Every Day an Opportunity to Renew Your Mind
“He watches for Christ who has a sensitive, eager, apprehensive mind; who is awake, alive, quick-sighted, zealous in seeking and honouring Him; who looks out for Him in all that happens, and who would not be surprised, who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed, if he found that He was coming at once.
And he watches with Christ, who, while he looks on to the future, looks back on the past, and does not so contemplate what his Saviour has purchased for him, as to forget what He has suffered for him. He watches with Christ, who ever commemorates and renews in his own person Christ's Cross and Agony, and gladly takes up that mantle of affliction which Christ wore here, and left behind Him when he ascended.”
Blessed John Henry Newman
(to be canonized October 13, 2019)
Take Up & Read:
Is it just me, or do women spend more time mindlessly scrolling online when we are tired? I shared this observation of myself with a friend the other day, and she agreed that it was true for her, too. It’s as if the effort to look up, to engage in conversation with people present in person, to move about the day in an active manner is so much effort for weary minds and bodies that we opt to just sit and live vicariously wherever our thumbs take us.
Already numb with fatigue, we allow the digital device to spin its spell, and, as the day progresses, we drift further from true connection, losing our sense of presence, our ability to notice, to focus, to listen. We drift into acedia, a thick fog of listlessness enveloping us until we care very little about the plans of the day or the duties and disciplines we once carefully considered. It’s interesting; I am old enough to remember the mind-numbing fatigue that comes from caring for little ones before there were cell phones. And I had children late enough in life that I also recall what it was like to feel so fatigued and to be in possession of a smartphone.
In the earlier years, fatigue often led to a kind of boredom. I was too tired to really engage, but also at once a bit restless and a bit apathetic. With the later babies—the smartphone babies—fatigue easily dissolved into acedia if I allowed myself to scroll.
Boredom is not a bad thing. Boredom affords us a chance to be alone with our thoughts. If our thoughts have frequently been tuned to the mind and heart God through frequent scripture and frequent sacrament, then when we are alone with our thoughts, we are alone with God. A tired, bored mother forced to sit and nurse her baby just might find herself enveloped in sacred holiness if she allows the Holy Spirit to fill the space. Similarly, despite the noise and the people, the weary woman commuting home on the subway can enter into the presence of God. He is there, if she is recollected enough to notice.
Acedia, on the other hand, has long been called the “noonday devil.” For fourth-century monks, it meant “a lack of care.” It was more than mere laziness; it was listlessness that made it difficult to be spiritual and led to frustration in both the spiritual and practical aspects of monastery life. Now, think of the last time, you became distracted by mindless scrolling. Acedia, right?
We know that we need to cultivate the habit of recollection--the practice of living in such a way that we acknowledge the continual presence of God and take every moment captive for Him. We know that the best way to do that is to begin and end the day with prayer and to stay in the presence of the Holy Spirit all day long.
The Lord warns us, again and again, to be alert and to be aware, to know that He is coming and to behave as if it will be any moment. Psalm 84 calls us to dwell in Him. That’s where our hearts will have the loveliest homes. If that’s where we want to rest our hearts, even on the hardest days, then that’s where need to choose to dwell.
You decide where your heart will be. No matter how tired, you have a choice. Especially when you are tired, it’s easy to fall into ‘random scrolling mode.” Use wallpaper on your phone that is a visual reminder to engage with intention (preferably away from a screen). You can fill the moments of the day with mindless things, or you can fill them with intentional, edifying things. Our culture values busyness, and screens can feel busy. But are they productive? Even more, are they recollected? You can choose the path your day will follow.
A recollected woman can attend to whatever the Lord puts in her care, even if she’s tired, even if she’s stressed, even if the day began at 3 AM and has been one crisis after another ever since. But not if acedia sets in. Acedia erodes the ability to concentrate on the work at hand. Nothing feeds acedia so heartily as screen time does.
Instead of that smartphone, stand up. Take a moment to check in with the Bible you have left on the counter, open to the verse you planned for the day. Look someone in the eye and speak kindness. Then engage and listen with empathy. You can do it! If you’re weary and you want to sit, have a book ready. Let yourself read more than 280 characters at time. Let yourself muse over good, well-considered words without having an urge to click like—or to respond at all. Be alone with your thoughts.
And then invite God in.
To consider over the course of a few quiet sessions with your Bible:
Spend some time with Psalm 84. Highlight. Journal. Pray about it. The psalmist knows the joy that is the presence of God. And so, the things of this world can’t have an authoritative pull on his heart. Consider what the world offers and what God offers in comparison. How will you incline your heart towards God?
On the tired days, in the hungry moments, when we’re waiting, as loneliness creeps in, it’s easy to get sucked into pretty curated squares of other people’s loveliness. It’s easy to want to right a wrong on the Internet and so gain a feeling of satisfaction. St. Paul calls the Romans to more. He says to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Take Romans 13: 11-14 to lectio divina (for more on how to do this, see this free download). You can use our worksheet found at the end of this ebook or you can use one of our with Grace books. What are the works of darkness in your life and how is God calling you to lay them aside?
Consider Romans 12:1-3. Every day presents a new opportunity to renew your mind—even the tired days. How is Jesus calling you into this renewal process? Make a plan now so that you will never let a single day dissolve into a waste of mindless scrolling again.
Download Take Up & Read wallpaper to your phone as a reminder to stop and be intentional with your time.