I believe I am the last human in America who does not own a cell phone. People ask me for my cell number all the time. You should see their faces when I tell them I don’t have one.
"What do you mean?" they’ll usually say, thinking they didn’t hear me correctly.
"I don’t own a cell phone." I say again, trying to sound as normal as possible.
"You don’t own a cell phone?" they repeat in utter disbelief.
"I don’t own a cell phone," I say a smidge slower, over-enunciating my words so that I’m extra clear.
"Wow. You don’t own a cell phone." They’ll undoubtedly repeat again, shaking their heads as if I just told them I was homeless. "Huh. That’s … wow. How do you do it?"
"Do what?" I ask, playing dumb to their dumb question.
"I mean, how do you survive?" they ask with total sincerity, as if living without a cell phone is like living in the desert without any water.
To be honest, I wonder if sometimes my life would be easier with a cell phone. But then I wonder what exactly an "easier" life means. People would be able to reach me at any time of the day or night. So really, life would be easier for other people if I had a cell phone. I think my life would just be busier.
As it is, my home phone rings off the hook. Have you ever tried having a serious conversation on the phone with two toddlers trying to climb your legs as if they were tree limbs? If you were a fly on my wall, you’d hear my side of a phone conversation go something like this:
"Oh, wow. I am so sorry to hear that. That must be—hang on a second—get off the table now and first take the scissors out of your mouth—I’m sorry you were saying? Hmmm. That’s rough, wait, one more sec—I am on the phone and yes, as soon as I’m off I’ll make you some popcorn—Boy, I’m sorry, you were saying? Oh yes, that’s just awful. What can I do to help—Wait. Absolutely not, you may not ride your tricycle nude. Put your clothes back on this minute—I’m sorry, I’m back. Yes, that must be so hard for you."
Needless to say, in this season in life, I don’t really enjoy talking on the phone. It actually makes life harder for me. Email—now that’s the best way to reach me. So my friends tell me I should get a hand held raspberry, blueberry—some sort of electronic berry thing that is portable that allows you to check your email. Initially, I thought this could be a good idea. But when I’m out and about, do I really want to be checking my email? Can’t my email wait?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about this in The Cost of Discipleship in the early part of the last century; clearly a prophetic warning: "Earthly possessions dazzle our eyes and delude us into thinking that they can provide security and freedom from anxiety. Yet all the time, they’re the very source of all anxiety." Of course, when he wrote that in 1937, he wasn’t thinking of cell phones or email or Blackberries. Yet how true his words are today in reference to technology. It’s amazing how these gadgets were created to enhance life, but often, people end up feeling oppressed by them.
In his book, Freedom of Simplicity, Richard Foster writes, "The pace of the modern world accentuates our sense of being fractured and fragmented. We feel strained, hurried, breathless. The complexity of rushing to achieve and accumulate more and more frequently threatens to overwhelm us."
I don’t know about you, but I can relate to feeling breathless. And sadly, what takes my breath away most of the time isn’t a sunset or the snow-covered Pike’s Peak or a beautiful painting, but the 15 new email messages or the eight new voicemails I have.
I remember a couple years ago feeling breathless one night because I was trying to get my girls into bed quick so I wouldn’t miss a show on TV. I was angry when I realized I missed half of it. But sitting there on the couch, I started to hear the whisperings of the Holy Spirit asking me if this was the best use of my time. How did this pull of TV’s mindless entertainment become stronger than my desire to read one more book to my little girls? I felt so ashamed.
Neil Postman in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, writes about the dangerous distraction of television, saying:
In the age of technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion or hate…. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments … then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.
I decided to pull the plug on our television that night. The first few days felt like I was going off crack-cocaine. It was tough. But soon I didn’t miss it at all. I loved the extra time I had. Time to do so many things. Or nothing at all. Now there’s a concept that doesn’t come naturally for me: being still.
Charles Spurgeon was a mighty British minister in the late 1800s. I keep a copy of his book, Spurgeon’s Gems, on my desk. The following "gem" relates to this concept of being still:
Some persons say they cannot bear to be an hour in solitude; they have got nothing to do, nothing to think about…. Let me give him the word Jesus, and only let him try to think it over, and he shall find that an hours is naught, and that eternity is not half enough to utter our glorious Savior’s praise.
If Spurgeon thought that back then people couldn’t stand to be silent for an hour, I bet he’d think people today couldn’t handle being still for five minutes. I’m not even sure if I’m able to hold the same train of thought for five minutes. My prayers often sound like this: "Lord, teach me Your will. Help me to follow your plan. To really focus on You and I wonder if I actually did defrost the chicken."
But unlike those in Spurgeon’s time, solitude seems more difficult to grasp today, not because we have nothing to do, but because we have too much to do. Too much to think about. Too many technological tools and gadgets reminding us of things we ought to be thinking about.
Solitude is hard to come by. It must be intentionally sought after. It may require unplugging some things where you live. And even when you do, embracing solitude is a discipline that may take some getting used to. I keep Brother Lawrence’s book Practicing the Presence of God on my nightstand. It’s full of insights into praying without ceasing and learning to be silent before God. I must say, I’m still learning, because usually, I find myself practicing the presence God right into snoozeville. Note to self: do not attempt to be still before God while horizontal.
Finding a balance with technology is key. If it can enhance your life without overwhelming it, you’re good to go. But it can’t hurt to take a break from it now and then. I’ll try to send a letter instead of an email when I can. (Believe it or not, stationery is still sold in many stores). I want to talk less on the phone and more in person. Watch fewer movies and read more books. Spend less time on iTunes and more time singing to God. Take a sabbatical from surfing the Net and try being silent before the Lord of Lords. Maybe I’ll be still and call upon Him now. I’m signed up for unlimited minutes on that. It’s actually a really good plan.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
-- Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships5 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships10 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture2 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions