Mind is crowded. Soul is weak. Heart is left wanting. The world is alluring, the world is deceitful.
These are the words I penned in my prayer journal on January 4th, 2021. Closed eyes, alone in the blackness behind my eyelids, I tried to focus my mind on God. I couldn’t for very long. The mental to-do list began to create itself. My mind shifted to remembering that friend I needed to text back, which then shifted to opening the Amazon app to order toddler-sized mittens for my son.
I wanted so badly to give my whole heart, whole mind, and whole soul to Jesus that morning, but I was in a battle with my thoughts. I wanted to pray, but I also wanted a lot of other things in that moment, too. It was a bad feeling.
Mind is crowded. Soul is weak.
I knew exactly why I was struggling, and have struggled many other mornings, too. The culprit is a five-letter word… Phone. I probably spent more time on my iPhone in 2020 than any other year. I really hate admitting that, but it’s the truth. The amount of breaking news notifications, toddler tips, and group texts grew exponentially during quarantine, and all of those things became a regular addition to my day.
I can easily trick myself into thinking that I’m being productive on Amazon, that I’m being a good friend by being present on five group texts, and that I’m learning how to be a rock star mother by following 17 different mommy bloggers on Instagram. Maybe there is slight truth to some of that. Though, the more content I consumed, the less capacity I had in my heart for true focus on the greater goal of my life… Jesus.
I’ve known a life spent pursuing Jesus and a life spent pursuing my own selfish desires. The difference between the two can be felt deep down in my soul. My hope is constantly confronted with fear, joy is hard to come by, and my spiritual relationship with God feels more like a chore than anything else.
Heart is left wanting.
We often believe that our heart tank is bottomless, and that we can drink in all the reality TV, all the scrolling, all the “highly important” news articles, and still have room in our hearts to hunger for a real, life-changing relationship with God. I’m telling you from personal experience, it simply doesn’t work that way. We all have limits.
All of the time I spent on my phone, even if it wasn’t on social media, left me wanting more. I wanted more things, I wanted more knowledge, and I really wanted more peace. It was as if I was eating junk food all day and never felt satisfied, but the stomach ache I had developed from all the junk made me unable to truly enjoy the healthy nutrition my body needed. I needed truth that never changes. I needed my Creator to tell me who I am, not some pithy phrase on Instagram. Something had to change.
The world is alluring. The world is deceitful.
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? I have inadvertently created an addiction to my phone and it is filling my soul with cheap information and empty desires that leave me weak and distracted.
I said it.
If I really want to set my mind on things above this world and have an ongoing, fruitful relationship with Jesus, I absolutely must declutter my headspace. Just because I’m a follower of Jesus does not mean that I’m not susceptible to having my faith choked out by all of the bloggers, news stories, and latest fashion trends I follow online.
When Jesus walked the earth, he warned his disciples about this by comparing our faith to seeds sown in a field:
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
I’m only a few weeks into making a conscious effort to clear my mind and my heart, and it’s proving to be more difficult than I expected. Because it’s so hard, I am further convinced that I actually need this.
I’ve given myself limits for social media by only having the apps on my phone if I’m on vacation. I’ll occasionally check my messages throughout the week, but I make sure I’m only responding to friends and quickly signing off. If I’m doing errands around the house, playing with my son, or talking to my husband, I try to keep my phone out of sight. This is the hard part, as it’s become second nature to have my phone in arm’s reach at all times. And lastly, I’m only buying essentials and operating from a stricter weekly budget. It’s amazing what we really need, and what we just think we need when we’re slammed in the face with hundreds of ads every day on social media.
There are obviously mental and physical benefits that I already notice in my daily life, but I’m most encouraged by the boost I feel in my spirit. When I’m alone with God, my mind is already less cluttered, and the peace I enjoy when I’m praying far outweighs any momentary pleasure I get from clicking and scrolling.
Do you want to join me? Maybe it’s not your phone. Maybe it’s the amount of thought you give to your job when you’re home with family. Maybe it’s reality TV or Netflix. It could be good things like fitness or reading fictional novels.
I’m asking for you to consider the capacity of your heart, mind, and soul. Consider how seemingly innocent things impact your hunger for Jesus, and leave little room for undistracted prayer, meditation, and worship.
Let’s resist the pressure to constantly be reading something, buying something, or texting someone back. Our hearts can’t take it. It’s not sustainable. Let’s cut out all of the noise in 2021… Who’s with me?