Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How Internet Affects our Contentment with the Ordinary

image courtesy D. Sharon Pruitt

There is much to love about Internet access at home. There is also much to monitor. As wives and mothers, our struggle is much more subtle than what many men face on the web, but it can become an addiction just as easily.

“…they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house.”
 (1 Timothy 5:13)

While most of us do not literally go from house to house these days, the Internet provides an easy avenue of doing exactly what the apostle Paul warned women against. With a few keystrokes and the click of a mouse, we can instantly travel from “house to house”, blog by blog. When life within our home seems somewhat dull and ordinary (and let’s face it, that happens a lot), the Internet offers an easy and alluring way to lift our spirits.

As we go “house to house,” we can easily feel like life is more exciting in just about everyone else’s home, and ours is the only one that is so plain. This breeds discouragement and discontentment. The less confident we become in what we’re doing within our homes, the more we turn to blogs and other sites to provide encouragement, give us confidence, and an overall boost. The cycle perpetuates itself.

Unlike viewing certain sites (that rhyme with "corn"), visiting a tasteful blog or other helpful website is not in itself sinful. Quite the contrary. There are countless places providing great encouragement and resources for growing in Christ, marriage, motherhood, homemaking, homeschooling, budgeting and much more. They teach us how to shop wisely and save money; how to get a handle on schooling, housework, potty-training, temper tantrums, entertaining; and the list goes on. I have gleaned much wisdom from some high-quality blogs, and I hope to provide the same for you here at Moms In Need of Mercy.

The blessings of our online world can work against us, though, if we are not careful where we place our contentment. One can quickly realize just how addicted to the Internet she is by how difficult it is for her to go without it for a day or two, or more. I realize how addicted I am to it. (To be perfectly honest, checking email is the first thing I want to do in the morning. I discipline myself not to, but I can hardly get through breakfast dishes without feeling myself magnetically pulled to my laptop to check in for two minutes.)

“Modern inventions have provided a way for a woman to stay at home and still not be a keeper at home. We can sit at home in body while traveling in spirit by means of the telephone and the computer. You cannot keep your home and everybody else’s at the same time…

Keeping the home is more than staying at home; it is having a heart that is fixed on the home.”

So if you realize this is more of a struggle in your life than you’d like, what do you do?

-Begin by repenting of any specific sins caused by this struggle (lack of contentment, neglecting home or children, etc.) and ask God for His help.

-Discipline yourself to limit your time online. I always feel convicted when I feel like I am showing my computer more personal attention than my children at any given time.

-It’s truly a heart issue. Going to the computer to print a few coupons, check your bank balance, read a few fun blogs is not a problem. But if the real reason I’m going to my computer is to find a higher degree of excitement than I feel in the midst of my relatively ordinary day, then for me, I know I need to work on being more content in my circumstances.

-The goal we’re aiming for is finding our joy fully in our relationship with the Lord first and foremost; then with our families, and in our homes. If we’ve got that down, the Internet won’t compete for attention we should be providing to our husbands, children, home, and other relationships. I think it’s a process to learn to be fully content where God’s called us, without any outside influences. Yet Paul assures us, it is possible:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Despite whatever impression we come away with from traveling "house to house," I am coming to believe--more and more--that few people feel like fairy dust falls at their house all day, every day. But we can make magical moments with our families--just not while we're on the Internet and they're off doing something else.


  1. I was feeling convicted about this yesterday and today, what a perfectly timed Word from the Lord. Going house to house....the past few days it was like a just kept clicking links, etc. Now I know I should have taken those minutes to just spend time with my Heavenly Father. Thanks, God bless, and logging off! Victoria

  2. I feel convicted of this sometimes. However, it's very hard for me because I work from home and I make half of our household income online. So while I can get distracted for way too long, my biggest problem is finding a good median. All good things are fine in moderation. I just need to find that moderation. Thank you very much for posting your thoughts on this. It's a tough, but very real topic.

  3. Ouch! And here I thought I'd read something uplifting this morning as I checked your site. :) I rationalized checking email/few blogs because I am waiting for the latte to brew. Well I guess a little conviction was what I needed this morning. I am off to have some devotion time before kiddos wake up and my Proverb is chapter 3 today. Can't wait to read some conviction there, too. Is God's Word awesome. It always points us back in the right direction.

    What you said Cheryl is so true. I have absolutely no problem visiting inappropriate websites. In fact, I would dare say that everything I visit is wholesome and God honoring, BUT that is not the point. Just because most of my planning, paying of bills, research, etc. is helped by the internet, that too, is no excuse. Reading and agreeing with good habits or ideas is not the same as implementing them. We all need to accumulate knowledge but more importantly, walk in wisdom that comes from that knowledge. How sad I would be to hear my children say 10 years down the road that their most vivid memory of me was in front of my computer. UGH. And yet another reason why I don't do facebook. I am too weak in this area and would get sucked in, I am sure.

    Thanks again.....I think. :)

  4. Ha ha, Jodi :) The uplifting part I was aiming for is to encourage us to be joyful in our homes, even when it feels mundane. When we're finding our contentment there, instead of in web pages, then we can appreciate the Internet for the tool it is without a problem.

    To use an analogy that I hope will not be too offensive is: if we're acting like a junkie needing a "fix," that's obviously a problem. But if, while we're brewing coffee, or transfering laundry, or changing school subjects with the kids we just want to check a couple blogs (or whatever else) for a few minutes, no problem. Some people may not struggle at all. It just calls for individual reflection.
    I'll try to be more uplifting tomorrow :)

  5. Ouch. That hit where it hurts. But I so needed to be hit there. Thank you.

  6. I have been so guilty of this...it ebbs and flows, but you're right it is so easy to melt into the world of blogs for an escape, a moment of sanity, and then get sucked in with "I want that" or "Her life is much more together than mine." Contentment is hard enough already!

  7. I don't know how you consistently keep writing exactly what I need to read...but you do.

    God bless you.