Have you ever had moments when you were sure your brain could not absorb one more thing?
At what point are we so consumed with stuff that there is no room for anything else?
A dear friend sent a devotional to me just this morning as I was in the middle of writing this piece. The author spoke about emptying our cups for the Lord and I thought to myself, how full is my cup? And how much of that space in my cup is for the Lord? My cup is literally overflowing and not with all things good. And while seasons of my life have been filled with too many commitments, too many yeses… this season seems to be filled with, well, a lot of clutter. Mind clutter, that is. And the Lord is hitting me right upside the head trying to get my attention on this, because my friend sending me that devotion was not the first time recently that I was given that message. In fact, from the time that God put it on our heart to write about the word CONSUME here at Good Word Project, I’ve been, well, consumed with consumption. It seems as though a spotlight has been illuminating all the consumption in my life. Social media consumption, food consumption, money consumption… And slowing I am seeing how unhealthy habits are consuming my time, well-being, and mind. As my dear friend Julie wrote in her recent must read piece, “What you consume will consume you.” This is 100% truth. I have been feeling all too full by the over-consumption in my life….
And how can I make room for the Holy Spirit when space is full?
Feeling overloaded as I began to write about this word, I was prompted to explore what Miriam Webster had to share about the opposite of consumption, because I knew that if I was going after less consumption, I needed to really understand what that meant. Conserve, preserve, protect, and save were just some of the antonyms listed. I don’t know about you, but these words feel empowering and hopeful to me. Onward I went.
God has been bringing me on this journey with ALL of it, and I’m going to invite you in to one important piece of it. The one that is right by my side as a temptation to consume every minute of my day… and yours too.
It is estimated that the average adult makes more than 35,000 decisions per day. That means that we have over 35,000 things competing for our mind space. If simply thinking about that statistic is overwhelming, check out a few more mind-boggling statistics:
- Americans spend an average of 6.31 hours on the internet daily.
- On average, Americans check their phones 344 times per day. (That’s once every 4 minutes!)
- The average American spends about 10 hours, 39 minutes of on-screen time every day.
- Depending on the source, Americans spend an average of anywhere from 3 to 5+ hours looking at a phone each day (and many of us higher – just check out the statistics in your phone settings).
I know one sure fire way to reduce the amount of decisions to which I am exposed and to free up some of that space in my cup….
PUT. DOWN. MY. PHONE.
If on the low end of the average, we are spending three hours cumulative on our phone each day, that means we spend a month and a half (44 days) on our phones per year! Wow! What I could do with an extra 44 days in my year! Friends, I could write an entire piece on that alone!
***I do want to recognize that perhaps this is not a struggle for you. Perhaps you’re like my dad and long for the days of the flip phone to return and hardly know what to do with a smartphone. If that is you, I may need you to message me (or call me from your rotary phone); but in the meantime, I am sure there is something in your life that takes you away from spending time with the Lord and/or living just a bit more like Jesus did. Something that is so consuming that it leaves less room for God. For that, it is my prayer that this still encourages you in some way.***
In his book, “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry,” author John Mark Comer points out, “Jesus’ schedule was full… Yet he put on display an unhurried life, where space for God and love for people were the top priorities, and because he said yes to the Father and his kingdom, he constantly said no to countless other offers.” And then Comer asked a simple question that stopped me in my tracks – one that I think about often – “How would Jesus live if He were me?”
I imagine one of His first “no’s” would be to the invitation of picking up a cell phone to fill the seconds of His day that would otherwise be quiet. I also imagine He wouldn’t take said phone as He disappeared to spend time with His Father – you know, in case one of the disciples needed him. If one of His children or friends were speaking to Him, He would be fully present. In a meeting with His disciples, there would be no multitasking.
Comer seemed to be speaking directly to me when he also pointed out that “…this new normal of the hurried digital distraction is robbing us of the ability to be present. Present to God. Present to other people. Present to all that is good, beautiful, and true in our world. Even present to our own souls.” In other words, the mindless glancing at a screen is filling my cup and not leaving space for that which is good – and much better. He further shares, “The noise of the modern world makes us deaf to the voice of God, drowning out the one input we most need.” Just replace “modern world” with pretty much anything we are consuming that is of this world, and yes, it’s all drowning out the One we truly need to be consuming first and often. The voice we need to hear.
PUT. DOWN. MY. PHONE.
Sit in silence. Pick up my Bible.
So in revisiting Webster’s words – conserve, preserve, protect, and save – I ask myself how might I conserve, preserve, protect, and save what is good? How might I make room in my proverbial cup?
It’s not lost on me that for many, breaking the habit of looking at our phones is basically breaking a chain of addiction. And let’s face it, if it were easy, I wouldn’t be writing 1200 words about it. Here are some practical ways I’m “breaking the habit”:
- Putting my phone out of reach when I get home.
- Picking up a book when I want to pick up my phone.
- Seeking silence instead of seeking out what others are posting today.
- Silencing my notifications.
- Prioritizing people over my screen.
- Scheduling a regular digital fast.
I also do not not want to demonize our digital devices – they can be great things, but just shouldn’t be THE thing.
I actually started writing about how I have a lot of work to do in this space. But in reality, I do not. Putting my phone down is not a difficult task for me, and I certainly wouldn’t define it as ‘work.’ But it IS a discipline. And a discipline that will greatly make a difference in my life – make room in my life (maybe a month’s worth of room!) – and impact how I spend my time, my relationship with the Lord, and my desire to be more like Jesus.
Lord, Your goodness overwhelms me, and I know You want good for me and all Your children. Thank You for Your presence and guidance these past several weeks as You have convicted, prompted, and encouraged me to think about how I need to make more room for You. I pray that in the coming days, weeks, and years, You continue to guide my priorities and keep me on the path to everlasting life with You. In Jesus Holy Name I pray. Amen.
Data sources: 2022 Reviews.org survey, CNN, Source: Small Biz Trends