Craving for Gaming

Rough times

I used to be addicted to video games.  Not in a joking kind of way.  I really used to be addicted to video games.

The biggest allure for me was that, in the fantasy worlds, I could have “perfection”.  I was addicted to doing games exactly right.  The beauty was that, no matter how many times I flopped a level, I could go back and practice it until I got it exactly right.  If it was rescuing pets, I could repeat the level until I snatched every one to safety.  If it was pleasing restaurant customers, I could go back until every one had full satisfaction hearts.  If it was baking cakes, if it was shooting star ships, if it was finding a princess–whatever it was, I could repeat it until I did it exactly right.

That feeling of exactly right–I’m addicted to it.  I love the feeling of exactly right.

In daily life, I don’t get the feeling of exactly right.  I can put away the dishes in the dishwasher, but they won’t be perfectly stacked, and there will be no scoreboard to motivate me.  I can vacuum the house, but I won’t get every speck of dust, and cartoon sparkles won’t come out of the carpet.  I can help people, but I won’t have fixed all their problems, and I won’t be able to repeat a “level” if I get it wrong.

For years of my life, my world revolved, rotated, and spun around video games.  I wanted so much to do things exactly right.  That feeling of exactly right–oh, it hooked me.  If a fish’s bait is a worm, my bait is video games.  I long, desire, and crave to do things exactly right.

But in real life, I don’t.

So for years, I lived in play life. I lived in a world where I could control all the variables and I could, eventually, do everything exactly right.  The problem?  Those years are like an empty vacuum to me now.  All the friends I could have made, all the time I could have given to God, all the adventures I could have had, I spent on digital pixels and sound effects.  It was totally worthless.

Even years later, I still fight cravings for gaming.  Most of the time, I don’t. But from time to time, I get a huge urge.  My heart tells me, “Just a little bit . .”  I want to meander down the video game aisle at Wal-Mart and watch the screens.  Visit Best Buy just for a little while.  Do an internet search to see what updated versions of games are out there.

I think it’s a real mistake to try to treat the symptoms (craving for gaming) instead of going right straight for the heart.  What’s the heart of the issue?

I hate being imperfect, and I dislike living in an imperfect world.

I can’t “talk myself out” of feeling this way, because, actually, it’s the truth. I am imperfect, and I do live in an imperfect world.

Even since we chose sin over God, perfect has become impossible.  It’s impossible in every single area of our life.  It saturates our thoughts; it soaks up our dreams; it drowns our hopes.  It is impossible to be perfect because we chose not to be.  And while we all don’t deal with it by playing video games, we do all try to cope somehow.

Whether we justify our imperfection (nobody’s perfect), excuse our imperfection (brain chemistry), ignore our imperfection (I’m super and great), or try to be perfect (I can do it anyway someday) each one of us has to deal with our imperfection.

The reason I’m not still a video game addict?  Christ has taken my place in my dire need for perfection.

I can’t be perfect.  I can only sin.  That’s the choice I’ve made with my life, just like everyone before me except one:

Jesus Christ.

In a marvel that makes the bait of video games seem like nothing more than a worm, I recognize that Jesus gives me His righteousness.  He took the imperfection of me that I can’t stand, and He gave me His perfection that I crave, which is the only way I can ever live in Heaven with Him.  It blows my mind:

I’m an imperfect blotch, and yet even this imperfect blotch hates her imperfection.

YET . .

God, who is perfect, had enough love for me to take on my imperfection so that it could be destroyed in Him.

I don’t need to play silly games to try to convince myself I’m at least perfect in something.  That’s what the old self did to try to make herself feel better about something she could never truly feel better about.  I look back on that now: the stupid points I earned, the imaginary achievements I won, and the phony creatures I rescued, and, in the words of Paul, I “consider them garbage” (from Philippians 3:8, NIV).

I still need perfection.  The difference is, now I have found it in Christ.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:7-9, NIV)

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