JBG Rewind – Should Men Put Video Games Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?

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I wrote this piece back in 2014. Four years later, I still do not think that this is healthy situation, no matter the hobby. – Bryan

This tale is as old as 1989.

Boy meets girl. Girl dislikes boys hobby. Boy gives up hobby for girl. Girl gives up nothing. Swap the genders; swap the roles. Rinse. Wash. Dry.

I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love, to be in love.

I just don’t get it. If you are in a loving relationship, your spouse or girlfriend should accept you for who you are. They shouldn’t be out to change fundamental parts that make up you. Sure, your bad habit of tossing clothes on the floor may need to be corrected, because let’s face it, your mom always cleaned up after you. Too personal? Sorry.

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Video games are often seen as a less mature hobby than following a team of guys in tight fitting clothing. Huh? How is it that working on cars, following a sports team, or going hunting are somehow more respectable and less “little boy”? A hobby is a hobby. Video games are no worse than stamp collecting. Except that unlike a stamp collection, video games deal with:

  • Complex realities
  • Connecting players through interdependent activities
  • Challenging players with complex decision making

My wife has been accepting of my hobby from the get go. She encourages me to sit down and play games. She realizes that I often use video games to de-stress. As long as I am not playing World of Warcraft (the marriage killer), I’m golden. This does not mean that I play games every day of the week. Gaming for me, married, with a kid, looks more like a couple of hours a week. Some nights, my wife even joins me. I’ve always appreciated that about her. She loves me for who I am.

I am tired of those around me feeling guilt, having to change, just to conform to the person they love. If you are in a loving healthy relationship, your significant other will understand the healthy hobbies you chose to pursue.

Note: My friend Scott reminds me that the picture I painted above is painted by an individual who is loving, mature, and self-controlled–most of the time. Video games, as with any hobby, can be distorted and abused in the hands of an undisciplined individual. In order not to feed into the video game stigma your wife/girlfriend might view the hobby through, Scott suggests setting some ground rules:

  1. Be mindful of your wife/girlfriend, even though the game demands attention.
  2. Always be ready to pause. Pretty much everything is more important than your next in-game checkpoint, so put the controller down if you need to.
  3. Tell her how long you intend to play – and stick to the plan.

No matter the hobby, communication and respect are foundational to building healthy relationships. I want to encourage you to let go of any video game guilt you might carry, set some healthy ground rules, and game on.

I also wrote a follow up piece to this from the female perspective. 

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In the hard moments

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My chest hurts today. I’m not sure why. All I know is that it feels like someone is sitting on me. Someone large; Someone heavy.

I read this morning that:

God is working right now, but not so much to give us predictable, comfortable, and pleasurable lives. He isn’t so much working to transform our circumstances as he is working through hard circumstances to transform you and me. Perhaps in hard moments, when we are tempted to wonder where God’s grace is, it is grace that we are getting, but not grace in the form of a soft pillow or a cool drink. Rather, in those moments, we are being blessed with the heart-transforming grace of difficulty because the God who loves us knows that this is exactly the grace that we need.

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God knows what I need. Even if it’s not the cool drink of peace that I desire.

Feel Stuck Volunteering In The Church? Stop.

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Sunday mornings you get dressed, eat breakfast, and then head out the door to church. Upon arriving, you check your children into their designated areas. Ah, free childcare!

Navigating halls filled with the smell of fresh brewed coffee, you make your way to your small group. Greet friends. Swap stories. Enjoy a quick Bible lesson before heading off to the main service.

Everyone wants to be served and no one wants to serve. This model of the Body of Christ is broken. Prone to burning out volunteers who become stuck in their volunteer roles, for years. No escape. No growth. All due to someone else not heeding the call, that slight Spirit tug, to be the hands and feet of Christ to the church.

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Dejected and depressed, these burned-out volunteers fuel our churches. Under the impression that if they do not serve, no one else will. This is a lie.

God calls every Christian to serve in various areas for a season. Seasons change, just look outside the window. The Bible talks about there being an occasion for everything (read Ecclesiastes 3).

I want to challenge those that feel stuck volunteering in the church to stop. Take a step back. Examine where you are on your faith journey, where God is calling you. The Body of Christ cannot function in selfishness. Give another brother or sister in Christ a chance to serve His people. Allow God to help them grow through service; Allow God to help you grow in freedom.

Off Campus: Best Theology Video Games of 2015

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Helped work on a Best Theology Video Games of 2015 list with the guys over at Theology Gaming. Want to invite you to check it out. It’s good. Made me want to play Metal Gear Solid V.

I even make the bold claim that Destiny: Taken King is the Best Mirror Of Our Faith Journey. Read to the end.

The Church of the Latter Day Player

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Do you think video games are the next big religion? This video, by Andy Robertson of FamilyGamerTV, explores this interesting idea. Yes, I realize the video is a few years old. That does not preclude the conversation Andy inspires. Take a look and then join the discussion below.

“Faith and gaming actually go hand-in-hand.”

Thinking About Church Masculinity

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Wednesday nights I teach a men’s Bible study. We have been going through the video series Men’s Fraternity. Now I’m not a fan of “rah-rah I’m a man” sort of things. Popular Christian author John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart caused me to shy away from hypermasculinity. As a guy who is not super physical, I’m just not into his gospel.

Erwin McManus wrote a short book called The Barbarian Way. This book helped begin the healing process from the damage Eldredge caused:

Somewhere along the way the movement of Jesus Christ became civilized as Christianity… We created a religion using the name of Jesus Christ and convinced ourselves that God’s optimal desire for our lives was to insulate us in a spiritual bubble where we risk nothing, sacrifice nothing, lose nothing, worry about nothing. I wonder how many of us have lost our barbarian way and have become embittered with God, confused in our faith because God doesn’t come through the way we think He should.

Donald Miller’s book Father Fiction also helped refine my thoughts on masculinity– you can read those here and here–. Miller concludes, in a humorous way, that men know that they are men by the way God designed them (anatomy). Most other Christian men’s books try and come up with some sort of vague definition on what being a man looks like. I find this confusing, not helpful, and destructive.

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Men’s Fraternity has been a good series so far. The content is relevant and applicable. But, I have disliked the format that the series forms.

Wednesday night looks like this:

  • We get together (many of the guys coming in late).
  • We have an hour and a half to watch the video and discuss.
  • We end up starting 30 minutes late due to the guys wanting to talk.
  • We start the video. The videos vary in length from 45 minutes to 50 minutes at max.
  • We Watch the video.
  • We then have 15-20 minutes to discuss.

I find it unnatural to walk into a room, sit down, and watch a video with a group of guys I haven’t talked with, at all. I have no clue how their week has gone, how they are doing on a personal level, etc. There is no chance to build relationships.

I am currently debating on whether to summarize the video’s material and then lead a more pointed discussion or even go back to our read a book of the Bible and have a discussion format. We’ll see what happens.

Longing For That Missing Person

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There is a room in our house that is empty. Sure, there might be an odd trainboard or even a bed and dresser, but the room is missing someone. Someone my wife and I have yet to meet.

For the past six years, we’ve been trying to have a baby. Methods have been tried, doctors have been visited. Nothing.

This is a pain I carry, a pain that feels like failure.

My wife and I come from big families. Raising an only son, we’ve come to discover just how much we learned about life from our siblings. Precious life lessons that have aided in our basic survival:

  • Someone punches you, punch them back
  • Trash talking
  • Learning to get along with someone that might not be nice because they are the only person around to play with (I’m looking at you, Kayla!)

Social media is filled with photos of babies. Beautiful children who are all snugly and cute. While I am excited for my friends and family who are pregnant, there is always this void that gnaws at my soul.

Someone is missing. I can feel it. And at the same time I am trying to be thankful for what has been given to me. Struggling to wrap my mind around raising an only child. Wondering if my wife and I want to go back to the baby stage. We do/we can.

There is hope. Anguish. Emotions that ebb and flow.

God is working. Weaving a story together we cannot see. The pain my wife and I experience may not be physical, but the pain is real. I am grateful that I do not have to go about this alone (I love you, baby).

I’m tired of being silent. I want that missing person to come home.

Lord, my heart is torn in two. It’s up to You, God.