How are you planning to live your life to the fullest this Thanksgiving week? I'm going to tell you about my dangerous bicycle ride in a moment, but first, will you look around you today? Do you see so many people staring at screens all day, not noticing the ACTUAL world around them? They miss so much beauty, they miss seeing those in need, and they miss making meaningful connections with those they love the most. Part of my journey this last year of waking up and living my life to the fullest has included getting a bicycle and riding it around town. I can't believe how much I enjoy it, and my kids have had fun riding with me. Except the youngest. Unfortunately, he isn't yet able to ride a bike.
We live in a world ruled by screens (and frustration over how our bodies respond to sitting and looking at screens all day). I look at a screen to write to you this message. I’ll only be able to get this message to you by posting it on a website. I get the irony! I voted last week on a screen. Did you know even tractors are run by screens these days? Many of my friends ride their bikes in front of screens with simulated scenery! (I'm sorry if this is your thing, but it strikes me as so odd.)
Over the summer, I dreamed I was desperately trying to ride my bicycle from our house in town to our rural farm, and it was a dangerous ride. It was dark, and I had several small children following me on their bicycles. Redmond’s six years old and can’t ride a bike. His low muscle tone makes it hard for him to hang on for long when I hold him. I’d get him in a reasonable position, ride a few feet, then have to stop and adjust. It was torturously slow, but I had a deep sense of danger and kept trying.
Suddenly, the streets were filled with cars all going the same direction. I knew that was the wrong way to the farm, but my body strained to go in the same direction the cars were going. At one point, I was finally able to ride in the direction I wanted without resistance. I realized I’d left my phone on the side of the road the last time I’d stopped. I ran back to get it, noticing my body straining in the wrong direction again.
As an experiment, I put the phone down. I could go wherever I wanted! I picked the phone up. I was pulled in the direction of all the cars. Every hair on my body stood on end. Our phones were leading us toward something, and we couldn’t resist. My mind whirled as I tried to decide what to do. If I didn’t have my phone, I didn’t have a headlight. My husband couldn’t contact me. As excruciating as it was, I put the phone down and continued my slow, dark ride to the farm without it.
I woke up, sweating, with a racing heart, and literally got on Amazon Prime that moment and ordered a bicycle headlight. I’m not even kidding. I also started researching adaptive bikes for Redmond, but that’s not as easy a solution. But, I digress…
I believe that dream was from the Lord, and it’s my second recent dream regarding screens. We know our media, which we consume constantly on our phones, is so obviously biased, even my little brain can figure out we’re being pushed in the direction they want us to go.
I’ve taken steps to clear my mind, removing social media apps from my phone. There’s not much point posting my writing on social media these days. It’s not the correct agenda for the algorithms, so it isn’t seen by most people who’d read it. I’ve thought about trying to hack the system with ultra-liberal titles that reflect nothing I’m writing about to see if it makes a difference, but I felt like the Lord said just to stop. I need to check Facebook occasionally, but it’s not a time-sucking companion now. I only look at it on my laptop.
I turned off almost all my phone notifications. I discovered most notifications aren’t necessary, so I only kept the most important ones. Do you think I miss the constant beeping and buzzing of my phone?
As you celebrate Thanksgiving, I challenge you to intentionally put down your phone, turn off the screens, and engage with those around you. I know families can be difficult, and holidays sometimes bring out the worst in people. But they’re your people. Remember when we couldn’t get together at all?
I’m calling for a perspective shift this year. You know that one aunt is going to ask you why you aren’t married or if you’ve gained weight (or whatever her favorite helpful topic is). This year, spend some time with the Lord before family gatherings. Full of His Spirit, go to those gatherings with God's peace and joy! Even better, spend the day before fasting. You’ll be full of the goodness of God, and the feast will taste that much better because you’re hungry. Your aunt will be annoyed when she can’t get to you, and that’ll be pretty sweet, too.
Think about how nice it would be to put your phone down, turn off notifications for a few days, and just LIVE. No constant beeping to keep you jumping, answering, constantly on alert. No one to get jealous of because their filtered life looks better than yours. No pressure to post your own perfect photos. I could go on and on, but you’ll get bored, so I’ll stop now.
Let’s get back to living our lives like we mean it, free to think for ourselves. Let’s remember what REAL fun is, apart from video games and movies. The news media won’t miss us one bit. Your friends on Facebook probably won’t even realize you’re gone. Take the leap! Join me on the other side. Freedom is waiting!
I’d love to know your thoughts on this subject. You can leave a comment below.
One more thing! If you're looking for a Christmas gift for that one hard-to-buy-for person, you could give them my book. It's available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats. Here's a link to pick up a copy today: Looking Up When Life Looks Down: Shattered Dreams, Medical Miracles, and Restored Hope.