The highway of the upright avoids evil;
he who guards his way guards his life.
A weird thing happened to me in the last couple of months. I reached a point of media over load. The election campaign here in Iowa had been going on two years. Every other ad was a campaign slogan: I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that, my opponent doesn’t do this or that and does other things you don’t want. Pundits raged on all political fronts. Gas was rising day after day and setting new records. Now the stock market is crashing. There’s no credit. Life as we know it is over. Banks are failing. Stalwarts of the financial industry vanished into thin air. The government uses thin air to prop them up. We’re supposed to believe the government will save us. Hail to the chief. Leaders are lifted to the state of deity, while the masses bow down and drivel that they need a savior. I’ve lost my job. I can’t pay my credit cards. I can’t pay my mortgage. I can’t pay my car payment. I can’t pay my student loan. The Palestinians send 3000 rockets into Israel but we don’t hear about it until Israel fights back and then we hear that Israel is the evil perpetrator and there are protests all over the world against the Jews. And there are floods and famines and fires and philanderings innumerable. The news anchors preach and the political pundits pontificate and the radio righteous rant and a single mother has 8 babies in one day and the moral mavins in our society scratch their heads.
Enough already. I cannot bear the burdens of the sum total of evil capable by 6+ billion people every day. I’m not God. I don’t even want the job. I don’t need to know everything. I listen for a living. The people that come to see me have many burdens. If it were not so they wouldn’t have told me. I don’t have clients come in to say, “Just wanted you to know, Dr. Wall, how great we’re doing.” Well, I did have one recently. But it wasn’t on their first appointment. It was on their last. She said, “I told my husband I didn’t know what we were going to talk about with Bing tonight, because we’re doing really well.” (Sorry. She didn’t say “my husband.” She said her husband’s name. I’m using a writer’s license here. Have mercy on me, Oh, Lordess OPRAH!). So we spent a delightful hour discussing how they can take what they had gained and make it a life style. But mostly, I hear pretty depressing things, at least to start.
So I get sad input from work and terrifying and god-awful input on the TV and radio and internet news and the newspapers. I’d sworn off sit-coms and movies years ago because they deal with the trauma I hear every day. Trauma at home. Trauma at work. It’s too much. But I’d unwisely been taken in by too much news.
So I’m on, what Richard Foster calls, a “Media Fast.” At least I think he calls it that. I got the idea from him anyway. He suggests going for a period of 30 days without media as an act of worship. I did it for shear emotional survival. And I’m not doing if for only 30 days. It’s my new lifestyle.
So I plugged in my iPod to iTunes and down loaded the Daily Audio Bible and the Daily Audio Proverb and some sermons by Ravi Zacharias (wow, is he ever good; see rzim.org “Let My People Think”) and the daily radio show from Dave Ramsey (he takes an upbeat, proactive approach to finances and getting out of debt) and listened to that on my way to work. And sometimes watched Dave Ramsey on Hulu.com during a break between clients (Check out the May 22, 2008 show about military families. It’s awesome).
An amazing thing happened. This wasn’t even an experiment. This was an act of desperation. I couldn’t take any more bad news. My mood went from a 4 to an 8 in about 3 weeks. It’s like I got my life back. I just came out of the dessert into an oasis. The media was draining my spirit. Now I’m filling it up in instead. I’m guarding my soul; guarding what goes in and not sitting at the seat of scoffers. It was a little past due. I’m like a tree planted by streams of water. Drink deeply. Take it easy, Bing. Slowly. Slowly….