By now I feel like we're all very familiar with the woman and the smart phone tension. I would imagine that you've felt it, in some way shape or form. Maybe you've felt burdened and convicted about how much you're on your phone or maybe you've felt judgy about perceiving someone else being on their phone too much. You've probably ignored someone you were in conversation with to check instagram or Facebook, or been ignored once or twice yourself.
I'd like to say, right off the bat, that isn't what this is about. So if you're feeling twisty or defensive or judgy, we can all take a few deep breaths. I'm not going there.
Here's where I AM going. A few years ago, when that whole conversation started to hit hard - I was listening and I was already deeply embroiled into internet culture. My businesses are both online and I literally cannot choose to not engage in social media. I heard the debates and I listened and I listened to the Lord in my heart and heard the corrections that were there for me, but I heard something else. For ME, it was never about social media. It was ALWAYS about texting.
I have loved texting since the second the iPhone made it that much easier. Connecting with girlfriends 10 miles away, 100 miles away, living 2 houses down? Yes please! Getting to communicate with words, even in a short form - yes please! Feeling intimate and close even though we've moved or haven't gotten to even meet in person yet? Yes, yes please! I think part of what made texting so appealing for me is that I'd moved so many times. I'd built community in a handful of cities, and this was the way I could keep it all going. And then, when I really began digging into online business and ministry - it was like a whole new world opened up. Dozens of women that I resonated with and we could just TEXT. Connect. Share. Relate. Laugh.
Somewhere in 2012/2013, I realized: Oh man, I text a lot. I'd go eat dinner with my family and come back to 60 or more texts. That particular buzzing noise would be the last thing Nick and I would hear at night and the first thing I'd wake up to in the morning. When I felt conviction about being on my phone too much or not engaging with the people in front of me, it was always about texting - never social media.
I tried to find the freedom to answer when I could or batch answer texts later, but this is also when I started catching a little heat for being the girl who didn't answer texts. Sometimes it was funny and passing, "Well you know Jess NEVER answers text messages...", but sometimes it was painful and there were tears involved. Sometimes people felt genuinely ignored or assumed I must have these big negative feelings towards them, all because I was trying to stay sane and protect my family time and work time.
The bummer part is - I LOVE TEXTING. I love quickly communicating and I love the women I get to connect with. I don't think it's inherently wrong and I don't think people shouldn't do it. But for ME, for my particular life and the way that my brain works, it tends to be really overwhelming and I don't know how to find a happy medium.
So I'm taking myself out of the game and putting myself on the bench. I feel really strongly that for me, this is an area where God is asking me to not let culture steamroll over my life. It's absolutely not anyone else's fault and it might not be anyone else's conviction, but for ME, it's an area where I cannot keep up with the status quo and I need to be ok being a little different. My current plan of attack is to change my number and really guard that portion of my phone for people God has told me that I'm to invest in and they're meant to invest in me. The rest of my phone - they have access to me! Email, social media, and even talking - I'll have a business number where I can actually hop on and have conversations. For the people who do have my number, I'll communicate really clearly what I plan to use texting for: logistics, things that can or need to be said quickly, setting up times to meet or talk on the phone.
I pray that the people I feel called to will help me find some new ground here and come with me into the wild world on non-text-based-relationships. I feel this constant need to say - It's not you, texting, it's me! Because maybe you don't relate to this in the slightest. But I do feel like I've found some universal truths that I want to share with you guys.
1. Texting genuinely is not the best place for intimate conversations.
I know it's easier than talking on the phone and I know women say things easier when they don't have to look at each other. But genuinely, i think it's hurting our relationships and our intimacy to hide behind those screens. I want women to still tell me their fears, their convictions, what they need prayer for, and even how I've hurt them - but I want to do it over the phone or in person.
2. Everything can be read wrong.
It's so great to say something quickly and move on, but I've seen so much heartache and confusion come when a string of electronic words doesn't come across the right way. Usually mine. Looking back, I think that most of that could have been avoided if I'd just let someone see the care in my eyes or hear the softness in my voice. I perceive so many women feeling hurt or tender or insecure after texts and I can't help but feel like these mighty women of God wouldn't feel that way after a genuine conversation where they could hear each others voices.
3. We don't have to let culture steamroll us.
It might not be texting for you and it might not be ANYTHING on the phone, but if it doesn't work for you and it's not life giving - no one says you HAVE to engage with it. I have a feeling that I'm only at the very beginning of this particular push back, but I'm so excited and expectant to see what life and fruit might be in the vacuum of time that I spend using my thumbs. And I'm hopeful to see how the Lord grows those relationships without the electronic words only.
I cannot say enough, IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME. I promise. And I wish you could hear the softness in my voice to be able to believe me. I have a feeling that for a lot of women, it's probably a totally healthy rhythm and a great way for them to connect with others. But for me, it's not serving me and giving life, so I need to let it go.
Again, I feel like I'm at the very beginning of this, I'm still having deep conversations via text when I wish I was talking in person. I'm still really struggling with putting my phone down when I have people over or ignoring the buzzing while we eat dinner.
So I'll keep you guys updated.
And if you see me around, head buried in my phone and fingers wildly moving, you've got my permission to give me a little kick in the shins. :)