What?! That’s right, I said it: God doesn’t care.
I had this “A-ha!” moment while I was struggling with some external things in my life – namely, screen time for my eleven-year-old and healthy eating habits for myself and my family. In that moment I realised that God doesn’t care what we eat, how much we eat, or when we eat it. He doesn’t care how much time we spend in front of the screen or when we do it. He doesn’t care what we wear, what kind of car we drive, or any other of a litany of superficial aspects.
I struggle with parenting my child around screen time, feeling that he ought to spend the ‘right’ (not too much) amount of time on devices, at the ‘right’ (not before 7am nor after dinner) times. I struggle with a preoccupation with food, feeling that I ought to eat the ‘right’ (healthy, organic) foods in the ‘right’ (not too much) amounts, at the ‘right’ (not between meals nor after dinner) times, to the point that – my husband and I joke – I’m more likely to die of an illness induced by my toxic obsessing than of malnutrition!
It was as if a light bulb turned on, insight flowed in from Above, when it dawned on me that He does not care about these trivial details. God won’t condemn me for eating – and even enjoying (!) – a Big Mac. He will not condemn me, nor my child nor husband, for playing video games together right before bed. Sure, it behooves us not to make regular habits of these things, but they are not moral issues. God’s number one goal is that we go to heaven, and that outcome won’t be determined by our eating or screen habits in and of themselves.
“Now since heaven is from the human race, and heaven is an abiding with the Lord to eternity, it follows that this was the Lord’s end in creation; and since this was the end in creation, it is also the end of His Divine Providence. The Lord did not create the universe for His own sake, but for the sake of those with whom He will be in heaven; for spiritual love is such that it wishes to give what is its own to another; and so far as it can do this, it is in its being (esse), in its peace, and in its blessedness. Spiritual love derives this property from the Divine Love of the Lord, which is such in an infinite degree. From this it follows that the Divine Love, and consequently the Divine Providence, has for its end a heaven which should consist of men and women who have become, and who are becoming angels, upon whom the Lord can bestow all the blessings and felicities that belong to love and wisdom, and bestow these from Himself in them.” Divine Providence 27:2 [emphasis added]
This is not to say that living our lives carelessly, slothfully, hedonistically is ok! If I am obsessing about screen time or food, focusing too much on natural things and not enough on spiritual, it is not ideal. If, because of being on the screen, my child is neglecting more important aspects of his life or isn’t being useful to anyone else, it is not ideal. If I am eating too much unhealthy food, or if my child is spending so much time on the screen, such that we are damaging our bodies and impairing our ability to be useful, it is not ideal. These are examples of self-love and selfish behaviour. They are part of being human, so there’s no inherent shame in having these desires enter our minds, however we are not to dwell on them: they are opportunities for us to overcome and rise above the inclinations of the natural self, and strive to love the Lord and our neighbour first.
We are blessed by an unimaginably loving God to have so much freedom in our lives, to be able to decide for ourselves what we want to do, how we spend our time, how we treat our bodies, how we treat others. These are our choices to make: let us make good ones.
“I realized that to those who in bodily life love the neighbor as themselves, it is granted in the other life to love the neighbor more than themselves, for the good qualities of love are immeasurably increased; and bodily life is such that one cannot progress beyond loving the neighbor as oneself, being engrossed in bodily concerns. But when these have died out, then love is more pure, and finally becomes angelic love, which is to love others more than oneself.” Spiritual Experiences 4104
I’ve chosen this concept of God not caring about trivial things as a new smooth pebble to keep in my pouch of helpful reminders from the Lord’s Word, for when those hells tempt me.
“Then [David] took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:40
“Stones have signified truth for the reason that the boundaries of the most ancient people were marked off by stones, and that they set up stones as witnesses that the case was so and so, or that it was true; as is evident from the stone that Jacob set up for a pillar (Gen. 28:22; 35:14), and from the pillar of stones between Laban and Jacob (Gen. 31:46, 47, 52), and from the altar built by the sons of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, near the Jordan, as a witness (Josh. 22:10, 28, 34). Therefore in the Word truths are signified by ‘stones’” Heavenly Secrets 1298:1
Have you had similar struggles? How have you chosen to deal with them?