I'm detoxing this week, friends.
No, I'm not drinking that weird mix of lemonade, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper.
I'm not slurping green smoothies with chunks of broccoli and kale floating in them.
I'm not even exercising (okay, I'm going to try to take a run tonight!).
Instead, I'm cleansing my mind and spirit from habits related to a little handheld idol...
The other day I was reflecting on the amount of time I spend on my phone (and the internet in general). It's not that I spend long hours at a time online...but rather that I fill little moments with it. If I'm in a waiting room at a medical office, waiting in the grocery store, eating lunch by myself, even if I'm procrastinating getting out of bed in the morning-- I'm scanning through the apps on my phone. What's new on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest?
It's so easy to get hooked on it and to waste those precious little moments with it. I mean, what else would I be doing during those short bursts of time? But that's the problem! What else could I be doing with that time? I could be praying for others, pausing to offer a Hail Mary for someone in need. I could simply say hello to God and re-center my mind on His presence and His Lordship over my day. I could even do nothing at all and find peace and contentment in silence and simplicity instead of the knee-jerk response of checking my phone or scrolling through social media.
For the record, I don't think cell phones or social media are a bad thing! Not at all. And neither does the Church:
"The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means [of modern media]." -Pope Paul VI
"Those individuals in the Church community particularly gifted to work in the media should be encouraged with pastoral prudence and wisdom." -Pope John Paul II
"Do not be afraid of new technologies! These rank among 'the marvelous things' which God has placed at our disposal to discover [...] truth." -Pope John Paul II
So if I'm not supposed to be afraid of technology and it can be used for the good, then why am I detoxing from it?
Because even though my phone can be an enjoyable and useful tool, it can also be a thief. Of mental energy. Of focus and concentration. Of joy and contentment (what one of us has NOT struggled with comparison or jealousy perusing a social media site at one time?). If my phone and/or social media is consuming a larger amount of time and focus than my relationship with Jesus there's a problem. Just like if I'm consuming more chocolate cake in a day than fruits, vegetables, and bread, there's a problem. (although a very tasty problem, I must say!)
I'm on Day 2 of my smartphone and social media detox and it's been fabulous. My mind feels clearer already. I feel closer to the Lord because I don't feel like my online activities are coming before Him. I don't think we were ever meant to have such information overload and busyness that the online world creates. I'll go back to it, though, of course. Just like I'd go back to a slice of chocolate cake after a veggie detox-- in moderation and with discipline (okay, who am I kidding about eating chocolate cake in moderation?). But in the meantime, I'm forming better habits and ridding my phone of its idol status.
Today in your prayer, ask the Lord to show you how technology may be barrier in your relationship with Him, whether it's something as small as reading Facebook in the morning instead of praying, or if it's something graver like an addiction to pornography. Listen to His answer in the silence and ask Him how you might change certain habits to grow closer to Him. He wants you to live a life of freedom and joy.