Eight months ago, I made a decision that would forever change life as I knew it. Like many people, I had an iPhone and it was always with me. On the dinner table. Beside my bed while I slept. In my hand while my children talked to me. In front of my face while riding in the car with my husband.
I was consumed.
I felt tremendous guilt about the time I was frittering away. I knew that it was wrong. I tried to exercise self-control (of which I clearly had none). I tried implementing “tech-free hours.” I deleted the apps that were sucking up the most time (here’s looking at you, Facebook.) Once, I even resorted to wrapping the darn thing in masking tape and hiding it in a drawer.
Nothing worked. I hated it, but I could not control it.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
-Romans 7:15 NIV
Finally, after trying in vain through my own strength, I turned to the Lord for help. He spoke to me clearly through his Word and I knew that I had to give it up completely. I could only think of the regrets I would have at the end of my life if I continued down the path I was on.
“And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
-Matthew 5:30 NIV
This device that was always in my right hand was keeping me from living the life I was called to. Whatever excuses I gave to justify hanging onto it were simply not worth what I was throwing away in real life. Further, I came to realize that what I had been doing was essentially idol worship.
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.”-Jonah 2:8-9 NIV
That was it. It was time for obedience. Time to cut off that which made me sin. Time to sacrifice and throw away the worthless idol. So I sold my iPhone on Facebook (the irony is not lost on me), and I switched my line over to a “dumb phone.”
Truly, I could write an entire book on the blessings and benefits I have experienced since that day. It was like a literal weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I felt like a prisoner set free. Here are just a few of the ways it’s impacted me:
Productivity. While there are some legitimate ways to use your smartphone to increase productivity, it’s all for naught if you are wasting more time on other nonsense like I was. I accomplish so much more in my post-iPhone life than I ever did owning one.
Relationships. Whether I’m homeschooling my children, spending quality time with my husband, or out to dinner with a friend, I can be all there. Removing the constant distraction of my iPhone allows me to be fully present and engaged, something I would not trade for the world.
Authenticity. We’re all busy, and smartphones make it too easy for friendships to fall by the “virtual” wayside. Yes, there is value in using technology to keep in touch, but here’s the thing: a text conversation and some likes on Facebook are no substitute for the real deal. While I still have text messaging on my basic phone, I am now making connections with people in person.
Margin. Just sitting and being still is something of a lost art in our society today. Without my smartphone to keep me company in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or in line at the grocery checkout, I’m forced to just be. Where I was once overloaded and constantly bombarded with information, there’s now freedom to think, reflect and observe.
Cost. This benefit somewhat pales in comparison to the other life changes, but it is worth mentioning that I’m saving $30 a month by using a basic phone.
Now, allow me to say that I am not advocating for everyone to run out and terminate their data plans immediately. In no way am I suggesting that owning a smartphone is evil. In and of itself, a smartphone can be an incredibly useful tool. You may not struggle like I did, but I venture to say that all of us could benefit from taking a long, hard look at our tech habits. Make sure that you own your device and not the other way around.
Do you struggle with putting your phone down and being present in your relationships? What ways have you found to keep your tech usage in check? Share in the comments!