Chasing Fantasies

snape and lily 2

Ever heard of PewDiePie?  AmazingPhil?  Tobuscus?  I could tell you all about them.  Way too much.

In case you aren’t aware, PewDiePie, AmazingPhil, and Tobuscus are popular YouTubers, each of whom post weekly (if not daily) videos about video games, comedy, and everyday life.  And they have become all-too-familiar faces to me this semester.

I’ll be honest—this semester was one of my hardest.  I had very little motivation to do well in my college classes, and I spent more time than ever immersed in entertainment and social media.  In the midst of tests and homework that I kept pushing off, I started to watch several new television shows and to spend many, many hours watching YouTube videos, when I had much more important things to be doing with my time.  This was not a good combination with the fact that I was taking a couple of classes that were pretty challenging for me.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love YouTube.  I like social media.  I enjoy entertainment.  (I mean, for real, I’m a college-age geek).  But there is definitely a potential for spiritual warfare in the wake of all of that, and I really faced it last semester.  I fell time and time again to the temptation of chasing fantasies.

Check out this bit of Scripture.

Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

Proverbs 12:11

I read this Bible verse a few weeks before I finished the semester, and I thought to myself, “What in the world have I been doing?”  All those hours watching television, playing video games, watching YouTube videos…I had been chasing fantasies the whole time, when I should have been working the land.

What exactly is the difference between working the land and chasing fantasies?  To me, to chase a fantasy is to chase something that isn’t real, or that has very little quality or substance.  Basically, it’s a big waste of time, and working the land is exactly the opposite.  To work the land is to sow what is needed so that growth occurs—in this case, spiritual growth—and to make the effort to provide the revitalizing nutrition that your body needs.  Also, perhaps more importantly, it is to trust that the cultivator of the soil will allow the food to come forth in abundance, according to the work that you put into it.

It might be helpful to examine Severus Snape’s undying love for Lily Potter.

snape and lily

I love Snape as a character. Unfortunately, although his and Lily’s story is tragic, he is one of the prime examples of chasing after a fantasy.  (Harry Potter fans, I would understand if you hate me for what I’m about to say, but hear me out, and believe me when I say that I am one of you!)

To help prove my point, let me share with you a portion of the seventh book in the Harry Potter series, when Harry was sifting through a few of Snape’s memories in the Pensieve at Hogwarts.

And next, Snape was kneeling in Sirius’s old bedroom. Tears were dripping from the end of his hooked nose as he read the old letter from Lily. The second page carried only a few words:

‘…could ever have been friends with Gellert Grindelwald. I think her mind’s going, personally!

‘Lots of love, Lily’

Snape took the page bearing Lily’s signature, and her love, and tucked it inside his robes. Then he ripped in two the photograph he was also holding, so that he kept the part from which Lily laughed, throwing the portion showing James and Harry back onto the floor, under the chest of drawers…

(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 33)*

Now read that last part one more time.

Snape took the page bearing Lily’s signature, and her love, and tucked it inside his robes. Then he ripped in two the photograph he was also holding, so that he kept the part from which Lily laughed…

By reading this section of the book, it should be clear that there was more to Snape’s feelings for Lily than a simple crush.  Snape was fanatical, even to the point that, as a grown man, he would tuck Lily’s signature into his robes and rip her family’s photo apart in order to keep part of her for himself.
This was an incredibly unhealthy attraction, and the effects were clearly evident throughout the book series.  Snape may have been one of the good guys, and he may have done some noble things in his lifetime, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he constantly exhibited both verbal and physical cruelty toward the students at Hogwarts because of his feelings.  Snape’s love for Lily and his fantasy of being in a romantic relationship with her drove him to do some very unkind things.

This is just one example of what it looks like to chase after a fantasy, and this has been my problem for the past five months.  This is why I haven’t posted on this blog all semester, why I have watched too many YouTube videos, and why little growth has occurred in my spiritual walk for a while now.  This is all to say that I should have been working the land and investing in my spiritual growth because the Bible tells me to.

For instance, take a look at this verse.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…

Philippians 3:8

The most valuable, worthwhile thing I can do is to know Christ.  Everything else—every time I invest in things like entertainment when I know I should be doing something else that will help me to love God more—is simply garbage, because, although it can be fun, it’s not going to do me much good in the long run and could lead to many negative side effects.  It certainly lead to junk in my life this last semester, like procrastination, anger, and impatience. This is why I need to strive to be like the believer exemplified in the following verse.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

2 Corinthians 2:14

I want to be more like this.  I want to be led by Christ, captivated by him and living triumphantly.  I want to learn how to work the land, rather than chasing fantasies, so I can spread the appeal of his aroma wherever I go, because that’s what I need to do (as shown in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8).  And how can I spread that aroma when I’m so focused on the things that don’t really matter?  I have to focus “on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2) so I can truly grow and spread his fragrance.

With that being said, I need to make it more of a priority to work my land.  It’s going to be hard, especially because it’s summer break for me now, but I want to spend more time in the Word and in prayer, and less time in entertainment.  I want to cut back on the stuff that doesn’t really matter.  After all, refusing to run after pointless dreams any longer may lead to a few trials, but it will most definitely lead to growth.  (And maybe it’ll lead to fewer guilt-ridden blog posts).

So here’s to working the land.  Here’s to knowing Christ.  And here’s to saying “goodbye” to the fantasies that can only hold us back.

 

——

 

*Copied from http://readfreeonline.net/OnlineBooks/Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows/Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows_33.html

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9 thoughts on “Chasing Fantasies

  1. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

    (Aren’t you proud of my geeky comment?)

  2. Don’t forget to rest in the middle of all that working, too. 🙂 We grow as much in rest as we do in work…maybe even more!

  3. Great post! It was really insightful and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m glad someone else thinks Snape’s love for Lily was a little cray cray. His ripping of the photo was very symbolic, like he was trying to create a world where Lily was not attached to James or Harry. By ripping the photo, she became someone who could possibly be in love with him and had no other attachments.

    In reference to racheltoalson’s comment, I don’t think rest is bad and it is DEFINITELY needed…the problem is when rest turns to idleness, which often leads to boredom, and then you end up in the same trap you walked out of.

    I wish you luck in spending more time with Him! I find that when I go into a different bedroom and close the door, I’m able to concentrate much better than when I just try to read the Bible in bed and pray. I often end up getting sleepy, even though it is more comfortable! Maybe that’s why it’s recommended to kneel…

    • Thank you for your kind words! I appreciate your thoughts on idleness and some of the more effective ways to read the Bible, and I certainly agreed with what you said. Also, I’m glad to hear that you think the same about Snape. And good point about the symbolism of the photograph!

  4. I think this is fairly on point.

    You also sort of skirt the edges of something I’ve been pondering for quite some time now (or a couple of things – you never know how my rambles will turn out.)

    I think one of the most powerful comments you made is the last line of the post, specifically the part about saying goodbye to the fantasies that are holding us back.

    I spend a lot of time on this subject with my students. I teach life skills to students with disabilities and a lot of them struggle with time management skills. They often get distracted from what they NEED to do – but not always by things they WANT to do. Just things that momentarily catch their attention and they end up latching on to. They have a lot of trouble pulling away from those things, and often get far more invested in them then they should. Often times, they have to structure their activities and schedules around avoiding certain things as much or more than they build their schedules around what HAS to be done.

    But I also encourage them to build in times and places for them to do what they WANT to do – and even times where they aren’t doing anything at all, where they don’t have to avoid those things that will distract them.

    Over the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve come to realize that a lot of the time, we get caught up in things like YouTube videos (we won’t talk about all of the fandom music videos I watch. It’s embarrassing.) because we aren’t intentional and deliberate with our time.

    I think, to avoid those kinds of traps, we have to be intentional and deliberate in the way we go about things, because it is never our intention to turn away from those things that bring us closer to Christ. I phrase it that way because intention is just the first step; without that intention, everything else is just me spewing forth more nonsense than normal.

    The second step, I think, is being deliberate with our actions. This is harder than it sounds, but it makes an immense difference. In terms of time management, this doesn’t (just) mean things like scheduling yourself or creating and using to-do lists, calendars, etc. It means being cognizant of what we’re doing, why we are doing it – and what we want the result to be. And not necessarily just the short-term result, either. I’m a reader – I read a lot of fanfiction, several books, dozens of articles and blogs every week. It’s an easy thing for me to find a few minutes every day to read scripture. I’m pretty good about it, actually.

    The problem came in when I was just – reading it. I wasn’t thinking about it, praying about it or journaling about it. I followed through on my intention, but my result was just words that were just words. Now, I’ve set aside time every day to read and then think about scripture. While I don’t read as many words as I did last year, I get a LOT more out of the words I read.

    I think that kind of deliberation applies to everything – social media, YouTube, etc. I think once people start to pause and consider what they want out of and what they are getting out of the actions they take or don’t take, they get a much better, deeper and clearer perspective on where their focus is.

    (Qui-Gon Jin said it – maybe the best line from the prequels: “Your focus determines your reality.”)

    What this means to me is that when I’m reading fanfic or my novels, I’m also having my brain look for those elements in the story that reinforce and show me what I already know – there is only one story, and God told it first. When I’m writing fic or fiction, I create characters and tell stories that emphasize the kind of ethical and philosophical values I believe in.

    It can be applied to anything, I think. At least, it has so far. I’m sure God is going to show me the exception to prove the rule, but He really does like proving me wrong.

    • Wow. I loved this comment. I really liked and agreed with the following things you mentioned: 1) “I think…we have to be intentional and deliberate in the way we go about things”, 2) “It [aka wise time management, yeah?] means being cognizant of what we’re doing, why we are doing it – and what we want the result to be”, and 3) that Star Wars quote. Seriously, that quote is now one of my favorites! Anyway, thank you as always for sharing your insightful and wisdom-filled thoughts.

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