Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Smartphones & Lent

Talking about my smartphone use

Wow! Tomorrow marks the beginning of Lent. This Lent, I am giving up aspects of my smartphone use. For the last couple years, I have really felt that it was important that I make a change in regards to my relationship with, and time spent on, my smartphone. When I was pregnant I had a lot of free time, and I spent many hours swallowed up in my phone. During that time, my relationship with my phone changed. I used to be someone who was terrible at replying to text messages or even answering my phone because I just didn't like it much. I wanted to be free from the need to check my phone all the time, or even always have it on me. 

That slowly changed, and I slowly began using my phone more and more. New addicting apps (hello Instagram) were created and perfected, and my phone grew into something that was no longer a tool for me. I felt that my phone had become something that had control over me, not the other way around. I certainly didn't seem to have much control over how often or when I went on it, as I was checking it much more often than I wanted to, and spending many more hours on it than I felt good about. 

There is something so addictive about the entertainment I experience from scrolling mindlessly through social media sites. There is almost no effort required on my part (in fact, I usually won't even bother to read a long Instagram caption, too much effort), the entire process is completely passive, and my mind is constantly being stimulated and entertained by beautiful Instagram pictures from "big" Instagrammers (don't even enter into that vortex, it never ends) who take pictures so well they are paid to do it, or short video clips, or even things on my Facebook feed that I don't even find interesting but scroll through anyway. 

I never have to be bored anymore, I can always be entertained by the little box that is always with me. I never have to (get to) daydream, reflect or ponder. I can pick up my phone the second I wake up and stay on it until I pass out from tiredness at night. The second there is a slightly boring scene in a movie, or awkwardness in a social situation, or I'm feeling a little down, my phone is ready in my pocket to entertain or distract me. 

This is a little dramatic (and punny), but it always calling to me. Hahaha. Unless I am busy, I am always experiencing that urge to pick up my phone. As a stay-at-home mom, life isn't always busy and distracting. There is a definite mundane side of staying home, and a lot of time when I am technically free to sit on my phone. This urge to go on my phone even comes at times that I am sad to admit. There was this one time when I was playing with Rose on my lap, and I saw my phone next to me and just felt like going on it. I remember sitting there just thinking about how that urge was there even when I was playing with Rose, and it made me feel sad. I couldn't even be present with this baby I love more than anything, even when I am enjoying her company I have that "twitch," my phone is calling me! One other thing that I don't like is that I almost never read anymore. Growing up I was a huge reader - it was something I really enjoyed. Honestly, when I try to read now, I just feel like going on my phone. I feel that I have a lessened ability to focus and would prefer to passively be entertained than put the effort in that reading requires.

I'm sure that some people who read this will think it's a little dramatic, and that there really isn't any harm in going on your phone a lot. Other people might be thinking - get some willpower lady! I don't want to make anyone feel guilty, either, about going on their phone all the time or checking it a lot. This is just something I have really been struggling with and need to change.

If you're wondering what on earth I would rather be doing with the time at home that I currently spend on my phone (like, what's the harm? What better things do you have to do?), the answer to that is easy. Reading. Spending time enjoying Rose or hanging out with Matt. Doing crafts, writing, praying, learning... even just relaxing and daydreaming. The list goes on. 

Also, one thing that I want for my kids is for them to not spend crazy amounts of time on electronics. You know, to go play outside in the great outdoors every once in a while. I think the greatest tool I have for showing my kids what is important is by my example, so I am really trying to make a few changes in myself so that I will actually be practicing what I'm preaching when the time comes.

The reason I think I need to make a dramatic change is that (as embarrassing as this is to admit), I've honestly been trying to make a change (or at least talking about it) for at least a year with almost no progress :(. Maybe that was because I didn't actually want to change, but whatever the reason, I think this Lent is the perfect time for me to really move my phone back to a place where it is a tool that I use rather than a little machine that controls me, and maybe get some self-mastery :).

Talking about Lent

Like I said, this all has been on my heart for a while now. When I saw Fr. Mike Schmitz's video on Preparing for Lent (it's so good by the way), I really felt that God was speaking to me and that He wants me to make this change and make the sacrifice of saying no to my desire to go on my phone sometimes.

Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) is tomorrow, so I guess now is a good time to decide what exactly this is all gonna look like in practice! Also, by writing it on here, I think I will be held more accountable in a weird way. Just knowing that I put it out there will probably make me more likely to stick to it. I don't even remember what I did for Lent last year so I have a feeling I wasn't all that diligent with it...

The main thing I am going to do this Lent (and afterward as well - I hope!) is be much more intentional with the time I spend on my phone. My goal is to become more detached from it and to "break the twitch." I know that choosing not to go on my phone when I want to is going to be really hard for me, and a big sacrifice, and I want to be able to offer that up for Matt, Rose, or someone else I love. I have heard people say before that it's better to choose something to work on for Lent rather than something to give up (I suppose what I'm doing could technically count as either), but I think that both are really great things to do. Here is why giving something up is really great (another 8 minute video by Fr. Mike. Can you tell I'm a fan?): 4 Reasons for Fasting. In short, the reasons he gives for fasting (fasting is sacrificing a legitimate sense pleasure, not for ourselves, but for someone else - for love of God) are self-mastery, obedience, sacrifice (which is worship), and being a co-redeemer with Jesus.

So to get specific with what I plan on doing, I think I'm going to give up social media. I'm also going to give up going on my phone in bed or at the table (I will let you know how this goes...man it's gonna be so hard), and just say no to my desire to check or go on my phone so often. I hope I don't inconvenience anyone by not replying to texts as quickly (always a worry of mine), but I think this is a really important thing for me to do. I guess we will see how it goes over the next 40 days! Instagram friends - see you Sundays!

Please leave a comment if you have any tips for me in regards to using my phone less! Also, let me know what you're giving up (or working on) for Lent if you're doing something as well :)


  1. Wow, such a good post. Your description of phone use is exactly me!! This inspires me. I'm so excited to hear how your lent goes!!

    1. Thanks Riane! Gotta stick to it now that I've put it up here haha!

    2. Thanks Riane! Gotta stick to it now that I've put it up here haha!

  2. I did not see this before now, and I really really appreciated it. You can tell that you put a lot of thought and research into this, and I hope it goes really well for you. You inspired me to put my phone down more as well!