My phone was packed to the brim with birth videos, screenshots of dream bathrooms and toddler voice videos that hadn't been backed up for nearly nine months. It finally waved the white flag and for whatever reason, I had peace. I was devastated when the sweet teenager at Apple told me there was nothing he could do to recover anything from the device, but instead of questioning his effort and skill (not my proudest attributes) I kindly accepted the news and believed wholeheartedly I'd get those images back. Much to my surprise, though, I didn't miss the actual phone itself one single bit.
In that moment I trusted the Lord was showing me something. It has been 8 days since I've had a phone to carry around and I have experienced unrivaled freedom and contentment. I still can access social media on my iPad but there has been a literal weight lifted just from being "off the grid." When I'm outside playing with my babes, I'm present. When I'm on a walk, I'm present. When I'm driving or at the store or on a date, I'm present. And it hit me somewhere between day one and day eight that I was way more distracted than I thought. I admire my friends that can not look at their phone for days. So many people don't struggle with this whatsoever. And while with a toddler and infant I certainly am slower to return texts, emails and phone calls but somehow I seem to have no problem at all checking Instagram and Pinterest far too many times a day. Social Media presents us with so many wonderful things from inspiration to connection and while it isn't inherently bad, it does have the potential to bring about jealousy, false connection, covetous hearts, distraction, deception, pride and all those other buzz words in me that just aren't lovely.
My two greatest personal challenges with social media and blogs are: One, at the end of the day, I don't like the way they me feel. Distracted from what really matters and laser focused on what doesn't, filled with pride and yet filled with insecurity and in a constant state of comparison... it's self promotion at its core. I want to be seen as funny and beautiful and such a great homemaker and the best mom and a hot caring wife but those should all be inward goals lifted up to the Lord not outward goals lifted up to "followers." Two, I don't use the word hate often, it's harsh and gritty but I can honestly say I hate looking up from scrolling or typing on my phone to see my son had been trying to get my attention. I feel like a fraud when I ruin a moment to setup a photo shoot in hopes of recreating something genuine to post a photo of it and caption it for Instagram. I realize and ignore far too often the fact that I'm missing it sometimes. I am missing genuine authentic moments and opportunities to grow with my husband and friends and oh man, my sweet babies. If you have kids, like me, you see the daily tug of war between wanting to completely check out in front of a screen of any kind (or all kinds thankyouverymuch) and wanting to put it away because you want to be equal parts present and a good example. It's hard not to want to zone out at times on a job as all-encompassing as motherhood! But the best way I know how to make decisions is to treat others the way I want to be treated, and since becoming a Mama the best way I know how to parent is to live the life I want my babies to live.
I am fiercely protective over my son only watching one program a day after breakfast and not letting him have any other screen time. Why? Because when an episode of his beloved Bubble Guppies used to end he would cry. Like, bawl his eyes out. Because of the full blown earth-shattering tantrum that played out after a YouTube video of row row row your boat was over. And because I know ever since I got that Motorola brick phone in seventh grade just for emergencies, It had a hold on me. Like a gravitational pull. I couldn't text, had no internet and had to keep it on a basket on the countertop whenever I walked through the front door of our house but I could play snake and stare at that screen long and hard, obsessing over nothing. I felt instantly that I needed it. I went twelve years without it and within a month of having it, that phone was part of me. When I look around at my peers I'm faced with the fact that we are a generation of screen addicts. If our kids start as young as the age of one needing a screen for entertainment/pacifying/distraction, we are giving them no chance. They won't know how to use their imagination to pass time, how to process emotions through conversations with mommy and daddy and Jesus or how to learn the discipline and self control it takes to just have to sit still sometimes. I can't teach my babies what I haven't mastered in myself, so I'm on a mission to master this.
The same day my phone died a sad death, I ordered a book called "Hands Free Mama" and I've enjoyed every word so far. Truth be told, for nearly a year I only went on social media on the weekends. It was wonderful. Before that I had given up social media, blogs and online shopping for chunks of time pretty regularly. Then my second pregnancy happened and I needed a distraction during those long hard days. Then newborn-hood happened and I needed entertainment while nursing. Then life happened and I'm on my phone more than I'd like to be and I wrestle with it on the regular because while everyone has different calling and convictions, I know the Lord is calling me to find quiet, to be present and be intentional with my time. (I often realize this as I'm holding my iPad in my hand, my laptop in my lap while staring at the TV.) So when it came time to decide what I wanted to offer up to the Lord for Lent, the phone that had already imploded popped into my mind. Honestly, I thought "no, that's too hard. Too much. I'm rebranding my blog, I need to be posting great photos and liking photos and growing my following! " And that, friends, is exactly how you know you've chosen the right thing to give up for Lent. That thing that is too hard and too much with too great a hold on you is usually precisely what needs to be let go. And so I'm letting it go.
I'll still be posting here so check back periodically, but in the meantime I'd love to know, what are you planning on giving up for Lent tomorrow? Is anyone else feeling too strong of a pull to their phones? I plan on diving into His Word in a new, rich way during this time. My goal is to read more books, spend more time playing on the floor with my babies and and writing. I pray these 40 days teach me to dedicate my days to the Lord and offer up those moments where I'm seeking approval or affirmation or distraction to Him and find all that He has for me instead.