It’s 6:00 am. Bleary eyed I roll over and grab my phone.
My first thought, even if I don’t recall consciously thinking it, is “I wonder what happened on this day?” With a few taps I am on my Facebook. A glance at ‘On This Day’ and I see that 7 years ago I took a picture of food.
Well, since that’s boring, I check friends’ statuses. You know, the ones I checked before bed. The ones that haven’t changed in 8 hours since I was last on my phone. And now it’s now 6:45 am.
This is the pattern I catch myself in over and over again. I start my day with social media. I end my day with social media.
For a multitude of reasons, this is not healthy. My freshly rested mind is immediately thrown into over stimulation instead of enjoying a slow and thoughtful rise to greet the day. Rather than reflecting on goals for the day, I focus on the past (looking at old food pictures). Most importantly, I should have spent those precious first 45 minutes of my day in the Bible and praying. I suppose my lack of focus on priorities has set me up for failure.
Am I the only one?
I know I’m not. For all of us, solitude – or any moments not hyper-connected to someone or something – is a hard practice to maintain in this screen-centered culture.
As the new year began, I got a wake up call from 2016:
“Welcome to 2017! Please! Put your phone down. Now. Today. Tomorrow. Every day. Thanks, Bye.”
Welcome to a new year and all the adventures, promises, and new beginning’s that it holds. If there is one New Year’s Resolution that I need it is: less phone, more solitude. I urge every Brave Parent to embrace some solitude this year. Allow your brain to breathe, your thoughts to tranquilize, your conscience to calm, and the spirit to stir within you.
This doesn’t just happen. In order to maintain this practice we have to rearrange some priorities and practice lifestyle changes.
- Practice a digital Sabbath. Leave your phone alone for one day. I have been doing this for a few months, and I love it. I leave my phone at home when I go to church and I use all the self control I can muster to not check my phone on Sunday. There is grace for a phone call to family or to answer an incoming phone call. Sunday should be a family day. I keep my phone in its charging station and leave it there, on silent, all day.
- Set aside a part of your day to be alone. Moments in solitude to reflect are more valuable than Facebook friends or Instagram followers. To our demise, we have lost the art of reflection. I find the mornings for myself are easiest and most rewarding to read the Bible, pray, finish a day of Bible study, or just sit quietly to reflect. I use this solitude to think on my actions, my feelings, and embracing in my own insufficiency. During this time, I discover there is always growth and improvement I can take hold of.
- Say “no” for your own preservation. Say “no” to your children more often. Why? Because we are living in an age when young adults cannot handle the word “no”. It was never told to them, and so we find entitlement ruling their lives. Say “no” on purpose and just because. Not everything they want to do is good for you, especially if it means you’re driving or required to be present somewhere. A late night for them could mean you sleep in during your needed Bible time. You are a parent, not a wish-granting Jeanie. Saying “no” to your children teaches them at a young age how to manage disappointments in life.
- Walk away from the phone. When you find yourself checking social media multiple times a day out of habit, walk away from your phone. Literally, stop whatever you are doing, set your phone down, walk away and stay away. Or turn the phone off! Give yourself a designated amount of time before coming back to it (10-30 minutes or longer). I know a small amount of anxiety wells up inside when you think about being without it, but really, we survived just fine without them 10 years ago. We can handle it.
I want to live and embrace a life where a phone is a tool and not a crutch. Do you? It’s obvious to most adults how addicted teenagers are to their phones. More often, teens don’t keep them in a back pocket anymore, they literally carry their phone in their hand wherever they go.
But let’s not judge, because our addictions can be more easily hidden. Right? I mean, my kids don’t see me checking Facebook first thing in the morning. I stay in my room because I don’t want them to see me on phone. It’s wrong, so I hide it.
I don’t want to wake up and go straight to my phone. It’s honestly not healthy or rewarding. I could be feasting on substance, but I am succumbing to sugar. I’m committed to try and maintain balance by using my phone less with an absent mind and more with intention, purpose, and need.
Let’s seek out SOLITUDE.
Thanks for the call 2016.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Rev. 3:20 ESV