After church on Sunday, Bonnie and I went out for lunch with another couple. We got to linger around the table for a couple of hours. It was delightful and life giving. We were fully present to each other.
As is my custom, when Bonnie and I go out to eat, I leave my phone at home. It is a conscious decision I make so that I can be fully present. And yet, about halfway through our time with our friends, I found myself instinctively reaching for my pocket to check my phone.
Honestly, I even felt a twinge of anxiety wondering if someone might be trying to reach me, knowing that I won’t be home for another hour or so. I also felt the urge to want to mindlessly “surf” for news or updates that I might be missing out on.
Having introduced this week’s spiritual habit that morning (turning off your phone for an hour), I was especially tuned in to how much I need to practice the habit for this week. I really need to build into my day space to turn off the phone. In many ways, it is constantly “calling” for my attention.
The habit this week fits into three categories.
- It is a daily habit. I would really encourage you to identify a time each day when you step away from your phone for an hour. Turn it off! Do it during a time when you are normally around people who are vying for your attention.Try to do it for seven days straight!
- It is a habit designed to help us love others. It helps you love others because you are not distracted by your phone and you can fully give your attention to those who are with you. During this time, intentionally resolve to be fully present to the people who are with you during this time.
- It is a habit of resistance. The phone has become such a dominating presence in our lives that this habit helps us “resist” the ways it is shaping us negatively. We are resisting the isolating impact it has on us and our being present. We are resisting the anxiety that comes with the instant access to information. By practicing habits of resistance, we are retraining our minds and our hearts to consciously and constantly be present to God and to others.
The challenge is to turn your phone off for an hour. I would encourage you to start there and expand from there.
I also find it sobering to see how many hours in a day I spend on my phone. Through this discipline, it is my goal to cut in half the amount of time I spend on my phone, apart from what a phone was created for…to be present to others actually talking!!
Give it a try!