The Gaming Heart

I realized several years ago I needed to change the way I gamed.

When I was gaming I found that I began to build my life around the next time I could play. I’d adjust my work schedule, maybe turn down a social engagement, or stay up WAY later than I planned.

My Measure of Joy

I don’t play video games anymore, and for a while I believed that fixed all my problems. I got new hobbies, I spent more time with my fam, I got more sleep.

But then I found my heart, the part of me that wills my actions, still had issues. I often found myself focusing on the next exciting moment rather than whatever event I was in at the time. It could be anything, some of them were even positive. I started measuring my time by how close I was to the next:

  • weekend
  • time with my wife and son
  • pay day
  • games with buddies
  • kickoff (Go Hawks)
  • bed time for my 2 year-old (I love him. He’s just a little too like me sometimes…
  • family vacation

All of these are amazing, yet I found that I was still having moments of extreme disappointment. My life was going well, but I still had a lingering feeling that I needed to do more, to be better, to climb another rung on some social/professional/spiritual ladder.

I don’t want this to sound all past-tense: I actually still find myself doing this. I can try to gain joy by focusing on the exciting things in my life, and I can do it in a heartbeat. I can be sitting at work grading papers and think “Man, I’ll be really happy when the weekend gets here.” Just like that, I’ve changed my focus. In truth, will I be any happier at the weekend? Nope. I’ll just want the next exciting thing. “Man, I can’t wait until…

  • summer break
  • young life club
  • we get that new house
  • whatever…

And what have I really done? I’ve replaced God, the ultimate good in my life, with a temporary goal like making it to ________ (fill in the blank).

It sounds silly to say, but I have to face the truth: I’m still a gamer. Maybe I don’t play video games anymore, but video games aren’t the real problem. The problem is that none of these things I look to are true sources of joy. When I turned to video games I was looking to feel good.

  • Problem: As soon as the games went away I wasn’t as happy.

  • My Solution: Find a way to play more games…

You can see the cycle here, right?

Now games are gone from my life, but the attitude is still here. I turn to my family, job, pay, vacation, serving others, even writing for satisfaction. But none of these are sources of joy. They are all vessels of it. My incredible wife and amazing sons hold a LOT of joy for me. But I can drain them both when I turn to them for my sole source of joy.

Jesus promises to be the never-ending source of joy for us.

He promises that the dryness we experience when we keep looking up from the deserts of life to pursue yet another mirage of satisfaction will go away, forever, when we quit pursuing them and rest in him. (John 4:13), (John 14:4)

In Christ I am new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

In Christ my need to game is gone. I still have fun. I still love life. Yet I’m free from my compulsion to game for joy.

I can now have joy not in my circumstances, achievements, or personal success, but in Christ alone. God offers himself as our true source of joy, not just our hit of happiness that fades.

“but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)


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