It has been a while. I took the summer off to be with family, reflect, and get some things done. I tried to stay off social media, which included my blog, and to rest. It was a long spring. I was in dire need of down time and rejuvenation. So often this summer I simply took my journal, my Bible and got away. I did not check my phone. I went where it was quiet. I took a deep breath and waited for God.
We don’t often wait for God. We pass by Him in the morning on our way to do other things. Or we pray – listing off our concerns and please do’s. But how often do we just sit and listen?
More and more I’ve come to realize that quietness before the Lord is essential to our faith. It is also, in many ways, essential to our sanity.
We are bombarded with information and noise all the time! Or phones have us more connected than ever before. We get a rush from seeing our screen light up that we have a new Facebook message or that we can play Candy Crush again! But is it real or good?
Studies show that people are lonelier and more disconnected than ever before. This false intimacy and preoccupation with never having an idle moment is slowly destroying us.
We need silence to hear ourselves think. We need silence to process life. We need silence to be creative, to rest, to know ourselves. We need silence to hear God.
And yet silence is the one thing most of us cannot do.
I see it in restaurants and see couples who are both on their phones for the entire meal. Dad looks at his screen while his son watches something on the iPad. Families text their way through dinner. Friends check their feeds while getting coffee.
What about this digital life is sooooo appealing, really?
We are clinging to a false, safe intimacy – one controlled by feeds, 140 characters, cute pictures and likes. But it’s not real. We post insanely intimate (and incredibly trite) things online instead of calling someone. I think we are more and more we are losing our ability to identify emotion.
Anger has become the norm (which is really an umbrella emotion for something else) because we can rant without thinking (or having to face the person we are mad at). I am shocked by what some people say on social media that (I hope) they would never say to someone’s face.
We don’t want to hurt, so we numb on games or Netflix or things that are more harmful.
We are less known. We have less true connections. We have lost the joy of breaking bread together, of community and vulnerability.
And that applies to our spiritual lives as well.
Church has become a feel good activity that stands for nothing. It is culturally cool and emotionally empty. In its quest to become relevant it’s become irrelevant.
We are people with deep emotion, incredible potential and so much to give! Yet we are losing that as we become more and more addicted to the electronics that consume us.
The point? We need to regulate our phone use as we would regulate any other addiction in our lives.
Could you go one day without your phone?
Could you leave it in your bag but not take it out?
Could you sit for an entire meal with a loved one and not look at it?
Could you sit for 10 minutes in silence and not reach for it?
I don’t think we realize how much we are giving up. How much time we lose, how deadened to emotion and thought we are, how disconnected we are from those around us.
You cannot be creative when you check your email every 5 minutes (my struggle).
You cannot produce anything of quality when comparing it to what’s on Pinterest.
You cannot worship God when you are checking Instagram in church.
You cannot find true intimacy with your spouse when you spend moments together playing Angry Birds.
You cannot know your kids if you spend all night on Facebook.
You cannot process life if you never put the screen down and live it.
I am trying more and more to have electronic free weekends. I put my phone on my desk and don’t use it. I don’t check my emails, I don’t post on social media, I don’t play games. I leave it where I can hear it if someone calls but beyond that, it does not consume my time.
I am starting to find my weekends more relaxing and enjoyable. I am finding little things in my day to relish – a nap on the couch, a good book, a hike with my husband, without the pressure to capture it and post it to the world.
Life is meant to be lived taking in the vividness of the moment – and we cannot do that if we are so desperate to capture it that we actually miss living it.
Put down the phone. Nothing is going to happen on any of your feeds that will shatter your life. Engage with those around you. Spend a day with your daughter without documenting it. Go to coffee with a friend and truly ask how she is. Go out on a date and just be with your honey. Take your journal, sit at the kitchen table and be still.
We are so scared of silence because we are told it is bad. But in the silence great things come.
How can you challenge yourself this week to disengage the screen and engage those around you?