As I’ve tried to live more simply, my digital habits have been thrown into very sharp relief. By which I mean holy phone addiction, Batman! I have an app that I use to track usage, since awareness is part of the process (I’ll tackle that horrendous process another time). Part of what I wanted to do was make sure that I use my phone as a tool– and a useful one at that. Since part of the goal of keeping more time to myself is to deepen my relationship with God– I doesn’t sit right that I can spend 8 hours with work, over an hour in the car everyday, more hours in sleep and cleaning and reading and futzing around on Facebook, and yet finding more than 5 minutes for the Lord was simply beyond.
How awful I was. More like, how fallen in the muck and the mire. But like I said, being aware is important. I at least started to recognize the wretchedness, which is better than a stupor of staring at a phone and wishing I had time to do things I care about. The phone’s lament is hardly new in minimalist circles– some ditch the phones entirely, some switch to a flip phone so that their phone is *shudder* A PHONE!, some try to re-position the tool as a tool.
That last one is what I’m trying first. Mainly because there is utility in the smartphone for me. I have to manage my second job primarily through email throughout the day since I’m not physically there. I have to make sure I can keep up with my son’s school. And what else? That’s what I had to ask myself. I like reading, so I have a couple ebook apps and I use them frequently. I need to exercise, so I have an app for that.
Honestly, even as I type this I realize there’s more on that phone then I truly need. I’m sure another purge is going to happen, but we’ll leave that for another time.
I found the one thing I was lacking was something that supported my prayer life. Lately, I have been loving Reimagining the Examen. I’m a totally newbie to Ignatian spirituality, but I was looking at doing the Spiritual Exercises and the Examen came up. I poked and prodded, and found the app in a web search. And it just. fit. The phone is always with me (the struggle is real, people). But I can take 5 or 10 minutes on just the Examen. Those familiar with the Examen will know that it involves a focus on gratitude, a focus on the good, and a focus on where you struggle. I just really appreciate the way the app breaks down the Examen and guides me through. It also works a lot better for me than a gratitude journal– reflection is good, but sharing it with God is so much better, and the ephemeral nature of it helps me realize there is always something new, always something to be grateful for, always a new focus.