Last year as J and I prayed, brainstormed and decided on three values for our family. We considered how God has gifted us in regard to interests and joys as well as how to honor the Lord and our family’s overall health with our decision-making. As our family continues to grow and as opportunities come our way, we want to filter our decisions and strive for humility, wisdom and simplicity.
The more time I spend with Anna the more I learn about myself. Maybe it’s because she requires so much time and energy, maybe because my relationship with J takes more intention, maybe because of the depth of love I experience on a daily basis or maybe it’s because every day could potentially hold an entirely new and unforeseen circumstance.
A little extra background about me: I find a lot of identity in relationships. I care deeply for people and being a good friend is important to me. Having a lot of capacity for others is a wonderful gift I believe given to me by God, but the temptation can be to take their feelings and needs and make them mine. This can be a beautiful thing in the right context (bear one another’s burdens, thanks Scripture verse), unless it’s 50 friends’ feelings at one time.
All this being said, my soul is desperate for a little breathing room, in more than one way. So I’m taking a few steps toward simplicity with the hope of more deeply planting myself by the river and keeping green leaves (see this post if that doesn’t make sense to you).
First, two hours a day I don’t look at any screens. This idea I ‘stole’ from a joyful heart on Instagram, Tabitha Panariso. I’m two weeks in and I probably have only actually done it 8 times, because I forgot or just didn’t want to stop. And I confess I don’t include important texts or phone calls that come in. I’m finding that during those 2 hours I’m forced to confront how often I turn to a screen to be inspired or stimulated, how I’m afraid of boredom (which I don’t like) or how much marvelous peace I experience in the silence of noise, audio or visual.
Second, I’m reorienting my habit of social media scrolling with a limit of 15 minutes a day, if I even want that. The first week I implemented this, with the help of the iPhone’s Screen Time App Limiter, it was astounding how much quieter it was in my mind. It was also GREAT. And forced me to realize how I treat Instagram much like my face-to-face relationships, meaning those I follow are thrown into my emotional wagon – whether they share sad, happy, inspiring or vulnerable things.
Third, I sold my Apple watch. I got it over the summer for good, fun, helpful reasons, and it has been that. But lately it has only been adding to the technology cluttering my minute-to-minute being. Before you think I’m now against smartwatches, I purchased a Garmin hybrid watch. It’s an analog watch (because it’s embarrassing how long it takes me to tell someone what time it is after getting use to digital) but will still track my physical activity.
Fourth, I’m committing to a [self-created] #BePresentPostLater practice. I like Instagram. I like sharing moments and stories and things I’m learning about God and motherhood. But I like the people and life I’m writing about more, and they deserve my full and first attention, before a photo edit or creative caption. I think the camera technology in my phone is GREAT, I’m even thankful for it some days, and I will continue to capture moments with it, but I also don’t want to see most of my life through it.
Dallas Willard said “The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity. You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.”
Why am I sharing this publicly? At first I thought it was to keep me accountable. It’ll be practice, not perfect. :)
But then I realized my greater hope is to give someone the freedom and the nudge to make a change with their relationship with, addiction or idol of screens. I was unaware of the clarity, rest and peace of mind I was completely missing out on because of my habits. If [one of] the most important things in my life is who I become, then I REALLY don’t want an inanimate object to whittle me down to nothing. Being part of God’s Kingdom and Family requires far more than that. And means more.