear a sermon and have service daily, but your Protestant church doesn’t (if you’re a Protestant anon, idk), then you are MORE than welcome in the Catholic mass. #WeAreOneBodyInChrist. Catholics would only ask you abstain from the bread and cup unless you are a Catholic. It’s not exclusionary, it protects us from receiving Christ out of order or without Right Love and Understanding and Preparedness like St. Paul indicates we ought to in his letters. Catholics go through a process in our youth of intense education, learning about Jesus’s Presence there and scripture and etc, and out of respect, we would ask you refrain. Early christians had a three-year process of becoming a christian they abided, too. :) I think anglicans can partake? Idk? You’d have to check with the priest.)