Woman in a beige dress holding a mobile phone with two hands close up. Shallow depth of field.

A Present Called Presence

Written by: Jeremiah Storkson

A while back, I was at a gathering with a lot of people that I know, but don’t know well. I walked in and immediately sensed the awkwardness of realizing I am out of the social circle at this place. So, I tried to make it fun, and I tried to make conversation, but for some reason, I was uncomfortable. I then realized something. Every time I felt this feeling of awkwardness, there was one thing that I would go to. That thing was my phone. Yes, it sounds pathetic, but it is the truth.

My place of safety from being present, out of the fear of discomfort, is to look down at my phone. I am ashamed to admit this, but it is something with which I really struggle. I didn’t notice until this moment. After this happened, I began to pay attention to the pattern. Looking at my phone happened regularly, and so I realized I had a problem. I was addicted to my phone.

A realization like this is humbling, embarrassing, but also incredibly important. This may be embarrassing to admit, but I can almost guarantee that I am not alone in the struggle. A CNN article from 2017, which I have provided a link for below, discusses a newly coined, 21st century word called Nomophobia, or “NO MObile phone phobia.” Yep, that is what it is called. It is defined as “the fear of not being able to use your cell phone or other smart device.” This is becoming a real issue.

Why am I talking about this? I am not writing this article to make you feel awful about yourself or to make you hate technology. I think phones, computers, social media, and technology in general are fine at their root. They actually make for very good tools. However, if we are not careful, we can find ourselves more alive on social media or through the screen of our

phones than in front of people in our lives. And I can say from experience that existing in real life is way better than existing primarily online.

So, maybe by now you have come to a realization that you are, in fact, addicted to your phone too. What’s next? How do you improve? I want to provide some simple steps for how to kick the habit.

1. Take Breaks

Something I quickly realized as I moved towards eliminating this habit was that I have to take breaks from my phone. This came in the form of a few things. First, I occasionally must delete social media, and other often-used apps, for a week or more. In fact, the week I am writing this article is one of those weeks. Creating that separation helps detach myself from the pull that those things carry.

The second thing I have learned to do is to intentionally put my phone to the side when I have conversations. I am by no means perfect at this, but this technique has helped. A strategy could mean simply turning your phone over on a table, or simply leaving it in your car. These steps will feel excessive at first, but I promise they are freeing and extremely helpful. The most important thing to understand about this is that your phone does not own you. Nothing, outside of obvious, real emergencies, is actually urgent outside of your mind.

2. Set Strong Boundaries

Phones, and other types of technology make for great tools, but they are just that. They are tools. You have no obligation to your phone, so set strict boundaries. If you have an iPhone, utilize the “screen time” feature, and set limits on how long certain apps are available to you each day. You will find that your time on those apps will even be

better spent when you have a limited amount of time on them. You may even find that you will have to delete certain apps permanently, only accessing them on your laptop. These steps may sound extreme, but often times it takes big steps for big progress.

3. Embrace the Awkwardness

You may find yourself confused by this one. “Embrace awkwardness”? Yep. Now, stereotypes say that since I was homeschooled through high school, I am pretty good at awkwardness, and that is one of the stereotypes that I absolutely would say I am a part of. I am naturally an awkward person. At times, that knowledge of my awkwardness has contributed to, instead of facing it, going to my phone. As I have pulled away from that nasty habit, I have discovered some amazing things!

Choosing to embrace awkward moments is one of the most freeing things I have ever done. It has drawn me towards people and has given me confidence in who God has made me to be. You cannot change certain parts of your personality, and you honestly shouldn’t. The biggest thing you can do to beat the addiction to technology is to look up and face the people in front of you.

Don’t retreat when you find yourself in an awkward situation. Face it head-on. It is incredible what happens when you decide to have real conversations face-to-face. You will realize that you are possibly way less awkward than you think you are. Most importantly though, you will find meaningful community. I have found that, in large part, because of the decision to embrace awkward moments and just be me. 4. Value your Mission Field

The final step is probably the most important one if you consider yourself a follower of Christ. You are here for a reason. I titled this article “A Present Called

Presence” for a reason. The presence of God is most powerfully known when distractions are put aside. We experience the gift of God’s Presence most powerfully when our hearts and minds focus on Him. We experience that Gift when we seek Him in His Word and in prayer rather than seeking things of this world.

In the same way, other people can experience the gift of our presence in their lives when we choose to put aside distractions. In other words, God can use the fact that we are in people’s lives in powerful ways when we are present, in the room, and un-distracted.

Recently, Cody Tupps from Ransom Church spoke in chapel and talked about those “you are here” moments. These are times that God reminds us that He has us where we are for a reason. Jesus famously says this in the well-known Great Commission:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

Part of that Great Commission is getting into the lives of people and being present. That is our mandate as Christians. So today, choose to put aside your phone, and remember that you are here for a purpose.

Part of the inspiration for this article was a spoken word titled “Be Present,” by rapper and spoken word artist “Propaganda.” Watch it below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5y2GKk6sOI

Internet Source: https://www-m.cnn.com/2017/11/30/health/smartphone-addiction-study/index.html?r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F