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Shedding Selfishness

So, I didn’t expect to write this post so soon. I thought I’d give it about two weeks to really track my progress and change. But I’m one week in and it deserves a post. I warn you , it is long. But please read through it because it is my heart on a…screen.

I deleted my “go- to” apps off of my phone.

A couple of weeks ago, I reposted this post about trying not to use my smart phone as often. I have a theory that consistently turning to my phone circumvents my brain’s natural processing. I am more distracted, less able to process complicated issues to their fullness, and less likely to engage in depth (conversations, books, problems that need attention, etc). But for all the nice talk of that post, and for all of my good intentions, my phone and my go-to apps are too alluring.

So I deleted them. I didn’t want to, and honestly I struggled to do it for a long time. But one night I was praying about the negativity I’ve picked up toward my children over the last few weeks. It was really bothering me that my patience had seemed to disappear and I was frustrated over small, insignificant things all the time. I watched myself from an outside view and shuddered at what I saw. This was not the mom I wanted to be. This is not the mom I am, but this is the mom I am letting myself become unless I make some changes. I felt God challenge me again to delete these apps from my phone.

Now, please note that this is my experience and mine alone. I am not saying you are a terrible mom if you have go-to apps on your phone, nor am I saying you have to delete any of them. I’m just sharing my experience.

After a short argument with God ( yes , sometimes I revert to the two year old behavior I have never actually overcome in my heart), the whole issue about my apps came clear: I was using them as an excuse to feed my selfishness. Parenting is hard. It’s exhausting and can be frustrating when you are in a challenging season with your children. Somewhere I had let an idea creep in that because I’m giving so much to my kids – my attention, my sleep, my efforts, my life – I deserve to be a little selfish. After all, what about me? I mean , for reals, what about me, dang it ? I deserve a break every so often. In fact , I deserve a break whenever I start to feel overwhelmed because I’m in this for the long haul, which means I have to pace myself. Right?

Wrong. Instead of putting my big mama pants on and really going into this for the long haul, I got into this habit of just doing short sprints. I invest just long enough to feel the tug of agitation, and then I check out by checking on my favorite apps or sites. I’m wearing sandals instead of running shoes, and then I’m wondering why the heck my feet hurt so bad. The habit of having a go-to on my phone is short circuiting my ability to see something through with my kids, whether in discipline or in fun. How many times has the pull to post a picture of the fun thing we’re doing interrupted or stopped the fun thing itself? How many times have I not followed through on a consequence because I just want tell someone how hard it is in this moment? How many times has the draw to see what’s going on in the outside world caused me to shirk something that needs attention?

Too many, sadly enough. I am embarrassed to admit it, but my own selfishness has caused my love for technology to increase to a point where my kindness, patience, and grace for my children has diminished. I’m putting my own desire for a break and the lie that I deserve this above investing in my kids. I have turned my favorite job and responsibility into a burden because I am putting my own feelings of ” this is really hard” into action. I am doing this instead of buckling down, taking my kids by the hand, and pursing goodness, gentleness, grace, and solid relationship together, even if it is really hard. Because, honestly, no one ever said it should be easy. Easy is overrated.

Back to the challenge: I deleted these apps from my phone and instantly, I felt freed. It was weird , but it was almost like cutting myself free from this tether that always got the best of me. I finally stopped being pulled all the time, and I had control over when and where I could check them. Here are the things I noticed almost immediately after I made this change :

– I could focus. I stopped thinking of everything in terms of a short status update and started looking at life as a whole. Interconnected. A process instead of a one liner or a single picture. Because of this, I could focus on the moment as part of a stream of life and invest now so that it creates a better foundation for later. I could see patterns in behavior and words instead of just hearing fussing.

– I could anticipate my kids ‘ needs better. I had this habit of checking my apps whenever we had a minute of downtime. Not having this option enables me to see the need for a change of scenery, a snack, or a snuggle before the need is so intense that it causes them to be agitated or frustrated. We’re having a lot more peace simply because I am actually doing my job before everyone is mad.

– I have so much more time. I am accomplishing so many more things in a day than I thought possible, partly because I’m fighting that “I need a break” selfishness and actually getting proactive. And partially because a lot of technology is a time eater. Even though it can feel productive, it doesn’t actually accomplish anything. Often it left me feeling like I still need more of a break because it didn’t fulfill my desire to be productive.

– I am much more content and happier with what my life is like now. I try hard not to compare myself to other people, but this becomes inevitable when everyone is focused on posting beautiful pictures of themselves, “progress” updates where we see how much they did today or how well they ate or how long they worked out, and especially the comparison of children and how smart/cute/creative they ( or we as parents) are. I admit to doing this too. But not having that bombarding me so many times in the day has really freed me to see my life as beautiful the way it is.

I chose to write this (now extremely long) post to be transparent to you. This is my love affair with technology that I am finally casting off, and it feels pretty darn good. There is nothing so important about faceless technology and it’s alluring applications that trumps the value of my children and husband. They deserve my face, my smile, and my eyes without a phone constantly between us. So here is my commitment, and maybe my challenge to you: I will value my family above my phone, tablet , or computer, and I will love doing it.

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