A Matter of Focus and Faith

A few years ago I instituted a “digital fast” for one week the beginning of January and the first week of June. I wish I could tell you that over the past 2 years I’ve become a master at this practice but the truth is I still struggle with the practice. I easily find myself dreading it as it arrives but as the hours grow short to the time of fasting I begin to reach a peace in considering it’s purpose.

It hasn’t changed much since when I first wrote about the fast in 2010,

I’m seeking balance, perspective, discipline, introspection, and quietness. I have issues with that whole “be still and know that I’m God” idea and that is my focus for this week.

You might say I’m a slow learner.

As a approach this time of tuning out I’m mindful of a few areas that need some attention,

A Matter of Focus

I need more airplane mode time

Airplane mode is an action and mindset taken from the setting on your iPhone that disables all connectivity. It’s the practice of putting your smartphone into airplane mode and focusing on just being present. As my friend @sarabethjones would say,

“Real people, right here”

I do pretty well about being in airplane mode in the evenings at the family dinner table but its a practice that is easy to let slip. I need to be more conscious about putting the thing down and stepping away.

Savor the “downtime”

A vast majority of my downtime is consumed with my iPhone. Twitter, Facebook, news, etc… Instead its time to pick up something that will matter much more in 6 months. A writing journal, a book, a Bible, or just pause and be quiet.

The truth is: I have a habit of running away from quiet.

It’s probably the impetus for this season of fasting in my life. It allows me to be alone with my thoughts instead of considering how to frame them into 140 characters. The moments I capture on Instragram are instead enjoyed by pausing and individual appreciation.

This fast always reveals how easily I reach and swipe this precious tether to the world. It’s also the reason I do it 2x a year because I so easily forget the lesson.

As I approach 2013, and turning 35 this June its time to seize the day on some areas that have been too long neglected.

  1. Sleep – The sad fact is so many things in my life hinge on having enough sleep that I can arise early and seize the day. Medicine and CPAP masks have helped tremendously and now its time to put more value on a regular and adequate sleep pattern.
  2. Health – I’m weak and fat and I’m beginning to feel it. I weighed myself and holy smokes that was a scary number. Not to mention I’m not getting any younger. First some small steps but its time I start looking at lifelong practices that give me more strength and vitality to enjoy life.
  3. Mind – The list of books I have to read is way to long. I’d like to read 24 this year but to set attainable goals we’ll start with 3 books by Mar 1.

So why do I share all of this?

  1. I share about my digital fast because I’ll be disconnected for 8 days and I want people to know why. (No screen time that isn’t req’d for work, so call or txt me if you need me.)
  2. Simply put our rate of technology adoption is often faster than we can learn to use it well. I hope it may encourage you to evaluate how and when you connect and converse and see if the practice of unplugging might help you.

and you don’t have to take my word on it…

“I used to believe that time was the most important thing I have, but I’ve come to believe differently. The single most valuable resource I have is uninterrupted thought.” – Adam Brault

A Matter of Faith

And since this is as much a matter of faith as it is focus I’d be remiss by not mentioning the spiritual principle of solitude. Richard Foster wrote the following in “Celebration of Discipline” (one of the most magnificent and challenging books I’ve ever read, I highly recommend it).

“Our fear of being alone drives us to noise and crowds. We keep up a constant stream of words even if they are inane.”

There is great precedent in the life of Jesus for the discipline of solitude (40 days in the desert, many nights spent alone praying, etc…).  Solitude is not about isolation but a focus a listening. Inner quiet is needed for realignment. Foster calls it “reorienting our lives like a compass needle.” I wander off track easily and use noise as way to ignore that which I should be listening to… namely the voice of Truth. Truth about myself, truth about this world, and truth about what it means to follow Jesus and seek to glorify God.

My spiritual focus this week is Matt 5-6 as it will be for much of 2013.

 “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him” Matt 5:1

May those last 5 words be true of me this week and every week following. God Bless.