We were seated at a small table in the corner. The restaurant wasn’t very crowded as we waited for our family to be served. As we were talking, I noticed my younger daughter staring into her lap. Her father, right beside her, pulls his phone out of his pocket and scrolls emails. My eyes wide, I exclaimed, “We’re having a conversation! Could you put your phone away?!” To which he did the obvious….he threw his daughter under the bus. “She’s checking her phone, too!”
Anyone else have a meal like that?! Really, it doesn’t even have to be a meal. It happens all the time. People check their phones as they walk down the street with their friends, chatting with the neighbor, or standing in line with their sibling while waiting for their coffee. We pull out the phone to keep busy as we wait for Bible study to begin or church service to start. It’s as if we can’t function without that little piece of hardware!
I’m guilty of it, too! There is absolutely no condemnation coming from this end of the keyboard. I’d like to think I’m much better about it than I used to be, but I know that I’m sometimes not any better than anyone else in this department.
For whatever reason, though, this thought has continued to pop into my head for the last couple of months: Put down your phone! That phrase has plagued me when I’ve pulled out my phone in the middle of a conversation. It’s hit me when I tried to film some event and realized that I’d spent so much time trying to make sure I got the perfect angle with no noise or movement that I’d missed the real enjoyment. And it’s even hit me when I’m in the middle of my Bible studies and I pick it up to check my newest Facebook notifications. Is it really that important?
Table 8 (my California Bible study crew) is currently going through the book of Romans, and there is a verse in there that I’m leaning into now more than ever. In a society that’s burdened with this feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out), I’m clinging to this.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor,” –Romans 12:10
I don’t feel I’m being honoring to my friends when my face is buried in the most recent Facebook post about my neighbor’s horse. I’m not honoring time with my family when I’m checking the headlines on an app. I’m not honoring the work that someone put into something when I’m more worried about the right lighting than what they’re saying or performing.
I think relationships would be enriched if we all devoted ourselves as the Bible encourages us to do. Paul, here, was encouraging the Romans to walk with one another in love as they navigated a life in Christ. He advised them to be humble and honor others over themselves. What better way than to put down the distraction and really engage with each other?!
I’m laying down a challenge to all of us. Let’s spend less time on our phones and more time in real fellowship! Let’s get back to the days where we forged our friendships and family time in conversations and face-to-face interactions. Let’s honor each other with true quality time. Let’s put down our phones!