The kid down the street couldn’t resist ringing doorbells. He’d move along the row of houses, pushing buttons and hiding when someone opened a door. Ten times a day wasn’t too often for him to interrupt our lives.
Just ignore the doorbell, right? But my dad was the pastor, and because we didn’t have a phone in those days, the ringing of our doorbell could mean someone was in crisis. There was no way our conscience would allow us to ignore the doorbell when it rang. I felt tyrannized by that unpredictable bell.
Recently I realized that I’m caught in that tyranny again. This time, it’s my smartphone. It lets me know when I get a text, e-mail, or certain Facebook posts or messages. It lets me know if there’s an Amber Alert, or a Silver Alert, or a weather alert. It reminds me that I have 17 tasks to do this day, or that I have an appointment, or that someone from a group text I was sent two days ago has finally gotten around to responding.
Because I am a conscientious person, I feel obligated to answer. Even if someone sends a mass Facebook message to all their friends that says “Have a good day,” I feel I should at least acknowledge it with an emoji. I feel tyrannized by my phone. Because I travel a lot, people often don’t realize that I’m in a different time zone, so they send a text that awakens me at unearthly hours.
Yes, my phone has a button to turn it off. I have been turning off notifications on apps that intrude. But my parents are both in poor health, and I want to be available if needed. And I feel ambiguous because sometimes people are waiting on my answer to accomplish what they need to do, and are frustrated that it takes me so long to see their message and respond.
The way my brain feels right now, I understand what Jesus meant when He told His disciples to come aside and rest. The constant demands of everyone at any time was taking a toll on His relationship with His Father. I’m finally allowing myself to let go of the guilt for not being at everyone’s disposal constantly and making conscious efforts to sit quietly, uninterrupted, at the feet of Jesus. Only He can teach me to live at peace in a frantic world. — by Viki Rife, first posted at womenofgraceusa.wordpress.com.