How I Lost 250 Pounds Of Stress On The Smartphone Diet

Kevin McIntoshBY:  KEVIN MCINTOSH

E-MAIL ADDRESS:  kevin@kevinmcintosh.com

BIBLE TEXT:  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42 (ESV)

PERSONAL REFLECTION: The average person today has an attention span of about eight seconds, according to a study published by Microsoft Canada. I’m not surprised. Thanks to smartphones and other devices, it feels as if we have become America the Distracted.

As we’re being encouraged by our church leadership here at Life Assembly to be more open with one another, let me be brave for a moment and make a confession: I’ve been way too preoccupied with my smartphone.

How do you know if you need some time away from your smartphone?

1. You’re sitting on the couch and want to know if it’s cold outside. Instead of taking five seconds to stick your head out the living room door, you pull out your smartphone and fire up the weather.com app to see what the temperature is.

2. You’re sitting in traffic on I-40 during rush hour and fire up Google Maps to see what the traffic on I-40 is like.

3. You spend more time on YouTube watching fun kitty-cat videos than you do actually playing with your own kitty-cat.

I believe the Lord has better plans for us.

I don’t recall any instances in Scripture where Jesus was distracted. He was always fully engaged with those around him. Jesus was all about relationships. He still is. How about you and me?

In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus is inside the house of Mary and Martha. We see Mary sitting attentively at Jesus’ feet. Meanwhile, Martha is preoccupied with her tasks. Martha had the rare opportunity to be one of the few people to physically be at the feet of Jesus before his death, burial, and resurrection. And she totally missed it. I can’t help but wonder what kind of regrets she had about that lost opportunity after His ascension back into heaven.

What rare opportunities are we missing? Perhaps a loved one’s momentary sad expression that was begging for a response from us. Maybe a brief moment of wonder at the sight of a fluttering butterfly.  Or a priceless truth from God’s Word delivered by the pastor during a sermon. I believe those are modern day examples of the “good portions” the Lord has for us. I fear our preoccupation with our smart devices is causing us to miss those rare moments. And our constant jumping from app to app is causing us much unnecessary anxiety. At least, that’s been my story.

PERSONAL APPLICATION

I want to experience more of those good portions. So here’s the smartphone diet I put myself on a few weeks back. Feel free to try it:

1. Consume no more than ten news articles per day. The goal is to whittle that down to no more than five articles.

2. Turn off all emails, texts, and other notifications and only check once per hour at the most.

3. Turn off every screen device at least an hour before going to bed. Research shows our eyes and brain need that break or our sleep will be less than optimum.

4. Consume fewer than ten brain-zapping content pieces per day – i.e. cute kitty catty videos, Chuck Norris jokes, and cool guitar gear photos on Pinterest.

How’s this diet transforming my life? I’m regularly experiencing more peace, focus, joy, creativity, energy, and patience than I have in years. I’m also experiencing more awareness of the opportunities the Lord has prepared for me. Here’s one such example:

A few weeks ago, I drove up to a convenient store. As I entered, a couple of teenage boys walked out. They looked mischievous bordering on criminal. Inside the store, I heard the clerk say she expected at any time the boys were going steal something. I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge.

I watched the boys walk to another convenient store right across the street. I hopped in my car, drove over, and waited till they walked out. I jumped out of my car, and said, “Hey, got a second?” They stopped. I pulled out a pocket New Testament and said, “Hey, you got one of these?” One kid said “Yes.” The other said “No.” He said his name was Trevon.

“Trevon, God loves you,” I said. “And He wants you to love Him back. This book tells you how.” Then I said, “Boys, God has a plan for you. A great plan, in fact. And it’s not to end up homeless. And it’s not to end up in jail or prison. If you want to know His plan for you, read this and ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and He will. This book changes lives. It changed mine. Promise me you’ll read it.” They promised they would.

I thank the Lord my head wasn’t buried in my smartphone, that day. I might not have seen those boys walk right by me. I might not have heard what that store clerk said. More importantly, I wouldn’t have sensed the Holy Spirit’s nudge. I praise God He got my attention that day. Still, I wonder how many Trevon’s I’ve passed on other days and never noticed.

I’m rediscovering there’s far more to life than cute kitty-cat videos.

PRAYER: Lord, please help us all to be more engaged in life by being focused on Your presence and becoming aware of the “good portions” that reside in the here and now. Instead of turning to our smartphones for inspiration, help us to turn to your Word for divine inspiration and instruction. And thank You for the peace You have waiting in abundance for us when we turn our hearts and eyes from the distractions of this world and turn them instead to You.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   

Kevin McIntosh lives in south Mt. Juliet and has attended Life Assembly since December of 2015. He was saved in 1992. He is employed as a full-time writer by an international, faith-based non-profit. He is single and likes to spend his free time hiking, writing and producing songs, and twanging on his Fender Telecaster electric guitar.

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