Mindless Patterns

Against my better judgement I downloaded one of those mindless games on my phone. Normally I play a round or two of Sudoku when I wake up with my coffee, a boost to the caffeine to get my brain going. Lately though I haven’t been able to complete the puzzles, my processing powers a bit foggy as a result of my neurological issues. Knowing this time will pass, I sought solace in a game of arranging tiles in a pattern to make them disappear. If only I could arrange my problems so efficiently.

I have gotten really good at this game, according to my survey of myself. I have no opponents, I don’t invite anyone else to send me extra pieces or super disappearing rounds. I just sit on the couch and play. Selections of tiles appear, I move them to the grid, they disappear. Over and over. I feel no smarter when the game ends, no more alert. I just start again. This is not healthy. This is escapism and I have gotten sucked in. Certainly I have practiced worst avoidance techniques. Years ago I played games on my laptop like one where I arranged a snake to gobble up something, I see the theme. I would make deals with myself, one more round and then do the dishes. One more round and then clean a closet. I stuck to my contracts pretty well back then, my house was spotless. I am not even making promises this time around, I think I have run out of cares.

We got slammed hard in July, the campaign has taken a toll on my mental health, I feel fragile these days. I need a win.  I need some tiles to line up, I want to create a pattern that works. I know I won’t really find it on my phone. When it seems like life just keeps delivering more hits, a high score feels good. Fleeting, but good.  Just like happiness, it doesn’t last. I know as a follower of Jesus, I have no promise of happiness. The prosperity gospel is not biblical teaching, I have no guarantee of financial security just by believing in Christ. I can’t send up my list of wants to God like Plum’s list to Santa, one we strive to deliver. God isn’t going to fix all the wrongs, deliver a job, bring back my daughter, pay off the mortgage, all with big red bows attached.

I am promised peace, peace that surpasses all understanding. I am promised joy. I am promised life everlasting. I am not promised a high score. Soon my foggy brain will clear, I will get back to real puzzles. I will be better able to see my joy, the deep lasting gifts that surround me. Today I am extending grace to myself, allowing a bit more time to arrange tiles. Until the fog clears, until the election is over, I will be on the couch moving tiles to grid. This season of mindlessness will pass, just as these troubles will be behind me. I trust God will forgive His child for resting up, taking a pass at the real world. He would surely rather I was immersed in scripture, lining up texts in patterns to save my soul. But let’s be honest, no one would want those to disappear.

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