We don’t say, “I’m gonna turn stuff into my idol.” No one intentionally does that, but we can tell by our behaviors that that’s actually what we’ve done. – Dave Ramsey
I sit quietly this Labor Day – asking God to show me something more in all this laboring. It seems I’ve gotten lost in the technological portholes of all things secular. I sit in silence to locate my spirit amidst the world of work, technology, and money.
Before 24/7 access to consumerism, intellectualism, and all things I don’t need, nor need to know, I had more discernment about meeting human needs, and space for God and I to meet. I was more skillful with necessities, and now I am lost in the stress of excess and everything feeling necessary.
Before virtual reality, God was more real. It was easier to set time for worldly matters and time for Godly matters. I used to dance the line of my humanness and my spirit with more grace, these days, not so much.
With the rise of life, work, and money taking place on this computer, the lines of separation have blurred. Stealth it is. Technology and its portholes can easily confuse my knowledge of how to live in the world with remembering that I am not of this world.
I first heard the language of “stealth addiction” from an American computer scientist, Jaron Lanier, concerning technology, and I am witnessing stealth addictions in the most interesting ways.
If we look at qualities of addiction such as that which takes us away from conscious choices, and that which causes consequences of suffering, we now see many faces other than drugs and alcohol that are less obvious than behavioral addictions like sex or gambling. The suffering, loss of conscious choice, and loss of God show up in how we labor (work) and what we do with the exchange of that labor.
Are we addicted? I’m apt to say, habituated. We are becoming habituated to a way of life that might not be serving human or spiritual betterment. Just as the origin of Labor Day, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week, was not serving human or spiritual betterment – our 24/7 connection to what we don’t need nor need to know, leaves us less connected to spiritual matters.
I am a woman. I make money. I labor. I am not in labor via giving birth to a human, I am part of the labor force.
My hopes and dreams of offering my gifts to the world via the workforce have been successful – however, what feels forced is the effort to make money: labor [exerted, strenuous force]. The experience of internal rewards feels rightly aligned. What feels out of alignment is the external reward of money that seems to exert itself in a way that feels forced and just outside my conscious choices.
As women, what are we in labor for? And are we being wise with our exchange of labor i.e. money? I know the internal fruits of my labor are good. But are the external fruits of my labor fruitful? Is my fruitfulness given to all things merely clickbait via the expansive (and expensive) world-wide-web, and “the storks” now deliver Amazon packages?
Is my labor given to nurture, grow, and raise Amazon, Google, and all things that demand my time, attention, and purchasing power? Is purchasing power the empowerment I am after? And if I define love by way of time and attention, is this what I love?
I cannot say I’ve been a good steward of technology. Nor have I been a good steward of money gone digital. I used to have more control of money when I could see it, touch it, smell it, and hear it crinkle. Digital money has no sense, and I have lost more common sense (and cents) than I want to admit – but grace abounds.
Shame is not what I seek within myself. Support is what I seek. I seek God’s support in the new world of technology and all things digital. Just now, that ding from my cellphone interrupted my silent contemplation.
I forgot to turn the ringer off, but I am technically working so I keep the technology on. Whatever is on the other end of that ding feels like a demand of my attention. These sweet moments of one, five, or ten (in my day) used to be given over to God, God-space is now interrupted. Stealth it is. As I interface more with technology, I see less of the face of God.
When we stop worrying about smartphones in terms of content (what we’re looking at) and start to consider the rituals that tether us to them throughout the day. – James K.A. Smith
I used to be able to work and take ten or so minutes to be silent. Silence and stillness are easy avenues for me to connect, contemplate, and open to the sweetness of gratitude and feel the warm presence of love. These days, not so much.
Is all this labor with technology making our lives easier? Yes, if you only come from a secular perspective. If we come from our spiritual selves, we simply need some help.
I am not making babies – I am making money, and for the most part, I don’t know what to do with it. Pay bills of course, but is that what I am laboring for? Is my life about paying bills and purchasing power?
As a child, my mind understood work and money to be for men. My father worked; he made money. My mother stayed home with three children and used that money for food, clothes, and shelter.
As a woman, making money confuses my mind. Laboring for money confuses me. What is this money about? When I take a deep breath and look closely, I don’t know, but what I do know is that I need to invite God into my finances.
Thanks to America, we no longer labor twelve hours a day, seven days a week – that which Labor Day represents. It was inhumane to work a human for that many hours, but what have we filled that extra, free, space, and time with? More time with God? Or more time for purchasing power and all things screens and scrolling?
I need God’s attention with money matters because the world is calling my attention and my money into the cart. Do I want to fill my life with the presence of God, or presents from Amazon? What’s the meaning of labor and money in the current culture of technology? Can we let God inform us? Lest we let the world of consumption and intellectualization inform us.
What do you want to buy into?
Are there any priceless matters you want to buy into? Do we remember what priceless matters are? Can we let our money create more time, space, and movement toward God?
If we saw money as seeds and looked at where those seeds are planted – at where we plant seeds of money; are those seeds bringing that which gives Life, with a capital L? Are those seeds producing fruitful fruit? As a woman who gives life, what are we giving life to?
Follow the money, they say, as a means to know what is going on in the world, but what if we followed our own money?
Quote from Dave Ramsey, Netflix, The Minimalists: Less Is Now.
Quote from James K.A Smith, You Are What You Love, pg. 46.
“Change Jar”, Courtesy of Josh Appel, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Travelling Money”, Courtesy of Christine Roy, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Change Jar”, Courtesy of Towfiqu barbhuiya, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “International Currency”, Courtesy of Jason Leung, Unsplash.com, CC0 License