Early on in my marriage, my husband, Edric, was into computer games. It took some years for him to wean himself away from this addiction. Although I must say that his addiction wasn’t like the very destructive kind that paralyzes a lot of young people (and grown-ups) today. Apparently, some kids cut their classes to play computer games. That’s a different level of addiction. Edric’s was mild in comparison.
However, I had a brother who played computer games obsessively until a few years ago when God got a hold of his heart and convicted him to change for good. So I’ve nursed a little bit of paranoia that leaked out of me whenever Edric’s interest in computer games got piqued.
As a young wife and mother, it bothered me immensely whenever I would see him seated on our living room couch, fixated on the screen, with his eyes hardly blinking and his fingers moving furiously. I would think to myself, How can this person lead our family?! Worst of all, I would say cutting and disrespectful statements in the attempt to make him stop.
Eventually, I learned to pray for him instead of nagging which resulted in miraculous intervening from the Lord. As a result, I am happy to say that he generally avoided computer games for the majority of our marriage. Although there were some seasons when he would get into it again, they were short-lived. He got busier and busier through the years, leaving little room for this sort of entertainment. He got to the point where he preferred to channel his attentions towards the kids and me, and find ways to hang out with us.
A few months ago, however, he decided to join an NBA2K league again with his good friends. His main purpose was to reach out to them and have some clean, boyish fun. So he purchased the NBA game while we were in the U.S. in the first quarter of the year, and started practicing for this league.
At first, it didn’t bother me. Edric didn’t have much time to practice so he reserved this for the late evenings or days when he wanted to unwind after a grueling day at work. His practice sessions didn’t really interfere with family time. It wasn’t like he was neglecting his priorities.
However, as the tournament drew closer, his competitive bug kicked into full gear and I noticed that he disappeared more frequently during what should have been “family times.” I mentioned my concern on a few occasions but I knew this was a sensitive topic so I avoided saying too much. Plus, he also assured me that he was renewing his game-playing just for the tournament season.
Instead of making a big deal out of it, I continued to pray that God would give him wisdom as the leader of our family. After all, I knew Edric’s heart, that he sincerely and truthfully loved God and had a relationship with Him. Therefore, if he was straying from the course that God would have him on, then surely God would get his attention in an effective way to correct his trajectory.
On Friday before his tournament, the kids had their music recital. It was the culminating activity for the quarter, covering a little over two months (about the amount of time that Edric had been playing computer games again.)
Many years ago, Edric and I agreed that MAPE classes would fall under his department for our homeschooling. I would focus on the academics. So, technically speaking, making sure the kids practiced for their violin performances was his lookout. But Edric hadn’t been very aware of what was going on with the kids over the last few weeks because his default mode was to come home and “practice” for the big tournament day.
Before the recital I mentioned to Edric that the boys were struggling through their pieces and were ill-prepared for their recital. I was terrified for their sake. They obviously hadn’t practiced hard enough. Yet at that point, there was nothing I could really do to salvage the situation except allow them to learn from their choices.
When the boys played on stage, Edric turned over to me, with a mortified and shocked look on his face. Our kids got through their songs but our two younger boys squeaked through their pieces. (The violin instrument is probably the most unpleasant instrument to listen to when played incorrectly.) Edric couldn’t believe how unprepared they were.
Afterwards, he decided to have a talk with the boys which began by asking them, “How do you think you did, boys? Did you do your best?”
Titus confidently declared, “Yes!” (This made us laugh because his answer revealed more about his half-full vs. half-empty kind of perspective on life rather than his ability to accurately access his own performance.)
Our two older boys were more realistic and admitted that they hadn’t practiced the way they should have.
Edric concluded by encouraging them to do their best in everything that they pursue, for God’s glory. He attempted to be gracious while insisting that practice was a non-negotiable part of their daily disciplines.
Well, the day ended with the kids learning a life lesson, and the next day was Edric’s NBA2k tourney. He woke up totally excited and energized for the event. I stayed home with the kids as he road away with one of his close friends.
During the rest of the day I assumed that all was well until I received a call from him at 2 PM. These were his words: “I lost EVERY. SINGLE. GAME.” He sounded upset and humiliated.
According to him, he did so horribly that some of the guys weren’t even looking at the screen while competing against him! But he did include a positive note about sharing the gospel with one of the men who joined the tournament.
In an attempt to diffuse his disappointment over losing, I welcomed him home with a good dinner spread. I also knew that he must have come away from the experience with wonderful reflections and I was eager to hear these.
He told me, “God reminded me that I must replace the good things in my life with the great things. Hanging out with the guys playing computer games isn’t a bad thing. It can be a good thing when it’s about reaching out to guys to build relationships to win them over to Christ. But computer game playing is not a great thing, either. After I watched the kids violin performance yesterday, I was convicted about how my attention was diverted by my own ‘practice’ sessions. Had I been more zoned in to what was happening with the kids, I would have recognized that they slacked off with their violin practices. I would have stepped in to do something about it. But I was distracted. I wasn’t there.”
I am able to write about this experience now because I have my husband back…every part of him! Hooray! Today he told me how excited he was to spend time with the kids. His plan is to take them outdoors to go biking or running this afternoon.
As I shared in the beginning of this entry, it’s only by God’s grace that Edric doesn’t have major issues when it comes to computer gaming. However every single person in our family needs him to be present, wholly there. And for him, computer games is one of those things that takes him away from us. This detour from his more-often-than-not engaged husband and father mode caused some funkiness to develop in our kids. Maybe even in me! Yet, I’m thankful to the Lord that He nipped the issue quickly!
The game playing could have progressed to something really unhealthy for Edric and our family had he won the tournament and emerged as the champ. The win would have affirmed the time he spent training for the tournament. It would have given him cause to defend his title for the next one. But no such thing came to pass. God’s kindness to him was allowing every single defeat in order to send a loud and clear life principle: Choose the great things over the good things.
As for me, I’m rejoicing because I know God loves Edric so much that He protects him from going off-course. Even the slightest of Edric’s missteps are visible to the Lord. I want to continue to pray that God will not let him slip.
“Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad. Who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip.” (Psalm 66:8-9 NASB)
God loves every single man in our lives. If there is anything that troubles or unsettles us about the men we love (be it a husband, boyfriend, father, brother, etc.), we can be assured that God sees the areas that they need to improve on to become more like Him.
Sometimes, it’s very tempting to get in the way and nag them to death or try and manipulate circumstances so we can facilitate their growth process faster. However, we must learn to rest in God’s love for them and avoid rushing into the scene to “fix” things.
If we continue to pray for the men we love and surrender them to the Lord, doing our part to obey God, too, then we can be confident that God will intervene in His way and time. He will direct them and order their steps in accordance with His will.
How do we know this? Because He loves them immeasurably more than we can ever love them. And He is faithful and able to transform their hearts to desire and pursue what pleases Him — the great things.
“This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.” Isaiah 48:17 NLT