Archives, Faith Encouragement, How To Be Productive

Why you should ditch your phone during Christmas

Today, I had another post planned completely. I had it all planned out; I even had a few hundred words written in addition to my outline.

Instead, I’ll start my post by telling you a story.

I woke up yesterday morning, happy and relaxed as a clam. The sun was shining through the window (hey, it was Sunday, okay?). My sheets and duvet felt fluffy and soft as I snuggled into them more deeply. The thought of coffee beckoning me from the kitchen was my only incentive for rising.

That was the closest thing I’d felt to peace in awhile. Not a care in the world, no worry for the week to come. My near constant anxiety was quiet in those early moments of the morning. I’m not thinking about the rough week I had at work, or the stress of updating my residence permit, or anything else for that matter.

I rolled over and instinctively reached for my phone; I wanted to check Instagram and Facebook. My phone was dead though. I exhaled in relief after a brief moment of annoyance. Why relief? I wondered as I stared at the ceiling.

Later that day, when my phone had some life again, Facebook was my first stop. Unsuspectingly, I opened the site to maybe laugh at some memes (lame, I know), check for notifications in a few blogging groups I’m apart of, etc.

Instead, I’m overwhelmed by graduation posts.

My thumb stops in its track as I’m scrolling and with a loudly beating heart I examine the photo of a girl I went to highschool with. Her hands are widely spread in the air, extending out of a wide, flowing gown, diploma in hand, and she’s smiling a toothy grin that screams relief and exhilaration. It’s a beautiful photo.

My heart bubbles up into my throat.

I have mixed emotions every time graduation season rolls around. There are a thousand Facebook posts to show for their hard work, dedication, and the achievement of finally reaching the finish line of their higher educations n.

In case you didn’t know, I decided to take a break from my four year degree about three years ago. I know that university is important for those that have a clear vision of their career path. I never did and it lead me to a different path. It lead me to a wedding, adventures, and a lot of life experience.

It has also helped me to gain some clarity on what I really want to do. I’d like to become a professional writer. Blogging, eBooks, physical books, you name it, I want to do it. Don’t ask me how though, that’s something else completely.

And funnily enough, I remember sitting in my geography class at St. Ambrose University in 2014, stealthily scrolling through Bloglovin’ and wishing I had the vision and the dedication to be a blogger. I was constantly looking for ways to write; I submitted essays for scholarships for the fun of it, I repeat, for the fun of it, I wrote for any website that would take my writing (very few), and I never stopped dreaming about using my degree to write a book one day.

So, there is a part of me, deep seated and quiet as it is, that hungers for my slice of the higher education pie. Maybe one day, but to be honest that isn’t my focus anymore. I’ve let that go for now. If it comes back in time when I have a purpose for it, I’ll pursue it again.

But there was that moment of pain and, let’s face it, jealousy, that caused me to stumble. Social media can be a stumbling block if we let it be. Am I saying throw the phone out completely? No, but being aware of how it affects you or the hold it has over you is important. Give yourself one day where you aren’t tethered to your phone. From there, evaluate what you’ve felt and discovered.

In general, I haven’t been posting to Instagram, scrolling through Facebook (well, very much), or even reading many blog posts on Pinterest. I’ve even been avoiding my emails and only responding to Whatsapp messages within reason.

I go through small seasons where I need to be a soul minimalist. In these seasons, I long for quietness, purposeful living, and to shed what isn’t necessary.

I’ve never fasted with intention (or, by God’s prompting) before, but there’s a first time for everything. When I step back from the distraction and information overload, I am more peaceful and receptive to the quiet whispers of the Lord.

Almost like my soul can breathe.

In these quiet moments away from the hubbub is where I discovered where this pang of jealousy came from when I saw this beautiful photo. I wondered why did I feel this way if I don’t necessarily desire to pursue a degree? After a bit of reflection, I realized I have a very deep seated fear of failure… and while I may be over the idea of a degree, the fear of failure stemming from this decision still lingers like a bad smell over the essence of a lot of things I pursue.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child to its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2

The mornings after I deleted social media from my phone I sat in front of the window and read a book and had a cup of coffee. The sense of peace that comes in the morning lingered like a soft, weighted blanket of quiet wrapped around my heart and soul. I encourage you to try it too. Delete the apps you are obsessed with and give your heart and mind some blessed relief from the constant noise.

Thus, it was from this moment of peace and quiet this morning that the Spirit decided to take this topic in another direction. Originally I had it mapped out to be a blueprint for why we consume social media, what this means for us, and what we should be doing instead. But, instead, the Spirit wanted to take a simpler, less contrived approach.

Sometimes, especially as bloggers trying to grow a loyal readership, we worry about staying present in Facebook groups, posting to Instagram a few times a week, reading and commenting on others’ blog posts. Sometimes I’m afraid to take a step back because, well, my email list isn’t going to grow on its own, you know what I mean? Part of being a writer or a blogger is being present on social media, like, a lot.

And to be frank, that’s just not good for us. The Christmas season especially is not a time to be overwhelmed by information.

Today, I encourage you to take a quiet, reflective step back. To remember your purpose. To take the necessary step of quieting your soul so that you can determine what is most important in the right here and the right now. In the quiet, you may discover that you too have a fear that needs to be shed.

To wean my own soul within me, in the new year I will be asking myself, Does this serve my original purpose? Or does it cause me to feel distracted, overwhelmed, aimless, or anxious?

Let’s feed our purpose and not the distractions.

My purpose right now is to write. To be quiet, reflective, and provide you food for your own soul. To remind you that the Spirit inside you needs silence and room to breathe. To remind you to shed the unnecessary and to intentionally give the Holy Spirit room to bloom within you as we move into this next season of goal setting, crammed agendas, and busy work schedules.

Remember that there is no rush. The things that are most fruitful need time to grow.  Overwatering your plants will only drown them.

Everything is beautiful in its own time.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

There is a time for utilizing social media to network and grow your blog. There is also a time for turning off your phone and being still before the Lord in prayer.

When our fingers feel idle, we itch to scroll through our Instagram feed. Instead, let’s endeavour to reflect on our day, or focus on those in front of us, or say a quiet prayer.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5

Maybe you’re like myself and being on Facebook struck an insecure chord in you. Or, you may spend way too much time scrolling idly on Instagram to the point you are missing conversations and funny moments at the dinner table. Or, you may be seeking validation or love in the form of likes, numbers, and followers. Or maybe all of the above.

If this sounds familiar, I encourage you to take a step back.

It may be a little bit awkward at first.

You know those moments during a power outage and the lights go out initially? It feels a bit like that. You’re sat there for a couple of seconds, twiddling your thumbs, hoping for the best – hoping that within the next 20 seconds or so it will reboot. But then a minute passes, and then five, and before you know it it’s been an hour and you’ve been sitting there waiting because, well, what else do you do when there’s no electricity?

Instead, I’d metaphorically encourage you to light some candles, maybe get a fire going, and pour yourself a glass of wine. Basically, settle in to that uncomfortable what do I do now? moment that putting down your phone brings.

Learning to embrace the quiet brings self awareness, quiet reflection, and gentle, special moments and conversations with the Lord.

In this season, that’s exactly what we need.

Lord Jesus, I pray my words settle over restless hearts today. Like a weighted blanket, I pray the Holy Spirit calms them with a sense of quiet, loving security. You give us a Spirit of love and self control, so please help us to nurture your Spirit within us. I pray each person that reads these words is able to discern your voice. I pray they take this as permission; that you are prompting them to quiet their souls and be receptive to your voice. I pray you help them to discover their purpose even if it is simple, small, and to be quiet and still before you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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About Rachel Chamberlayne