“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:1-2
Just this past week I went on an overdue vacation with my family. As with any time away it included packing the car, leaving town, a destination, crying kids, etc. However, this trip was different…particularly for me as I decided to UNPLUG.
unplug |ˌənˈpləg|verb ( unplugs, unplugging , unplugged ) [ with obj. ]
1 disconnect (an electrical device) by removing its plug from a socket: she unplugged the fridge.
2 sever the connection between a peripheral device and a computer
3 remove an obstacle or blockage from: a procedure to unplug blocked arteries
As indicated by the definition above, I choose to completely turn everything off (all social media, email) NOT for an hour, not a day, but an entire week…yea, I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth …BUT it only hurt for a moment. What I learned was life changing, refreshing, and reminding…so I figured I would share, as this may also help you break free from the chains that cling so closely.
“Off the grid” hiatus:
1.) communication does not equal connectivity…
What does it mean to be “connected”? Is it simply swapping gestures, languages, phonetical signals back and forth? For most of us, we know that being connected is a deep rooted desire within us (God placed) and is much more than that which was just listed. To list a few, connectivity includes love, focus, attention, desire, feeling, proximity, intimacy, etc.
A danger for many of us is that we mistake “social media” communication for connectivity. We can communicate w/ the masses and connect with none. Here lies the danger…those who are closes to us, that so desperately want to connect w/ us are sacrificed on the virtual alter.
My kids and my wife want my full attention…and they deserve it. God has given me great treasures to connect with if I will see and embrace this reality. Do you ever wonder why our kids and children in general want to do board games or activities that are so demanding on our time? It is because they desire “us”. They long for connectivity, not just merely being in our presence w/ the occasional grunt back and forth. We can not give this to them if we are not willing to offer all of ourselves.
The struggler here lies that we, being finite beings, are limited in how much connectivity we can offer at one given time. As I type these words I can think of people in my life that I love to be with, and guess what is in common w/ all of them…they offer all of themselves when I am with them.
2.) the grass is plenty green where you are if you stop staring at others yards…
As noted in the verses from Hebrews, God has laid out a “race” (a path, a direction, a life) for each of us. Social media has a tendency to remove our focus off of the reality of what God has placed us on/in. This often leads to lusting/ coveting after someone else’s lane or race, which is sinful and destructive.
REALITY is where you are now, not where everyone else is. If we are always gazing upon others reality (which is often NOT TRUE NOR ACCURATE), then we will neglect our very own. If this is the case, we have failed to run the race and have been entangled by an illusion…a “virtual reality”.
“the grass is always greenest where you water and fertilize most” -unknown
3.) the sinfulness of my virtual life…
Why do I post what I post…why do I read the post of others…only you can answer these questions. If I am honest and transparent, here are just a few reasons I found often fueling the characters of my deceptive heart.
– I want everyone to “look at ME”, “look at ME”…
– I want MY life to be better, MORE exciting, MORE successful, MORE pleasurable than yours…
– I want others to desire what I have…
– I want what others have…
What just these four reason show me about myself is that I am sinful. I look for “significance” via the praise of others and not the praise of the One that matters. I am prideful and arrogant. I am deceptive and desire for others to covet. I covet myself and am discontent with what God has provided, cursing the hand and purpose of the one that is to be praised, Christ Jesus.
I am a broken, sinful man, in need of the grace of God…in need of a changed heart…in need of a HOPE other than myself.
4.) where I am is “my race”…
As I stated above, reality is where you are. Every moment I spend in virtual reality is a moment I lose and neglect in reality. In order to run the race well that God has laid before me, I must be focused and diligent to remain within the lane that God has placed me. This is my race that I should find joy in because I know the One that has laid it before me. My joy does not come from the race, but the in the One who has set it in motion. A runner runs for the finish…the prize…the goal. A winner achieves this by focusing on it, while all other things fade into the background.
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross“
I/we are not omnipresent.
God has called each of us to focus on one thing in this life, that being Himself found in Jesus. When we do this, all other things work themselves out as God molds our heart to see and experience as He would.
God has created me to live this ONE life He has given me, in real time, w/ real people…NOT vicariously, not virtually…BUT in the realm where REAL people live…that have real feelings, real hearts, real consequences, real dreams, real souls… real FUTURES.
God sees the reality of our heart, not the virtual reality we often times prop up.
GOD SEES RIGHT THROUGH THE FACADE
5.) my children see the desire of my heart…
What we “do” so clearly communicates…especially to our children. While being unplugged, my desire for my children and my wife grew stronger. They were no longer interruptions to me, but once again became my delight. I lived and loved with them in that current moment, refusing to share it with anyone else…especially a false reality. Guess what… they noticed. They clung to their dad, they laughed…and they even said, “you are smiling more”. They knew that they had all of me, a “house not divided”.
As these liberating moments were occurring, it dawned on me…I am lighter…I am more free…I CAN SEE!!! There was one moment that my kids were playing in an indoor play area (yea, I needed to catch my breath 🙂 ) that I glanced around at the countless adults surrounding me. Something became strikingly clear…none of them were really there. Yes, they were there physically, but not emotionally, not mentally, not lovingly. This is not a stone throw, as I am guilty of being the one w/ the hauntingly illuminated face and frantic thumbs… but they all were somewhere else…which was communicated by their actions. As their children paraded, laughed, ran, and jumped all of this was missed, sacrificed, and traded for an unquenchable lust…that sucked the life and joy of the real moment.
Our children will be us one day, often times amplified. I pray that I teach my kids that those whom we love and are called to serve deserve our full, real attention.
So…where does that leave us…
Before you cry “hypocrite”…yes this is in a blog and yes I will continue to use social media. Let me say that all of social media is not bad. Much of it can be enjoyed and used for good, even kingdom good. The question is who is the master and how to master it…but that my friends is for another post…stay tuned.