I sat staring at the screen for several minutes.
The boxes were doing their little dance as the dark Xs taunted me. Surely deleting the apps wasn’t that big of a deal, but the longer it took to make them vanish, the more I realized I was addicted to distraction.
Sitting in waiting rooms, that two minutes before the oven timer goes off, while rocking my daughter to sleep… moments that could be filled with a mindless activity begged for the glow of a small screen and updates from the world around me.
For the past month, I’d been thinking about making a big technology change.
Conviction about the amount of time spent pinning, scanning and promoting took root in my heart and wouldn’t let go. The dinner table and church had always been technology-free zones for me, but I began to wonder why I wasn’t willing to carve out sacred spaces in every area of my home and life. I didn’t want my daughter growing up staring at the back of my phone.
It’s easy to talk about wanting to make changes, but so much harder to do. I know that my heart longs to simplify and limit distractions. At first I wasn’t sure what this would look like, but I knew it definitely involved less screen time. A majority of my work requires time on the computer and engaging with social media, so the practical how to make this happen appeared nearly impossible.
There is nothing wrong with social media at face value. I’ve just watched it become an area of temptation in my own life. It can keep me from prayer and time in the Word. It would have me substitute deep friendships for casual connections, compare my life with others and ignite jealousy, worry, self-righteousness and the need to please. Why do I turn to this thing, this technology like a drug?
I have to post this!
I wonder what I’ve missed in the past three hours?
My food looks amazing. People should see this.
My Bible study on Nehemiah hit the nail on the head.
“Making changes in our lives can be hard, but it’s our refusal to change the places God is asking us to change that keeps us stuck on the dismal merry-go-round we’re too afraid to jump off, yet too sick to stay on. We hold tightly only to pass the same old stuff exactly where it was the last time we swirled past…Reading through the Jew’s public confession and their commitment to do things differently has reminded me of how vital follow-through of obedience is to our repentance.” (Kelly Minter, Nehemiah: A Heart that Breaks)
I knew what I had to do when I read Kelly’s words and the response of the Israelites in Nehemiah chapters 9-10.
I deleted the apps. Goodbye Twitter. Goodbye Facebook. Goodbye Pinterest.
They still exist on my computer, but there’s something so freeing about not having them on my phone. I’m not prohibited from checking or using them; I’m simply removing the distraction that was affixed to my hand. Now, my phone is a camera and a telephone. My time with my daughter is with my daughter. I don’t read a passage thinking about which verse I’m going to stop and tweet.
These past few days have been wonderful. I wonder why I was too scared to try this sooner. Was it the fear of boredom? No, I was addicted to distraction.
I just pulled up Facebook for the first time in three days. I scanned for four minutes, liked a few things and then I was done. I closed my computer and got back to living my life—not so I could post about it or Instagram it, but just so I wouldn’t miss out on living it.
I talked to my husband about this distraction craving. We’ve determined to keep the TV off completely at least two nights a week. We now spend our time relaxing and decompressing in a different way. The appeal of the distracting apps is already wearing off and I couldn’t be happier.
Those are some of the ways we are actively removing distractions this season. I know this could look different for each of us, but the same challenge remains: if you want your heart to be tuned to hear His voice, limit the distractions that keep you from experiencing your own life and listening to the Lord. This time is too short and too precious to spend it living vicariously through anyone or anything else.
“I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” ~1 Corinthians 7:35, NLT