"I will not be mastered by anything." (The Bible)
Fitness trackers are the latest things in the exercise world. Promises of helping you become more active, eat and sleep better and ultimately, turn you into a healthier human being abound. I bought into this promise about two and a half years ago.
Dosed with excitement because a friend was using a FitBit, I ordered one immediately, very excited to get my 10,000 steps and track my sleep. At first, it served me well. I was paying attention to my activity level and exercise, walking more, going to bed earlier and becoming what I hoped was a healthier person.
Very quickly, however, this servant "became the boss of me." I found myself leaving family at Thanksgiving evening and going out alone at 9:00 pm in the chilly darkness to get my 10,000 steps. At 11:50 pm one night, I began running in place just to eek out those last 300 steps, missing the mark by just a few as the clock struck midnight. I became obsessed.
It worsened when I bought my husband one for his birthday and found there was also a "community" I could invite friends to. Now, I had others to compete with, especially the man I shared my home with. I spent my days keeping track of and trying to beat those who walked miles and miles a day. I became a lunatic about "keeping up" with the person who had the most steps.
The day I realized that it was no longer serving me, but had become my master, was a light-bulb and life-giving moment. It wasn't just about FitBits, but about life. I recalled a quote by John Seymour, "Emotions are excellent servants, but tyrannical masters." I realized it wasn't limited to emotions. It wasn't limited to FitBits. Most things in life make great servants, but terrible masters. Here's a taste:
(Aside: my FitBit just buzzed to remind me to get off my behind and get moving...WOW)
Anger, fear, sadness and happiness are all great servants. Anger causes us to act for justice and right the wrong in the world. Fear prevents us from doing things that would harm us or warns of impending trouble. Sadness helps us process through loss and heartache. Happiness invites celebration of blessings. However, each one is a terrible master. Rage causes both physical and emotional harm. Anxiety cripples. Depression paralyzes. The pursuit of happiness at all costs can destroy.
Much good comes from making and using money. We care for ourselves and our families and even provide for the poor. However, money as a master can be all-consuming, with the result many times being workaholism and even soul-wrecking addictions.
Many of us exercise power in our worlds. We influence the next generation, bring people together for a cause and lead others to a better place. However, the thirst for power produces dictators at every level, and even, at its worst, war.
These are just a glimpse. What about food, shopping, phones, medicine, exercise, just to name a few? And in the end, something as simple as my FitBit.
I am certainly not opposed to my FitBit. In fact, it's one of the things I love (see What I Love and Don't) and if you click here, you will be brought to Amazon to find out more about the one I wear. It sits proudly on my wrist and some days I do better than others allowing it to be the boss of me. The problem doesn't lie in the technology. It resides in me.
When I sense the "take over," as I like to call it, the simple questions I ask of myself are "Who is the boss? Is this my servant or am I the one in chains? Who is serving whom?"
The immediate answer in my heart tells me all that I need to know and I am reminded of the great and loving Master who never makes me a slave, but calls me a friend and a daughter.