A couple of days ago, I finally decided to pull the plug; I deleted Snap chat and Twitter from my phone. (SHOCKING.) I still have Facebook and Instagram. My goal is, in one year, to have deleted all other apps but Facebook. (It just is so useful to communicate with people.) I still allow myself access to Twitter on my laptop and I’m assuming that alone will cut my usage of it by 75%. Why did I do this? I came to the conclusion a while ago that not only was I spending WAY too much time on my phone, I spend MORE time on it than ever before! (My addiction is growing.)
As the months passed, I continued telling myself my phone usage wasn’t that big of a deal. I mean, it’s MY down time. I think it’s fun, relaxing, and refreshing to spend mindless time on my phone. Why not get some down time for my brain? It went on like this for a while until one day I “woke up” from an HOUR session thinking, “Where did the time go? What did I just look at?” I realized I had opened one app, closed it, opened a different one, gone back to the previous one, opened another different one, etc. That was the reality of that hour: over and over again, checking for anything new, anything stimulating, anything to entertain me. And I wasted a whole hour. What did I do? Nothing. I filled my mind with literally nothing.
That’s sad. I am sad that I wasted time. Time that could have been spent with someone, thinking about someone, listening to a teaching, reading a book, studying the Word, actually hanging out with a person… Any number of more productive options! Instead, that hour was spent on social media/email/Pinterest/games/etc. – being mindlessly entertained.
It’s remarkable to see how far technology has gone to draw us in. I look at younger generations and I tremble: do they even know what they’re up against? Do I even understand the extent of our culture’s ability to suck mind power away from people? I can’t begin to imagine the extent, but when I try, and step back to analyze the situation, I am struck by fear. Not only is it social media, but articles, images, songs, TV shows, video games – there are so many things fighting to fill our heads.
The question is – what will we let win the battleground of the mind?
Whatever we choose to fill our heads will rule our life. Whether that is social media, video games, Netflix, online shopping – where we put our focus becomes the most important thing in our lives. Isn’t that scary? If I fill my head with useless shit I will miss opportunities, I will become numb to certain ways of thinking, my critical thinking skills will dull. I have no responses to certain people/situations, I become lazy, more selfish (than usual), heartless, obsessed with material things, wanting immediate pleasure. I’m speaking from experience, here! That is what happens to me when I don’t take the time to train my mind or when I let it run unleashed.
Take a look at these verses. They illustrate the effect our thinking has on our lives:
- Romans 12 – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
- Matthew 6 – “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.“
- 2 Corinthians 10 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.“
Are we going to let these things rule and waste our lives? There’s a wonderful book published in the 70s titled “The Christian Use of Emotional Power” wherein the author describes how our thoughts control our feelings which control our actions. This book convinced me that the infantile motto “I can’t control how I feel” is false. You can. Because you CAN control your thoughts. (**For the most part.) I know, every emotional teen girl would punch me for saying that, but it is possible! This truth set me FREE. Of course, it was a struggle and it continues to be a battle, but controlling your thoughts can change your life (see Romans 12 again.)
To my fellow iGen and Millenials, I hope you can also decide to win the fight that is happening to fill your head. You can take control not only in your emotions, but also in what you DO and what you let your mind SEE – you are the gatekeeper for what enters your head and you can police what is going on in there. It is your greatest weapon. Let us not be sucked away, sucked in, then thrown away by the trash we encounter. Rather, let us fill it with truth, with challenges, with gratitude.
Slowly, but surely, you will experience an enormous weight lifted from your mind, the freshness of clear-thinking, and the ability to become more like Christ.
In my experience, this is what you will encounter:
- It’s hard. It is not easy. Easy is: I want to think/feel/do whatever I want! But is easy what is best for you? Is doing whatever comes naturally the best for you? (No – see Jeremiah 17:9.) But God himself says that change in character takes trials/problems – AKA things that are hard.
- It takes self-control.* This is an area I fail at a lot. In my initial campaign to regain the battlefield of my mind, I took some extreme measures – some of which I still use to this day. I took breaks from the internet. Crazy. But necessary to take action like that! Accountability helps. My friends have even changed my social media passwords and held onto them for me for a month at a time so that I physically could not log myself in. Drastic times call for drastic measures. How does any good change of character come? Galatians 5 says, “the fruit of the spirit is LOVE, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” – Self control? Hmm. Interesting. Doesn’t seem to fit there, yet it’s there. Something to think about… But also involves the next point:
- It takes prayer. Why not ask God for help gaining control of our mind? Staying away from the trash we like to fill it with will take breaking our flesh. I believe nothing good happens without God, so to change in this area, we need God’s help!
- It takes vulnerability. In order to “set your mind on the things above” instead of what’s on the earth (Colossians 3) means we have to regain control of our minds, and subject ourselves to God’s truth. Wait, who am I to differentiate crazy thoughts from the truth? Sometimes it’s really hard when you’re so close to the situation to tell between strong emotion and truth. That’s where PEOPLE come in! Hey, we have friends for a reason! They are there to sift through your thoughts and emotions WITH YOU. It’s loving for them to do so for you and it’s also loving for you to go to them with your sin. Getting it all out in the open creates an atmosphere of acceptance and vulnerability that is freeing and full of love – what God wants for us in the Body of Christ!
- It will transform your life. I wish I could replay some of my crazy teen years for some of my new friends… would they even believe that girl was me? Of course, I am still far from perfect, but when I think about all the amazing things God has done to me I cannot help but shout to him for joy. Thank you, Lord, for setting me free from the slavery of my mind! Thank you for giving me clarity in my thoughts! Thank you for continuing to confront me with this issue that will always be a struggle! Thank you for your truth which is so much greater than anything else I can choose to fill my mind with.
Lastly, the fear I have most for us young, easily distracted, entertainment addicted people is that we’ll have calloused minds unable to be “shrewd as serpents”. With all of the issues piling up around us, on us, and on those we love – we can’t afford to have our minds taken out of the fight…
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
*If you find yourself struggling with phone addiction (yes, I said addiction, ugh) check out these tips. I’ve not only deleted some apps, but turned off notifications and set my phone to gray scale. I think these restrictions are useful and would fall under the self-control point of this journey.
**I acknowledge that there are certain thoughts and feelings we cannot control. These may occur from circumstances outside of us (such as abuse or even spiritual attack.) But for the purpose of this article: I’m talking about selfish things we let our minds think, which many of us think are uncontrolled, but are actually able to be tamed.
*** More food for thought: People are starting to question social media. Yup, this is the worst app for you.
P.s. Thank you Zak, Alex & Megan for editing!