The Captain just turned off the fasten seatbelt sign and I’m on my way to Eglin AFB for a conference. While the blog from the conference has yet to be written, this one started writing itself about 45 minutes before takeoff.
I’d made my way through airport security (shoutout to TSA at Shreveport Regional for being the friendliest agents I’ve ever encountered), gotten some junk food to snack on, and gotten to gate 9 with time to spare. Usually that spare time is occupied by people-watching (yes, you people are interesting…ha), but today hit differently. As I looked out into a big waiting room with myself and 37 other folks (I counted), all I saw were tops of heads. Bald heads, big hairdos, dyed hair, hats, gray hair, brown hair, blonde hair, and more…including a man-bun and a couple other random colors. Now I know the setting of an airport gate waiting area isn’t the most interesting, nor is it the ideal place for conversation but, I kid you not, EVERY SINGLE PERSON was either pecking away at their screen, watching (or maybe reading) something, or endlessly swiping over and over again. Everybody was looking at the screen they were holding in their hand.
Now, before you call me a hypocrite (cause I’m now sitting on a plane thousands of feet somewhere above Mississippi or Alabama pecking away at my phone writing this) just go with me.  Call it guilt, shame, conviction, or whatever else you want to label it, I was hit square in the face, right between the eyes, wondering if we have any idea how much life we are missing as it unfolds right in front of us.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying…
  • I’m not against phones or tablets. In fact, I am quite the Apple fan boy.
  • I’m not against social media. I can scroll with the best of ‘em. 
  • I’m not against texts or emails or any other communication that phones make very easy and convenient. 
  • Speaking of convenience, I’m not against that either.
But enough about what I’m not saying. I have a confession, then I want to talk about what I AM saying!

First things first…confession time: I’m guilty. If letting life pass you by because you’re too preoccupied with what’s happening out in the world of the inter-webs is a crime, then you could throw me under the jail. Fortunately, it’s not a crime, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have immense effects on our lives and the lives of those around us. Fortunately, chances are pretty good that these effects are completely unintentional, but unfortunately, the damage can still be done.
So, what AM I trying to say?

  1. Your job is good, and being a quality teammate is better, but being attentive to your spouse at home is best!
  2. Your friends are good, and communicating with them regularly is even better, but the quality, distraction free face time you have with your kid is best.
  3. The connections made through social media are good, and using social media as a tool to spread knowledge or inspiration or truth is even better, but the friend sitting at the lunch table with you…that’s best!
  4. The endless supply of knowledge on YouTube is good, and the audiobooks and podcasts are even better, but iron-sharpening-iron life-changing growth that happens WITH other people is best!
  5. The fun laughs we get from the reels and stories are good, the emotional posts and videos we come across at just the right moments are even better, but the side splitting laughter and the tear filled embrace shared right when you need it most with those who love you endlessly…yeah…that’s best!  

You see, the wisdom, creativity, and foresight of folks like Steve Jobs has handed us great tools! We are literally seconds away from anything we want to know, any type of entertainment we’d like to have, and pretty much anybody we like to talk to.  The endless innovation of technology has radically changed the world as we know it, and ten years from now, I’ll more than likely look back at this iPhone 13 Pro Max I’m typing on as if it’s an artifact from the Stone Age. And I’ll do that looking back probably on the latest creation of some brilliant mind that dreamt up something we haven’t even though of yet.

But…do I want to stand in 2033 and look back at today like I look at my life back in 2013? Short answer…NO.

Longer answer…I wasted way too much time on way too much pointless stuff.

So, what am I going to do about it? Well I’m glad you asked!

Two things:

  1. I’m NOT going to fall into the trap of guilt. I can’t change it. I’m not going to let shame beat me to a bloody pulp. I didn’t intentionally do anything wrong. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I was going to ignore everything around me and just stare at my phone 24-7. So no, shame and guilt have no place, cause they will only steal more.
  2. I AM going to learn. I’m going to balance. Like I said earlier, technology and devices aren’t the enemy, they aren’t bad things. I love my tech. I love what it allows me to do. I love social media and using it for good. I love the connections with people. I love the ease of communication. I love being able to write this and the ability for you to read it. I love sending my wife and friends the most recent absolutely hilarious video I found and the cheesiest dad jokes you’ve ever heard. However, I love my wife more. I love my kid more. I love my family and my friends more. I love building friendships more. I love the interruptions that deserve my time and attention more. And my family, the Network, and my church (my three priorities I set for myself) deserve my presence, and I want to give all my best. So, I’m learning how to balance my time. I’m learning how to be available for what’s best. I’m learning to life my head up and look around a little more. I’m learning to put the phone away at the appropriate times. Im learning how to even more so use technology and my devices more effectively and strategically. I’m learning, and I’m a work in progress. And that, that right there, is best. I’m not willing to look back over the next 5, 10, 20 or however many years I have left and see more of me sacrificing those I love on the alter of anything other than what is best. And, quite frankly, they’re what’s best! 

So, wherever you are, whatever you’re going through, whatever life has thrown at you, whatever you’re searching for, let me challenge you...
Chin up, Buttercup.

That’s not me telling you to look up and get over your problems. I’m not making light of very real heartache and pain, not in the slightest. It’s me asking you to trust me. It’s me speaking from experience, while at the same time telling you I’m not there yet. It’s me asking you to go with me as we all fight for our overall health. The joy you’re looking for, the hope you’re desperate for, the family you’re praying for, the friendship you’re longing for, the help you’re searching for, it’s ultimately found when you look up and around at what’s probably right there in front of you. Then balance what ya find with a healthy and intentional use of the gifts that technology has to offer. I promise you this. You and me both will stand down the road of life with less regret and more fulfillment.