This summer I bought an orchid that was overflowing with three blooming stems. It was delightful. I was drawn to check on it several times a day and ponder its beauty. In my curiosity, I pulled it out of the pot to examine the roots. To my horror, they were mushy and brown; all of them. I knew nothing about orchids, but as a gardener, I realized immediately that my treasured plant was going to die. It amazed me that something that looked so healthy on the surface, could really be at death’s door. (How many people are running around living life with a pretty face on, appearing to have it all together, but are really spiritually dead? Just a thought.)
I took that plant and trimmed all of the roots. All my efforts put the poor thing into distress and it lost all of those stunning flowers. I decided to look up some videos on YouTube and see if there was anything that could be done.
I tried everything they suggested, but without success. My treasured orchid died.
In this season I learn a little bit about obsession. I was too focused on the plant. If I left it alone, it would have flowered for a month and would have slowly faded away after giving much pleasure. Obsession is a curious thing. During this time I bought four other orchids, which fed my curiosity. I watched videos and read articles. I checked those four little plants every day, and probably overwatered them in my zeal. I repotted them, and they also lost their flowers. My plant room began smelling of rot and mold.
As a gardener, I was doing something wrong. In fact, I was doing something spiritually wrong. Obsession takes our focus off God and puts it onto something else. It makes us want more and more. I bought sphagnum moss, special pots, fertilizer, orchid plant bark, and a book on orchids. In that book the author explains how he got into orchids (he now has thousands), it was because he tried to rescue his first, dying orchid. I can relate. Maybe it was the challenge and the mindset: I know I can make this plant live. I gathered my thoughts and knew, I would not let my house end up housing thousands of orchids. I had to make a pledge to myself: No more orchids, at least until I could control my obsession and understand the few plants I had. These four were enough. I didn’t need more.
Let’s talk about our obsessions, phones for example. How many of us are obsessed with Facebook or Instagram? How many people have to watch every episode of their program and schedule their life around it? How many follow their sports team and memorize scores, statistics and players? Obsession takes many forms. It can be food, drink, sweets, baking, gardening, hiking, or any craft or game. It is easy to try a new game/hobby and run out and buy supplies, or research information that feeds the obsession. People binge T.V. series on Netflix. Why? It becomes an obsession. They design Apps and Facebook to trigger dopamine in the brain. It gives a high, and we become addicted. In our society, people want to be entertained every second, obsessed with checking their phones or watching a program, or checking the scores. They can’t even sit in a waiting room and have a conversation with a live person sitting next to them because they are glued to their phones.
What can we do about our obsessions? Think about this verse, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5. We need to take authority over our mind and bring it back to the things of God. We need to realize when the obsession is beginning within us. Years ago, I was in a craft store looking at journaling supplies, and I couldn’t leave. I was drawn to the wonderful options available. Who knew there were so many choices and so many patterned papers? The creative possibilities were endless! Finally, I realized what was happening and I left with nothing. People were gathered by the entrance to the store and told me I missed seeing a waterspout tornado pass by (one thing I really wanted to see). We miss out on life when we are in our obsessions.
I am a creative person, and I need to take authority over my creative time. I ask myself, what are the most important creative things that I am called to do? Are they an assignment from God? I stand on the theory of Good-Better-Best: there are good things you can do with your time, but there are better assignments. In the end, the best ones, the God-assignments are the only ones that deserve your full attention and time. Weed out all the distractions and focus on what God wants for your life. Run away when you feel the pull, the obsession, and craving for more. Take your thoughts captive.
When my husband and I visited Egypt a few years ago, we had a guide take us through the ruins in Memphis, Egypt. There was a small stone idol and the guide said it represented the god of entertainment. The king use to call for a dwarf who entertained the people and made them laugh. We live in the age when the god of entertainment rules people’s lives. We all want to be delighted, to be entertained and find pleasure. In other generations, in their spare time people would learn, read a good book and grow. They would study the Bible. They would build relationships with time and love. People would take a walk and rest, they would enjoy nature, or write. Obsession with entertainment is a plot of the enemy to pull us away from godly things.
Not everything is an obsession if we have control and moderation. We can gain control and carefully choose; after all, we have the mind of Christ. The best choice would be to meditate on the things of God and put Him back in first place. We want to be like a beautiful, blooming orchid to Him, and having deep, healthy roots, ever growing deeper in the things of God.