My family was able to hit the beach last week. I cannot overstate how needed of a time it was. I told someone that I hadn’t hit the wall, but I sure was bumping up against it. The last few months have been great. Crazy, but great.
We finished up services on Mothers’ Day, packed the van, and hit the road.
I realized that I wouldn’t truly be able to join my family in the land of vacation if I was still grounded in the land of work.
I decided to unplug for a week.
I had previously scheduled some posts and whatnot to go out (it’s a weird thing I do to ensure I am not on social media too much), but I almost wish I hadn’t of done that. It is quite silly of me to think that the world could not maintain its orbit without my posts for one single week.
I turned off the notifications on my phone. I removed my ability to see texts, emails, messages, etc. I left the phone in a bag for most of the day unless I wanted to take a picture on it and then I quickly threw it back in the bag like I was playing hot potato with the blasted thing.
Leading up to vacation, I felt as if I could never clock out. I felt a bit suffocated. Trust me, I am not wanting to become lazy. I am not wanting to veer from hospitality and intentionality. I am not desiring to disconnect from people.
Far from it. I want to work and I want to work hard, but I have to find a reasonable margin. With growing intensity, I am wanting to rebel against our ever-connected society.
With the expansive opportunities for connection via electronic mediums, I am feeling more and more disconnected because I am unable to disconnect.
Before we had left, my wife told me that one of our sons commented to her, “Adults really seem to like their phones, don’t they?”
While he didn’t outright say we were too connected (cause I actually questioned him on it after hearing about his comment), he was speaking regarding what he notices as his tiny frame travels through this big world. While it wasn’t a personal rebuke, it did serve as a gracious wakeup call, and I used the last week to do some serious evaluation.
Concerning the Nature of Staying Unplugged
Here are some things I noticed, realized, or changed (and pray I can continue):
- I will not be dominated by my phone. I don’t think being connected is unlawful, but it isn’t always helpful and it cannot and will not dominate me (1 Cor. 6:12). I must discipline this area in my life and not become enslaved to it so that I am not disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27). Electronic devices are amoral, but I must find a healthy release of the constant pull of this pseudo-connected world.
- I will daily unplug. There is a limited amount of hours I am home with my family. My phone needs to be buried during that time. I don’t want my family to see it out in the morning, and I want to put it up from 5-8PM. I am thinking about putting it in a basket on the table or plugging it up on my nightstand and leaving it. Those short but precious hours are the most intentional, available time I have with this precious crew (Deut. 6:4-9). If I am not careful, I can let just one call here, one text there, one email read, one message sent to chisel away at that time. Since we can be connected all the time, I think people believe we should be connected all the time. And I am just going to fight against that notion. I must live wisely with my time (Eph. 5:15-17).
- I will weekly unplug. If you know me, I am old school in my beliefs on the Sabbath. I believe it has more to do with a weekly rest for a day than a weekly worship attendance for an hour (Ex. 20:8-11). Plus, I am not resting during those worship services! I need to maintain the Sabbath, and I need to maintain it holy. It needs to be set apart. I want to work like crazy for 6 days and rest like crazy for 1 day. I need 7 days of provision, so I am going to work for 6 and trust him to provide the 7th. It is something I have committed to, but how I feel the weekly pull! One day a week, I need to have a different level of unpluggedness.
- I will reduce the chatter. As a pastor, there used to be a time when if someone needed me, they would have to call the house phone or the church phone and set up an appointment. These mobile devices have changed the game. Nowadays, I receive deep theological questions via text messages, major counseling situations via Facebook, and intense dialogues with a need for a 7-point response in email after email (Please note: if you have ever sent me any of those things, I am not throwing shade, I am simply trying to process and improve). But I think people just assume since we can connect in such discreet, immediate ways, that a single, simple question won’t interrupt the flow of the day. It may not, but 27 of them will. One day in my office I was so overloaded with things I had to do before 5:00, I closed my door (which I rarely do). Within 15 minutes, I had 6 people knock on the door, immediately stick their heads in, and say, “I know you got your door closed, but I just need to ask you this quick question…” I almost crawled under my desk or locked myself in the bathroom to get what I had to get done that day! I am guilty of the same thing though. I can disrespect another’s life by failing to acknowledge that they have things going on and are not waiting for me to dictate the next 5 minutes of their lives. So in an effort to help Mankind as a whole, I am going to do my part to reduce the chatter. I will try to appreciate your time and your schedule and your tasks which I am unaware of. I hope we can all do that for one another and realize that as we wait for a reply. Which leads me to…
- I will always respond but I must accept that I will respond later. I have done this practice for a while, but I need to stop apologizing for it. I will always respond to a person, but I have to be okay with the fact that it might be later. I can take dangerous pride in myself in my ability to respond to people within a reasonable amount of time. I think that is great to do. But I can’t live for everyone’s approval (Gal. 1:10). I simply cannot and will not neglect those in my presence for the sake of those in my notifications. I pray people don’t think I am cold or disconnected. That’s not the case at all. It will be the fact that I am truly connected in that moment and don’t want to disrespect God’s timing and those he assembled together in that moment.
I simply cannot and will not neglect those in my presence for the sake of those in my notifications.
Since we can be connected all the time, I think people believe we should be connected all the time.
When we started the trek back home on Saturday, Amanda was driving and I decided to enable my notifications on my phone. As the device began to shake and vibrate and alert and ding like it had been given a shot of adrenaline, I looked at Amanda, dropped the phone, and said, “Turn around. We are going back to the beach!”
So far this week has been absolutely nuts. You need a vacation once you come off of vacation. This week has been exceptionally wide open.
But I am implementing these things differently, and it has helped. I am talking more with my wife. I am laughing more with my children. I am spending more time in the Word.
And I will get back to you. Soon. But in the meantime, maybe some of these principles can help you unplug a little more as well.
Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.