Hi, my name is Ginger Brown. I have been part of the team here at Rock Bottom Ranch for several months now, and I am so excited to be writing our first weekly blog! We have lined up a team of writers that will be taking turns each week, sharing what God is putting on our hearts that we believe will be relevant and helpful to the body of Christ.
As I started praying about what God wanted me to share, I was reminded that He had asked me months ago to write about how our cell phones had taken over our lives, and not in a good way. It has been a year or so since I have written a blog, but God most generally will have me write about something He is wanting to help me overcome, or something I have already overcome that can be an encouragement to others. This time around, it is definitely an issue I am still needing to address in my own life, so if you are still reading after hearing the topic, maybe God has been speaking to you as well in this area. Let’s take a look at it together, what do you say?
First I want to share that by the grace of God, I was supernaturally set free from a 15-year addiction to crack cocaine back in 2008. Over the last 13 years, God has done more in my life than I ever dreamed was possible. I wrote a book on freedom from addiction that was published in 2010 and so far, we have been able to send over 11 thousand copies into jails and prisons across the nation. I am so grateful that all the pain I put my family and myself through is now being used to advance the Kingdom of God! I’ve been here at Rock Bottom Ranch since July, and I feel so blessed to be able to work at a place where I know I am fulfilling my God-given purpose. Addiction can come in many forms, and it is not only drugs that people can become addicted to. Besides drugs and alcohol, a person could become addicted to gambling, sex, porn, work, food, shopping, social media, and the list goes on and on. The big trouble with many of these things is that they are legal, therefore it is more socially acceptable and looked over, being easily swept under the rug because after all, we think, “how bad could it be if almost everyone is doing it, right?” Sadly, these things can be just as devastating to our lives as drugs, and sometimes even more so. There is a God-sized hole inside of each of us that only He can fill. Nothing, no matter how hard we try to make it fit, will ever fill that void but Him. Anything else will just make the hole deeper and deeper; a bottomless pit that can never be satisfied.
Many of us have unwittingly allowed our cell phones, especially related to social media, to become an idol in our lives by giving it more time than we give to God. We have even come to a place where this is how we seek to receive our approval and affirmation that we should only be looking to God for. This has happened little by little until suddenly we are doing it so automatically, we hardly notice. It is just normal. A habit. However, I for one am ready to surrender it to God and allow Him to bring deliverance to me in this area.
Cell phones are an amazing tool that we can use to help manage our daily lives, and even to share Jesus with the world. However, we have to be disciplined in how we use them, or they can become no longer a help but a hindrance. Our phones are not only time stealers, but they have also been linked to stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and increased suicide rates among other physical, spiritual, and psychological problems.
How many times have you picked up your cell phone to check your messages or add something to your shopping list, only to automatically open Facebook without even thinking about it and end up mindlessly scrolling instead of doing the task at hand? Then before you know it, you’ve wasted 30 minutes or so and your phone has sucked all the energy out of you so you put things off yet again. Am I the only one?
A while back, I had gone to Louisiana to visit some family I hadn’t seen in some time. About an hour into the visit, I realized ALL OF US were literally sitting in a circle to visit, yet instead of interacting with each other, we were on our phones instead! Has this happened to you? Would you even notice if it did? I challenge you to look at yourself and your family’s behavior in this area. Are your relationships suffering due to mindless time spent on your smartphone?
I know I am guilty, and I want to make a change. Our time here on earth is precious. Time with family is precious. I don’t want to waste it! God has many things He has called us to do, and I don’t want to miss sharing Jesus with a non-believer that God is trying to highlight to me because I was checking out who all liked a pic of my lunch I shared on Facebook!
There are eternal things at stake here in addition to our life here on earth. I don’t want to give more time to my phone than I do to my children, and I most certainly do not want to model that behavior in front of them and set that tone for how they relate to electronics and people. We must set some clear boundaries not only for our children regarding technology but also for ourselves. It is crucial.
I have asked God to give me some practical ways to implement this and this is what I got:
1. First, we must acknowledge that we have been out of alignment in this area and ask Him to forgive us and help us to do better.
2. Set clear boundaries for ourselves and our children regarding time limits for all electronics. Smartphones do have a feature that allows you to set time limits for social media and other phone apps. You can set these on your children’s electronics as well.
3. Set time apart for God and family where all electronics are turned off. We should make this a normal part of our routine.
4. Have accountability partners whether that is a friend or family member. Hold each other accountable!
5. If we find ourselves starting to slide back into old habits, repent again and address it immediately. Don’t give up! There is a beautiful life out there waiting for us outside of our smartphones. Let’s go live it!
Ginger Cato Brown