When did we become obsessed with our phones? I can still remember my first phone. I was 16, and it was a Nokia with a whopping 30-minute calling plan. It also had the game Snake, which I did play from time to time.
I can remember walking through a mall and seeing a sign advertising text messaging. I thought, “How dumb is that. Why would anyone ever send a text when they can just call?” Obviously, I’m great at predicting the future.
But what really sticks out in my memory more than anything is the first time I held an iPhone in my hand. My dad was the first person I knew who got one. He loved the calculator. I loved everything.
All these moments have changed me, and you. We now live in a world filled with smartphones, and we are addicted to them. I’m guessing you are reading this blog on your smartphone.
So now what? How do we put the smartphone genie back in the box, or at least become it’s master, rather than being mastered by it?
Recently I read a book that is helping me return as the master of my iPhone. Since then I have set three rules for myself, and I commend them to you.
Unplug for 1-2 hours a day.
At 6:00 pm my phone goes in a basket on our kitchen counter, and I do not look at it again until 8:30 pm. During this 2.5 hours, I disconnect from the outside world, so I can connect with the one’s I love the most. Now, I’m all there for dinner, chores, play, and bedtime (rather than merely acting like I’m all there while secretly glancing at my phone).
After the kids are in bed, I reconnect and save the world that has been imploding during my 2-hour absence. Or at least I return some missed calls and text, and then glance at social media before rule number two kicks in.
Turn off your phone at night.
Andy Crouch says this about his family, “We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.” For me, I turn my phone off at 9:30 pm (not airplane mode but off), and turn it back on at 7:00 am the next morning. This gives me 1-2 hours at night to focus on my wife, read a good book, or connect with God. It’s freedom.
Then when I wake up, I spend the first full hour connecting to God, rather than rolling over and grabbing my iPhone. Then at 7:00 am I power back up and make myself available to the rest of the world.
Now I can already hear all the reasons why this would not work for you. “But I use my phone as my alarm clock.” Did you know they make non-phone alarm clocks? Go buy one and sleep in peace while God handles all the worlds problems. “But what if someone needs me?” Odds are they will still need you in the morning, and if that’s big of an emergency, I’m sure someone will come knocking on your door.
Also keep in mind that until the age of cell phone, no person was ever reachable all of the time. God is the only being who can handle being “on” 24/7. You and I need rest and solitude to function as creatures.
Leave it outside your room.
This is another rule I have made for myself. I don’t bring my phone in and set it on my night stand anymore. Why? Because if I leave my phone beside my pillow, I will be tempted to grab it when I can’t sleep, or realize I “need” to check something. So I kill the temptation and place it out of sight and out of mind.
Now when I can’t sleep, I grab my Kindle and pray through a Psalm or read a few pages of a good book. Now I end my day hearing God’s voice, rather than the screaming voices on Twitter.
I Know, I know. All this sounds good, but YOU are just too busy and important to try these yourself. Plus, you don’t have a phone problem, your spouse does. Well if you think you’re too busy and important, or you just don’t need any time to unplug. Read this passage and see what the most important guy who ever lived did “often.”
Luke 5:12-16 – While he was in one of the towns, a man was there who had leprosy all over him. He saw Jesus, fell facedown, and begged him: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Reaching out his hand, Jesus touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean,”and immediately the leprosy left him. 14 Then he ordered him to tell no one: “But go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses commanded for your cleansing as a testimony to them.”15 But the news about him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
Did you catch that? Jesus, the Son of God who was on a mission to save the whole world, “often withdrew to deserted place” to pray. I think it’s safe to say that if Jesus had a smartphone, he would turn it off often too connected deeper with His heavenly Father and those around him.
Do you have the guts and courage to do the same?
(Image Credit – https://knowtechie.com/im-addicted-to-my-phone/)