Longing for Peace and Connection

I feel a longing in my soul to quiet things down. We aren’t extra busy or anything but my brain feels full. I feel tethered to my phone even without much time on social media. I will often notice other’s addiction to their phone or iPad but I realized I turn to food in many of the same ways that others may turn to their phone: in boredom, when stressed, tired, etc. Both are poor substitutes to what my soul actually needs and desires. I want to be more mindful when I go to grab my phone or food.

I long to declutter digitally. I am realizing that we interact more with our devices than with each other. This makes me sad. When I hear of my friend and her husband choosing together to take 6 months offline (with limited texting and emails)- I want that. So cool to hear how they spend hours (often into the wee hours like in their dating days) talking when we sometimes only get a few minutes as a couple.

One of my son’s top love language is quality time but he spends virtually no time with us as a family. It is not that he doesn’t want to be with us, it is we don’t plan for it. So his 7 hours after school are spent gaming.

My youngest son loves “special time” with each of us parents but Minecraft has become an easier substitute though a way more addictive one.

I know I want things to change for my kids. I know we need to set boundaries and interact with them more instead of lecturing and shaming their screen addiction. I have read the behind the scenes stuff. I know there are thousands of paid employees/designers who create these online experiences to be highly addictive so they are merely a victim to it. So it makes sense that their brains currently prefer the higher stimulation of gaming.

Every family member spends at least 2-3 hours a day on devices!!! This is a sad existence. Our only time together daily is a quick dinner where my attempt to connect via questions is often scoffed or ignored. I’m seeing that my heart not only longs for more intimacy/connection with God but with my family.

We live in a time so full of diversions and distractions and as a result there is a grievous disconnect with God, with each other and with ourselves. I can’t write this without tears blurring my vision. I long for a new way forward. But I am exhausted thinking about the effort to shift things. Seriously I want to put up my journal (that’s where this writing comes from) and nap.

As I write I hear the vibration of my phone on my bed as texts come in. I actually decided to phone down my phone (a super rare experience). Even now in this moment of seeking clarity via writing I have my phone less than 2 feet from me. It hovers around within arms reach almost 24/7. I hate this fact. To be honest it doesn’t hover around me- I orbit around it. Of course there is much good I use it for like encouraging others via texts. But it is so easy to be outward focused that I lose sight of those within my home’s walls, myself included.

I want to change things but putting boundaries in place will take time and effort and no doubt I’ll be meet with resistance on all fronts. It is exhausting to feel like I am swimming upstream all the time. It is so much easier to go with the flow of “as is” when it comes to technology. But time flies. Our oldest is already a freshman in college. I don’t want to miss more time.

Isn’t it salmon who swim up stream to lay their eggs, “to plant new life”. Without the necessary struggle, new life would not be birthed. I want new life for our family and it’s relationship with devices.

Lately I feel like I am in a Twilight Zone episode (younger people have no clue what this reference means). As I drive/walk around town, everywhere I look heads are angled downward and faces lit with artificial light from a device. It is so rare to see a book open on a lap in a waiting room or airport terminal. Couples sit side by side each staring at their phone instead of into each other’s eyes. Kids play at parks while parent swipe up, and up and up. Even small kids have a pop socket cradled between their fingers as they play. Construction workers on their breaks off sitting as an island interacting on an online world instead of conversation with each other. Gorgeous sunsets are missed as glowing screens take our admiration.

So it makes total sense that I’d hope to take our camper out at least once a month to disconnect from devices that are entangling/strangling our souls. Sitting around a campfire for hours sharing stories and silence gazing at the stars – that is real life not sitting on couch with each member on their own device while the TV is also on.

We are loosing the wonder of each other and of God’s creation with cheap substitutes of momentary dopamine releases.

I’m currently praying for healing for 2 individuals. One is a college junior who is engaged to be married and just received news that he has 2 years left to live due to a brain tumor. The other is a mom in her 30s with 3 young kids who discovered a tumor on her colon that has spread to other organs. Hearing their stories has a shaking affect. It’s a wake up call that life is short. These diagnosis I imagine has given them a whole new perspective of what is important. The delusion of devices is exposed. Moments with loved ones now become precious as they fear an expiration of these moments is coming. I pray they can live long and full lives but they don’t have that promise. But neither do we yet we live that way and settle for less.

I know change has to start with me.

I want to be away from my phone more.

I want to not have it in hand or sight when others are speaking to me.

I want to have read God’s Word and pray before I pick up my phone in the morning.

I want my phone to be a tool and not be a tool in my phone’s grip.

I want to establish set times where I check texts and email instead of every few minutes.

I want more laughter and stories with my family.

I want to experience wonder in God’s creation without feeling the need to post or share it.

I want to retell stories and pass down memories.

I want to see my loved one’s eyes more than these screens.

I want to be more present with those in arm’s reach than those on the other side of a device.

I want to use screens as a tool to bond like family movie night or watching old family videos together.

I want to know more about my kids lives than a random stranger on instagram.

I want peace.

I want to feel settled in my soul.

I want to be the master of my phone and not a slave to it.

I want my kids to crave the outdoors more than screens.

I want social media to not have such a strong pull on my family’s focus.

I want to treasure this life we have.

I want to experience the sweetness and anticipation of this Advent season.