Vegging Out


by Tony Stith

When we’re tired, exhausted from the stresses of life, it’s natural for us to take the path of least resistance, least effort.

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After a stressful week, all I could think of doing after leaving work was to get home, grab the remote, claim some couch real estate, and use as little brain power as possible. Basically, I just wanted to veg out.

I’m confident I wasn’t the only one on the highway that evening who felt that way. In fact, our lifestyles have gotten so hectic that “vegging out” has become the national pastime. Whole industries are dedicated to helping people find new ways to do absolutely nothing. They couldn’t find a group of more willing consumers. Given the chance to finally relax, we readily reach for the remote, head to the theater, crank up the stereo, turn on the video games, turn off our brains and become part of the plant kingdom.

The downside of our growing appetite for this type of mindless entertainment is that we spend less and less time pursuing activities that bring deep, lasting pleasure and satisfaction. Activities such as learning to play an instrument, mastering another language, reading a classic piece of literature, studying God’s word, spending time in prayer or thoughtful meditation have, for many, become casualties of our frenzied lifestyles. These activities require work, effort, and mental energy. When we’re tired, exhausted from the stresses of life, it’s natural for us to take the path of least resistance, least effort.

The other day I came upon a scripture, a prayer of David, that had quite an impact on me. David asks God, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.” (Psalms 119:37) To put it in the modern vernacular, “Help me to put down the remote; and get fired up about the things that matter.”

It’s a prayer I’ve started to make my own of late. I don’t want to always go down the path of least resistance. I don’t want to constantly give in to the mindless pursuits that saturate this culture and so easily divert my attention. It might take some effort. It might mean reordering my priorities somewhat. But I’m determined to get off the couch and get engaged in pursuits that matter, that truly bring lasting value and satisfaction. Chief among them the things that strengthen my relationship with my God.

Not that I’ll never allow myself to “veg out” again. Sometimes the brain just needs to sit on idle. It’s okay occasionally. It’s just a practice whose roots I refuse to let go too deep.

 

 

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About Tony Stith

Tony, along with his wife, Elizabeth, and two adult children, Jordan and Courtney, attend the Twin Cities United Church of God congregation.
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