So, there I was, doing what my conscience told me not to do! I knew hanging the television in our newly renovated home was a mistake. There's just too much media content that is not good for me and certainly not good for my children. I had heard once that 80% of all media moguls are atheists and this is easy to believe; just watch recently released movies and situational comedies and the godlessness in the media is very apparent. But there I was, trying to install the television; bad habits are hard to change.
Fortunately, God is patient, kind and forthright in his planning for me. As I was utilizing the magnetic stud finder, trying to find a two- by- four in the wall, I kept getting false positives. The stud finder would indicate a stud at a certain point, whereupon I would drill a hole with the expectation that just behind the wall would be the load bearing stud that would hold the television's weight, making installation possible. But my expectations were unmet. Twice I drilled and twice there was no stud. I asked myself "God, is this a sign, or what?" Shortly thereafter I donated the television to a local St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store.
With this change, one might think "Hey, without a television, life will assume a whole new level of boredom.” And, at first, I was a bit nervous. What would my kids and I do with our free time. Would the children push back on our new found 'tv-lessness'?
While this feeling of change was initially a bit nerve-wracking, the permanent change to no television has been a God-send for the following reasons:
1. Time - The girls and I utilize our time more effectively. We play board games now, such as Clue and Mancala. The girls spend more time creating, such as baking with their dad or drawing artwork. We pray more and read the Bible together as a family more often. This has led to increased charity, as our baked goods often go to neighbors ailing from strained backs or to colleagues at work. I attribute these positive changes to a lack of noise and distraction, i.e. the television. Ultimately, our relationships, that is, between the girls and I, are getting better and better because we are engaging with each other rather than sitting and watching media content.
2. Presence - As a family, we are more present to each other. It is very hard to comprehend nuance, emotional states and issues to attend to when the television is actively working to make us into zombies. Now, without the distractions, it is much easier to relate with each daughter, both so very different and unique, and offer the love they both need in a way that is most helpful to their current state.
3. Increased Evangelization - We are all called to share the Gospels of love and joy that Jesus taught us. Without a television, when I really want to watch something, I go to a public place with televisions and lots of people I don't know. Just the other day, while watching a football game at a local restaurant, I was standing next to a man, both of us enthusiastically routing on the home team. As we shared a similar passion to see our team win, we starting sharing a little bit about our Lord. It wasn't an unnatural or forced conversation, which is the way the message of Jesus Christ should be discussed. So, at that moment, I was able to offer a little bit of Jesus in the midst of football. This is only because the television disappeared at home.
Please pray for courage and positive changes. A 'tv-less' world is not the end but just the beginning of a re-centering and focusing on what our church teaches: it helps build the domestic church, i.e. your home, into a center of God's love by removing distractions from reading the Bible, praying and allowing the Lord's teachings to lead family actions.
Dane Baird has been a witness member of the Home of the Mother for 3 years. He has two daughters, Jean and Susannah. The newest addition to the family is Halo, wonder-dog! His profession is teaching autistic children and he enjoys acting in several parish and diocesan ministries, as well as supporting the Home of the Mother.