I have a secret addiction.
It started out as this little thing. Everyone else swears it is harmless, even helpful. But its influence grew stronger in my life. It became indispensable . It’s my smartphone and I want to throw it out the window!
I was pretty late to the whole world of being connected to the Internet 24 hours a day via an electronic device that makes you prefer chewing off your arm over forgetting it at home. I swore I was sticking to a paper calendar, to checking my email only at my computer.
I only caved two years ago. Now, like everyone else – I am hooked on something I both need and despise. I see a room full of people mindlessly checking social media instead of talking to those next to them and I want to burn every last phone in the room. But then I find myself sneaking my phone into the bathroom so I can just check that one email I need to get to.
Technology is supposed to make our lives simpler, right? A smartphone is a minimalist’s dream. You can have your contacts, books, calendar, directions, work, shows, and even your Bible all in one place. So much in one little device. Right at your fingertips.
It may have everything I think I need in one shiny little computer that tucks neatly into my purse, but I find that it creates more chaos than it eases in my life. My phone may save me space for all the functions it does for me, but it is my mind that has become a tangled mess of more junk than I need. The clutter in my soul has become overwhelming.
The voices I let into my head have been magnified and are just one little swipe away. There are really only a few voices I need to listen to every day.
I have this pretty little print by Lysa TerKeurst on my mirror that reminds me of the voice I need to seek first: “We must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.”
I don’t look at those words often. I usually glance past them to the phone sitting on the counter. It’s this little portal to all the to-do lists screaming for my attention, the dings from my calendar telling me I better get moving or I’ll be late, the opinions waiting to shove their way through all the noise to assert themselves as the right ones.
Then there are those little voices that don’t shout above all the noise. They just quietly try to edge their way into all my mental chaos, the million things running through my mind that I have to attend to. They are the voices that ask, “Mommy, look?” or “Honey, how was your day?”
Being connected to the world all the time is easy, but it is anything but simple. It’s complicated and tiring. We are not designed for constant connection. I know this but I am ever so slowly learning to live it.
This summer I took a step back from being as involved on social media, which is hard for a writer who promotes her own work and the work of others there. I started taking longer breaks from the Internet, whole days or weekends. It felt freeing but it also made me realize something — if it’s not one distraction that creates chaos in our minds, there will be another ready to take its place. I found other ways to run away from simple silence.
The technology of our world today makes it so easily to detach from reality, to fill our minds with noise. But so does being overly attached to work, hobbies, our families, even areas of service. It is our nature to want to fill our heads and hands all the time. It alleviates the silence and stillness that makes us intentionally seek God, really inspect our own hearts.
It’s not my smartphone that needs to be thrown out. My real addiction is my craving after distraction. The true enemy — my disdain for the silence that brings to light all the fears and doubts I’d rather ignore than confront head-on.
I complicate the inner space of my soul when I let in every voice that seeks to enter in. It takes real intentionality and discipline to be still, to let in the silence and those few voices that truly matter.
In a culture that feeds on chaos and that praises busyness as a virtue, it’s simplicity that will set us free. Quieting our souls starts with creating space to hear God’s voice.
Yes, that may mean turning off our technology more often. Or it may mean leaving work at the office or saying “no” to commitments that create busyness that doesn’t bring life to us.
I’m not seeking to simply my life these days by having less stuff or streamlining my process. I’m seeking to simplify by clearing out the clutter in my soul and filling my heart with stillness before the Creator of rest itself.
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Book of Common Prayer)