“Just one more episode and then, I’ll go to bed.” This was one of the lies I told myself three weeks ago, when I mindlessly binge-watched a series on Netflix. It started with a random search on a Friday night which eventually led me to staying in my room watching 40 more episodes until Sunday midnight. Before I knew it, I was hours away from waking up and preparing for Monday’s work. I have succumbed to an addiction that I didn’t want nor planned to have in the first place. Why did this happen to me? How did I overcome it?
My weekends are usually spent with family and friends or by myself inside my favorite coffee shop. When I am alone, I enjoy writing on my journal, reading the Bible and books, and doing my other hobbies. During that weekend, you could just imagine the sudden shift in my entire system after I experienced the unproductivity. Unfortunately, I saw how it negatively affected me in the ff. areas:
My body clock was messed up because I watched episodes until the wee hours of the morning. This made my face have that zombie glow. It was intense! I could feel and see how tired my eyes were and I could not appreciate the beauty of the sunlight and nature the next day because they were all too bright for me. Out of my desperation, I remember telling myself “NEVER BINGE-WATCH AGAIN!” However, the day after, I ended up watching two more episodes before I slept. Oh, boy.
My unproductivity and lack of sleep unleashed a side of me that I did not like at all. I was more irritable, insecure, stressed, and easily discouraged. I felt weaker by the moment because of my disappointment towards myself and how I wasted a weekend. I don’t even have to describe how I responded to different people and situations last week. You can just visualize how messed up my heart was too!
Out of all the aspects that got affected by my recent addiction, this was the one that broke my heart the most. More than being unproductive and feeling my body give up on me, I deliberately chose NOT to spend time with the Bible and seek God during my rest days that weekend. I know. What was I thinking, right? The message to draw near to Him was loud and clear to me, but my stubborn self still did the opposite. That weekend, I felt so helpless and trapped that I ended up continuing what I was doing because it seemed irreparable already. But, God still pursued my unfaithful heart. I remember thinking: “Nic, you’ve experienced and accepted Jesus in your life. You know how He transformed you from the inside out. Have you forgotten about this? Have you forgotten about Him?” In the next few days, by God’s grace, I slowly came back to my senses and saw the addiction and my idolatry for what they really were.
To be more specific, I did three things to overcome this specific addiction:
FIRST: I humbled myself before the Lord and sought His wisdom. I asked Him to help me see the root cause of my addiction. In my case, I realized that I was hardening my heart towards God because of certain unanswered prayers in my life. (James 1:5)
SECOND: I became accountable to people in my life that I knew would guide and remind me of honoring God as I let go of the addiction. (James 5:16 and Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
THIRD: I deleted the Netflix app on my phone and intentionally prayed and planned for activities that I can do to replace this addiction in my life. (Psalm 24:1, Ephesians 5:15-16, Romans 12:1-2)
Ironically, I have already exceeded the 6-month mark of fasting from my social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). By God’s grace, this has helped me greatly in overcoming many concerns and in being a better steward of the resources that God has given me. But, I realized that it is important to continue abiding in the Lord and His Word if I want to persevere in this and honor Him through it. Otherwise, I will solely depend on my own feeble strength and eventually fall into more addictions in my life.
1 Corinthians 10 spoke to my heart two weeks ago, as God reminded me of certain principles in the Bible. These verses hit me hard: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (v. 12-13, 23, 31)
By the grace of God, during the next two weekends, I intentionally spent time with Him and His word and I slept for longer periods of time. Woohoo! It was definitely more refreshing than what I experienced three weekends ago. Although I have to be honest, at first, it really did take a lot of effort for me to dig deep in His Word again. However, I am encouraged to keep my eyes focused on God’s faithfulness and grace instead of crippling myself with thoughts of shame, regret, and disappointment towards myself. My spiritual condition might have been wounded, but, I continue to put my confidence and hope in Jesus alone. May this truth resonate in my heart — His mercies are new every morning! They are new every morning.