I was talking to Indie the other day and I asked if she had had any dreams the night before.
“Yes,” she said.
“What did you dream about?” I asked.
“Um… I dreamed that a snake took my phone away and my phone was not in my pocket!”
Or, something to that effect. It was definitely about a phone not being on her person and it made me stop and think.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, and my parents asked me about my dreams, the word “phone” was nowhere to be found in the conversation. I expected her to at least reference some fantasy from a show or movie she had seen on TV, but no … just a missing phone. That was the most exciting thing she could come up with.
Perhaps because, all she sees us doing, day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, is staring at our phones.
(That same day, I got an emergency amber alert—on my phone, no less—about another child who just went missing … oh the irony. Or was it YHWH trying to tell me something?)
These devices have become like gods to us. We spend—no, waste—so much precious time endlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, watching YouTube videos of cats and babies (or in our case the latest perspective on Biblical cosmology and the Revelation 12 sign), and we’re missing our lives!
Speaking for myself and my family: here we are, surrounded by these beautiful children everyday, so blessed to be able to work from home and play such a pivotal role in their development, and to glean YHWH’s wisdom from their very mouths, and here is the evidence of the impact we’re having: they’re making up dreams about … smartphones.
What are we doing? What am I doing? What am I teaching them? How does this in any way constitute “training them up in the way they should go?” (Prov. 22:6) No wonder so many teenagers look like this all the time:
You might be saying: “hey, smartphones have changed the world.”
And you’re right. I’m not negating that. In many ways, they’ve changed the world for the better. But in treating them as idols, we’ve also made a lot of things worse. My obsession with my Apple device, for me personally, has led me to neglect my family, to arrogantly pass judgment on people I hardly know as I’m reading their status updates, and to gossip about them. On several occasions I’ve either spoken or thought things like:
“OMG, babe, did you see that debate going on in that group about the Trinity? So much drama! Why can’t people just agree to disagree and move on?” (Ignore the fact that I’m contributing to the problem by merely letting it consume my time in the first place.)
“This dude is such a dispensationalist. Did you see what he posted the other day? Seriously, how does that even make sense?”
“I can’t believe so-and-so actually believes in a pre-trib rapture. He’s gonna be real disappointed when Sept. 24th rolls around.”
“People are so ignorant to think that Yahshua’s law was ever abolished. Did you see the comments on that one video?”
Oh, how quickly we forget from whence we came … and how swiftly we deny our own shortcomings while gazing at the faults of others.
(When did I become such a pretentious jerk?)
Or how about this: When your toddler is screaming for your attention, and you can’t respond, because you’re too busy gushing overs last year’s “on this day” memory from your Facebook feed of when said toddler was just a newborn?
That’s me. All the time. I’ll admit it. Anyone else?
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m alone. We take our blessings for granted far too much.
And then we complain about how we don’t have time to enjoy them.
So, what’s the point of all this? On day 2 of my 40-day repentance journey, I would like to publicly commit to a 40-day partial phone fast. Well, I guess it’s technically 39 days now, but who’s counting? I’m not. Because I’m pretty confident that when this is over, not picking up my phone will have become the norm for me. In case you’re wondering what I mean by a “partial phone fast,”…
I will still use my phone for work, communication, and even social media. So no, I’m not leaving Facebook for a whole month or anything like that. As a professional online marketer with multiple advertising clients, that would simply not be feasible. What I am doing is resisting the urge to waste time mindlessly taking in useless information from multiple social profiles as though I have nothing better to do. This is about responsible use through intentional discipline (and much, much prayer).
Here’s what this looks like:
I will resist the urge to pick up my phone first thing in the morning to check my Facebook notifications.
I will resist the urge to pick up my phone on my way to the bathroom to mindlessly scroll while sitting on the toilet. (Yep, I went there.)
I will resist the urge to pick up my phone 2, 5, 10, 15, 20 … minutes after posting something new, just to see if it got any likes or comments. (Yeah, you know you do it too.)
Instead of catching up on the latest Instagram stories at night while nursing Kale, I’ll pray over my child as he drifts off to sleep.
No more picking up my phone to kill time during commercials or advertisements (knowing that I’m probably going to see the exact same posts in my newsfeed that I saw during the other commercial break 15 minutes prior.)
No more struggling to read that article somebody posted, while brushing my teeth as toothpaste drool falls out of my mouth and onto my shirt.
No more scrolling through Facebook or watching YouTube videos while eating a meal. Maybe I’ll actually enjoy my food and the presence of my family for a change!
And finally, no more gossiping about who posted what on social media.
“Father, forgive me. I have been so consumed by this idol that I fail over and over to be present in Your presence and in the presence of family, and to foster an environment for Your Spirit to be present in our lives. Instead, I have created an atmosphere of arrogance, gossip, vanity and pride, where You could never dwell. You said to stop worshipping other idols. I didn’t listen. You said to pay attention to my children. I didn’t listen. You told me to love my husband. I didn’t listen.You told me to hold my tongue. I didn’t listen. You told me to put down my phone. I didn’t listen. But I’m listening now. I want a relationship with YOU, not an LCD screen. In this season of repentance, may we all turn back to You. Help us to walk in Your ways and to live in obedience to Your will.”
This 40-day “fast” will be a challenge. It will require me to say ‘no’ when, like a nicotine stick, my phone is beckoning my hand. But I know that motion precedes emotion, and so I must take action. I’m thankful that He gives me strength to follow through and grace for when I stumble, and I’m excited to witness a change in myself as I draw even closer to Him!
Today, I will commit to wasting less time on my phone and spending more time doing what matters most:
Loving YHWH and loving my neighbor.
If this is something you struggle with too, then I invite you to join me!
This post is Day 2 in my 40 Days of Repentance series. Click here to read Day 1.