When I wake up each morning the first thing I usually do is reach over to my nightstand for my phone. It doesn’t matter if it is 5am or 7am—I instinctively do this information check: CNN, NBC Los Angeles, Facebook, Gmail, other email accounts, Instagram. It doesn’t take me long, but first thing in the morning it feels like I need to check all these places---just in case. With the way things have been going in our world---I find myself frequently gasping at the news and whispering to my husband, “Honey, guess what!!!?…” and I fill us in on the latest tragedy in the news that has transpired while we have been sleeping.
I try to go back to sleep—but my dreams and thoughts are too filled with pictures I just saw on the news feed—or just a preoccupied awareness of how much I need to get done because I checked my email before the sun had time to rise.
If your morning routine looks any bit like mine, you’ll empathize. If not, well, good for you. I have to be honest with you---I’m tired of the marching beat of the culture. We're served worry for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every headline seems to entice us to click and aims to serve us up just a little more fear. The other thing I’m weary of is my own inability to push away from the table and create something different for my life—a different narrative and routine. I realize, no one is forcing me to wake up to my phone and the millions of reasons we have to be afraid of living our lives. I am the only one truly responsible for the way I respond to the world around me.
Easter Sunday I sat around a table eating lunch with some friends and the matriarch of the bunch said, “You know, this year was the first year that I sat through church and thought…” I interjected, “me too.” She didn’t even need to finish her sentence. I knew what she was referring too. The first year that we’d both thought through just how the scene would go down if an active shooter or suicide bomber decided that our Easter Worship service was just the place to make an extremist statement.
I know I’m not alone. Fear fills the air. Whether you’re afraid of the election, the state of the world, or which public place to avoid—it’s hard to live in peace in a culture that profits off of fear.
But with all that is going on, isn’t being a little afraid only responsible? Natural? Maybe. There do seem to be new things to be afraid of every day. The thing is, I know that an abundant full life is not full of fear—but of freedom. And freedom is what we celebrate and yearn for. Peace. Freedom. Liberty.
Peace doesn’t just come in the absence of fear—but often the most tenacious and peaceful people have learned how to be free even when the world around them tells a different story.
As a Christian, I am challenged by the 365 times “Do not be afraid” appears in the Bible. Is it possible to be trusting, peaceful, even hopeful---- and live without fear in our modern culture?
I’m determined to push against even my own addictions to having my phone next to me—and to the 24/7 news feed and alarmist media stories. Truth is, the constant, infinite Facebook info is also too much. I need more space. More time to exhale and clear my mind and think about my life and how I'm living it. If I want to make a positive impact in the world, I can not fill my mind and body with negativity all day long. It just doesn't work that way.
After waking up from a night full of blankets pulled to my side of the bed and nightmares of terrorists and anger and a personification of the events around the world—I decided it was time to change. It was time to delete some apps, to quiet my phone and soon I hope to charge it somewhere away from my first reach. I want a book, a cup of tea, and a candle next to me. I know my best days start when I am focused on all the lovely things.
After 5 hours without Facebook dinging on my phone I returned home and you know what? No one needed a single thing from me and there was nothing I could do about all the bad things in the world accept be the very best version of me—and that, my friends, might just change the world.