Monday, October 17, 2016

The Woman Without the Phone

    Today was the first time I had seen it...Woman Without the phone.

  A few years ago I wrote the post, What I gained when I lost my smartphone.  After a couple of years battling with the thought of missing out on my life while I was glued to a screen, I kicked my smartphone to the curb in exchange for one of those little clamshell numbers with a fold out keyboard.  I loved that phone.  I loved that moment in my life.  It was so liberating that I honestly even loved the way that it sounded when I got a text message.  Literally, when I hear that sound in home videos it makes me smile, because living without the smartphone was an amazing time of my life, and it taught me so much more about being content in life.
   I honestly didn't have a smartphone at all until around this time last year.  The house we lived in had a huge garden tub...  it had the jets and it was nothing short of amazing.  I can remember fondly all of those times laying in the tub for maybe an hour or more reading Wuthering Heights again.  One evening however, the phone plunged down into the water, and emerged somehow still working, but glitchy.  When faced with getting a smartphone or paying the same amount for a basic phone, I went with the smartphone option.
   I am glad that I did, because now that we live in a new place the smartphone has been my saving grace.  Call me crazy for having that crutch, but its comforting to know that when my daughter has a dance class in a part of town I'm umfamiliar with, I have that to tell me where to go.  The gps has been my comfort in getting to know a new place, and I'm very thankful I made the choice to return to the world of the smartphone.  I recently needed an upgrade and ended up with a newer Iphone..  and that has been even better.  The group text message with my two sisters who are also Iphone users is one of my most treasured moments of the days...  some of my best laughs.  I Love sharing photos with my family back at home, and vidoes..  espeically since they don't get to see my kids everyday.  In those ways, my smartphone has made my life more connected.  A text with a picture...  just checking in really quick...  making sure my sister is okay since her home town is in the area of the storms.  All of these things have made my life good because of a smartphone, and for that I'm thankful.
   However, there are times that I don't really enjoy my smartphone all that much...  and those are the things I'm currently working on...
    I snapped a photo of the little dancing X's when I deleted instagram from my phone.  The one app that inevitably keeps me checking the screen.  Perhaps moreso than facebook ever did- Instagram had the power to keep me looking- to keep me coming back, like checking the refrigerator again and again knowing that the same things are going to be in there as they were when you checked only moments ago.  It's one way to share photos with friends and family, but sending it through a private text- although arguably still inpersonal...  is just more intentional than putting it on a semi-public board for everyone to see.  I catch myself taking photos just to post on instagram, and to me that feels too much like living for the sake of sharing.  Sure, I know what most of my friends are up too..  and its fun seeing some of my favorite celebrities in their daily life...  but was that moment truly worth the moments that I gave up in order to do that?  Was spending some moments staring at my screen fragmenting my day so much that it was making it more difficult to focus on what was right in front of me?  The moments that were honestly far too precious for social media..  that seemed commonplace after using them solely for that purpose?
Little Hero, his favorite jacket, and Hulk..  on a rare fall day at the playground...  he will never be on this playground, in this moment, at three years old ever again...  

    Friends, none of this, breaking from social media is easy for me.  Especially since I truly have been so involved in media as of late.  I find myself randomly thinking about someone I had been keeping up with, and needing to know, right that moment, how they are doing.  I find that sometimes throughout the day I reach for my phone and stare blankly at the screen, just out of habit and needing someway, somehow to 'disconnect' from reality for a moment.  Needing to 'vege out' if you will.  Yet it seems that every moment of every day that passes without checking on social media- although my circle gets smaller and my whole world seems to be on a smaller scale- life seems more vibrant.  More special.  More immediate and awesome- just because I gave to it my presence.  
   I do feel left out.  So many times a day.  Facebook sounds from the phones of my family members ring and I feel like they are a part of a world that I am not.  They want to tell me jokes or show me videos..  something that they have seen on facebook and need to share with me, but can't share on the social network.  Yet time and time again, I am reminded of why I'm doing this.  So often lately I've heard someone speak on something as if it were absolute truth- and remember an article that said the same thing shared on facebook.  I remember hearing a joke that was in someones status message- hearing someone sing a song that was shared on another's profile photo..  and I am reminded that this world of social media is not something to be taken lightly.  I realize that if we allow it to be, it is so integrated into our lives that it is most certainly a piece of us.  We should take that as seriously as someone in our social circle..  or where we work or attend church or where our kids go to school.  If social media has became a part of who we are, its more than just a moment on a computer, or a status message or photo posted...  it is something that we should pray about and learn to regulate in our lives.  It should be something we ask God to help us navigate.  I've seen so many people who want to put God in a box and only allow him into some parts of their lives...  and pretend as if they are 'too cool' to be affecfted by social media.  If it takes up a moderate amount of your thoughts, then it should be something God should be intertwined into deeply and intentionally.  Not something that we take so very lightly, and can't understand why others are so convicted by it.  

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

   When I allowed God to walk with me through my facebook use he showed me the things it was bringing out in me, and they were not good things.    Being discontent with my life because it was not comparable to others.  I found myself becoming a busybody, a 'need to know' things about other people's lives, and when I took an honest account of the things I did know about people solely because of facebook, I found that most I did know was not any of my business to know in the first place.  I found that there was more for me to pray about, but that I had less time to pray.  I was distracted in my prayer time, and prayer request time had became some form of gossip within itself.  I found that I was becoming more anxious, and more distracted.  More than anything though, I found that in accumulating all of these new 'relationships' really held the closer ones at bay.  I wasn't spending as much time just focusing on the people in my living room- much less the people who are honestly the best and closest people in my life.  
   The last day that I was on facebook I took the time to get contact information for people who I was the closest too.  I wrote them down, and prayed that God would help me to keep in contact with these people outside of the world of social networking.  Today I took some small cards and wrote out four hand written letters, and smiled as I put them in the mailbox.  Those are a personal touch like no other.  If nothing else, they will know that the time I took for them was more than just a moment, staring at a screen while I was waiting in the car for my husband to get out of the grocery store...  those were moments where I prayed, laughed, smiled, and really gave them some feeling, something that I haven't done in a long time, even in emails...  but especially in facebook messages.  

    So as I retire for the evening, I pray that my words have helped someone in their walk, bet it to change their thought process on social media or just to encourage someone out there who is struggling as I did.  This is the first week of a new way of living for me, so I hope you will remember me in your prayers!  Also, take some time today just to put the phone down, look at someone you love- really, really look at them...  and remember how it feels to look at them in person, not from the other side of a screen.   Life is better when nobody else is looking.  Be the woman without the phone.  

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