Around about 9 months ago I remember a good friend of ours decided to give up his iPhone, shut down his twitter account and live simply. He had many reasons for this and I admire each of them. This is a guy who passionately serves Jesus and a guy who inspires me in so many ways in his life, his family and his ministry. Both he and his wife are people who I love and respect in so many ways and I know in their lives they have seen Jesus move powerfully through them because they obey and serve the king of Kings and they’ll do whatever it takes to become more like Him. This guy did just that, he knew to become more like Jesus he had to take some action. He no longer wanted to sit on his phone when his kids sat next to him; he no longer wanted to put emphasis or importance on how many followers he had, or what the latest tweet from him should be or how many emails he got. He wanted to live in the moment and not miss anything that God was doing right there and then.
Around about 9 months ago I didn’t get this entirely, don’t get me wrong I understood, respected and admired this but I had a phone which was second hand and didn’t work so good. I had a phone that didn’t have 3G so all my emails, twitter notifications, updates couldn’t be checked anytime anywhere. So all I had was to check whether someone had texted me, that never took long! Then I got an upgrade. Suddenly I was accessible in so many ways.
Around 9 months later its different now, I have a new working phone and I have realised my phone is sometimes that child who gets all the attention. It screams I jump, it cries I check it, it whinges and I am responding. Suddenly my friends can be interrupted by a notification, or a text, or an email, or an update. My kids see me trying to reply to a text while concentrating on their story, or make the tea, or watching a movie with them. The sad thing is if I am concentrating too hard on what I am doing on my phone and they interrupt I find the frustration is wrongly vented at them. I never ever want my kids, family and friends to think they are less important than this small black screen I (used to) to have in my back pocket! I realised as my phone became fancier and the more I was able to do/check I became less able to be in the moment, to enjoy what was going on and to be with the people I was right there with.
You see its true “excess limits access” another good friend once said.
Excess checking my phone limits my access of being in the moment. Excess being in communication with someone not in the room limits my access of being in the moment with those that are. I don’t want to miss a moment with the person I am with; I don’t want to miss a moment when I am sitting with my kids. I don’t want that small black screen to distract and deter me away from the things in my life that matter the most.
Don’t get me wrong my phone and I are friends. Texting is good, emails are great, whatsapp is amazing. I get to be contact with my friend who is across the street and my friend who is 3,000miles away. I also think twitter is great and I love following interesting people who enrich my life with what they say and what they post. I read blogs on the move and get to post random thoughts. My phone and I are friends! But we needed boundaries! God was going to do some pruning!
The pruning is ongoing and happening and here are a few ways I have made my phone no longer that distraction or needed friend.
The phone now sits in the hall and only checked at certain points in the day. If a friend was here the phone wasn’t. If my kids were awake and around, as much as possible, the phone had to be out of sight and it was never ever allowed at the dinner table again. The home button was no longer allowed to be pressed just to ‘check’ from the last time I looked. I have created some boundaries.
I like these boundaries. I like the moments now at the school gate in the car waiting, or around the table doing nothing but chatting; I like the feeling of the freedom that my phone, this little black screen was once zapping me from. For some of you this isn’t the case and you have a healthy relationship with your phone but for some of us this tweet I read recently will make you laugh because it’s true.
“My phone fell in the toilet. Should I cry? Or should I cheer “Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty I’m free at last”?”