Who gets to tell you today, tell me today, what is important? Who gets to tell me where to turn my gaze, my mind, my limited emotional resources? When you woke up today, who did you first look to? Where is the first place you looked?
My social media apps pushing the latest trends? Netflix or Disney+ promotions in your Instagram feed? The Oscars and the meme-creators? Is the Will Smith, Chris Rock incident one of the most important things I should continue thinking about today, ruminating on, grieving about or laughing at, giving mental and emotional space and energy toward?
We Have Limited Emotional Resources
Does the Spirit of God get to lead me, tell me what is of utmost importance each day, guide my heart and secure my focus as I follow Jesus on the path of life over the next few, precious hours? Does my Way (Rule) of Life, crafted with the Holy Spirit’s guiding presence, lead me?
Everyday life is all about focus—and we must address our phone habits head on. If we don’t, we lose.
The hardware and software developers of my phone will leverage my neurobiology and habits to keep my head buried in their streaming version of reality.
“Your focus becomes your reality” is the adage from the self-help world. Whoever gets my attention, wins me—my time, my gifts, my dreams, my energies. If I am touching my phone 2600-5400 times per day (see here), then that
- memoir of a parent that will take years to write,
- that encouraging walk with a neighbor,
- that 15 minutes of prayer and journaling focused on a child or grieving friend…
. . . Each of these will go undone. And we will pass on with those things, undone.
It is the way of things. Time is limited. We have limited emotional resources. We will die. Our foci get our mind and heart; and whoever gets our mind and heart, wins our lives.
The last thing thing I want spoken in my eulogy is:
“He was an excellent scroller and skimmer of all things media. He was acutely aware of what was happening in the world at all times, rode the anxieties and laughs delivered to him like waves, was caught up on all the latest Netflix series, and loved following trends on his phone. He laughed at all the right memes, and was known for avoiding long periods of reflection where his mind could wander and he could hear God speak to him about his own life and the lives of others.”
I’m just saying. I don’t want that, or anything like it.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~ Matt. 6:21
I want treasure that serves those I love, and leads to a fullness of life marked by presence, delight, hope in the face of suffering, humility in the midst of challenges, overcoming worship, and deliberate attempts to be generous with love and kindness.
To master our hearts, we must master our phones. We must. To master our phones, we must displace our unthinking habits with deliberate habits that keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of human beings, and the one whose power will enable us to live, fully alive (Irenaeus of Lyons), before God and others.
Let’s take a moment to nurture and memorize a reorienting habit, the Daily Examen (audio). It’s one good way to use our phone today.
We have limited emotional resources: Jesus gets to tell me what’s important. How about you?
This article on emotional resources originally appeared here, and is used by permission.