I was recently listening to a sermon by a friend, and part of it included his sharing on how he finally gave up his computer game addiction by packing his whole PC into a box.
I was also going to give a sermon soon and as a huge gamer, something in me felt like I just had to respond as I heard that. So I told my wife about my plans, beat the last Astral Chain boss (praises be, I was already on the last stage) and packed my Nintendo Switch into the drawer.
That was a really hard choice to make. After all, my Hori Split Pad Pro Daemon X Machina Edition Joy-Cons had just arrived, and I was all ready to have a blast with them. And at Chapter 15, I still hadn’t finished my Fire Emblem: Three Houses playthrough – levelling up my guys was something I always looked forward to on bus and train rides.
But even on just my first day away, I was able to take a step back and look at just how big a part of my life gaming had become. Here are a couple of ways I realised the way I was enjoying my hobby might have become unhealthy.
RELUCTANCE MEANS RELIANCE
I really struggled with the decision just to put the games down for a bit. And not even for good – just a bit!
When I honestly assessed why I was so unwilling to do so, I realised I had developed a very strong reliance on it. And it’s hard to admit that because gaming has always been my happy place.
In the last three months since marriage (going great, by the way), I’ve simply not had the time to game on my PC. So admitting that I have a strong tie to my Nintendo Switch now runs me the unsaid risk of having to loosen my grip on it – and then that would mean no gaming at all.
Perhaps other parts of my reluctance stem from my earlier years. I grew up in an era where folks would denounce the TV as a “one-eyed demon” (not sure how serious they were) and demonise computer games. Maybe that’s one reason why I’m so rebelliously quick to shrug off any “accusations” about what really has been my reliance and, at times, addiction to gaming. Because I wanted to prove such notions wrong.
I suppose there’s also an element of pride in refusing to admit I wasn’t strong enough to control my hobby. As I think about gaming, I’m drawn back to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24:
“’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. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
What that means for me is that I have the right to do anything, including gaming. And it’s totally fine until it’s not – when it stops being constructive and starts becoming a hindrance to my life.
REALISE WHAT’S IMPORTANT
What might gaming be a hindrance to? As I’ve stepped back, I’m able to go back to my list of what’s truly important: Faith, family and functioning well in ministry.
Any hobby or pastime has a quiet way of interrupting the flows and rhythms of these core activities in life. Ever see whole families at hawker centre tables, not talking to each other but just using their phones? That’s sort of what I mean by this.
It’s the same thing with my Quiet Time: it could easily be done on the bus – but I would use all my travelling time to play games.
Any hobby or pastime has a quiet way of interrupting the flows and rhythms of these core activities in life.
When you simply stop doing something you’ve been so accustomed to for such a long time, you may realise you’ve worked or played yourself into a routine that isn’t beneficial. Being able to get that distance is crucial because we need perspective in life. Gaming is a totally innocent and fun thing until you let it consume you.
RELEASE AND RECEIVE
I have a lot of new and free time now. Time that once went, without hesitation, to gaming has been freed up.
Even as I restrain myself in one area, I feel freedom in many more. I can choose to read or listen to the Bible on the commute, I can text a friend to see how he’s doing – I’m seeing these options open up in ways that also make me excited.
Stepping away from gaming has been great for my walk with God. Now that I’ve released something I’ve held on so tightly to, I simply feel really good about that. It’s nice to know I’m not controlled by anything.
The best part about all of this is that I find I’m better able to listen to God and receive what He has in store for me.
So, there. It’s worth making an honest check within to see where we are about the hobbies and pastimes we love. You can apply these three Rs to other stuff, like how you consume Netflix or any other hobby, really.
God has a lot of good things in store for us in this life. It doesn’t make sense to chain ourselves to one good thing, make it a bad thing and miss out on all the other good things.
Don’t be reluctant to step away. You’ll get a better perspective on what’s really important, and I’m willing to believe you’ll receive really special things from God in that time.
THINK + TALK
- When it comes to our hobbies, how much is too much?
- What are ways we can manage the amount of time we dedicate to them?
- How can we have the right perspective of our pastimes?