Last week I was in Raleigh for two days for product training with my job and to meet my new supervisor: a portly, pink fellow who reminds me of my extended family in upstate New York. (He is in fact from upstate NY.) First daughter went to a youth retreat in Chesapeake, VA, as a counselor and had a productive time learning what it means to serve others and came home with a sense of awe that she could be used by God, as well as making many faith-filled friends. Second daughter returned from Washington State yesterday, not making eye contact with her mother and I, and with not even enough shame to bother trying to cover the ugly hickeys on her throat. Honestly I’m not sure what to say to her. We were hoping that she would be driving herself and her brother to their high school (school started today), but she spent $1100 to go to Washington, not earning for two weeks in the brief summer window, and now she doesn’t have the money to afford car insurance, her cell phone bill, and whatever she will owe the IRS in February.
I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately and sometimes I need a break from music. This past week I listened to podcasts from The Babylon Bee, Michael Malice, and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. I love history, and Dan Carlin’s podcast is the “find” of the month.
Ezra and Nehemiah have been the Bible reading of the week, along with a snippet from Jeremiah Chapter 2 which came to me one morning after I’d spent two days around my boss, who is an atheist and whose mind is consumed with business, with ways to expand the reach and profitability of his enterprise. I like him, really. We were sitting in a Japanese steakhouse with six or seven other salespeople – one of whom was obviously on cocaine, wide-eyed and sweating profusely – and an old Japanese cook who kept dropping his spatula and eggs and things as he was trying to be all fancy. Those hibachi places are a tribulation because of all the noise and clanging and fear of having a decrepit out-of-practice old chef lob a raw egg at your face, so I wasn’t crazy about the scene but I’m always interested to hang out with the owner of the company I work for, because he is so passionate and focused. He doesn’t have a lot of social grace (neither do I) but he is ultimately a generous man and doesn’t have a poverty mindset. It’s kind of like working in Potiphar’s house sometimes, or maybe for Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar.
I was thinking about my employer’s laser focus on his goals when the phrase came to mind: “My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.” When I looked it up I was convicted by the ideas expressed in Jeremiah 2, because I feel so distracted and depressed and out of sorts for the past couple months, like I’m in a rowboat full of leaks, and every time I get one plugged two more holes open up. I get frustrated with my “yo-yo” lifestyle: up and down with exercise, up and down with weight, up and down with my pursuit of God and other relationships. I hate feeling inconsistent. I think I could’ve written ten books by now if I could stay focused and disciplined, thinking and writing a little each day. But when I’m off the rails, I’m off the rails everywhere.
I’m reading a couple of books that sparked my interest which I heard about on the podcasts. One is Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter. It’s about the seductions of screen technologies like games, social media, and “binge-worthy” shows. The other is The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power Over Christian Values by Ben Howe, regarding the 2016 election. I ordered these books in part because I feel like my mind has grown dull. I’m having trouble focusing like I used to, and I’ve wondered whether it is because I receive all my news and input through “snippets and bytes.”