Am I Living or Just Filling the Time?

By Jessica Brodie

If you’re anything like me, your cell phone has become an appendage, almost like a part of your body. If I run to the store and forget it at home, my heart begins to thud. What if someone needs me? What if there’s a problem? What if I get lost?

What’s funny is I grew up without cell phones, so this is a relatively new appendage. I remember starting my first post-college job without a cell phone. I listened to the radio on the way to work. If I drove to the store and there was a problem, it waited, or people could track me down by calling the store. If I got lost, I’d pull out a map from my glove compartment, or stop at a gas station and ask for directions. If I needed to talk to someone and I wasn’t at home, I’d find a pay phone, and if I didn’t have a quarter, I could always call collect if it was a true emergency.

Yet this new cell phone appendage is something I rely on for just about everything now, sadly. If I’m restless in line at the grocery store, no worries… cell phone to the rescue. If I’m hunting for a word, forget digging into my memory banks… just ask Google. I’ve been to lunches where friends don’t even talk to each other—everyone is on their phones.

We’re all filling our time like this little rectangular box is the meaning of life. Nothing else matters.

Even my kids seem addicted. They’d all rather play video games with each other on their iPads and phones than jump around on the trampoline or play Monopoly or Legos. When my husband and I force them to disconnect, they glare like we’re the meanest parents ever.

I’m tired of it. Yes, I use my phone. I like it. I like modern conveniences, like being able to add items to my electronic grocery cart, price-check stuff on Amazon on the go, use an electronic check register for banking. I like not having to stuff maps in my glove compartment.

But not at the expense of relationships. Not at the expense of filling every second of my time with distraction.

That’s no kind of life.

Paul writes in his letter to the early church in Corinth, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).

And David pledges to the Lord, “I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways” (Psalm 119:15 NLT).

I’m challenging myself to achieve a new balance with technology. I don’t yet know what that looks like, but I do know that putting things above people, self-centered distraction above people, isn’t how Jesus would want us to live.

How about you? Do you struggle with your electronic “appendage,” or have you learned healthy ways to balance this? Or do you struggle with other conveniences or temptations that have the same effect? I’d love to know. Comment below!

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