Smart Phones Suck, Get Rid of Yours. 

Every morning, I run past a house with chalk drawings scrawled across the sidewalk out front. While most of the doodles were images of creatures and people, one child had elected to write a simple message to passerby: ‘Smart phones suck. Get rid of yours.’ I meant to take a picture (with my smartphone, of course), but it was washed away by the rain before I did. 

I wondered how many times that child had noticed the epidemic plaguing society: a couple going for a walk after a day at work, both with eyes glued to their phones. A teen walking past, their phone an extension of their hand, not bothering to smile at the people they passed. The epidemic may very well have hit their own home, with parents missing stories from the day because they’re scrolling through Facebook, or an older sibling ignoring the pleas to play in favor of texting their friends.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a trend in my own habits. When my friend group is met with a lull in conversation or action, my phone is in my hands, either to check my social media (needlessly) or to play a couple rounds of a mindless game. Although I’m still aware of the conversations when I’m playing those addicting iPhone games, I seem disinterested. I seem uninvested. I seem like I’d rather be somewhere else. It gives the impression that the people I’m with aren’t good enough for my full attention. 

Smartphones are a fantastic asset; I can connect with my global friends instantly, I can keep tabs on what’s happening around the world, and I stay on top of events and appointments with ease. 

But smartphones can also be dangerous. We have a habit of devoting time and energy to the people in other towns, states, and countries, while neglecting the connections we could be making within our neighborhoods. We’re so focused on what’s happening in the world that we forget to ask what’s happening in our friends’ lives. We spend so much time thinking about future appointments that we forget to live in the moment and soak in experiences.

We were created for communion with God and with each other, and while phones can contribute to connections, they cannot compare to the power of going for coffee and doing life with people. 

I often find myself planning for the relationships I will develop in college. I daydream about building friendships within my dorm, my ROTC community, and my classmates. God is opening doors and I know He will provide deep, fulfilling communities for me while I’m in college. 

But I cannot let my eagerness for college pull me away from the opportunities and the experiences in front of me as I finish my last semester of high school, or get in the way of developing a solid, consistent relationship with God. 

I’m not going to do anything so drastic as to get rid of my smartphone (sorry, neighborhood kid!). But I am going to start paying more attention to how and when I use my phone. It will be an asset, not a hinderance, to the relationships I am in now and will develop in the future. 


Turning The Page

The last days of 2016 were filled with reflection. Thoughts of the previous year, and hopes and fears for the new year, filled my mind as I went through the motions of Christmas break. New Years Eve held not only the transition from one year to another, but also from one stage of life to another. 2017 will be a year of change, of trust, and of growth.

I’m overwhelmed by thoughts of AP exams, scholarships, and other stressful events. I obsess over whether I should have done something different, or better, or not at all. I wonder if I’m good enough.

With my senior year drawing to a close, I find myself looking into what feels like the vast unknown of my first semester of college. Several paths branch out before me, forking off in different directions and bending out of view. I’m standing before them all, trying to see as far as I can to decide which path to take.

Throughout the past few months, I went through the process of applying for an ROTC scholarship. I spent hours rereading essays and double and triple checking questions. I got up an hour early most mornings to run a few miles in preparation for the physical assessment. I’ve made myself sick from the stress of wondering if I’ll get the scholarship and questioning whether or not I did enough.

I grew up hearing and repeating the phrase “hurry up and wait.” But for the first time, I feel its meaning personally. I worked hard to get everything in on time for the scholarship. And now all I can do is wait and see what God does with it. As I head into this year of change, it seems appropriate to make a few resolutions.

I’ve always thought New Year’s resolutions were pointless. The celebration of the day in general has always seemed the same way. When you wake up on January 1, nothing from the previous year will have changed except the number on the calendar. There’s no magic reset button at 11:59 p.m. on December 31st. Why wait till the beginning of next year to make a change? Start today (whatever day “today” happens to be).

1) With all of the question marks looming before me, I resolve to lean on the Lord and trust in Him. If ROTC is a part of His plan for me, then those doors will be opened-regardless of my mile time, my interview, or my ACT score.

2) As I go through this year of change and uncertainty, I will look to God for my identity and my purpose. I will not place my identity in other people or in my success; I will focus on who I am in Christ and who He is creating me to be and what he is preparing me for. I will ground myself in His word and allow Him to take the reins.

3) Every once in a while, I will remember to stop and smell the roses. This year is a big year, and it will be a stressful year. But it will also be a year of growth and learning, and I will give myself room to be still and soak in the lessons the Lord has for me.

Instead of heading into 2017 with unease, I move forward armed with the truth that He goes before me to prepare my way, that He will provide for me, and that I am beloved by Him.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3.