By Christy Mactavish
You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. Exodus 20:4 (NLT)
These last few days I have been conducting a very interesting experiment that I believe affects many families and relationships. The teacher in me feels inclined to use the Scientific Method to explain:
Ask a Question
1) Why do I feel compelled to check my “smart” phone every few minutes throughout the day?
2) Are there any true benefits found in constantly checking it?
3) If not, what effects does it have on my day, my family, my relationship with God, etc…?
All of my blog stats are available on my phone. So is Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, as well as every app under the sun! It takes just seconds to look and check the progress of any of these via this phone. If I receive a comment on the blog, I can respond promptly. If someone “Likes” the Facebook page, I can be sure to lift them up in prayer and give thanks to God ASAP. Yet, as I constantly check, I am distracted from what’s before me, whether that’s dinner, my children asking me a question, conversations with them, etc…
Construct a Hypothesis
Smart phones can become an idol that detracts from our relationship with God, and instead can reinforce only our own efforts. It can also take us away from engaging in real relationships with others.
1) For three straight days, just use your phone as a PHONE, not a computer.
2) Track how many times you feel compelled to just take a “quick” glance at it, and reflect on why you think you need to check it. Is it to just fill time? Is it to do real work? Is it because you think you’ll be able to actually will things to happen if you just look at it?
3) Notice what is going on around you when you feel compelled to check it. Is there family in the room? Are your children needing you? Do you need to complete a simple, yet important task like making dinner?
Analyze Test Results
The first day I did this, I was SHOCKED by how often I moved toward my phone. In fact, I came to see that the phone had become an extension of my hand, and when it wasn’t there, I felt like I was missing something. All the reasons for wanting to check it were quite basic–looking at Facebook updates, checking Cross Moms stats, perusing Pinterest photos, etc…
As I became more aware of how often I was attached to the phone, I caught the number of times my children were right there in the room with me, sometimes asking a question I didn’t fully hear, or the laughing they shared with something I completely missed. I came to hear my youngest’s little voice say, “Mommy, are you almost done on that thing?” Then I noticed how my oldest has started following my lead and reaches for his phone first for his mode of “entertainment.” (And he doesn’t even have a smart phone with all the bells and whistles. His is just a regular flip phone, but it does have a few games, etc.)
Regarding Cross Moms, my phone checking compulsion was doing nothing to advance the ministry. Instead, it pulled me away from the very things I pray our readers will be blessed with–the clear understanding that God is in control, not us, and drawing near to Him through His Word is the most fulfilling thing there is! In some ways, “watching” via my phone to see if the there was progress on the blog was really quite the same as trying to watch water boil. No matter how hard we watch it, it’s still not going to boil until its proper time! I realized I had this false impression that the success of Cross Moms lay solely in my efforts to do all I can to push the cause…when really what I should be doing is seeking Him first, not my cell phone!
Flipping through a “smart” phone all the time is actually quite the opposite–dumb! It can rob us of those moments that God has put before us to nurture and build real relationships with our loved ones and with HIM!
I know I’m not the only one who has done this. Look around you. So many people are on their phones all the time! Are you one of them? Is God laying it on your heart to do a similar experiment?
I will shout this from the rooftops: THANK YOU for this struggle! Because without it, I would not have become aware of what you are continually teaching me–Trust in YOU with all my heart. Lean not on my own understanding (or my cell phone!) In all ways, acknowledge YOU. And you WILL direct my path!