So what did happen to Carly? (Read the blog posted on January 16th to meet Carly)
As a young child, watching TV was a frequent activity requiring little of Carly, yet exhausting her with constant, mind numbing stimulation. During her elementary years, she passively went through the motions of school, content to just get by. She was good natured and well liked. She learned how to avoid conflicts by having lots of acquaintances yet keeping a safe “distance” from everyone. As a veiled perfectionist, Carly had already decided that it was safer not to try than to risk failure – even in relationships.
As a teen, media entertainment continued to hold a high attraction for Carly, because it allowed her to pretend, and at the same time numbed the growing disappointment she felt about herself. When easy going, underachieving Carly turned 16, with an iPod in her ear and a cell phone in hand, she rapidly joined the statistical average, spending nearly 6.5 hours a day multitasking with her electronic media. It filled up her days, enthralling her, and enabling her to ignore the growing void within. Surrounded by peers much of the day, with immediate access to friend via her cell phone the rest of the time, she kept herself busy and connected; nonetheless still lonely.
Carly entered college, with the mistaken idea that life should be easy, comfortable and entertaining. Instead she found her path to be challenging- even hard. Anxiety mounted (while her self-worth diminished) when she felt inadequate to walk down the path before her. The roadblocks and challenges themselves were not the issue, rather how utterly helpless she felt in facing them.
She had never learned to do hard things well, the only means by which courage and confidence grow. She meant well but her genuine passion diminished when she developed the habit of backing off rather than taking initiative. As a result, she did not discipline herself or learn to carry out her commitments.
The underlying issue however had to do with Carly’s hidden perfectionism. Deep down inside, she longed to compete in sports and get good grades. In fact she secretly aspired to do great and noble things in life. Fear of failure and fear of disappointing others however continually kept her from trying. The more her parents praised her and flattered her with the intent of motivating her, the more anxious she grew. What if she really wasn’t the person they painted her out to be or what if her performance would fall short? Risk aversion became her method of dealing with challenges because it falsely protected her from her deepest fears. As a result, she grew more disappointed with herself, which was further identified by her parents and teachers as laziness –and they were partially right – by this point in her schooling, laziness was definitely a habit. The distance only grew larger in the very relationships she needed to gain the courage and initiative to risk trying. A vicious cycle had set in, beginning with small choices along the way that set her path in a demoralizing direction.
Do you know any “Carlys”?
In the next blog, we will examine essential qualities that could have made a huge difference for her. These qualities are ones that all kids need to (and must choose to) develop ….. parents must do everything possible to equip their children with these essential spiritual and character traits.
A “must read” quote:
“If all other variables are equal, your capacity to know God deeply will probably diminish in direct proportion to how much television you watch. There are several reasons for this. One is that television reflects American culture at its most trivial. And a steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. You get used to it. It starts to seem normal. Silly becomes funny. And funny becomes pleasing. And pleasing becomes soul-satisfaction. And in the end, the soul that is made for God has shrunk to fit snugly around triteness. This may be unnoticed, because if all you’ve known is American culture, you can’t tell there is anything wrong. If you have only read comic books, it won’t be strange that there are no novels in your house. If you live where there are no seasons, you won’t miss the colors of fall. If you watch fifty TV ads each night, you may forget there is such a thing as wisdom. TV is mostly trivial. It seldom inspires great thoughts or great feelings with glimpses of great Truth. God is the great absolute, all-shaping Reality. If He gets any airtime, He is treated as an opinion. There is no reverence. No trembling. God and all that He thinks about the world is missing. Cut loose from God and everything goes down.” (Pg. 77 Pierced By the Word by John Piper)
- Thrilled to Death by Archibald Hart
- Media Madness – Parenting in a Tech Crazed Culture, DVD by Dr. Rob Rienow, available at www.visionaryparenting.com