being present : the phone
I have a favorite bookmark.
This bookmark was given to me by a dear friend from my season of living in California. I became the fourth and youngest member of a prayer group/book club, made up of ladies who loved Jesus and wanted to know Him more. Debbie, Grace, Justina and I met for 2 years, every Thursday, reading and discussing incredible books like Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets, The Utter Relief of Holiness by John Eldredge, and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. One Christmas, Justina made us each a gorgeous ribbon bookmark. I had never seen one before and was completely captivated. I think this is maybe where my obsession with gold began.
She had chosen the charms specifically for each of us. For me, there was a treble clef because of my love of music and worship, a pearl for my “classiness”, and a bird to symbolize freedom. I remember feeling so blessed by her thoughtfulness.
Currently, this bookmark is holding my place in Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist’s latest and greatest. I know I mentioned weeks ago that I was over the moon about it, but in truth, I hadn’t even picked it up yet at that point in time. Shauna writes in a way that helps me to connect deeply to my heart and soul and I wanted this book to have my full attention. I waited until last Saturday – my Sabbath – to pick it up.
I knew that this book would be very encouraging to me in this current season because the last year of my life has been full of ups and downs as I learned to simplify my schedule – mostly to avoid burnout. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you, dear reader, as they are from a place of fresh-processing and recent hard decisions that have led me to a much more spacious, restful, and grace-filled place than I found myself a year ago. This journey is not near the end, but I feel strong enough in the truths I have internalized to share a little with you now.
It’s not new information to anyone that we could all use a little more “being present” in our lives. It’s all over the news and social media – mostly in the realm of, “Put down your phone and _______ [drive — look at your children in the eyes when they’re speaking to you — order your meal instead of making your waitress stand there awkwardly — watch where you’re walking — wah wah wahhhh].”
I’ll let you do your own soul-searching as to why you feel unable to put down your phone/delete the apps that you spend too much time on, or unable to resist the urge to update the world on every single living thing that crosses your mind.
For me, it boiled down to this:
Being totally honest: I needed to know that people liked my stuff. That they liked my photos, they liked my thoughts and words and feelings, they liked my friends, they liked the cool and interesting things that I did and the places I went, on and on and on.
Once I realized that, and also came to terms with the fact that feeding this bottomless-pit-approval-monster wasn’t helping my recovery from people-pleasing (it’s just everywhere, guys), I knew I had to do something drastic to kill it!
So I deactivated my Facebook account. Boom.
And I deleted Instagram for several months.
I also deleted Twitter.
Mostly because I’m just not funny enough for Twitter, and also because – surprisingly – reading 140 characters is just enough to make you really mad at someone. Waste of my time! I’d rather just love that someone ignorantly. 🙂
So, once those apps were out of my life, all of a sudden, I had less of a reason to pick up my phone. It was actually really embarrassing how many times I reached for it before remembering that there was nothing for me to do on it once I picked it up. Yikes.
Some of you have way more self-control than I do in this area, and to you I say, Bravo! I had to chuck it all to do what was best for me.
And that’s actually the point of this shpeal: to appeal to you to simply consider – for perhaps a couple minutes longer than you have before – what is best for YOUR life? What hard and potentially counter-cultural decisions would be necessary for you to have the life that you dream of living?
One that prioritizes learning (having more time to read books/listen to podcasts instead of scrolling through Facebook).
One that prioritizes making your dreams come true (having more time to write/create/paint/photograph/train/walk/experience instead of pinning ideas for dreams coming true on Pinterest).
One that prioritizes being present (having more time to look into your spouse’s/bestie’s/baby’s/nieces and nephews/best friends kid’s eyes and experience their love/hilarity/joy/childlike wonder with them instead of recording every moment of it to share with the world).
One last thought for those who are curious and ready to adjust this aspect of your life: when you are investing your newly-discovered time in these admirable pursuits – consider doing them first for yourself. Don’t capture the moment with a photo to share it with your followers – that’s counter-productive to the heart of this whole thing. Just sit in the moment of fresh discovery of passion and breathe it in. Invite the All-Present One to relish it with you. If you must snap a picture, resist the urge to share it right away. Doing this for yourself first is a beautiful way to learn to accept yourself and the things about you that God loves and that He wants you to love to. Once those are understood and experienced, there is less need to desperately crave others accepting and approving of you. There is plenty of time to learn how to healthily share your incredible gifts, thoughts, talents, and graces to the world.
Photo by the lovely Madison Kay Photography