At the first of February, I initiated a 40 day media fast. There were a lot of reasons for this. At Journey, we were in the middle of a several month vision discussion and I wanted to continue leading well. Kristen had started a new job and our family’s schedule was very full. And I had realized that my intentional one on one time with God wasn’t as consistent as I wanted it to be. In short, I felt the need to focus on God, draw close to him and quiet the distractions.
As I thought through how to prioritize my connection with the Father, I began to take an honest look at my life. I realized that I had developed habits with how I use my time. I began to notice that so much of my free time, a moment here or 15 minutes there, was spent on my phone using media in some way or another. I found myself checking Facebook a dozen times a day or more. When I came home from work, I would hit my Cowboys app and check out all the latest news from Big D. I would check this blog to see how many people had visited that day. I would check Journey’s Facebook and Reckless Pursuit’s Facebook. I would jump over to my ESPN app and see what I had missed that day. On and on it would go.
For years, I have arranged my life, reordered my schedule and even set up my office to prioritize people and relationships. It’s who I want to be and how I want to live. I felt like I was doing a fairly good job of that at work but I had begun to be less present at home – when I was off and could relax. I wasn’t engaging my family like I’d want to nor was I as connected with God as I needed to be.
So…40 days in the wilderness here I came! 40 days of no media. No TV. No talk radio. No apps of the phone. No internet. The only things I allow myself were talking on the phone, texting and emailing for work. After I cut those things out, I decided to take back media for the good. I added in Air1 radio, because it feeds my heart and I built a 40 day Bible reading plan into the notes app on my phone. Every day, when I had a free moment – instead of pulling up the Cowboys or Facebook – I would grab my phone and read scripture. When I came home, I would put my phone away and be present. I played with my kids. Sat on the kitchen counter and talked with Kristen while she cooked. Started reading Reckless Pursuit to my family and played games with them. It was amazing how much time I felt like I got back!
Everything wasn’t easy though. About 3 weeks in, there was struggle. I really wanted to just sit on the couch and relax – veg. I had gotten weary and longed for a break. For freedom from the discipline. The next week was hard. However, the last week or two of the fast was great. It was back to the earlier experience. I was present with my family and I was chasing God actively.
As I write this, I’m finished with the media fast but have come to live a bit different. I check Facebook a couple of times a day and hit my Cowboys app once or twice as well. But I am present both with people and with God. I can’t wait to initiate something like this again!