Maybe This Will Help

Sometimes life piles on. You get one bit of bad news after the other, you find yourself responding to yet another crisis, or you’re dealing with the fortieth difficult personality of the week. Before you know it, you feel like a random spark is going to set the whole pyre ablaze and take you with it.

And then you turn on the news.

Whose idea was this 24-hour news cycle anyway? It just means we keep hearing the same negative developments, the worst of the political rancor, and the most shocking accounts of human depravity … every 15-30 minutes. The mere repetition of the reports makes it feel like things are even worse than they are. And with few exceptions, there’s very little you or I can do about any of it by following it in the media except get agitated, outraged, and even fearful. If I’ve had too much coffee, it can get really exhausting.

Honestly, I could do with a little less of that. So here’s what I’m planning to do:

I’m declaring a news fast.

Not completely and not every day, because as a responsible citizen and reasonably intelligent person, I feel I should be aware of what’s going on in the world.

There are things I can pray for and reasonable people I can engage with about the issues who will help inform my perspective as a Christian.

But a steady diet of it – listening to the news in the car, having it on in the background while I go about my day, or being confronted with it when I view social media – that tends to pile up negativity in my brain and dulls my trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness. I’m inclined to feel hopeless and lose sleep. And I start to think there’s no hope for humanity, which is just not true.

When I feel myself getting ramped up by all this stuff I can’t control, I’m going to take a day or two to intentionally turn off the noise. I won’t watch cable news on TV or listen to it on satellite radio; I won’t click on links from either side of the political discourse. (I will probably unfollow a few people on social media.)

Instead, I’ll listen to uplifting music, read good books, and write real letters. Since I’m in Florida right now, I’ll get outside and kayak, go for a walk, or take a bike ride. I might actually call people on the telephone to talk about anything but the state of the world. And I’ll pray for wisdom about what I can do to make a difference, not add to the turmoil, even in my conversations.

I guarantee when I turn the news back on, it will be the same song, different verse. They won’t have missed me one bit, but I might just be more confident that God doesn’t need me to fret about matters above my pay grade. All the other challenges of my life will carry on unabated; I can’t click those off easily. But at least I will have released my concerns over the state of the world to the only One who actually has it under control.

It’s a small step but it has to help.

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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

3 thoughts on “Maybe This Will Help”

  1. “Great minds think alike.” I declared ‘no more’ 10 days ago. I there has been a real dial-down in my catastrophic-leaning brain. I rely on the NYT Daily Briefing and an occasional peek at the evening ABC News and conversations with sane friends. BTW, blame Ted Turner.

    1. I started “fasting” from the news sporadically some time ago but I need to be more intentional for it to be truly effective. Rather than wait until I start getting heart palpitations, I think I’ll decide on a regular day to just proactively turn it off. Seems like the best approach for me.

  2. I was just discussing this the other day with a friend. We are doubly pummeled in that we get news constantly, and from everywhere. This is so very different from our ancestors who heard news rarely, and mostly from areas of their knowing (aside from huge news pieces). I hope you enjoy your time away from the constant onslaught!

Your feedback is welcome!