It was a Saturday night, not unlike tonight. I went to plug in my phone as I climbed under the covers. There was a strange message box stating that my battery was not an “apple” battery, but I dismissed it knowing that it was, and thinking that it had just been awhile since I had powered the thing all the way down. I turned it off, back on, plugged it in to charge and went to sleep not giving it a second thought.
The next morning, the strange message was back and the battery had failed to charge. Now, I was having second thoughts. I left it plugged in – at a different outlet with another charging cord, and went to church with the knowledge that if it wasn’t charged when I got home, I would spend my Sunday Siesta time trying to get the thing fixed – I mean, I had to have it. Didn’t I?
Little did I know God was about to teach me all kinds of lessons regarding my spirit and that phone.
From Asurion (a tech repair place) to the AT&T store where I bought it 9 months prior, from the Apple genius in the chat window to my husband driving it twice in one week to two different Nashville Apple Stores, from a loaner phone to the email progress updates – to say it was an ordeal was understatement.
And – that was only what was happening with my phone. That doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the emotional roller coaster I found myself riding. You see, on that fateful Saturday night, I would have said that “I own my phone. It doesn’t own me!” and meant it. Then God showed me just how delusional I was. That phone had all kinds of pull on and power over me – I naively, ignorantly, had no idea.
The first emotion was expected – I felt “exposed,” naked, like I was missing an important article of clothing. I NEVER left the house without it and now I didn’t have it. I could have predicted this feeling and did send a few texts from my computer letting key people know that I could not be reached by my cell number for a couple of days. If there was an emergency, please call my husband. Please call Wally.
Over the ensuing 48 hours, I felt a blizzard of doubts – loneliness, disconnectedness, powerlessness. What if I was needed? What if I am not needed? What if I needed something? What if something happened? What if Wally forgot something? What if I forgot something? These “What ifs” and “somethings” truly exposed my lack of faith, my desire to control and my insecurities that I had hidden deep within.
As the days passed, I was eventually given a loaner phone and told that it was a very real possibility that my failure to regularly back up my phone would mean I could lose a ton of “data.” Contacts and messages weren’t so scary to lose, pictures and voicemail messages – now that was another matter. When it was all said and done, about 10 months of images and videos of my kids, and a couple priceless voicemail messages from my grandmother were gone forever. The loss was real. I blamed myself. Why hadn’t I backed it up? Why didn’t I just break down and pay the extra few bucks a month for additional iCloud storage?
So, I learned to back up phone. I learned quite a few other things as well. Some lessons were pretty predictable. I was spending too much time on worthless, time-wasting things on my phone. Games, social media, news/weather information – all of them, before I was without my phone, I had justified in my mind with lots “valuable” reasons for investing my time and attention in that way. Many of those “reasons” I had “hyper-spiritualized” to try to somehow deem them as worthwhile and even necessary. But, the longer I went without these apps, the more I was confronted with the truth – I was wasting a ton of time on my phone. I finished not one, but two books I had started reading months before. This exposure led me to feel free. It’s okay not to know “all” the news. It’s good to not know everyone’s instagram lives. It’s alright not to know the weather forecast for the next 10 days.
Just like I can’t control the weather, I also learned that there are a lot of other things that are out of my control. Not having my phone, caused me to pray more and my faith grew. God showed me that my phone had given me a false sense of power over so many small things in my everyday life. God reminded me that He was the One with those I loved and He was the One taking care of them. He also showed me that He was the One with me and that He was the One taking care of me too. My security isn’t in a small plastic/metal/glass electronic device made in China.
After the two week ordeal, my phone was returned to me. It had been reset to the factory settings and I had some choices to make. There were some apps that I had to reload and then there were some apps that I didn’t have to reload. I prayerfully and intentionally visited the App Store and with eyes-wide-open proceeded.
Before, I thought I had owned my phone, but what I realized that over the years, it has slowly but oh-so-very surely owned me.
The Holy Spirit pulled back the veil and exposed how I had become so very dependent on a device that is neither sinful or bad. He showed me the amount of control I had relinquished and allowed my feelings to become so intricately intwined in ways I had not even imagined possible. (Even though my communication with Wally never faltered over these two weeks, knowing I couldn’t just pick up my phone and call him – I still felt a distance from him.)
I won’t say, “This will never happen again,” but I will pray, “God, please don’t allow my wandering heart to be led astray this way.” I won’t blindly assume that I can “handle my phone,” but I will ask the Lord, to continue to discipline me when my phone begins to “handle” me. I will call my sin what it is, and I will thank God for the exposure that brings me to repentance, that ultimately brings me closer to him.
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