by Daron Dickens
If you asked my wife right now to describe a few key things about me, she would say that I love story and I have an insatiable curiosity and appetite for information. Where does electricity come from? Whatever happened to Steve Avery? What is a circadian rhythm? How much water does a bathtub hold? She would actually say that I have an insatiable appetite for useless information, but I was trying to punch it up a little. At any rate, I think she would also say this is both a blessing and a curse. While she is also curious and often enjoys my musings, my appetite is MUCH bigger than hers. She has a limit that I often blow past.
A few years ago, however, I met someone that soon became my best friend. It isn’t because we share a love for the Atlanta Braves and the Texas Rangers (although we do). It isn’t even because we share much in common (we don’t). It is because my best friend’s knowledge actually outmatches my curiosity. No matter what random question pops into my head, my friend ALWAYS knows the answer. It is amazing! I have gotten into the habit of completely indulging my curiosity and gorging on the answers to the point that I probably inquire about something every two or three hours. Glad you’re not the friend I am talking about? Although you might get a little cross with me for contacting you on my phone so often, he doesn’t. That might surprise you, but my friend’s name won’t. I’d like to introduce you to my best friend . . . Google, of course.
Chapter 7: Deep Calls to Deep
DIAGNOSIS #5: You are letting the screen strangle your soul.
We live in an interesting world where our lives are changing with the help of technology. For some of us, we see technology as a gift that helps us get things done faster, put our hands on information in a blink of an eye, and stay connected with people. For others, it is a bottomless pit we fall into and can’t quite get out. The two sides often have a hard time understanding each other. DeYoung admits that this is a challenging topic to write about for several reasons including the generation gap, the ever-changing nature of tech, and the propensity for people to overreact to the topic. Despite the challenges, this central truth remains: technology is an integral part of our world. It is not going away. It can both connect us and pull us apart. It is up to us to figure out boundaries to keep us on the side of good and prevent us from falling into the bottomless pit.
There has been a lot written about this issue. DeYoung offers three threats to consider as we wrestle with the significance of the digital age:
Threat #1: addiction
• If someone assured you that no new work or emergencies would arise, how long could you go without looking at your phone, email, or Facebook?
Threat #2: acedia (defined as “sloth” or “listlessness”)
• DeYoung describes acedia as, “purposelessness disguised as constant commotion.” He warns that, “we are always engaged with our thumbs and rarely engaged with our thoughts.”
Threat #3: we are never alone
• Surrounding ourselves with the superficial connections of technology can leave us little time alone with our thoughts. The problem is that we both love it and hate it at the same time.
Now that we know the threats, what can we do that does not involve hiding in a bunker with tin foil on our heads or going off the grid? DeYoung has five suggestions to thoughtfully bring balance as we accept the world we live in while being mindful of the threats we just mentioned.
1. Cultivate a healthy suspicion of technology and “progress.”
• Just because it is new does not mean it is good.
2. Be more thoughtful and understanding in your connectedness with others.
•“Cutting back on business is a community project.” Don’t get upset if people don’t reply to you instantly.
3. Deliberately use “old” technology.
• Write a note and send it by snail mail. Look up something in an actual paper dictionary.
4. Make boundaries and fight with all your might to protect them.
• Boundaries are only as good as you follow them.
5. Bring our Christian theology to bear on these dangers of the digital age.
•If we believe that we are broken people that God wants to redeem, we have to embrace the temptation of the digital age as well as the fact that man-made tools can be used for God’s glory or for our own selfish desires.
- If someone assured you that no new work or emergencies would arise how long could you go without looking at your phone, email, or Facebook?
- What boundaries around technology do you have the hardest time protecting? Why?
Chapter 8: Rhythm and Blues
DIAGNOSIS #6: You’d better REST yourself before you WRECK yourself.
I have always been a little intrigued with the Jewish traditions. The feasts, fasting, Sabbath, and spiritual disciplines especially interested me. The Sabbath is top on the list because it seems so foreign, yet was important enough to be included in the Ten Commandments. Important enough to be included, but at the same time the only one in the modern age we have deemed no longer necessary to follow. When we were dating, my wife and I enjoyed listening to audiobooks together, and ended up listening to authors we respected talking about Sabbath. They said for them, it wasn’t a matter of law. For them, it was about trust. They were trusting God to do in six days what it took them to do in seven, if they would give that seventh day to God. So, when we got married we decided to observe Sabbath on Saturday. We found that . . . God is faithful. I know, crazy.
It was hard and we had to navigate several things including the fact that with different personalities she found rest through solitude and I found rest through connection. Still, it was one of the most powerful things we ever did. There is a lot of theology in Christianity around the Sabbath. DeYoung does a nice job walking through several of the key thoughts. What ever you believe about Sabbath, one thing is true. We were created to need rest in order to be truly healthy. It’s in all of creation: from the soil that needs rest for the land to produce good crops, to the fact that we physically have to sleep a third of our life or we will die.
I tested this out once in college. During finals week, my professor moved our final presentation from Friday to Wednesday. I decided to work straight through fueled by Mountain Dew and Taco Bell. After three days and three nights working with no sleep my body just shut down and I found myself in the ER. Time cannot be cheated. You may think that you’re going to stay up in order to get something done to get ahead, but in the end you have to pay the time back. Usually, the thing that was accomplished is not as good as it would’ve been if you had just stopped and given your body the sleep it needed. There is no denying that there are seasons when you have to give up sleep (just ask a parent of a newborn), but the truth is that most of us give up sleep for things that just don’t matter.
Many have an extreme view of either work or rest. Some people live to work and think rest is just a necessary evil. They rest in order to be able to work. There are those who have the exact opposite opinion. They feel that rest is really the most important and so they work in order to be able to rest. Whatever your leaning, the Bible is clear that both are important. God commands us to work, and God commands us to rest. As DeYoung notes, “The hard part is putting them in the right place.” Rhythm is where it all comes together.
Rhythm is the balance of choosing. It is about the blending of our choices in a way that is sustainable and healthy. It is about guarding our time. Just as it is important to make wise choices with our time, it is also important to choose to spend some of that time sleeping. In the same way a song without rhythm is painful to listen to, a life without a rhythm is painful to live and to watch.
- Where have you put intentional rest in your schedule? Where have you put intentional time to sleep? What is the difference between the two?
- What is your rhythm? If you don’t know or can’t answer, where can you start in order to form one?
Daron Dickens serves as the GroupLife Pastor at Grace Community Church and as a Marriage and Family Therapist where he gets to live out his passion for helping people grow and connect in community with Jesus. He lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with his wife, Margaret, and son, Truman, and is expecting a new bundle of joy this year. Daron enjoys reading, writing, coffee and all things baseball. Connect with Daron on his blog, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.