Being Fully Here in this New Year (When Saying “No” is Saying “Yes”)

We joke about it, comment about it and pat ourselves on the back about not being as bad as the next guy about it. But we all know the truth: technology rules us.

The devices meant to be accessories to our lives, to assist us, have become tyrants of our time and worse, of our real relationships.

We are pulled by our ringing phones, the text message alert, the Facebook comment alert and the bizarre twist of irony that somehow, if we look up for too long and gaze into our real lives, we’ll miss something important.

I say it’s time to stop talking about how much time everyone spends with their favorite brand of social media and make serious resolutions to change it.

Because the real people right in front of us–we’re missing them. Don’t get me wrong: I’m so thankful for the ability to shoot an email to a friend to check on her, or the way it’s so easy to reach someone when we need them. I’m thankful for the opportunity to meet people and be involved in a ministry where women can teach and encourage other women. And for the ability to run a (kind-of) business from home, on my own time, with far less demands than most jobs. I’m not talking about throwing it all away, simply putting it back in the place it belongs–a help to us to enhance our lives, and not an addiction.

The biggest problem our technology causes us is the false sense of being always available. I say “false” because in reality, we are NOT available to every person 24 hours a day. Each one calling or emailing or texting may think we are, but when 15 different people “out there” are expecting that we drop the people here to answer them immediately, our families quickly stand in danger of being neglected.

The answer is to hold the phone, the computer, the I-pad at a distance, make people aware of that distance and then create the needed parameters to enforce the distance.

What I mean is, people need to know that you may or may not answer your phone if they call. And it may be that you can turn the ringer off or not keep it on your person to resist the temptation. Creating boundaries and refusing to let the outside barge in at any time is crucial.

One thing that has helped me is to simply not own a device that I keep with me. My daughter who drives and I have a phone we take if we go somewhere, and then it’s put away at home.

We own two lap tops. Both are kept stationary in the living area to keep all members using it accountable. The fabulous thing about them is that we can walk away. And once we do, we are completely disconnected. I have to make a conscious decision to go and open a facebook tab and check it. I’m not aware every time someone posts or comments.

I still struggle with self-control and getting on the computer too often. It pulls me. I want to check things. But I’m resolving to create more limitations and be more deliberate about living this life in front of me.

Let’s be fully here. Eyes open, ears attentive, face available and attention undivided.

Are you with me?

 

Think Outside the Classroom

 


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21 Responses to “Being Fully Here in this New Year (When Saying “No” is Saying “Yes”)”

  1. Laura Santos says:

    Absolutely, I am with you. I’ve found that technology was a feel-good tool for me when I was struggling. Instead of praying and turning to God, I would post something and wait for responses. It makes me laugh now, how ridiculous that exchange was. But, it’s true. How can we “Be still and know that God is God when we are “hearing” so many other voices. This will be a very different year for me. God bless you, Kelly.

  2. 6 arrows says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    This is right where I’m at. Except I don’t do Facebook. I don’t think I would be able to handle that.

    I sat down two days ago and set specific times, with specific purposes, to be on the computer. Checking online prayer requests in the morning at a site where we pray for each other and others we know. Thirty minutes for email and blog reading in the afternoon. Sixty minutes for all of the above and reading ebooks at the end of the day after the kids go to bed. (I’m keeping myself accountable typing this out.) :-)

    Last week, I interviewed my four non-adult children separately, asking them to be completely transparent in answering questions about not only themselves, but about me, too — what they perceive to be the things I most love to do, etc. Let me tell you: eye-o-pen-ing. Wow. My sixteen-year-old especially had some very insightful comments. I knew after that that more changes were most definitely in order, even after I’d already cut back some on my computer time at my husband’s request.

    I consider it a great blessing that God is teaching me these things now, while I still have the good will and fellowship of my children. I can’t take that for granted. They need me here and now, with a steady supply of love and emotional nourishment. Love being an action, not simply a word or a feeling.

    Yes, we need to be fully here, living the life in front of us. You said it so well, Kelly. Thank you.

    Have a most blessed new year!

    • Claudia says:

      6 Arrows,

      I just have to smile again because when I read your comments I find more things we have in common! So nice to have gotten to know you through Kelly’s blog. It is one of the gifts of technology! :) I loved your idea about “interviewing” your kids. Your comment reminded me that one day my boys (except one with a severe handicap) will be gone. I don’t want to regret all the time I gave to technology in this season. I have been really guilty of staying up too late reading blogs, rationalizing that I wasn’t affecting my time with my family. Wrong! My disposition the next day always affects everyone. Praying you and your family will be blessed in 2014!

      • 6 arrows says:

        Claudia,

        So nice to know you through here, too! I always enjoy your comments. :-)

        As far as the interviewing my kids idea, I should give credit where credit is due. I read an ebook by Sarah Mae (which I heard about through Kelly’s blog ;-) ) entitled The Unwired Mom: Choosing to Live Free in an Internet Addicted World. She has a two-week “unwired” challenge with different things to do and think about regarding one’s balance in the online world versus one’s physical world. Day 10 of the challenge is called “Interview Your Kids”, and has suggested questions to ask them about what I mentioned above. I’ll be honest and tell you I did Days 1 through 9 last summer, but was afraid to do Day 10. :-) I finally bit the bullet and just decided I needed to get some courage and just go through with it, so I finished it in time for the new year.

        So it wasn’t my idea, but it was certainly one I needed!

        And my timer just rang, my half hour is up, and it’s time to get done! Blessings to you this year, Claudia!

    • That is brave–the interview. I may try to muster up the courage to do that. I’m proud of you.

      • 6 arrows says:

        It can be a daunting thought, can’t it — the interview? I’m so glad now that I did it, though. Some of my children’s answers, painful though they were, brought a real blessing to me that I could not have imagined. There is nothing like receiving gentle wounds from loving children. It’s a perfect picture of how God in His mercy is so patient with us.

        I see life through new eyes now. The days are slower, but I am drinking in more of who these blessings from the Lord are. There is a sense of peace in the slowness, showing me very clearly what God means in Hebrews 12 about the unpleasantness of discipline, but the peaceable harvest it can yield.

        I pray God will give you the courage to do this, too, Kelly, and that you will find peace and blessing there, also.

  3. Cindy says:

    You know I’m with ya! :-) I do think all the technology has a place, but we have to know how to restrain it. I ditched my smartphone months ago, and Facebook a couple of weeks ago. Who knows what will be on the chopping block next? Probably nothing. I’m feeling pretty connected to the meat world right now. But we do have to keep a constant watch for things not to creep back in. Happy New Year!

  4. shannon says:

    Preach it! I know this but need a little more practicing right now. I am 37 weeks pregnant (woo hoo) and needing to rest between tasks more frequently. I find instead of sitting down to read a book to the kids or even working on a crochet project, I pop open the laptop for “just a minute”. May I choose daily to be intentional in this area.

  5. Amy says:

    Definitely! We went on a media fast as a family in December. And we all made it through! :) my son was starting to want his grandpas I phone to play with, more than be with his grandpa. I was time to set back up the boundaries that we had let slip. S glad to know we’re to alone, some thought we were over reacting…. Thank you for your encouraging blog! Happy New Year!

  6. Claudia says:

    Timely, Kelly, once again :) I am with you! Like 6 Arrows, I have not joined Facebook and I want to ~ but don’t trust my ability to set boundaries. Reading about so many who have quit Facebook encourages me that it is not yet my season. My husband has often asked me to work my computer time into the day because I stay up late on the computer, and we all know how easy it is to go to sleep when you’ve been online before bed. It is SOOOOOOOOO much easier to READ about organizing my home and my homeschool than it is to actually do it here in my own home. :) So my goal this year is to determine (and for me it will be a daily thing) what I need to accomplish before getting online. I’m trying to make these reasonable and then reward myself with time online. It would be more difficult to do this if my business required online work. I asked my husband (and this was hard) to tell me what he thought a reasonable bed time would be for me. I want to allow some wind-down time because I tend to get a second wind in the evening when I push through an early evening fatigue. I bet I’m not alone! I have had a few nights where there is no time left to get online. Because I was overwhelmed with a too-full inbox, I unsubscribed to many daily emails I receive, and that has helped. I have also decided that when I am in a low period during the month, I will make reading encouraging blogs one of my priorities. There have been periods in my life when reading encouraging, Christ-honoring blogs has driven me to my Lord and to the peace I find only in His Word. Thank you, Kelly, for being humble yet convicting as you write what is on your readers’ hearts. Sorry for the ramble!

  7. Jennifer says:

    Totally with you Kelly!! Been having the same thoughts myself :)

  8. Heidi says:

    Ugh! I have been procrastinating on this very thing.
    In December I deleted my Facebook account in part because of the time spent but also because I found myself getting irritated & starting to “argue” with people about things I normally wouldn’t do that with. And it made me hyper-paranoid of what people thought of me. Ridiculous.
    I do not own a smart phone and probably never will. My cell phone isn’t the issue for me though, it’s the computer. I know it’s bad because my husband tells me all of the time. I have cut back some since dropping FB.
    It is a hard thing for me because it was a good distraction when I needed it. I had pretty severe post partum depression with the last baby and it had me thinking some really awful thoughts so I was constantly & consciously needing to distract my brain. The internet was a great way to do this. But now, I’m all better and still spending way too much time online. It has become a nasty, addictive habit. It is and has been affecting our home life tremendously. And not all of it is bad. There are great blogs(like this one) and wonderful tools that are beneficial to our lives. But they don’t make up for an “absent” wife & mother.
    All of that to say, I totally agree and I’m with you. Less is more.
    There are some great ideas in the comments that I’m going to have to try. I like the timer & certain times of day.
    God bless.

    Heidi

  9. Dawn says:

    May I offer a bit different perspective than most? I do agree with the whole Facebook thing, and have removed my Pinterest, Facebook, and Messenger apps from my iPhone.
    However, I have two sons who are married and live outside our home. The day that my oldest moved out, my cell phone became my third arm. I am ALWAYS available to my children, whether in my home or out. Those 2 boys KNOW they can get ahold of Mama whenever they need to. And their wives know the same thing.
    So my phone is always either in my pocket or within easy reach. If my text alert goes off, I check it 100% of the time, in case my boys or their wives need me.

    I am currently setting new computer rules though, since Hubby gave me a new laptop for Christmas that actually works. LOL!!

  10. Keri says:

    Great article Kelly!

    For those of you who don’t have facebook..Don’t get it!!..lol..It really can be very addictive. I’ve learned some good lessons on there!! LIKE WHAT TO NOT DO ANYMORE!! I love it for the fact that I can keep in touch with relatives and friends far away! Just want to share what we went thru here recently.

    My adult kids have fb. My oldest daughter gave our 15 yr.old this little contraption that he can get fb on. He set it up himself. I had him as a friend. I saw who all his “friends” were. I noticed this girl from church had requested him. She’s 13 and rides the church bus. I asked him if she writes him. He told me “All the time”. I was stunned! She had written me several months before and told me some situations she was getting herself into with a boy and I had to go to our Associate Pastor’s Wife and tell her. I couldn’t keep that knowledge to myself so I went to the Assoc. Pastor’s wife with it because they bring her on the church bus. She has come for years.

    I took her off his facebook and explained a little to him without going into to much detail. She mixed her name up and got him again. I took the contraption from him still trying to be nice and not say to much. I took him off facebook completely.

    Well, he went back on facebook and requested her. She wrote me and told me. So, I dealt with it. The contraption is completely gone. I know she told me and all and that was nice but she thinks I’m going to give her credit for telling me. Well..she told me. I’m not giving her any credit for it. She is 13 going on 30.

    He is my youngest at 15 and he’s a great kid. We have had NONE whatsoever anywhere near rebellion or anything with him but let me tell you..He was Not thrilled about this!! I was a little surprised by his reaction. He say’s she never said anything inappropriate but let me tell you a couple of things.I know she’s only 13 and my heart goes out to her. My husband and I have helped at one time with the bus ministry. We couldn’t continue because my husbands gets terrible car sickness on the bus because of so many quick twists and turns.

    Our oldest daughter took her out once to Dunkin Doughnuts because she told her she would take her there for her birthday. She met the parents..who used to come to our church..and got permission. While they were there, this 13 yr.old mentioned that she might be a lesbian.My oldest daughter is 29 and very caring. The next day my daughter got a text from this girl who asked my daughter if she had touched her inappropriately. I was like WHAT!!!

    I told my daughter..That’s It!! You can’t take her anywhere EVER AGAIN!! My daughter is a preschool teacher at a Christian School!! Thank the Lord nothing ever came from it. I brought this up to two people at our church that were involved with her and her family and they said she’s just all talk. Okay..Whatever but NO MORE!!

    This was all before the facebook stuff.

    I consider myself to be a pretty in tune parent.I don’t mean that in a prideful way honestly. I’m just going to say it here..When you’ve been doing the parenting and homeschool thing for a long time..You Do Get Tired!! You cannot let your guard down!!

    I have had so much grief from this girl when I just simply tried to explain why I don’t want a 15 yr.old and 13 yr.old talking on facebook all the time! I have had other people tell me that we should just keep reaching out to her and maybe she just wanted to talk because she was lonely and doesn’t have the home life she needs..I know. I have known her for for years. She honestly looks like she’s about 25. This all being from people she has told.

    My advice for others..Do what you have to do!! Realize that this stuff creeps in when you may not expect it!! Do Whatever it takes to protect your kids. Really, the ultimate goal is for them to be able to “rule” themselves in a Christian way with boundaries when they are adults. I know this was long Kelly but I just wanted to share from my perspective.

  11. 6 arrows says:

    This might be another reason to get off (or stay off) of Facebook, if the allegations are true that FB is scanning users’ private messages for personal information to sell to advertisers.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2533542/Facebook-snoops-private-inbox.html

  12. Gus says:

    , could I have a cliffs notes version of this?
    hehe

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