Dear Friends in Christ,
There are days right now when I think that if I don’t get away from all of the screens in my house, I will go crazy. Maybe you feel that way too. Sometimes I just go out on the back deck, sit in the chair, and gaze blankly out at the trees. I listen to the birds chirp, to the sound of squirrels racing through the trees, and it feels like another world. The biggest tell of my own digital burnout: I only read the newspaper about every third or fourth day.
When this isolation all started about six weeks ago, I was optimistic and full of energy. I was ready to help us fill the time on our hands, or relieve the stress. I thought about projects I could do, and I listened to a lot of you talk about cleaning out closets and getting to things you’d been putting off. Then, it morphed into finding a routine of involving people in the life of the church community to continue to build those bonds that sustain and encourage us in rough patches of life. Routine gave us all some normalcy when we really needed it. Now, I feel like self-care is the most important thing that each and every one of us needs, because we seem to be on the verge of losing our minds. Our children are in digital school, but there often aren’t enough devices (or tech-savvy helpers) to go around. We work from home, or not at all, and when we’re bored, we are used to resorting to our tablets, our phones, and the television. Perhaps in the beginning we thought, “Hey, I could catch up on some of the shows my friends say are great tv.” Now, that likely doesn’t seem possible or appetizing. I look around the house and realize that I basically have five chairs and a bed in which I live my life – and I spend each day going back and forth between them, while throwing in cooking and exercise for fun.
Digital burnout is dangerous for us mentally and emotionally. It’s also evidence that we’re not caring for our spiritual lives enough. Taking some time off and getting away from my daily devotionals really caused me to lose my center. The rest was wonderful, but keeping centered spiritually is what is keeping me sane. How about you?
In my sermon (4/26/2020), I suggested putting the right things first, and then letting everything else fall into place around it. Every one of us needs something specific right now, and they don’t all match. Some of us are lonely and need connection, however it might come. Some of us are overwhelmed and need some quiet peace when no one is asking anything of us. Some of us need things to do to keep us busy. Some of us wish everyone would quit piling more on that we need to do.
We’re all in a different place. But here is what is the same. We’re all still children of God. We’re all still blessed by God’s grace, which tells us that the things of this life will not be what lasts in the end. We all have souls that need to be filled by the Spirit. That’s where putting the right things first comes in.
My prescription for digital burnout is this: set aside 20 minutes. Include a few verses of a psalm that fits your mood, an inspirational song (yes, probably from your device), a short prayer, and 5 things for which you are grateful. Spend the rest of that time just sitting with the people who live with you, whether quietly or raucously, making sure some good hugs are included.
Then figure out the rest of your day.
God knows we need balance. God longs to fill us up with His love and sustenance. If we make this the hinge around which the rest of our day swings, we’ll find that God pulls us through. A little bit of time with God makes everything else so much better.
I’m doing this by myself – now time to pull the girls in. I’m thinking of each of you and sending my love and support. We will get through this, and we will come out on the other side as better Christians and more patient people.
In Christ’s love,