Lent is sort of like January 1st.
It’s that natural time where we can take stock of our entire lives: spiritual, emotional, social, familial, physical, intellectual and see what needs help.
What needs more attention? What needs less attention?
In my last three podcasts/blogs, I’ve discussed the concept of Parenting Below the Line; kids hide things from us that they don’t want us to see. Parenting them “below the line” is about acknowledging exactly where your children are and showing up for them.
That concept of not wanting our bad things to be seen applies to us, too. We hide things from ourselves or others by pretending it’s not a thing or not a big thing.
Lent is about opening up all of the doors to our inner home. It’s about letting Jesus below our own line.
Okay, so, I know that I want to take the time to let Jesus into my life in a deeper way. I want to allow Him more time, space and access to the inner me.
What I have been asking myself this week: what is getting in the way of that surrender?
I can easily answer that question but if you must know the truth, I don’t want to.
It’s about a high speed computer that fits into my back pocket and in the palm of my hand. It’s my portal to the entire world.
I love my smartphone. I am ever so grateful for it. I laugh every single day at our family group chat...having adult kids is awesome.
I also love how that little hand-held device makes life MUCH EASIER TO PLAN things. I can just send out a quick invite. I mean, it’s awesome.
I can download my favorite music. For free. WHOA. My 18-year old self, the one that bought cassette tapes, is so happy for me.
IT IS AMAZING.
But. When I am anxious about our world, where am I turning for comfort? When I feel overwhelmed, am I going to prayer, Scripture or Telegram?
This is not only a Lori Problem. Wherever I go, I see people gazing down at their smartphones. I’ve gone into restaurants and a quick scan of the place reveals most people with their heads down, scrolling. Teenagers, in groups, are almost always on their phones.
It’s easy for me to see how terribly wrong that is. It’s easy to point out “their” errors. Yet. How much of my own life is spent seeking on my phone?
I mean, I have all things. Why do I spend time SEEKING more?
Yes, I go through phases where I am detached from my phone. I remove apps. I keep my phone far from me. But invariably, I take it up again. And I can get sucked into groups and social media. With my head down. Scrolling.
Is that my best life?
Now, let’s look at this in another way: God wanted to give Eve the best life ever. She was tempted away from that life. By an apple.
DOES THIS SEEM HIGHLY CONCIDENTAL OR WHAT???
Egad. There is a BITE out of an APPLE on the back of my PHONE.
When I first noticed that little symbol and associated it with The Big Temptation, I paused. It was one of those good moments, not judgy or shame-filled, just quiet.
The question that I gently asked myself: Is my apple device tempting me away from the best life that God wants to give me?
I think that’s a good question for this Holy Season of Lent. I am (sort of reluctantly but I know it’s the right thing to do) putting specific boundaries around my phone usage for Lent.
Now, for those of you in our proactive course, The Parenting Dare 2.0, you’ll remember that Eric and I addressed healthy tech use in the second lesson and we laid out actionable items for every family member.
I thought it would be appropriate to go a bit deeper and look at WHY we do what we do.
Going to my phone is a habit. Why? Because I have gotten many rewards via that little phone.
Going to my phone always solves problems. I hear a text ding, I respond. I hear the swish of an email, I open it.
Now, if that is all Lori did, that would not be a bad thing, right? The problem is that I can easily make my phone the way I “reset” myself. Feeling bored? Pick up the phone. Need to laugh? Pick up the phone.
When did an electronic device become such a central part of my life? Why are there times and phases where I just GO to it like a zombie? And more importantly, how can I stop this habit? (If I don’t like it when others are always on their phones, then I don’t want to be, either!)
According to James Clear, the guy that wrote “Atomic Habits,” in order for a behavior to actually become a habit, it MUST have four parts to it:
He refers to that as a “habit loop.” The cue triggers a craving, which stirs up a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving. Loop.
Basically, in regards to our phones:
~We see them sitting over there. That’s the cue. It’s the Notice.
~That leads to a craving. How? Well, our brains remind us, with a nice little dump of dopamine, of all of the fun things contained within that device. It’s the Want.
~We respond by picking it up. It’s the Get.
~We are rewarded. It’s the Delivery.
What James Clear taught me is that we don’t really crave a phone. We crave what we know it can deliver: the “feel good.”
We want that “change in state.” Every single craving is LINKED to a desire to change something within. I think that’s fascinating.
The other fascinating aspect of habit formation: if a behavior does not have one of those four parts listed above, it will not become a habit.
In fact, without the first three steps, the behavior won’t even occur!
According to James, we are creatures of habit. We live on auto pilot and our environment “cues” us before we even realize what is happening. So if we want to stop a behavior, we need to modify our environment.
So, applying this to Lori and her phone...when I remove all social media apps and when I put my phone in my bathroom, far from where I am actually living and breathing and mothering, then I live a totally different life.
I do not check my phone continually. And in fact, because I know that there is nothing rewarding on the phone, the phone becomes just.a.phone.
Why I am focusing on me: well, it all starts with me. Kids will never do what I ask if I don’t model the behavior.
I don’t want to raise children who walk around with a device in their hands. I don’t want them rushing to the phone to get their “feel good.” I don’t want them to live such a small life.
There is so much more available to us.
This weekend I was in my car, driving by myself (where my mind can truly wander) and I thought of how many hours I probably spend on my phone (I listen to a ton of podcasts and I stay politically active through Telegram and other social media groups) and then I thought to myself, “How could you use those hours differently?”
To be honest, that question was refreshing. It felt like an invitation:
How would Life Doerneman be different if Mama Lori was more intentional about her life?
So, for Lent 2022, I surrender some of my phone usage. I want to give God the Father more space in my life.
What about you? Lent is a perfect time to take stock of where you are. Do you find yourself reaching towards your phone out of habit? If so, how could you structure your environment and/or your day to make the “cue/want/get” totally invisible and therefore unable to happen?? More importantly, what would you do with those extra hours in your day?
I love Lent. It’s a time to pull back and allow God in. Below our lines.
In my next post, I am going to tackle a big topic: what we can do when we know our children are stuck in sin. I’ll see you then.
The invitation in this post is to let Jesus INTO ALL OF YOUR "ISH." Let Him come into your house. Let Him kick down the walls and tear down all of the lies that hold you back from entering into a deeper relationship Him.
This morning, as I was preparing for my day, I went back into the Inside Out Course and friends, it is so good. I don't say that to pat myself on the back. It's good because it is "Lori unhinged."
I was at a point where I kept trying to manage food. And I hated all of that. What happened? Well, it doesn't have much to do with food. It has everything to do with God. I give my heart in that course. I share the "under" side of the journey.
if you struggle with self-image and "being enough" then consider that course a gift you give yourself this Lent. Jesus wants into our very selves. Let Him in.
There are many bonuses, including a recipe book with my favorite clean foods that not only make me feel fabulous, they taste fabulous.
Note: The Parenting Dare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com!