September 3, 2021

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

‘Shhh … Be still’: Take time to unplug, connect with God

Patti LambRecently, I didn’t appreciate my teenage daughter’s sassy tone, and I revoked her cell phone and electronics privileges for a few days. What she said to me a few days later—after she had regained her technology privileges—startled me.

Margaret said, “Sometimes I wish I had lived back before there were cell phones and the Internet and social media.”

I asked her what prompted her statement. Actually, I think she might have secretly enjoyed her punitive “no electronics” time. Her brief amount of unplugged time opened her eyes to some phenomena she hadn’t been observing.

“Well—I suppose there are multiple reasons,” she said.

“FOMO, I guess,” she added. I had to inquire what that meant, as I’m tragically unhip.

Margaret explained that “FOMO” is fear of missing out, and recently at a birthday lunch with her friends, most of them were staring at their phones. She told me that kids her age flock to social media and their phones because they don’t want to miss out on anything important or particularly trendy.

“I literally had to suggest to my friends that we put our phones down and just talk,” Margaret said. She had been eagerly anticipating this trip to her favorite restaurant with good friends for weeks, and she said it was like most weren’t fully present.

“And very few people want to go outside to play tennis or basketball or to ride bikes to Dairy Queen these days,” she added. My daughter has noticed that she and many of her friends would rather binge watch a TV series than throw a ball or a Frisbee. Online gaming is often preferred to a walk in the neighborhood.

“Plus, everything in my generation is edited,” she said. Margaret continued to explain that she sees old photos of me with my eyes closed when we used film, and all our pictures had to be developed and didn’t come out perfectly. (Back then, we thought one-hour photo processing was speedy.) These days, friends share “bestie” photo shoots in matching clothes, and everything in that square is perfect—thanks to retakes and filters.

I acknowledged that Margaret’s observations were wise, and reminded her that’s it’s important to unplug from the world and to connect with God, who is always present—even when we haven’t been particularly present to him.

When I went to gather laundry in her bedroom, I noticed that she had pulled out her daily devotional when she didn’t have access to electronics. Jesus Calling, 365 Devotions for Kids by Sarah Young was lying open to page 99 on her desk.

That day’s passage was titled “Shh … Be Still,” and the entry read:

“I come to you when you are still and quiet. It is then that you can hear me speaking to your heart.”

“Don’t be discouraged if it is hard to find a quiet time and place. This world likes everything to be loud and fast. Try slipping out into the backyard and letting the sounds of My creation draw you to Me. Shut the door to your room, and close out the world for a while. Turn off the music, and tune into Me.

“My eyes are always on the lookout for a heart that is seeking Me. And that person is so very precious to Me. I know when you are trying to find Me, and My heart is blessed by your efforts.”

That’s a great reminder not just for kids, but for all of us, at whatever age we find ourselves: “Shhh … Be still.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: