Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I Am Drawn to My Phone Like a Moth to a Flame

During the sermon last Sunday, our pastor was talking about idolatry, and asked what it is we worship. Chuck poked me with his finger, and I returned his smile, because I worship him, too, in a sense. I pointed my finger back at him, and then directed my attention to the front of the church. 

What is it that we put before our God, we were asked. What gets our attention? What occupies our thoughts and time? 

Well, that made me squirm for a moment. I knew what it was, but certainly wasn't quite ready to admit it to myself, or anyone else. This thought has been nibbling at my conscience for awhile now.

What has my attention during my waking hours? What do I do the moment my eyes flutter open? What is either in my hand or back pocket at all times? What is the first thing I do before I start my car, or put it in park? How do I start and end my day? 

I would like to tell you that my thoughts turn to God, and I pray, and read a pocket-sized edition of the Bible, or that I am involved in intensive service to my fellowman, but you may suspect, and rightly so, that I have a little work to do in these departments.  No, I am embarrassed to say that my attention turns to a little flashing blue light, a visual siren in the dark, and throughout the day, that draws me in like a moth to a flame.

What is it that I all but worship these days? My phone; that's what. I check my phone constantly. If there are no texts from Chuck or my kids, the very next thing that gets my full, undivided attention is Facebook. 

There have been times in my life when there are important lessons I need to learn, and I am given opportunity after opportunity to learn, until I am able to put the concept into practice. Right now, I am being inundated with an awareness of how much time I am wasting with social media. 

Our own children do not spend as much time on social media as I do. They are setting good examples of managing their time well in this respect. Some of our kids have gone so far as to de-activate their accounts on Facebook and Snapchat. 

My daughter Sierra is setting the bar high for me. When I chided her when I couldn't find her on Facebook, she told me she was no longer there, but I could text her any time. She is so much happier NOT being on Facebook. She is DOING and LIVING, and she loves her newfound freedom from social media. She and Bridger, my youngest, have been spending lots of time together since she moved back to Utah. They decided together that they wanted to do things and learn stuff, and not waste so much time online. 

There are memes and videos I see daily, encouraging us to put down our phones. To focus on our children. To take advantage of the time we have face-to-face with family and friends. Slowly, the message is sinking in.

My first excuse to Sierra was, "I'm home alone for more than ten hours a day. Facebook keeps me connected to family and friends. It's my lifeline to the world." And then it hit me. What do I have to show for all those hours? How much time am I wasting on Facebook, scrolling, endlessly scrolling, through the cat videos, political rants, and silly jokes, to find the one or two friends with whom I actually make a connection? I need to be more pro-active, and guard my precious time better than that. 

I mentioned I was drawn to my phone like a moth to a flame. This saying is often used in reference to a fatal attraction situation. While my fascination with social media may not result in any actual fatalities, I think it's safe to say that the end result of almost any obsession is disappointing, and is usually less than satisfying. I thought it was interesting to read that scientists think that moths are not so much attracted to a burning candle, as they are disoriented by the flickering light. ( Ah. So perhaps I have more in common with the moth than I realized. I have been a bit disoriented myself with my Facebook obsession. My friend Tonia calls Facebook a "time suck." It really is. Once I begin to peruse the newsfeed, it is hard for me to stop, and moderate the time I spend online. I don't want to be consumed by my own tempting flame.

Sunday, I finally admitted I needed to evaluate the way I spend my time, and determine how to make the most of each day. Since my word for 2016 is INTENTIONAL, I knew that setting an intention each morning would make it easier for me to follow through on my goal, if I limited my exposure to social media.

So yesterday, even though my phone's blue light was flashing in the dark when I woke long before sunrise, I only checked to see if any of our kids had texted us. I could see I had eight notifications from Facebook, but I ignored them. I had set an intention for the day of being productive, and knew that my phone and computer could wait until I'd seen to the things I thought were most important first. 

I was amazed at the tasks I accomplished by being focused in the morning. They were the routines I always mean to get around to, in between all of my socializing on the internet, but somehow never quite complete until much later in the day, if at all. But from 4:45 until 8, I was a busy bee, spending time with my husband, reading, writing, and working out. Laundry was started, dishes put in the dishwasher, bedroom tidied. Wow. All by 8:00. Then I spent about 20 minutes on Facebook, posted a little post about my morning, and then put the laptop away to do more stuff. It was great. 


The house was tidy. I finished decorating our Christmas Valentine's tree. I tried a new recipe for a citrus-glazed scone that was marvelous. And when I wanted to contact friends and family, I texted them or made a phone call. For the first time in a long time, I felt grounded. It was a satisfying day of accomplishments and connecting with loved ones.

This weekend I happened upon a great article by Dr. Jill Carnahan entitled  Eight Habits That Changed My Life. You might want to read Dr. Carnahan's blog for all eight ideas, but this is the one that reached right out, and bopped me on the head:

"First things First: Do your most important tasks first thing in the morning.  Start with an intention and prayer and then move on to the tasks that matter most.  Don’t get caught in the urgent by default like most people do.  Be deliberate instead of just responding to the crises that come your way.  The classic book by Steven Covey is a great place to start if you want to learn more." 

Setting an intention each morning helps me stay focused. I like the flexibility of choosing one word each day. I enjoy controlling my focus, and I can determine how I want to direct my energy each morning. 

This moth intends to steer clear of the flame of her temptation, and rise above it to fly to greater heights.  

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