Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Creating Peace: The Noise Noise Noise Noise....

And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!

That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! 
-The Grinch

   Indeed, as a Mom of four, my house is quite noisy. But that noise is something that I've grown to love. The laughter, the toys... the songs and music. That is precious noise. I've accustomed to the fact that there will be one day when that noise is silence, and I've grown to love and appreciate it. Yet there's another noise that can invade my peace.. go on and on in my head, drowning out thoughts of peace and absolutely destroying my productivity...
   And lots of that noise comes from one device.
The smartphone.

   I have always had an interesting relationship with my smartphone. Years ago, in a moment of frustration I kicked my smartphone to the curb and lived without one for years. I actually started using a smartphone again about three months before my family moved away from our hometown, and it was very helpful then learning to navigate new and unfamiliar roads. Life changes, and now its an integral part of my life. I do use it to navigate. We live six hours from our hometown, so it helps me find my way back to family from time to time. We travel far more than we ever did before in those early years, so it became less of an annoyance and more of a blessing than it was way back then. Yet today, possibly because of my negative experiences with the smartphone, it becomes a device I have to control before I allow it to control me.

   Lately, I've discovered an awesome new book, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke. I started reading when we were on our little getaway a couple of days ago, and with each word my heart resounds, yes! It's not one of those, throw your phone away and never look back kind of books, but it is a book that can tell you how to control your phone without allowing it to control you.

   Like all media, it can go both ways. It can be a tool to help, or it can be a device that takes your life away. It's taken me years to make peace with this. Honestly, I remember four years ago getting so frustrated with myself for being so tied down to this device that I filled a pitcher full of water in my kitchen, threw my smartphone in it, and cleaned my house while it died there on my counter. It's sad to know there was a time in my life that I was that desperate, but I'm thankful for the lessons that I learned from that time of desperation. I'm thankful that there was a moment in life that I realized it was becoming a problem, and was willing to do something about it in order to gain my life back. I've gained SO much life because I've learned not to be tied to my phone, and how to just put it down when it becomes an issue. I'm thankful for all the moments that I've lived intentionally, and for the fact that now, I can have a smartphone and it does not drive me crazy, because I do feel in control.

   What are some of the ways that I control the 'noise noise noise noise' that can come from a smartphone and drive us crazy?

   The first thing that I learned way back when, was to take social media very seriously. It's been about six years ago since I was first convicted of my use of social media. I wrote this post about facebook years ago, and resurfaced it in 2015 to use on this blog. I realized that social media wasn't something that was insignificant, or something that should be taken lightly.  In a world that is so connected, and a world that most people carry social media in the palm of their hand, it should be taken very seriously in all of our lives.  We should hold ourselves accountable about our social media presence as much as we do the way that we speak and act in public.  Our social media presence is often viewed by more people than we will speak too in a day.  A lot of the time, our social media presence will paint a picture of us for all the world to see, whether that be a good or bad picture. Blogging is no different...  when we share our hearts here on blogger we are sharing a part of us that the whole world has access too, and we should do that with a lot of thought, caution and responsibility.  It's not something that you can carry around and use wastelessly.  There are a lot of things that I've read on social media that have stuck with me for years.  I've unintentionally judged an entire person by their posts on social media, and since those posts are forever in print, its not something that's easily separated.  It's not evil- but its significant in every single way.  We must be accountable and careful about the things that we post on social media- and realize that they are going to be our voices inside of other's heads for years to come.
   And then there's the noise....
   Even when I put the phone down and go about my business, the words circle inside of my head.  The ones that made me laugh...  the ones that made me angry.  The ones that were catchy and upbeat.  The tragedies, and the good things.  They circle around in my head for hours.  I recall the movie with Mel Gibson, "What Women Want", does anyone remember that movie?

   Isn't that sometimes how social media makes us feel?  Like everyone's thoughts and opinions are bombarding us?
   I think that its important in our lives to decide what 'noise' is important, and what isn't.   I make it a point to take notifications off of my phone.  I do not have email sent to my phone.  I occasionally will check email on my phone, but it requires me actually putting my information in the browser and logging in.  I don't have a 'ding' everytime Wayfair want me to buy something or Bath and Body wants to put their amazing 3-wick candles on sale.  Perhaps, like me, you steer clear of social media so all of those 'voices' are kept quiet, the voices in my head are those of the people who communicate with me throughout the day- not those of someone I went to high school with and haven't spoken too in 16 years.  Perhaps facebook is not something that takes away your peace, but by silencing the notifications, or simply deleting the app in favor of manually logging in on your computer would maintain your peace.  Somethings I believe anything can be okay as long as we can set it aside, put it in its place, and check it on our time, rather than being notified over and over again and beckoned to leave our lives several times a day.
   A few days ago I actually silenced my text tone.  I adore text messages, and the greatest reason I love my smartphone nowadays is the group text message that I have with my sisters...  sometimes its my whole life.  Yet I do want checking text messages to be on my time.  I like to sit down and take time to respond to text messages.  I like to put my phone down and walk by it several times without picking it up.  I like to be completely intentional about putting my family and the people right in front of me first, and allowing my phone to be controlled by me, not the other way around.  No one in an emergency has ever chosen to text me instead of calling me.  Texts are special to me, and mean the world to me, but I take aside time to text rather than being calling to my phone every time someone texts me, and its been good for creating peace.
   In a world full of devices that carry our lives and beckon for our attention, sometimes you have to just realize that it is a tool, not a life that we carry in the palm of our hands.  Sometimes learning to make it less important is a hard thing to do, but something that is necessary.  Control your phone, and do not let it control you.  Take control of your life, and clear out some of the noise, however that means for you!

Join me, while I'm working on Seeking Peace and Leaving Survival Mode